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Hawke Snow – Favourite Dark Hero

I love Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series.

The first book in the series is “Slave to Sensations” and it’s also the first time we meet Hawke Snow, the wolf alpha. He is a secondary character, but you can practically feel the darkness surrounding him. He’s been through hell and he will do anything to keep his pack safe. In one of the key scenes in the first book he makes it very clear he wants no help with his emotional trauma, that he has to carry the burden of what he’s been through. Throughout the series you catch glimpses of him, get an idea of the choices he had to make.

And you meet Sierra, the young Psy who challenges him at every turn, who throws his plans into disarray and disturbs his peace of mind.

From the first time he set foot on the scene I wanted to know his story, needed to find out why this cloud of darkness encircled him. It took another eight books before “Kiss of Snow” came out (and let me tell you the wait was hell, even if Nalini produced more amazing books;), but it made sense as Sierra is only 16 when we first meet her. She needed to grow up a little.

“Kiss of Snow” beat my expectations! I was so worried because I anticipated Hawke’s and Sierra’s story so much, but Nalini did a fantastic job with the story.

It gives us insight into Hawke and more, it explained his back story, why the darkness and why his hesitation to open himself up to Sierra. The adversarial relationship between the pack and the Psy is coming to a head and Hawke and Sierra face huge obstacles and difficult decisions. Both of them have been shaped through their back story and the development you can see in all the other books comes together, making Hawke and Sierra real and relatable.

The book is fantastic and my favourite in the series…so far;). It just shows you Hawke’s growth from when we first meet him to three years later when he is in a position to take something for himself.

If you haven’t read any of Nalini Singh’s books you have to try them. They are AWESOME!

And all her heroes have a touch of the dark side…

 

 

Tina Christopher Writer of Sexy Steampunk and Sensuous Sci-Fi available at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon.

Holy Dark Hero, Batman!

batman

batman by Strudel!, on Flickr

I had a difficult time coming up with a dark hero I could root for…then it hit me. I love DC comics and have hundreds of issues stacked in my closet. My favorite hero is Batman and he’s dark, very, very dark. I’m not talking about the campy TV version of the ’60’s -“Holy Cow, Batman!”- but the Dark Knight version – the conflicted, angst-filled Batman created by Frank Miller in the 80’s.

Batman is human; a superhero in a bat suit and cape, who doesn’t have Superman powers. He wasn’t transformed into a superhero by some gamma ray or bitten by a poisonous spider. He can’t fly or bend steel, but he has brains, relies on his wits, killer pecs and can fight like hell. He has all sorts of cool boy toys because the dude is rich – who wouldn’t like to do it in the back seat of the bat mobile?

Batman: The Dark Knight

Batman: The Dark Knight by lamazone, on Flickr

The man is driven. An adrenalin rush junkie for one. And revenge burns in his heart, witnessing his parents gunned down when he was a boy. He is relentless in guarding Gotham City from deadbeats and super villains. Relationships, forget it, he isn’t emotionally available. He’s conceited, demands his way or the highway, cold as a frozen tundra and a loner who hides out in his mansion with his butler Alfred and his sidekick, Robin. (I see a m/m romance brewing in a mansion with only men – LOL)

When meeting up with Batman, any sane woman would turn and run fast as her spiked heels would take her. But only after she’d spent one night in the back seat of his bat mobile!

Happy Reading! Viki

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Viki Lyn: Award winning author of male/male paranormal and contemporary romances. You can find all of Viki’s books at the following sites: Amazon, All Romance Ebooks and GLBT Bookshelf.

The Dark Hero You Grew Up Knowing

That’s right. James Bond, through all the actors who’ve portrayed him over time – some of whom played up the dark aspects of the character more than others.

I love this movie poster for Skyfall, the latest Bond film. It’s such a stark illustration of who James Bond really is. A killer. A cold, ruthless killer. Good at protecting queen and country? Sure. But I think part of the charm of a dark hero is that when he’s done well, he makes you think ‘but for the grace of God, there go I’. He makes you believe *his* reasons for what he does are just and honorable – even when, in the normal course of a normal, civilized conversation, you and I would agree this guy is just an amoral assassin and that the ends don’t always (or even usually) justify the means.

On the surface, James Bond has it all going on – money, power, brains, and charm. He’s convinced he’s fighting for the greater good. Better, he has us convinced he’s fighting for the greater good. Too bad he’s a bit of a psychopath. That part is rarely played up in the 007 canon – or at least it isn’t admitted overly, not the way it is in Dexter (HBO’s serial killer hero). Over the course of the movies, however, you see the pattern emerge from the character. He’s licensed by his government to kill, as if he’s a rabid dog that can be kept on a leash until he can be turned loose against some idiot who decides to endanger the world, take over the world, blow up the world, or what have you. You notice 007’s hyper sexuality without intent or ability to commit. Sex? No problem. Real human intimacy? Not a chance. Any time a Bond girl gets too close, she ends up dead. Or, movie to movie, she simply vanishes into thin air and is never mentioned again. Granted, that may say more about the misogyny of Bond’s creator/writer than it does about the character. Hard to tell.

Regardless, the Bond girls are necessary in every single 007 story because they humanize the dark hero. He’s only barely capable of human emotion. The women are there to show up what Bond *might* feel but can’t express or show. They represent the warm, humane heart at Bond’s core – his shot at redemption, if you will. (And likely the reason why his handlers haven’t yet taken him out back and put a bullet through his brain.) If he could safely nurture his heart and dismantle his considerable defense system, he might be normal. He could feel. He could love. Every single time one of those women dies at the hands of the villian(s), it’s that warm part of him dying. Any chinks that had been opened in his armor by the heroine slam closed. He’s once again the chilly, remote, efficient killing machine saving the world for everyone but himself.

That’s another hallmark, I think, of a dark hero done well: The air of sacrificial lamb – the dark hero faces the big ugly so no one else has to. Noble? Maybe. But it’s also a little self-aggrandizing and egocentric – a little bit like a junky who just has to have another hit of the old adrenaline. Another mission. Another kill. Another thrill (at least *that’s* okay for him to feel). And, to my mind, therein lies the question that makes James Bond a DARK hero. Can he stop? I say dark, because I strongly suspect the answer is no.

A Little Wrath Goes a Long, Dark Way

For my fellow MANhandlers, I’m posting a picture of more delectable numiness. Feel free to ogle a bit before you move on to the post.

I’ll wait…

But, truly, I’ve got to move on…

C’mon, my friends, let’s talk about some serious sexy: the dark hero. (See? I got your attention. Devious writer, I am one.)

A great example, for me, is Wrath from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Wrath is a vampire torn between leading his people or rejecting the role of king. He has no interest in ruling and zero respect for humans, and this includes children sired by vampires on human women. He’s crass, unsophisticated and ginormously sexy. When he’s called on to step up and see a half-vampire child through her transition, he balks. Okay. That’s not true. His answer is basically, “Hell. No.” But circumstances intervene, Fate plays her cards and the dark hero is born.

What is it that’s so appealing about a dark hero? Is it his unwillingness to be a hero that makes him so desirable? Is it his ability to make me love him and loathe him in one paragraph–one sentence even? Or is it deeper than that? Maybe it’s the fact he seems irredeemable, and we worry he’s crossed the line too far into the dark to be pulled back to the light. Regardless of the “why” of it, the point is this: the dark hero appeals to us on a variety of levels, many of them deeply personal.

There’s something about a dark hero that absolutely flips my switch. I want to  know he’s walking that fine line of good and evil, and that both sides speak to him. He’s a richer character for his dark flaws, and there are a thousand reasons this could be true for each of us as both writers and readers. But what it comes down to, for me as an author is this: it’s the reader’s interpretation of what the hero is after the author sets out his proverbial “pros and cons” list that makes that character work/not work. When an author is able to create a hero you love to hate, to put on the page a fictional character you fantasize about or who makes you wish you were starring opposite him–the author’s done the job of pulling the reader in and done it well. I’m in the process of creating my own dark hero and let me tell you, it’s not easy. He’s the hardest character I’ve ever written, and dark heroes are sort of my specialty. Yeah, I’ve got a hang-up. I love them passionately, grandly and without apology.

Now I want to turn the tables and ask you who your Wrath is? Who’s (in case you missed my last post) your Cain? Don’t be shy. Jump in and let other readers know if there’s a character/series that does it for you. You never know when you might get them started on a new series they love. It’s how I found Wrath and all the luscious brothers. 😉  Thank you, J.R. Ward. Thank you.

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