Who doesn’t love a bad boy?
Whether a hero or a scoundrel,
the classic bad boy is hard to resist. Some of my favorite heroes in literature and film are bad boys at heart. I can’t speak for all women, but bad boys make my pulse race just a bit faster. I’ve always had a thing for the bad boy. Even watching reruns of I Dream of Jeannie, I wanted Jeannie to dump Tony, the All-American good guy and choose his bad boy buddy, Roger. And then The Fonz came along, with his finger snap and toughness, followed by greaser Danny Zuko, and I was completely hooked on the bad boy. What makes a bad boy so darned appealing?
The classic bad boy is a sexual being. These men aren’t metrosexual. They aren’t betas. They’re alpha all the way. Gerard Butler is the epitome of the bad boy. Whether he’s playing Dracula (Dracula 2000- if he’s Dracula, I’ll never wear a turtleneck or a crucifix again), the Phantom of the Opera (honestly, the mask was not a deal breaker for me…a little kinky, but not over the top), a Spartan warrior (300), a mercenary with biceps of steel and a heart to match (Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life),
a risqué TV personality advising women to toss their How to Get A Man to Love You guidebooks and get on a Stairmaster (The Ugly Truth), or an ex-cop with an attitude (The Bounty Hunter), no one could ever believe Gerard is a man who’ll spend his Saturday night dozing in a chair after watching an episode of Cops.
Bad boys can be suave and worldly, like Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man, Tony Stark, or intellectual and socially awkward, such as the actor’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is brilliant, analytical, bucks authority at every turn, and lacks social graces. Robert Downey, Jr. has created two distinctly different characters who are both bad boys at heart. I don’t imagine Sir Arthur Conan Doyle envisioned Sherlock as a rebel, but RDJ’s characterization is all rebel, all the way. Whether he’s dealing with the police or a brilliant villain, he’s not about to conform to their expectations. Perhaps the thing I like most about both Sherlock Holmes and Tony Stark is their attraction to smart, strong women. Bad boys aren’t intimidated by women who are their equals – they thrive on the challenge.
The classic outlaw is undoubtedly a bad boy. Jack Travis, the hero of my new release, Destiny, steals Emma Davenport, a high-powered senator’s daughter from the train carrying her to the scoundrel she’d planned to marry, imprisons her in a remote cabin in the heart of the Appalachian valley, and teaches her that seduction doesn’t always involve poetic words and courtly manners. As he falls hard for Emma, a woman whose sheltered existence has masked a strong will, keen intelligence, ingenuity, and guts, he’ll risk his neck and everything he’s ever cared about to protect her. His bad boy arrogance doesn’t change one fundamental fact – Jack is an alpha with a strong sense of his principles, a man who’ll fight and die for the woman he loves.
Bad boys don’t run from a fight. They might even pick the fight, if it suits their purpose. My soon-to-be released historical, Angel in My Arms, features Jack’s partner, a Union spy who starts a drunken brawl for a very deliberate reason. It lands him behind bars and he’s facing a noose the next day, but Captain Steve Dunham do it all again – if it gets him closer to his goal and the heroine.
Intellectuals can be bad boys, too. Indiana Jones (be still my heart – the image of Harrison Ford with that white shirt, unbuttoned just enough…) is a scholar, an archaeologist of all things. After watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, I never pictured archaeologists as dusty old men again.
Romance is filled with bad boys. One of my favorite bad boys is Captain Doom from Teresa Medeiros’ wonderful Thief of Hearts. I’ve read it so many times, my copy is ready to fall apart. Leo, the hero in Lisa Kleypas’ wonderful Married by Morning, is a rake through and through, but his vulnerability and responsibility for those he cares about make him irresistible. And who wouldn’t wish, just for a little while, to be abducted by Justin, the Duke of Kylemore, in Anna Campbell’s Claiming the Courtesan?
Who are some of your favorite bad boys from romance and film? What do you love most about them? I’ll choose a random commenter to win a pdf of Destiny.