When people talk about the attraction of the bad boy, I picture a guy in bomber jacket that breaks the rules, distrusts authority, and behaves with reckless arrogance. Not my thing at all. No, my attraction has always been for the bad guy. Yes, you read that right—the bad guy, the villain, or rather the well motivated guy who is lumped in with the villains by virtue of association or his own nature. This is a problem for me, because I also love happy endings and these guys are doomed to end badly. They typically, by virtue of who they are, cannot be allowed to have a happy ending. They are, at their core, a threat to all good folk.
I ❤ Todd the Wraith
What got me thinking about this was Stargate Atlantis. I posted recently that I’d gone back to watch SA from the beginning. I’m very much enjoying it, even though I have yet to get answers to many of my questions. But what I realized is that I’ve started looking forward to episodes that feature one of my new bad guy infatuations—Todd the Wraith. Todd is a good example of the too-dangerous, but well motivated bad guy. All Wraith feed from humans. There is no getting around it. No matter how many good things Todd does he can never be a good guy because he has to kill humans to survive.
In the episode where his character was introduced (and in most every episode thereafter) he is shown in a positive light—doing at least a little good despite his bad nature. Often, when he is forced to spend time with the Atlantis crew he is shown looking weak and strung out, probably to remind us that if he doesn’t feed he will starve to death. Not a good way to die.
Vampires in Romance Novels
The Wraith are a lot like the traditional vampires, back before romance novels figured out that they could be romantic leads if they didn’t have to kill to live. Many of those early authors did a good job of keeping the heroes dark and scary. The big risk in those books was that the heroes could easily became too angsty and whiney. I used to read vampire urban fantasty and romance a lot, but in this most recent paranormal romance explosion I haven’t found as many vamps to fill my need for loveable bad guys. I think when we take the bad guy out of the vamps we run the risk of turning them into bad boys. The guy that wears leather and takes out the bad guys with style, but would sacrifice his own life to save a kitten. I know this has its appeal, but it sometimes comes up short for me. I’m a fan of Christine Feehan. Her classic Carpathians dance along that edge, but still appeal to me. Of course, my favorite of her heroes is Jacques in Dark Desire (which I reccomended earlier this year in another discussion of vamps). He is the one who is poisoned and buried alive for years and is mostly crazed when the heroine finds him. His dangerous bad side is on full display and I love it.
I’ve got two questions for you today. First, what do you think about bad guys vs bad boy—which do you prefer? And do you have any paranormal or SciFi romance recommendations for me, featuring bad guys that stay true to their natures, but for good reason refrain from doing truly unforgivable things?