I recently started watching the TV series Hex starring Michael Fassbender as the fallen angel Azazeal. He’s attractive but creepy as hell and the entire plot revolves around him trying to impregnate a young woman with his evil spawn. There’s really no moral ambiguity to his character. He never becomes the hero, but throughout the series he remains an incredibly compelling villain. (Really, I think Fassbender should exclusively play villains but that’s another blog post.)
This got me to thinking about the appeal of the bad boy in fiction and the conclusion I came to is that it doesn’t really have anything to do with romantic interest. It’s a matter of physical attraction versus mental repulsion. The push and pull between these two forces creates the kind of tension that keeps me reading, half-hoping for redemption, half-hoping for justice.
So why do I love bad boys? They simply make for more interesting characters.
Where romance comes into play is dealing with the mental repulsion part of the equation. Either the character changes so I can accept him as the love interest or his motivations are revealed, providing some insight and justification for his shady behavior.
My hero in Threads of Desire is a dark hero. (Don’t worry, he’s not trying to impregnate anyone!) The heroine, Ily, recognizes from the beginning that he’s dangerous. He’s an aristocrat in a world that has a pretty strict caste system. He’s wealthy and powerful while she’s living on the streets and barely scraping by. So while she’s sexually attracted to him, she’s smart enough to keep her distance. At least initially. Kal needs something from her, something he can’t reveal without being certain of her loyalty, and his persistence eventually wins her over. He lets her think she can have it all—his body, his money, her freedom—right up until the moment he pulls the rug out from under her feet. And then…well, you’ll have to decide for yourself if he earns redemption.
When Kal fixes his lusty attentions on Ily, she is reluctantly aroused by his interest. She knows he desires her and against her better judgment, she wants him too. A chance encounter leads her to make him a scandalous offer: her body in exchange for enough money to leave the city. She sees their time together as a temporary erotic adventure...until Kal reveals that what he truly wants from Ily is more personal--and more dangerous--than bed play. And she must choose between taking her chance at a new life or risking it all for a man she never meant to love.
I do love this trope so if you have any recommendations, please let me know!
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