everybody loves a bad boy

for anyone who doesn’t watch Vampire Diaries, here’s all you need to know:

This chick in the middle is “in love” with lame good-boy brother on the left, but the reason we all keep watching it is because she just might be the only person that evil bad-boy brother on the right is vulnerable to.

Seriously. That’s it.

And the thing I love about the show is that Damon really is bad. After last season it looked like the writers might have wussed out a bit with him – you know, he really has a good heart, etc. But this season’s opener took care of that: He broke Elena’s brother’s neck when she rejected him.

So the brother was wearing a magic ring that brought him back to life, but Damon didn’t know that.

And then just as it looks like he’s getting a bit too “good” again, in the latest episode he rips a werewolf’s heart out of his chest – after some good old fashioned torture. The werewolf wasn’t even really a bad guy, just in with the wrong lady.

To me, this is really good writing.

A bad boy has so much currency – but so many writers try to use that currency without paying what it’s worth. They have a “bad” hero, whose inner motivations are pure as snow. Who protects and shows his – albeit reluctant – worth.

The only problem is, to have someone be bad they have to actually, er, do bad stuff. My teacher’s constantly pulling me up on how unlikeable my heroine is, and whilst I think it’s something to watch, I also think: Well, yeah, she’s not a very nice person right now.

I recently came to an agreement with blogger Decadence that we’re very different readers, because of how differently we reacted to a heroine doing something “bad” in one of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books. For Decadence this made her unworthy of being the hero’s mate.

For me, it meant I could trust the character because she wasn’t just a hard person as a separate thing to any of her actions.

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About anna cowan

I look around, and here I am - housewife and aspiring romance novelist. This seems unexpected.
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6 Responses to everybody loves a bad boy

  1. decadence says:

    For me, it wasn’t so much that she had done something bad (Xhex and Rehv weren’t saints), but she had done something bad to the hero. I’m also not a fan of bodiceripper romances where the hero rapes the heroine. It’s not that romantic when one partner hurts the other and not in a good way.

    • which is a totally fair (and probably much more well-adjusted) perspective. I was thinking about it the other day actually, and realised that Xhex is definitely hardcore enough anyway, without that.

      I still thought it worked, though 🙂

      But after my enlightening conversation about BDSM with a friend who knows a lot more about it than I do, it’s probably to do with my inner masochist (liking the hero to be hurt/humiliated before they find resolution. Eeep! It doesn’t sound so good spelled out, but I think Ward is so damn addictive because she just goes there. With everything.)

      (As an added disclaimer I only like this to a certain extent. This scene was probably pushing the boundaries of what I’d accept.)

      • Oh, and as to bodice rippers, not a fan either. But I think in this case JM consented – he just didn’t get what he was expecting. I recently got my hands on the insider’s guide, and was surprised at what Ward said about making sure Phury and Cormia’s first sex scene didn’t come off as rape. It didn’t even occur to me to read it in that light – it was very convincingly only in Phury’s paranoid brain. I think here again it’s a case of Cormia consenting.

  2. decadence says:

    I suspect that your “inner masochist” is more about the freedom to go places in your head that you might not necessarily want to go in real life. V’s pre-Jane penthouse scenes were like that for me. In the books, he’s just about the hottest vampire I’ve ever read, but some of the stuff he does would be real life dealbreakers, such as denying his subs any form of identity and demanding so much of them without giving anything of himself in return. It’s all about whether or not they’re compatible with him and willing to accept the crumbs he chooses to give them when he chooses to give them.

    This is the thing with Ward. Yeah, she goes there, but she finds a way to make it work. A couple of days ago, I was thinking about Gregg and Holly’s relationship. He perceived her as slutty and vacuous until he was made to cut through his own bullshit to realise that he mistreated her based on his own misconceptions. It worked at the time, but afterwards, I thought that Holly wasn’t exactly getting the best deal by ending up with someone like Gregg with 2 Gs.

    And I didn’t mean that Xhex had raped JM. I just put that bit in because I hold men’s romantic misbehaviour to the same standard as women’s (I’ve been told I’m all about the hero, which, given that I read JRW, might actually have some accuracy) and the bodiceripper has become the quintessential romantic no-no by modern standards.

    • She is SOOOO all about the hero (and it was kinda cool to hear her admit that in the insider’s guide). That’s what makes the series so addictive, though, I reckon. After reading all 8 books in under 2 weeks I went back to Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark – which I’d been really enjoying before – and I totally missed any meaningful relationship between her males. (And then there’s the way you inadvertently start calling men males 🙂 ) That being said, her heroines are completely kick-ass and I love the way they relate.

      I don’t know if you read my post “the closet masochist”, but a friend made some pretty interesting points about V’s bdsm scenes. Like what you were saying about having the freedom to go places in your head you might not really go – but she made the point that so much of bdsm is already enacting fantasy that you don’t have the freedom to truly express, so considering this is fiction why have the double fantasy, why not just go there?

      Er, that’s quite confusing. I think I expressed it better in the post.

      I’m not familiar with Holly and Gregg-with-2-Gs. Oh, wait! That weird secondary romance in Lover Mine, right? hee hee, I read most of their bits after I’d finished the rest of the book. I couldn’t put off Qhuinn and Blay for those two randoms. But, yeah, WHY exactly did she love him?

  3. decadence says:

    I’ve just found your Closet Masochist post and have pretty much written an essay in response to it.

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