I’ve been thinking a lot lately about heroes and villains, and the combination thereof. I like darkish heroes, although most of my own guys (in fact and fiction) are a little breezy, more fun than fierce. I wonder about characters’ personal demons…and my own, which I just can’t shake. A little suffering is good for the soul and creativity, I think, but sometimes I feel like I have a gigantic dragon clutching my shoulder with his scaly claws, breathing smoke on my computer screen, obfuscating (I’ve always wanted to use that word) any temporary brilliance with some leavening gray reality. Writing is hard. Writing well is even harder. Publication is problematic.

But back to bad boys and annoying alliteration. I recently read An Unladylike Offer by Christine Merrill—written VERY well— which features the redemption of a character from an earlier book I hadn’t read (The Inconvenient Duchess, which I immediately ordered from Amazon and finished in one sitting. Ms. Merrill is now on my auto-buy list. She’d better keep cranking out more books, because I’m a fast reader.). Just when I thought I figured out why the hero was so reluctant, Ms. Merrill added another luscious layer to St. John Radwell. Buy this book. It’s wonderful.

I fell hard for Jo Beverley’s decent, determined Dare in To Rescue a Rogue, who fought opium addiction, and Loretta Chase’s lust-inducing, lying Comte d’Esmond in Secrets of the Night, another reclamation project. My new crush is Candice Hern’s devilish yet delicious Rochdale in her latest Merry Widow book, Lady Be Bad (another gorgeous cover!). While in real life my motto is “Everything in moderation,” I am a sucker for imaginary men who at one time were mad, bad and dangerous to know. I’m gleeful as they become Boy Scouts in their buttoned-up breeches by the last chapter, faithful to their wives and families. Improbable, but not impossible.

Who is your favorite reformed rake/rapscallion? Or do you like those breezy boys who think torture is a cool Scrabble seven-letter Bingo word?

Why do you think bad boys look so good…or do they bother you?

What smoke signals is your dragon sending you?

Congratulations go out to PJ!! Please send your snail-mail address to maggierobinson8@yahoo.com and your August prizes will go out by Dragon Express!