In the eyes of their respective heroines, Mr. Darcy was a difficult hero. So was Capt. Wentworth. They were men of high principles, to be sure, and, as readers, we knew they were good guys deep down… But we also knew they weren’t easy men to please. Unlike Mr. Knightley or Mr. Tilney, for instance, they weren’t trying to “gently guide” the women of their desire. Oh, no. Darcy and Wentworth were both actively trying NOT to like Elizabeth and Anne. Trying not to fall (or fall again) for these strong heroines.
I’m intrigued by heroes like that, both as a reader and as a writer. I’m fascinated when a man needs to confront his own nature for the sake of love. When he has to face the realization that he can either hold onto his pride or his grudge or whatever his issue may be with the heroine…or he can let go of it and, perhaps, have a shot a shot at true love and happiness.
I’m writing a hero like that right now. His name is Blake Michaelsen and — to the world at large — he’s a bad boy with an attitude problem. His family loves him, of course. They understand him a bit better than most. And, in his own skewed way, he has very definite principles and an unerring sense of honor. You just have to dig a little to get at them.
Blake is the local DJ in my new Mirabelle Harbor series, so he’s made appearances in both TAKE A CHANCE ON ME and THE ONE THAT I WANT already. But YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME (coming later this year) is his story, and it’s been a really interesting process for me to delve into his point of view. His external veneer is well developed and one that has been crafted over three and a half decades. He sounds smooth to the ear (especially with his sexy radio-ready voice) and appears reckless in his behavior (what with his tendency to drink too much and get into bar brawls and all), but the “difficult hero” is always a man with a few secrets and with an inner life that not many people have genuine access to… He’s not someone who’s quick to let down his guard.
This scene snippet below is from THE ONE THAT I WANT, and it takes place at the radio station in Mirabelle Harbor — 102.5 “Love” FM — right after an interview Blake conducted with the famous actor that Julia (the heroine of that story) once had a crush on. The scene is from Julia’s viewpoint, and her best friend Shar is Blake’s sister. Their mutual friend Vicky will be Blake’s eventual love interest, though neither of them knows that yet…and it’s a good thing, too, because their relationship will get *a lot* worse before it gets better.
Shar came over with a plate piled with desserts. “Help me eat these,” she demanded. “It’s in celebration, so they have no calories.” She glanced approvingly at the management heads who couldn’t have looked happier.
As I gave in to my temptation for Greek pastries, Blake himself approached us. His shift had just ended and he’d turned over the reins, with the help of REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Lovin’ You,” to Amelia, the next DJ on the station’s schedule.
“Thank you, ladies,” he said warmly to both his sister and me. He kissed Shar on the cheek. “I know what you did. I owe ya.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll collect on that later.” She grinned at him, but Blake and I both knew she wasn’t entirely joking. Shar was a loving sister, but she didn’t let her brothers off the hook when it came to an unpaid debt.
“No doubt,” he countered.
We talked for a few minutes before he nudged Shar and motioned subtly toward Vicky, who was across the room chatting with one of the bosses.
“Who’s the babe talking to Leonard?”
“She’s a friend of ours, and her name is Vicky. Do not call her ‘the babe,’ that’s insulting,” Shar retorted. “She’s a high school French teacher. Lives in town.”
“Really…” Blake raised his eyebrows. “When did foreign language teachers become so hot? Is she single?”
“Behave yourself, Bro. She’s currently unattached, but she’s looking for a nice guy.”
“What? I’m nice. Mostly.” Blake paused. “Well, okay, not that nice but—”
Shar slugged him not very gently in the bicep, but she couldn’t hide her laughter.
I excused myself, congratulating Blake on a very successful event and edging even closer to the exit. I figured I could probably slip away now without anyone else caring.
I got as far as the hallway when a voice behind me said, “Excuse me, Julia Crane?”
I swiveled around and Dane Tyler himself had materialized by the door, as if he’d been teleported there, just like his character in that one sci-fi thriller, Time Jumpers.
So, Julia is left to deal with a very different but still rather difficult hero. And the next time that Vicky and Blake are in the same place at the same time, well…let’s just say their first conversation doesn’t exactly lead to a date, LOL.
Do you have a favorite difficult hero from fiction or film?! If so, please share! I always love hearing your thoughts 🙂 .
The first 2 books in the Mirabelle Harbor series are out everywhere in paperback and ebook. It’s too early to announce when YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME (Book 3) will be released, but I’ll let you know as soon as I know for sure. And I can’t wait to share more of Blake & Vicky’s romance with you all. Have a wonderful weekend!!