It’s no secret that at Paradise Heights, we’re partial to a sweet treat…or two. Our groaning shelves are overflowing with all sorts of tongue-tantalising, eye-popping sugary indulgences that perpetually threaten our waistlines. Have you ever sat down after eating your third (*fifth…) chocolate in a morning and your skirt button has popped right off? I have. It’s mortifying.
Over a month ago now, as Lent approached in the office, many of the editors decided that giving up chocolate might help combat our sugar epidemic. On day 36 – yes, we’re counting – I bit into a harmless biscuit…but in that split-second of sugary ecstasy I realised my mistake, those sneaky raisins weren’t raisins at all. I’d broken my Lent and caved into that dangerous temptation – my best friend, my worst enemy…chocolate was back in my life.
However, it did get me thinking – what is it about the forbidden that makes it so desirable? Why is it so tempting to break the rules? So often in our books, the most irresistible hero is the one man the heroine knows she shouldn’t fall for. It’s that indescribable flicker of something new, something exciting…the sense that a true hero can open our eyes to a whole new world and send shivers running down our spine.
Rakes, rebels, bad boys or mavericks, many heroes walk a fine line between good and evil. Notorious in their society, the source of all scandal and the subject of every rumour, these dark and brooding men play with fire and aren’t afraid to get burnt. Yet, as villainous as they can appear, our Mills & Boon heroes possess one crucial, golden quality: they are redeemable. As long as there is a credible motivator behind the hero’s often wicked behaviour, as long as we can understand their moral compass – even if it is slightly skewed – we’re prepared to follow our man through thick and thin.
Our televisions are full of such heroes, look at Dexter, a serial killer who only kills murderers – does that makes it acceptable? Or in Homeland, where Brody skirts moral boundaries as he searches for truth and justice. Even James Bond, the quintessential British hero and hearthrob, kills seemingly without conscience (although with licence) for his country. Of course, in Casino Royale we see how love destroys his heart forever. Our authors tease us with these ambiguous borders, as one book’s villain turns into the most delectable hero in the sequel!
A glimmer of goodness amongst the darkness, we recognise that these roguish heroes have taken on the traits of the villain in order to remain sane, to cope with their damaged existence. Usually, this is due to traumatic events faced by the hero in his past – perhaps a failed relationship or a betrayal, or maybe a devastating loss or trauma. Critically, they have lost all faith in love and in humanity, and rely only on themselves. On the surface, such a hero may appear ruthless and cold, but locking away their heart has become the only way to suppress the pain of the past…and only the heroine holds the key!
The heroine isn’t looking for the ‘perfect’ hero, the man that can do no wrong – she’s looking for the man that’s perfect for her. One woman’s villain is another woman’s hero…and in Bronwyn Scott’s London’s Most Wanted Rake (Historical, April 2014) this is certainly the case. The author’s stunningly scandalous quartet Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous reaches its sensational finale as Channing Deveril, founder of The League of Discreet Gentleman, sets his sights on the alluring Alina Marliss. Channing’s skilful seduction is a complication Alina could do without. She might crave his expert touch but she has no intention of losing her head – much less her heart – over London’s most notorious rake!
Just like chocolate, these heroes are our guilty pleasures. Our heroes are so irresistible because of their dark side! Devilish good looks, charm and cunning…it’s a frighteningly fabulous mix! One thing’s for sure, I’m hooked on this dangerous temptation – are you?