Thanks for having me back, Babette! I am thrilled to announce the release of my forth book, Dangerous Secret, book # 1 of the Pinnacles of Power Series! In case you all were wondering, I did in fact write this series out of order, and I’m very excited to say that the first 4 books in the series are now all on sale! Dangerous Secret [book # 1], Dangerous Proposal [book # 2], Dangerous Proposition [book # 3], and Dangerous Ally [book # 4] are all currently available, and Dangerous Magic [the final story, book # 5] is not far behind! I’d like to talk today about what inspired me to write this series and more specifically about my fascination with heroes who’ve made mistakes in the past and are in need of reform.
The other day I was reading an article in the Romance Writers’ Report, which is a monthly newsletter for authors belonging to the network of Romance Writers of America. The article contained an interview featuring four editors from different publishing houses, each of which was asked various questions about what kinds of stories she is currently acquiring. One of the editors interviewed stated that she is tired of the “perfect hero,” a man who has no flaws and is essentially too good to be true. It makes some sense to me that authors would want to write, and readers would want to read, about a “perfect” hero, one who knows just the right things to say, kisses flawlessly, never speaks out of turn, and is always there when you need him. After all, we all want to fall in love with a man who can satisfy us in every way, right? Well, true…and false. Like the editor in the interview, more often I actually find myself drawn to the “flawed” hero, one who’s made mistakes in the past and may be concealing some rather dark secrets, one who believes he is not capable of falling in love and does everything in his power to avoid doing it, one whose aspirations are a far cry from saintly, who may even have his own wicked agenda where the heroine is concerned. This editor’s comment hit home for me because I personally find that bad-boys can be dangerously sexy, and the conflicts they bring into a storyline can keep readers (like this one) turning the pages—fast!
I believe it was The Phantom of the Opera which first intrigued me with the idea of the “flawed” hero. Though the novel The Phantom of the Opera is not considered to be a straight “romance” novel, as it breaks many of the rules which are used to define and classify “romance novels,” I think many readers out there would agree that there are few stories more romantic than this one. The dark, mysterious Phantom makes many mistakes, including “haunting” the Paris Opera House, kidnapping the heroine and even committing murder. Yet, I can think of few scenes more erotic than when the Phantom extends his gloved hand to his love and obsession, Christine Daae, and the two of them walk together through her mirror.
I began writing with the intention of pursuing publication and I sold my first book, Dangerous Ally, in 2011. During the last 8 years, my fascination with the “flawed” hero has not wavered, but deepened. There is something extremely alluring about the idea of being with a hero who is somehow “forbidden,” much like the way that a child is drawn to something they’re told they cannot have. I often look for books with “flawed” heroes when I’m choosing my own reading material, and I assure you that I am never bored when I’m falling for a hero who is dark, mysterious, and most especially, complex.
When I decided to take what was actually the first story I’d written, Dangerous Proposal, and turn it into a series, I loved the idea of writing about five bad-boy heroes, each of which had multitudinous skeletons in his closet. I’d begin with Ryan, hero in Dangerous Secret, whose involvement surrounding a murder that took place at the hotel where he and heroine Abigail work is unclear. We later learn, as Abigail does, that Ryan conceals a lot of guilt and regret surrounding his past mistakes. Next in the series is Dangerous Proposal, featuring Alec, who at nineteen years old accepted an assassin mission. Though he didn’t actually go through with it, Alec realizes that ten years after the fact, the mistakes of his past are coming back to haunt him. Colin (Alec’s older brother) follows with Dangerous Proposition. The story kicks off with heroine Julia Dyson’s father getting kidnapped while working on an assignment for Colin. (Bad-boy Colin smuggles diamonds. And actually, the entire Pinnacles of Power Series revolves around diamond smuggling.) Lucas Ramone (Colin’s partner in crime) follows with Dangerous Ally. As diamond smuggling operation Project Gemstone’s original founder, Lucas is inadvertently responsible for the murders of several individuals, and fifteen years of thievery as a crime boss. Wiccan Jack Madera, who I’ve come to realize is the most complex of all my heroes, takes center stage in the final story, Dangerous Magic (currently a work in progress). Jack previously joined forces with his mentally-unstable mother who was hell-bent on destroying the life of Lena Benson, heroine in Dangerous Proposal. Seraphina instructs Jack to follow and torment Lena and eventually rape her. (Jack’s conscience does not allow him to actually go through with it, however, he comes close.)
Talk about a lot of past mistakes! These bad-boys have more than their share of “flaws” to reform from and you can be sure that I put each one through his own version of hell as he works toward seeing the error of his ways, becoming remorseful, and eventually undergoing a complete reformation all in the midst of meeting and falling in love with a woman who simultaneously strikes a lightning bolt through his unsuspecting heart!
Just what exactly is it that makes the “flawed” hero so appealing? Could it be his charm, as the flawed hero is often very charming, sometimes bending over backwards to seduce his chosen heroine by creating an elaborate fantasy-like scenario for her that is as sure to capture her attention as it is to take her breath away? Maybe it is his suave good-looks, as bad-boy heroes are most assuredly always handsome, at least the ones that I envision are. It could also be his secretive nature, as the heroine longing to be with the “flawed” hero often questions his agenda for some time, sometimes throughout the entire course of the story. Like the child who longs to eat the cookie he was told not to have, the readers’ emotions and desires sway with the heroine’s as she longs to be with this dark forbidden scoundrel who everyone has warned her to stay away from.
I’ve learned throughout my writing journey that the only way to take a “flawed” hero from the point he was at when he made his mistakes, to the place where he’ll live happily ever after, is by reforming him. And reform him I do! I find few writing endeavors as exciting as taking a “flawed” hero, showing him the error of his ways, and teaching him to love and to be a man worthy of the heroine’s love.
I find few heroes more appealing than “flawed” heroes! The journey is always more fun when there’s something to work for. What greater reward is there to work toward than love?
Who is your favorite “flawed” hero?
A Giveaway! I would like to give away one free e-copy of book # 2 in the Pinnacles of Power Series, Dangerous Proposal. Contestants can leave any comment here that they like for a chance to win.
Abigail MacKenzie has been trying to put her father’s tragic death behind her. Set on becoming a teacher, Abigail wants nothing more than to forge a new, happy life. But when a handsome stranger produces a random clue about her father’s shooting, hopes of finding her father’s killer come flooding back to the surface. Abigail is determined to get justice for her Dad, even if it means learning the dangerous secret of a man with a will of steel and eyes that cut straight through the wall around her heart.
After making a reckless mistake and a mysterious discovery that cost him his job, medical student Ryan Newberry is happy to accept and position he can get. But when he realizes that one of the employees who’ll be working under him at the Washington Valley Hotel is Abigail MacKenzie, the sweet, pretty girl he met weeks before, he fears the past might be in danger of repeating itself. As one discovery leads to another, Ryan quickly realizes that he is sitting on a network of criminal activity. In spite of the risks, he must keep Abigail safe from the surrounding threats. He only hopes that his desires for his new front desk associate won’t lead both of them down a path of danger from which he won’t be able to protect them.
As he scanned the extensive row of papers, Ryan searched for the black symbol in the corner. Based on what he’d seen so far, he’d come to the conclusion that the symbol didn’t appear on every page. But finding it would definitely narrow down his search. Low and behold, a few minutes later he had what he was looking for. He looked over his shoulder as he took the pages from the cabinet.
He’d get a better understanding of the contents at home. Folding the papers in four, he slipped them into his pocket. He nearly jumped out of his skin as the door was shut in front of him.
“Abigail?” Ryan took two hastened steps forward. Resisting the urge to put his hands around her tiny neck, he said, “What the hell are you doing in here?”
“Me?” Her eyes filled with horror. “I’m not the one with my hands in the filing cabinet. You’re stealing whatever’s recorded on those ledgers. You know who put the ledgers there, and you’re working with them. Aren’t you? I’m going straight to Shane about this.”
“Abigail!” He snatched her arm. “Just wait a minute, for God’s sake!”
Voices sounded in the hall. Panic filling him, Ryan shut the filing cabinet drawer as Abigail tugged free of his grasp. She started toward the door.
Coming up behind her, Ryan snatched her by the wrist. As she opened her mouth, he covered it with his hand. With his eyes on the door, he urged Abigail toward the closet. He pulled her along as he got inside, shutting the door behind them.
A ray of light lit the crack between the door and the ground. But the inside of the closet was dark. Weary that Abigail might scream, Ryan kept her mouth covered, becoming all too aware of the warm feel of her skin. The legs, hips, and buttocks he hadn’t been able to stop staring at for the last month and a half were now pressed firmly against his body. The sweet scent of lavender and plum filled the surrounding space.
“Is this the cabinet?”a deep male voice asked.
A second voice answered, “Do you see another one?”
Silence followed. Ryan wondered whether the men had left the room. He almost took his hand from Abigail’s mouth when he realized that they weren’t yet alone.
“Take everything,” one of the men said. “I don’t want to be coming back here again.”
The cabinet door was shut, and the door to the room was opened. A long period of silence followed.
Ryan waited several minutes before attempting to move. Putting his hand against the doorknob, he released a slow breath.
As he inched forward, he became all too aware that Abigail was still pressed against him. Keeping perfectly still, he did all he could to keep her from realizing how aroused he’d become. She was facing him now, and his hand was still splayed across her mouth. She hadn’t attempted to remove it.
Slowly, Ryan drew his hand back. He hoped he hadn’t crushed her, but decided that was the least of his worries as Abigail’s eyes seemed to have found a place of focus—his mouth.
Ryan’s heart beat against his ribcage. He inched back, but Abigail kept a firm grip on his wrist. Attempting to move away a second time, he found himself pinned in place. Unable to resist a second longer, he leaned in and brought his mouth down hard on hers.
You can buy Dangerous Secret at:
Bio: At two years old, Jessica became a devoted fan of both listening to and reciting the books her parents would read to her at night. When she was a little older (about four), she sought a greater challenge in her life, and began making up stories of her own, acting them out with her dolls. “When the dolls got “boyfriends,” she says, “I knew I was getting too old for dolls!”
Jessica is most intrigued by dark heroes, who have many demons to conquer…but little trouble enticing female companions into their beds! She feels that the best romances are those where the hero is already seducing the heroine from that first point of contact. “Isn’t it the hero’s job to seduce?” she says with a grin.
Jessica loves to see the sparks fly when a stubborn, domineering hero crosses paths with a bold, feisty heroine, and uses the combination frequently in her stories.
When she’s is not writing, Jessica enjoys listening to as much 80’s music as possible, keeping current with the storylines on Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless, shopping for the latest fashions and the prettiest of antiques, and taking long walks in nature where she can daydream about anything romantic. Though she resides in Central New Jersey, her heart belongs to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.
You can find Jessica at:
Siren BookStrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/jessica-lauryn
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/jessica-lauryn