Thursday, February 17
I love a dark and brooding hero. One that is mysterious...who has a past and has ulterior motives that are slowly revealed to the reader. Where throughout the story you know he "must" be good, after all he is the hero, but his actions can appear questionable, so there's this constant doubt of whether or not he's to be trusted. And while the hero may think his soul is black and irredeemable, you ultimately find that he has a heart of gold when all is finally revealed and he is in fact worthy of the love he's found with the heroine. Laura Navarre proves, "dark" heroes, make "great" heroes...especially when we are talking about, Raven, her hero in THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS.
Laura is here today to talk about what makes these types of characters so interesting and sometimes irresistible and share insight into her new historical romance THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS. Read and enjoy!
Who doesn’t like reading about dark heroes? Even when their deeds are cruel, sinister or violent, we sense there’s a worthy motive or saving grace behind all that danger, a spark of light flickering in the darkness. As readers, discovering that light in the darkness is one of the reasons we’re intrigued by dark heroes, compelled to learn their stories, and ultimately satisfied by the read. Dark heroes may be tortured, bitter, solitary, abrasive, violent, angry, depressed, self-hating, vengeful, even disfigured…but it doesn’t discourage us! Instead, we’re excited by the “danger factor,” our sense of apprehension to know these angry heroes might turn on our heroine at any moment.
Often in romance, the dark hero first steps onto the page not as a suitor, crush or love interest, but as a reluctant ally—the formidable character whose knowledge, skills, or assets the heroine must have to embark upon her quest, whatever it is she’s seeking. While the hero may agree (or be compelled) to assist the heroine, his motives for doing so may be far from benign. Often, his assistance comes at a pretty steep price. When that happens, the hero functions as a dark ally.
I define a dark ally as a dangerous, terrifying, or hateful ally whose assistance—while often motivated by selfish, spiteful or even horrific motives (a drive for revenge at any cost, for instance)—is critical to the protagonist’s quest. As you might expect, the dark ally’s assistance may profoundly alter both the heroine and himself.
I explore this dynamic in my dark Crusader romance The Devil’s Temptress (Feb. 15, 2011), which takes place at Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court. Our hero is the Raven—a disgraced Muslim knight known as the Devil of Damascus. His face scarred by a Saracen blade, voice ruined by the effects of Greek fire, he’ll sell his sword to the highest bidder—and he’s one of the darkest heroes I’ve written. Yet he agrees to help Lady Alienore of Lyonstone, who’s fled court to escape a forced marriage. Although Alienore is a strong heroine in her own right, a woman who masquerades as a knight on the tourney field to defend disgraced damsels no other knight will champion, she needs the Raven’s help to escape the soldiers dispatched by an angry king to capture her. She knows she’s hiring a man utterly devoid of sentiment or chivalry, which makes him a questionable ally to start with. In truth, the Raven himself is in disguise; he’s her vengeful suitor, and the marriage is all that stands between him and ruination. He saves her from the king’s fury, but his price is her virginity, her honor and her fortune. This makes him a pretty dark ally! And his betrayal will transform both of them in ways that are crucial to the story.
In this case, our dark ally is also the hero. Alternately, the dark ally can function as the other man or woman in a love triangle, a father/mother figure or a mentor. One famous example outside the romance genre is the murderous psychiatrist Hannibal Lector (played by Anthony Hopkins) in The Silence of the Lambs. He’s willing to help FBI agent Clarice Starling identify and locate the serial killer Buffalo Bill not from altruistic motives, but in order to win privileges for himself—and for the sadistic pleasure of getting inside Clarice’s head.
Another example from the silver screen is Severus Snape (insidiously played by Alan Rickman) from the later Harry Potter films. Snape agrees to help Harry strengthen his magical powers, despite his seething hatred for Harry, solely to defeat Lord Voldemort. J.K. Rowling plays on this dichotomy between Snape’s noble intentions and his hateful bearing by convincing us, at times, that he’s actually the villain. This illustrates another function for the dark ally—to serve as a red herring in the story.
Have I convinced you yet that dark heroes and dark allies are useful guys to have around…beyond the obvious reason that they’re sexy? If not, I’ll keep doing my best to make the point at www.LauraNavarre.com. You can also find some excerpts from The Devil’s Temptress with more of the Raven’s dastardly deeds. And I’d love to know YOUR thoughts about dark heroes and dark allies. Who are your favorites, on the page and the stage?
In the glittering, sumptuous court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, betrayal lurks around every corner. The queen is at odds with her king, and to obey one could mean treason against the other. Even Alienore, considered the most virtuous lady at court, holds secrets: whether masquerading as a knight on the tourney field to defend those without a champion or desperately trying to keep her lands—and her maidenhead—from the Duke of Ormonde.
THE BLACK KNIGHT
He is called the Raven—his face scarred by a Saracen blade, his voice raspy with the effects of Greek fire. His parentage is unknown, his prowess legendary. And he’ll sell his sword to the highest bidder. As his piercing eyes track her every move, Alienore wonders who he’s working for now: finding a spy for King Henry? sent by the duke to fetch her home? Or is each heated touch, each whispered promise of pleasure part of a much more personal mission?
Congratulations Laura and thanks so much for being our guest! The wait for THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS is finally over. Woo hoo! I really enjoyed The Devil's Mistress, and I have to say that TEMPTRESS was definitely worth the wait. It was supposed to be released late last year, but with the upheaval at Dorchester Publishing, the publication date was delayed (like many of it's other titles). And just so you know it is being released as a digital book first, then later (like Aug 2011) it will be released as a trade sized paperback for those of you who like to read in print. My review for The Devil's Temptress will post next week in case your interested in more than, "I really really liked it" :)
If you'd like to learn more about Laura and the books she writes you can find her at her website www.lauranavarre.com, as well as at Facebook, and Twitter.
To celebrate the release of Laura Navarre's newest historical romance, THE DEVIL'S TEMPTRESS, she would like to giveaway a digital copy of the book to one lucky Musings follower. Here's how you can enter to win...
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