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Bad boys of romance

What’s with the bad boys of romance?

Okay, so I’ve been asked a few times: what’s all the hype about bad boy characters in romance novels?

Well, it’s not news. The ‘bad boys’ have been around for centuries and they are appealing for various reasons. According to the Oxford Dictionary online, a bad boy is “a man who does not conform to approved standards of behavior, especially in a particular sphere of activity.”

In fact, they’ve been in literature for a while, including the biblical times. Let’s take Moses; I mean, c’mon—the guy killed a man, talked to shrubbery, turned his staff into a snake, and divided the Red Sea! Now, that’s pretty badass and impressive, if you ask me.

Let’s skip centuries forward to Dorian Gray. He was hedonistic, vain (yup, that portrait!), indulged in debauchery (oh, poor Sibyl!), and yeah, he killed a guy.

Dorian Gray in a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Okay, let’s travel to the twentieth century: Dirty Dancing. Wasn’t Patrick Swayze a dream? His character, Johnny Castle, makes me swoon. Who can forget the line “nobody puts Baby in a corner?”

Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze, in Dirty Dancing.

Today, we have characters like Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades series, Massimo Torricelli from 365 Dni, and Kylo Ren in the Star Wars series (yes, I’m a Star Wars fan!).

The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Next Film, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64240288

What’s the appeal?

A study led by Gregory Louis Carter of the University of Durham (cited in Psychology Today) provided insights, revealing that women found men with dark personalities attractive. The results of the study offered two possible explanations. First, sexual selection might be at work; women responded to signals of “male quality” when it came to reproduction. With respect to short-term mating, women may be drawn to “bad boys” who demonstrate confidence, stubbornness, and risk-taking tendencies. Secondly, sexual conflict may be at play. 

Stories with sexual conflict, risks, and a bad boy sounds appealing, right? It seems to work for many successful romance stories. The bad boys are exciting and fun, according to psychologist Robyn McKay, author of Smart Girls in the 21st Century (quoted in Good Housekeeping).

A short-term fiction fling?

Can the bad boys have their happily ever after (HEA) in romance stories? Or will they end up like Heathcliff, Dorian, or some other kind of roadkill?

Carter and his team reported that there were limitations of their study, indicating that the sample they selected were likely to be oriented toward short-term relationships.

Moreover, studies by Urbaniak and Kilmann (2003) and Herold and Milhausen (1999) (cited in Edward Horgan’s Harvard University project “Exceeding the Threshold: Why Women Prefer Bad Boys”) indicate that women adamantly claim to prefer nice guys. Horgan further states that there is an apparent discrepancy within current scientific literature on the subject of female attraction, with regard to the bad boys.

Is there hope for the bad boys?

There seems to be hope, depending on the circumstances. Psychologist Forrest Talley, Ph.D. (quoted in Good Housekeeping) stated that women desired to have someone in their life who was tough enough to face the world and punch back when necessary.

In other words, we don’t mind the tough guys who have a protective side, when they’re on our side. They have an even bigger chance of winning our hearts for good if they are kind, sensitive, and romantic. Interestingly, niceness itself is not an unattractive characteristic but is simply insufficient to garner female attention on its own, according to Horgan.

In my erotic romance novel Lessons on Seduction published by Black Velvet Seductions, my male MC, Julian—a guy who sold his body to pay off his college debt—takes his new girlfriend, Sapphire, for a wild ride before he realizes just how much he loves her. However, he makes some pretty big mistakes. Is it too late for guys like him, though?

Well, not if he’s brave enough to punch back at the world, show his sensitive and sweet nature, and fight for his lover. However, if Julian continues taking Sapphire for granted, then there is no hope for him.

I’m proud of Jules for one thing, though—he’s not an abusive man. I’ve met abusive men in my life, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s not a pleasant experience. Abuse comes in different forms: mental, emotional, and physical. That is one thing no one should tolerate from any person, bad boy or not, in fiction or real life.

Who’s your favorite bad boy in literature?

I’ll admit my weak spot: I’ve always liked the vampire Lestat from Interview with a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. The Lestat I read in her books has more appeal and sensitivity than the movie version played by Tom Cruise in the 1990s film Interview with a Vampire (sorry!).

I also don’t mind hot and charismatic Dracula, played by Gary Oldman in the Francis Ford Coppola film version. While others might swoon over Keanu Reeves, who played Jonathan Harker, I’m more interested in none other than Vlad himself. Why? He’s enigmatic, dangerous, mysterious, and yet, he’s protective of sweet Mina—with all his heart. It’s his capability to love (some may disagree, but I believe Irish author Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a love story as much as it’s a horror fiction), his vulnerability, his protectiveness, and his hungry passion for his true love that I liked.

I can honestly admit I’m a sucker for bad boys who are sensitive, protective, and loving—as long as they’re not abusive.

Over to you: Have you ever imagined riding off into the sunset with a bad boy (or bad girl) character in fiction?

If you’re looking for a hot romance with a bad boy, or a hunky good guy, check out the diverse range of romance books, from sweet to erotic, on publisher Black Velvet Seductions’ website: https://blackvelvetseductions.com/

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Dispelling the myths of an erotic romance author

I’m enjoying the experience of authorhood with my publisher Black Velvet Seductions. As an avid reader who enjoys writing, I find writing mentally therapeutic.

However, I’ve also learned a few things about exposure and how to deal with it, especially in the erotic romance subgenre.

A number of assumptions come along with being an erotic romance writer. There are those who believe that erotic romance writers are open to illicit proposals, or that we aren’t as intelligent as MBA graduates, or that we write about unsafe sex. I’ve received a growing number of direct or private messages in different channels related to all the above-mentioned assumptions.

Well, sorry to disappoint, but these assumptions of erotic romance authors are usually just myths. Here are a few myths that I’d like to dispel:

1. Erotic romance authors are little vixens waiting for pleasure in our inboxes.

Um, no. We’re regular people who have ordinary lives and we don’t gregariously swing naked on chandeliers while sipping champagne. It does sound rather fun though, but no. In my case, I’m a shy introvert who loves to read books. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was fifteen. Like many erotic romance writers and readers, I also love other genres, including thrillers, gothic horror, classics, poetry, history, politics, and nonfiction books (biographies, business and management books, etc).

2. Erotic romance writing is easier than writing a college paper.

Nope. I can vouch for this one because I’ve done both. So have many of my other author friends. Many erotic romance authors I’ve met are highly educated people (both women and men) who have impressive CVs, broad and diverse. They are highly intelligent and can engage in just about every topic on the planet, from anthropology and sociology to psychology, politics, economics, and business.

I can tell you from personal experience that I found writing erotic romance novels to be harder than writing a Master’s paper. I have an MBA from a top Australian university and have had my academic work published on the topic of leadership. I apply the same analytical techniques of plotting a story as I did with outlines during my postgraduate days.

Strong emotions and character development are involved in writing a romance novel, and I have to admit that the sex scenes can be extremely challenging to write. When I start writing a chapter on the intimate parts, I procrastinate more than I did when I wrote economics or financial management assignments.

The frustration of writing love scenes.

3. Erotic romances don’t promote healthy characters and solid relationships.

I have had this debate with a few people, especially with regard to popular novels and movies where there are blurred lines, and in some cases, misrepresentation of communities. I remember the saying that it takes just one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel.

When I started reading erotic romance novels, I remember the feeling of disillusionment and the need to research the truth (that is a trait from my journalism days, when I was a newspaper reporter). So, I did my research and found documentaries by journalists, as well as other erotic romance novels along the way, where I learned new things on topics such as BDSM, voyeurism, ménage à trois, swinging, and other kinks that come in an erotic romance.

One author whose work I highly recommend is author Annabel Allan, who really knows her stuff when it comes to writing about BDSM and thrilling, suspenseful erotic romances.

Coming soon: Rigged, the third book in the Goode Pain Series by Annabel Allan.

4. Erotic romance authors want dirty private messages.

No. When I see these messages come through, they are often harmless. Still, there is no service to provide, except for the service of delivering enjoyable books to read.

We are writers of erotic content, which includes novels, short stories, prose, and poetry. We are not interested in engaging in personal sexual role play or any other kinky requests.

People who read books as a hobby do it because the stories are pleasant and interesting to them. Our stories are written to give people something of interest to them, which they can read and enjoy.

Looking for erotic romances to read?

My publisher, Black Velvet Seductions, has a wide range of quality romance novels on their website, which include erotic romances.

As of July 30, 2020, my novel Lessons on Seduction, will be available on Amazon and other places in ebook and paperback formats. Buckle up for a wild, emotional ride with a thriller plot.

Recommended resource:

Love Between the Covers, a documentary film on the romance fiction industry. It was recommended to me by @dlcroisette, award-winning Wattpad romance author of the Ruby Red series.