So, I've been reading and I've been wondering, as I often do. Why is it that we are so attracted to the bad boys? We know they are no good for us and that they will likely betray us and break our hearts. We know we should take the late, great Maya Angelou's advice and when they tell us they aren't good at commitment or even at hanging around till morning, we should believe them. But we don't. Or maybe I should just speak for myself--I didn't. Past tense, mind you, as I've been happily married to a nice boy (with an edge, of course, because God knows I could never do straight nice) for a good long while now. But back to those compelling bad boys who I've been contemplating, compliments or Darynda Jones, whose boy embodies ultimate badness--as in son of Satan bad. Can't get much badder than that, can you?
And this is exactly why I love paranormal and urban fantasy--you want a bad boy, then I'll give you bad boys in spades--or in Hades as the case may be. Reyes Farrow in Jones' fun and addictive Charley Davidson series is the spawn of Hell, forged in the furnace of the underworld and sent to Earth to betray the one woman who holds the key to saving humanity. Hyperbole much? You betcha and I live for it. Who wouldn’t want to redeem this ultimate bad boy? I know I would—or would have, past tense, of course.
So, why is Darynda Jones' heroine, Charley, so drawn to this tarnished hero? Well, I'm fairly certain his smoking hot looks and laser-like focus on Charley had something to do with it. Have you ever noticed that all the bad boys seem to be gorgeous? Not to mention the chemistry generated by the whole "I was created to love you" shtick and the compulsion created by the irresistible forbidden fruit aspect. No, that's not attractive at all--kind of like a black hole doesn't draw matter inexorably to its inky depths. Yeah, like that. Resistance is futile. Surrender, Dorothy (which reminds me, I wanted to have both those phrases stenciled on our bedroom wall, but my husband was opposed. Wonder why? But I've gone fairly far off the reservation here and I'd better rein it in).
Back to those luscious bad boys and the women who love them. I have to say that I feel less like a freak when I read about paranormal heroines who fall for this cliché along with the rest of us. On the other hand, Charley belongs in the same category as Queen Betsy, so I'm so not sure we are too alike in that way, but that is another issue entirely. And, of course, Charley is the daughter of the light (similar to Blue in The Light Who Shines), so I'm not sure there's much similarity there either.
But, I'm a seeker of truth in fantasy, as you know, and there is a lot to be had in this particular trope. Lots of good women love bad men. I suspect it's because many of us have a savior complex, and most of us believe in the transformative power of true love (kind of like the Princess Bride). But in seeking to save these bad boys from themselves and their demons, many women fall into dangerous habits. Like tolerating bad or abusive behavior. Or doing things we normally would never consider, like waiting for the phone to ring when we could be out with friends or saying yes to an obvious booty call when we are looking for romance and relationship.
I don't know about you, but I was guilty more than once of believing that I was the woman who was going to tame that wild man. I was going to become as necessary to him as breathing and he was going to realize he could not live without me. And I would accomplish this Herculean feat through anticipating his every whim and fulfilling his every need. So, any guesses as to how that worked out for me? I'll give you a hint: not so well.
Because in reality, sons of Satan really are not nice guys underneath it all. And we aren't going to get them to change, as a rule. We're just going to get our hearts stomped along the way. Because another name for those bad boys is "player" and most of us are looking for "keepers." These are rarely one and the same guy.
And so it never really seemed to work out as well as it does in my beloved fantasy novels. Unfortunately, this is one instance where life doesn't really imitate art. Bad boys tend to be bad people in general. They don't often have a heart of gold underneath a gruff exterior. They don't usually settle down with one woman and stick around for the long haul. Even if a woman manages to get her guy to the altar, many of those bad boys seem to forget the part of the marriage vows where they promised to forsake all others. Sons of Satan, or their real-life counterparts, are best dealt with at arms length. Because they really are compelling and it's hard not to act like a moth to an open flame. But try to remember what happens to those poor moths. There's a reason your mother told you not to touch the stove. It hurts.