When Dr. Alyssa Foster is taken hostage by a prison inmate, she knows she's in deep trouble. Not just because Teague Creek is desperate for freedom, but because the moment his fingers brush against her skin, Alyssa feels a razor-sharp pang of need...
A man with a life sentence has nothing to lose. At least Teague doesn't, until his escape plan develops a fatal flaw: Alyssa. On the run from both the law and deadly undercover operatives, he can only give her lies, but every heated kiss tells him the fire between them could be just as devastating as the flames that changed him forever...
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I’d like to thank Carrie for having me today. People are always commenting on how busy I am and how much I do, but I can’t quite fathom how Carrie has kept everything together these last several weeks—her blog, her writing, her life—with everything that’s been going on with her husband’s health lately. I work in a teaching hospital and I see people like Carrie every day, living hours from home, sleeping on pull-out chairs, eating hospital cafeteria food, waking every couple hours as staff come in to tend to their family member. To say it’s a rough existence would be a severe understatement.
Kudos, Carrie. Your hubby is truly a lucky man.
My debut novel, FEVER, also begins in a hospital setting, not all that unusual considering I spend so much time there—write what you know, right? My heroine, Alyssa Foster, a radiology fellow, is abducted by a convicted murderer, Teague Creek, in an escape attempt. Yep, you guessed it—he’s my hero. And he’s not a nice guy. He’s got a life sentence. With nothing to lose. And he’s desperate.
I suppose it’s a risky way to start a book—with an unlikeable hero. I don’t recall giving that a lot of consideration while I was writing, though now, as I promote the book and post excerpts in hopes of drawing readers, I have to admit, I’ve done a bit of nail biting in fear of turning readers off.
But recently my agent said something that helped ease my apprehension. She said that one of my strengths is putting my characters in impossible situations in unique ways that compel readers to read on. Which, of course, is good, because Teague does become more likable when we switch to his point of view in chapter two.
What makes Teague unlikeable in chapter one?
- He’s portrayed as a white supremacist
- He’s portrayed as a murderer
- He puts chain around Alyssa’s neck
- He threatens her
- He physically hurts her
- He puts her in harm’s way
How do I take the edge off and give him at least a shadow of redeemable qualities?
- He’s hot (come on, you know this counts!)
- He doesn’t cause her any undo/additional harm or pain
- He doesn’t cause the guards any harm or pain when he abducts her
- He’s smooth, in control
- He’s smart
- In comparison to his partner (a fellow prisoner/escapee), he’s Prince Charming
- He guards her against the psycho partner
Subtle elements in a character’s personality can keep a questionable character above that redemption line, though, there are many, many authors who don’t bother with redeemable characters in heroes. And many readers love a pure no-excuse, take-me-as-I-am Alpha. Many have been and continue to be best sellers.
Personally, that’s not me. I love strength and drive and passion, don’t get me wrong. I don’t even mind a little bullying or back talking when it suits the situation or the character arc (both Teague and Alyssa are strong and mouthy!), but I can’t fall for a hero without compassion or a kind spot in his soul for the woman he loves.
How about you? Are you a raw Alpha hero-lover? Or do you need a softer side in your heroes?
BONUS: Get an extra entry if you head over to my website, read chapter one of FEVER and tell me if Teague has any redeeming qualities. (Be honest…saying yes doesn’t guarantee a win!)
Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist, and a double Kiss of Death Daphne Du Maurier finalist. She writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, and her first novel with Kensington Brava, FEVER, debuts March, 2012. Her second book, BLAZE, follows in October, 2012. Currently, she works as a sonographer at a one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation, and lives in magnificent wine country on the central coast of California with her husband and two daughters.
You can find Joan at her website, Twitter and Facebook.