So for Day Three of the Wicked After Dark hop, let’s have a little talk about tortured paranormal heroes. The main character in my book, Beast of Burden, is a tortured hero. Cianan Marek is the hero we all dream about. He’s handsome, scarred, brooding… He’s a werewolf. And I’m not talking about one of those sissy quasi-werewolves. He’s a bona fide badass with a painful transformation, full moon rage and complete nudity afterwards. It’s made clear from the beginning of the book that he is not a nice guy. Even before he made the Change, he had a hair-trigger temper and a lust for violence. The only thing that could melt his heart was the beautiful Lady Isabella. And when a tragedy befalls her, his life is destroyed, twisting him into a tormented hermit that is feared by everyone. Until, of course, a little slave girl named Sascha enters the picture and manages to chip away at his heart of stone.
So why do we love these guys so much? The tortured hero is an archetype that we see over and over in literature and movies. Is it because we, as women, are always looking for someone to “fix?” Or could it be that we love to live dangerously, sleeping beside a ball of pent up rage? Whatever it is, we love them. Their angst gives them an edge. And if they’re a guilty paranormal—all the better.
Probably my favorite tortured hero is Heathcliff from the Emily Bronte gothic romance, Wuthering Heights. And in fact, if you’ve read Wuthering Heights, you’ll probably see a lot of Heathcliff in Marek. He loves poor, stupid Cathy with all of his heart and when she marries another because of her family’s prejudices—he loses it. He becomes this mean and hateful old man that everyone fears. Seeks vengeance on the whole Earnshaw clan. But in the end you realize, he loved Cathy all along. And women eat that shit up. That notion of how everything he does is for you is so romantic. It makes us go gooey in all the right places.
Exhibit B—Edward Cullen. Reluctant vampire with a skin problem. Ever since Twilight came out, the teeny bopper love of Edward has run rampant throughout the country. Even among soccer moms. There are tons of theories out there as to why Team Edward has such a vast following, but I offer, dear reader, that it’s because he’s a tortured hero. He struggles with loving Bella, yet knowing that their romance could ultimately end badly. He struggles with the faces of all the humans he killed in the throes of his bloodlust. He struggles with not wanting to turn Bella into a soulless creature of the night. Let’s put it this way—he just struggles. And we love watching it. Our heartstrings are plucked like an out of tune violin when Edward looks into her eyes and says, “It’s a bit easier to be around you when I’m not thirsty.”
Marek is no different than the tortured heroes that we all know and love. But will he be redeemed and have a happy ending like Edward? Or will he die alone, shrieking at ghosts in a cupboard like Heathcliff? Only one way to find out….
Beast of Burden is just one of the books that you can choose from my catalog, should you win one of the coveted PDFs. In the spirit of goodwill and hot Halloween sex, I offer a little excerpt to whet your appetite.
“If the wolf ever comes upon you, its eyes glowing red with hunger. Pain is the only thing that will stop it. Hurt me, Sascha.”
“I could never,” she whimpered, turning her face from his, not wanting to face the truth of his nature.
“It’s the only way. Pain will force me to change. As I said before, pain makes us human.” He took her chin gently between his fingertips and turned her face back to him. “Promise me, Sascha.” Her eyes filled with tears again and she shook her head. “You have to promise me. Hurt me. Kill me if you have to. Do whatever you have to do to stay safe.”
“I…” She struggled to get the words out, but they turned to choked sobs. “I can’t…do this…”
He took her face between his fingertips, angrily this time. His fingertips dug into her jawbone and she whimpered against the pain. “You have no choice. You are my slave and I’m ordering you to do this.” She closed her eyes and turned away again, her jaw set in defiance. After a few moments he spoke softly. “If you can’t promise me this one thing, I’ll send you away.” His voice caught in his throat, choking on the sentence. But she could tell from the hard line of his mouth that he meant it. Her heart leapt in terror as the realization of his threat hit her hard. Suddenly the thought of being sent away from him was more than she could bear. He sighed heavily and heaved his body off of her, standing up and starting to pace back and forth, pushing his hands through his hair. “Make your choice quickly, Sascha. I haven’t the time for halfhearted decisions.”
She sniffled, sitting up at his feet and staring up at him with tearful eyes. “Please don’t send me away, My Lord.”
“Say it. Say you promise to draw blood, even kill me if you must.”
The words wrenched more sobs from her throat, but she knew what had to be done. “I promise,” she whispered, hanging her head in defeat. “I will do whatever you ask.”
He nodded and knelt down in front of her, putting his arms around her shoulders and pulling her tightly against him. “Good girl. I won’t lose you again. I can’t.”
His embrace was desperate, as if he didn’t want to ever let her go. She inhaled deeply, taking
him into her lungs. It made her dizzy and she nearly swooned, but his hands were in her hair, pulling her head back to stare up at him. Her eyes were open when his mouth descended on hers once more. His kiss was furious and their tongues fought for dominance before he won out. When he rose, he pulled her with him, gathering her into his arms and turning to lay her back down across his bed, their lips never parting. By the time he released her, she was gasping for breath and pulling at his shirt, wanting him to stay close. He took her hands, putting them by her sides as he knelt beside her on the bed. Her eyes stayed on him as he lifted her pelvis easily, tugging her torn dress over her hips and throwing it aside. He made another growling sound as his eyes slithered over her body and Sascha’s heart skipped a beat. She started to protest, but his mouth silenced her again. His hands were all over her, tracing lightly with the tips of his fingers. She groaned softly, stretching out beneath him, remembering all the things she’d read in Bella’s journal. Would he work the same magic on her? She was apprehensive, but more afraid that this would end.
Cianan slid to his side, his hand placed warmly on her belly as he kissed the cuff of her ear. “You’re so beautiful, Sascha. Seeing you lying here ignites a fire I’d thought long dead.”
Damn I love that Marek. Whew… Don’t forget to click either the FACEBOOK FAN PAGE or my Twitter to follow and enter the contest. And you must send me a message and let me know your email so I’ll be able to inform you that you’ve won. If you prefer rafflecopter, again, I’m experimenting so feel free to enter there. I hope to see you all again tomorrow!