Ahh, the Quintessential Bad Boy (QBB). Did he start with James Dean? Or have women always been infatuated with the guy who likes to straddle that line between light and dark?
Here's another question: what if he doesn't straddle that line? What if he is firmly planted on the dark side?
This is precisely the problem I've run into with The Revengeful.
I've got a QBB who's pretty bad. Okay, okay. He's straight-up evil. But he's also my MC's romantic interest--because she doesn't realize his um...darker tendencies. At first.
Of course my grand plan was to make her come to her senses by the end of the book. He's bad, right? He's gotta go! And at first this plan was going swimmingly. Up until recently, I've been concentrating on the back end of the book. When he's all evil and stuff. Suspense! Action! My MC kicking ass and taking names! (and getting her own ass kicked on occasion)
But recently, when I went back to work on the first half of the book, I ran into a problem. How was I going to make my MC fall in love with this guy when I knew he was bad? How could I avoid having every bit of his dialogue tinged with my negative feelings for him? I had to put myself in my MC's shoes. And it worked. A little too well, in fact.
My MC started to fall in love with him, but I started to fall in love with him, too. Suddenly he went from being this 1-dimensional bad guy to a character with real depth. It was like I was writing two separate books. And then I started to question--is this guy really so bad? Maybe I don't have to make him so evil...maybe just bump him down to standard QBB status.
Uh oh. I think as women/girls--or even human beings in general--we do this in real life a lot. We want to see the good in someone, we want to believe that even in the worst case, there is still something salvageable. That there is always a chance for redemption.
I think Becca Fitzpatrick did an incredible job of this in Hush, Hush. Patch is not what you'd call a stand-up guy. He's overtly sexual, almost aggressively so--I mean, he fell to Earth because of Lust, so no surprise there. And hello--his primary goal in the first part of the book is to kill Nora. Yet somehow, by the end of the book, you're rooting for their relationship. Or at the very least for some action that requires something higher than a PG-13 rating.
(side note: anyone else excited for Crescendo?)
So now I'm torn. I love the romance of redemption, but part of me also thinks that forgiveness comes a little too readily. And not everyone deserves it.
So what say you: is there always an opportunity for redemption? Or must some QBBs simply be kicked to the curb?
More importantly, how will The Revengeful end?
Even I don't know the answer to that. But time will tell.