Sunday, October 12, 2008


Tortured heroes... love em or hate em they are playing just as large a role in romance novels today as the were 20 yrs ago. In fact, it may even be more common. Whether their torture has been physical (Acheron of Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacques from Dark Desires by Christine Feehan) or mental (Vinh of Into The Fire by Suzanne Brockmann or Gabriel of Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair) or even both, they are as popular ever. What has changed though is the way they deal with their issues. The eighties tortured hero was more likely to be the strong silent be a bastard to the heroine type with maybe a little forced seduction thrown into the mix. In today's version there is still an element of that but they are more likely to get an ass kicking from the heroine and a 'get thee to a shrink or don't come back near me' ultimatum.
Is this a reflection of how women and society in general feels? Or is it just another victim of political correctness?
Personally, I think it's a little of both. Either way I still love a good tortured hero and yes, I own a lot of those eighties book with men who are bastards as slightly guilty pleasures. They are a bit like chocolate though, one or two leave you wanting more but too many will make you sick.

What about you? Do you love, or hate a tortured hero? Who are your favorites?


Kate Hill said...

Tortured heroes are my favorite kind. I love their strength, the way they overcome adversity and how they've learned to protect what's theirs. I feel the same about tortured heroines. Charlee Boyett-Compo writes unforgettable tortured heroes. Give me her Kamerone Cree any day. He's always at the top of my list of tortured heroes, which is too long to give in total. LOL.

Titania Ladley said...

I love a tortured hero! Those from the 70's and 80's historical romance books are my faves. Mmm, luvs me an historical love story! As far as kick-ass heroines, I think it's a combination of political correctness and heroines reflecting the changing times, especially in contemporary books.

Titania :)

K. Z. Snow said...

I'm addicted to them, both as a reader and a writer. Maybe most women are, since men are notoriously blase about feelings and have an aversion to displaying or discussing them.

However, I have encountered some sneering--from reviewers and other authors, primarily--toward overly tortured or emotive heroes, who are often characterized as "emo" types.

I don't see them that way--not the ones that are done well, anyhow. A classic tortured hero isn't a sniveler or whiner. And he certainly isn't weak. He's a man with enough sensitivity and self-awareness to recognize he has "issues" (yikes, I hate that word!) and enough courage to struggle through them.

I recently posted a blog about this subject in relation to M/M fiction, where punky / flippant / nonchalant / rigorously self-contained characters seem to be de rigeur these days. Too much angst is considered bad form, like airing one's presumably dirty emotional laundry in public.

(And that's precisely why I'm blathering on and on about this; I'm in the midst of writing a big novel with male characters who are tortured. So forgive me!)

Cynthya said...

I love tortured heroes. They are much more interesting than the "perfect" hero. It's easy to get involved in their story and feel for them. It's always so satisfying when they find happiness with their heroine. Sherrilyn Kenyon and J.R. Ward do great tortured heroes, as does Gena Showalter in her Lords of the Underworld series.

Angelia Sparrow said...

Tortured heros are all right. I like them now and then. The Angelique series, where her beautifully-voiced husband was tortured until his screaming destroyed his voice comes to mind.

But tortured, angsty and broody too often equals emo and blah when it's cast in the mold of Angel from "Buffy."

I always thought Hamlet was a whiny prat who needed to grow a spine.