Darynda Jones

Mars and Venus 

I'm devouring the latest (and penultimate!) Charley Davidson book, The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones. This series is beloved because Charley is a phenomenal character; getting into her head is a joyous privilege. The plot has become a tad complicated, but Ms. Jones gives us a primer on events thus to date and I'm following along pretty well. In this latest installment, Reyes, Charley’s smoking hot husband and deity, has gone to Hell and returned a changed man. [Go figure, Hell has quite an effect on all beings] Charley, a deity in her own right and the Grim Reaper on this plane of existence (complicated, I told you), is trying to discern whether there is anything of the husband she knows and loves left in Reyes' distorted psyche. And while the divine aspects of the story strain credulity the heart of the issue does not.

Coincidence?  I Think Not


I just whipped through Darynda Jones' newest Charley Davidson adventure, Eleventh Grave in Moonlight. It was just what the doctor ordered to soothe my battered body and spirit. I've caught every conceivable virus out there and must admit to succumbing to depression and despair that I wasn't able to rub more than two months of health together at a stretch. But with Charley and Reyes and the team there to cheer me up, life was better than it otherwise would have been. And, as often happens while I read my beloved fantasy, I was struck by a concept, this one articulated by the inimitable Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper, god and all around bad-ass as I described her here. Upon solving a case, Charley ascribed the path to the solution as being strewn with blind luck and coincidence. But then she noted that given the way her life was unfolding, she believed less and less in coincidence. I'm with her. There are no coincidences.  This is a tricky topic. It's been said that, "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous."  I've always loved that idea; the hand of fate moving the pieces on the chessboard, or placing the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle so that everything falls into place, creating a beautiful overall picture. It's amazing when we happen to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of an opportunity or to get something we've always wanted.

When my husband and I went to Paris a few years ago, Michael wanted to eat at a famous restaurant. But the trip had been last minute and we didn't have reservations. We decided to walk over and just try to have a drink and maybe an amuse bouche at the bar. Turns out, for one hour a week, this restaurant opened up to the public on a first come, first serve basis, and we hit that hour on the nose with the precision of blind luck and coincidence. We had the meal of a lifetime and it was the crown jewel of the trip, especially for my foodie husband. Another time we casually drove up to one of the busiest state parks in Washington, asking for a campsite. We were informed that they'd been booked for months. As we were talking to the Park Ranger thinking we were going to have to spend the night in our car, he took a call. It was a cancelation, and we got a spot. That was where my then-boyfriend, now-husband and I first agreed that we both wanted marriage and children and a lifetime together, under the magnificent vista of the Milky Way on the shores of Lake Chelan. The rest, as they say, is history. 

But there's another, more ominous side to this coin. If there are no coincidences, what do we say to someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time?  What do we say to the victim of the drunk driver who happened to be crossing that intersection at just that particular moment and not five seconds later, which would have avoided the accident? What do we say to someone diagnosed with an incurable degenerative neurological disease, struck down in the prime of life?  Hey, it's just a coincidence that you caught the bum's rush? Too bad, so sad. I don't think so. 

And if we think of coincidences as generally more lucky than not, what do we do with the fact that the harder we work, the luckier we get?  Do we work to orchestrate or invite coincidences into our lives?  If we put ourselves in the path of opportunity, will we be the grateful recipients of increasing instances of happy happenstance? Do we do-create our existences to the point that coincidences are merely the physical manifestation of the strength of our will?

For me, I think I come down somewhere in the middle. I'm a big believer that we co-create our reality with fate, or the Universe, or God, or whomever is out there that's bigger than I am— and who has more of a clue about what the hell is going on than my paltry imagination can grasp. I freely admit to those of you who view faith as the crutch of wishful thinkers that that so-called crutch is the bedrock of my existence. So if I'm a mental cripple in others' minds, that's their problem, not mine. For me, coincidences are God's way of getting our attention, gently guiding us on the path, and an effective mode of communication. 

I've noticed over and over again that life shows up exactly where it's supposed to, and that fuels my faith. Even when things seem negative or disappointing—like getting dumped or cut from a team, or losing a house we've bid—I've often observed that the loss was the necessary condition to create an even bigger win—the partner of our dreams, an incredible job opportunity, a better abode. Sometimes, the coincidence of running into an old acquaintance, or seeing a particular advertisement at just the right time or generally being somewhere or doing something we otherwise wouldn't is the exact catalyst the Universe needed to get us to the next station stop on the train of life.

Coincidences can act as cairns, signposts along the way, letting us know we are on the right path. A chance encounter might be the wake up call we needed to make a course correction. Or, an unlikely event, seen as pure accident, might be the message we needed to help us make a difficult decision or rethink a choice we've already made.

I feel bad for those who brush off the benefits of coincidence as the spastic eruptions of Universal chaos. Mindless and meaningless. I don't believe that for a hot second.  I'm with Charley Davidson, bad-ass extraordinaire, who, like me, is rich recipient of coincidence after coincidence that continue to place us in the right time and location to enjoy the gifts of a benevolent Universe. Perhaps not every occurrence is benign, but there is enough joy and good that happens to keep me hobbling along on the crutches of faith, confident that I'm being supported by someone or something that has my back, with a gentle hand guiding me along the path if I'm but willing to pay attention to blind luck and coincidence.

High Maintenance

High Maintenance.png

I just finished Darynda Jones's The Curse of Tenth Grave. Ms. Jones, please, please write faster. I'm dying to know what happens to Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper, god, and all around bad-ass. Charley has taken her place in the pantheon of extraordinary heroines, whose ranks include Anita Blake, Merry Gentry, Jane Yellowrock, Mercy Thompson, Sookie Stackhouse and, of course, Mac Lane. These women rock. Charley is a bit different. She's highly irreverent. She's also got a severe case of ADHD. And, as she described one of her clients, Charley has "turned high maintenance into an extreme sport." I love that woman. Charley has the attention span of a tse-tse fly. She is easily distracted by sparkly things, good-looking men, and the smell and taste of delicious foods. I can so relate. But the aspect of her personality that I find the most interesting is how difficult it is to keep up with her. While she is highly entertaining about it, she is incredibly demanding and very particular in her standards, which are a bit strange. These include a need to name every inanimate object she encounters—her car is "Misery" her shower is "George" and she named her breasts "Danger" and "Will Robinson." Enough said. She is a poster child for "high maintenance."  I’m not criticizing her for this. In fact, I think being high maintenance is highly underrated.

I have been called high maintenance my whole life. At first, I felt bad about it. Who was I to demand more than my ‘fair’ – according to some - share of attention, help, support, and, most significantly, accommodation?  Why should there be special exceptions for moi?  Why don't the rules apply to yours truly?  When asked like that, it does seem unfair, I must admit. Shouldn't rules apply to all equally without regard to race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, or fashion sense (muffin top, camel toe and plumber's crack would be outlawed in my world, but unfortunately, no one asked me)? I totally get that. Except I don't.

So many rules, social mores and others' expectations are just stupid. Further, while we should all be considered equal under the law and in terms of the value of our fragile and precious human lives, we're not all equal, and that is called reality. Some of us got extra helpings of brains, brawn, serenity, beauty, determination and perseverance, curiosity, resilience, imagination, etc., etc., etc.  And some of us got fucked in these and other ‘departments’.   Perhaps we're spinning on a karmic wheel, and if we got additional servings of the good stuff in this life, maybe it was to make up for the fact that we got hosed in another one. And maybe if the cards we were dealt in this incarnation were less than wonderful, it's because we were so incredibly blessed in previous stints on this plane. I have no idea. But the facts remain; we're not all the same. We are glorious in our individuality, and there is no way to aggregate us by any of the aforementioned categories; we need to be judged on our own merits.

And that is where the high maintenance aspect comes in. High maintenance requires extra accommodation. It requires putting up with, tolerating, accepting and actively condoning behavior that is outside the norm. In Charley's case, her friends and loved ones take her as she is, which includes her ridiculous naming habit, coffee addiction, and her propensity to get herself into many a sticky wicket. She gets away with lying, cheating, stealing and the occasional assault and battery, all in the name of serving the greater good. There is a great deal of relative moralism in Charley's world. And it's acceptable because of what she accomplishes with her shenanigans.

Many years ago I received an award for being in my job as a defense contractor for five years (no, not for doing a good job, just for doing it. For not getting fired or quitting the job. This says a lot about the state of our society, but that is the topic of another post). One of my party favors was a gift for my husband from my boss—a "high maintenance survival kit"—because, you know, I'm so high maintenance. And the whole thing would have been mean-spirited except for the point my boss was trying to make: that while I required tremendous levels of accommodation, time and attention, it was all worth it because I delivered so much professionally. I'm pretty sure my husband would agree with this equation in the personal realm too (at least I hope so). So, high maintenance, high performance.

And that gets us to the crux of the issue:  the rules were developed for the everyone, yes. But rules can be totally too constricting when we are trying to do extraordinary things. I'm not talking about rules like the Ten Commandments or the Golden one. And I get that chaos would reign if everyone had the kind of blatant disregard for law and order that I can sometimes have. I've always found that it is so much better to ask for forgiveness than permission.  I've also never seen a rule that didn't have an exception. Those of us who are of the high maintenance persuasion are going to make omelets. So, we're going to break a few eggs. And we're going to keep asking for accommodation. Of course, there are those who are high maintenance without merit, which is just bad. But we're talking about those of us who use our powers for good, not evil. Like Charley who breaks the rules –for the good of us all.




Great Expectations

went to a yoga retreat with one of my closest friends in Costa Rica, one of my favorite places. I love yoga; it's changed my life. So

I was expecting fireworks. Ecstasy. Inner transformation and killer abs.

Bliss, right? Well… not so much. This trip was nothing that I expected. It's possible it was everything I needed, but that remains to be seen, and, frankly, I'm doubtful. Moreover,

I was there a freaking week and only got one book read

, Darynda Jones'

Dirt on Ninth Grave

, the latest in the Charley Davidson series. Thankfully, it was excellent, although it wasn't anything I was expecting, either. Sometimes that's okay, and sometimes it's not. In yoga, they talk a lot about letting go of expectations. Unmet expectations usually create suffering. I can testify that this is true.

Suffering takes us out of the present moment

, which is not a good thing. My friend noted several times that I didn't seem to be in the moment during my yoga retreat. Kind of ironic. I came on this retreat to be more present in time and space. And I totally blew it. Because the whole experience didn't meet my expectations. So basically, I put myself in a revolved half moon pose—you know—twisted and off balance.

But I couldn't help myself. I tried. I did. But with twenty people, most of whom I didn't know, there were constant distractions.

Clearly, group travel is not in my future.

Good to know, I guess. And I felt like Goldilocks—the ocean was too rough, the humidity was too high, the massage therapist missed each and every trigger point on my body. Yes, I know that I sound like an ungrateful idiot princess who didn't get her way and can't appreciate all the blessings and abundance in my life.

Except that isn't true. Or, at least, it's not entirely true. But I struggled mightily with my unrealized expectations the whole trip. Also, it was a retreat, and, as I've written about before, it wasn't supposed to be entirely comfortable. Just enlightening. Which it was, I think. But that is fodder for another post. Today we're talking about expectations. I found myself wishing, repeatedly, that I were more like Charley Davidson as the retreat progressed.

In Dirt on Ninth Grave, Charley has lost her memory and is living in upstate New York, working as a waitress. The amnesia thing is a problem, because she is The Grim Reaper, and souls pass through her and onto the other side (up or down, depending).  But regardless of her extraordinary status, in this book she is clueless, scared, and confused. But none of that negates her true nature as a deeply caring, morally good, if slightly flighty, person. In addition to that, one thing I noticed about Charley as I was reading and cogitating on my own unhappiness over my unmet expectations, is the fluidity with which Charley lets her own expectations roll off her back. She's a duck. In several passages, Charley (who doesn't actually remember her own name), encounters an unexpected situation, takes note that it wasn't what she expected, and simply moves on.

Interestingly, I used to believe I was just like Charley. Flexibility and Spontaneity were my middle names, followed by resourcefulness when situations weren't what I'd predicted or assumed. I was, or so I thought, a ‘roll with the punches’, ‘turn on a dime’, ‘silver lining’ kinda gal. Just like Charley. But in Costa Rica, that chick was nowhere to be found.

Instead, she was replaced with Nervous Nellie, Debbie Downer, and Goldilocks, for whom nothing was ever just right. What happened?  Damned if I know. (Well, I might have some thoughts on that, however, they need to coalesce a bit before I share them). I will say this: expectations become a major problem when the stakes are perceived to be high. It seems the greater the expectations, the greater the suffering associated with their remaining unfulfilled.

Unlike my last retreat, where I had no clue what to expect, I had a lot of expectations around this one. I expected to enhance my yoga practice. I did get into Crow pose, but beyond that, I'm not sure I advanced. I expected to have deep and meaningful conversations with my fellow yogis and yoginis. Except for my close friend and travel companion that didn’t happen.  It's hard to create intimacy among strangers. I expected to go deep, but I found I couldn't get there with the schedule, and the people and the chitchat and the expectations of others weighed heavily on me, despite my best efforts to ignore them. Tough to ignore the energy of so many interconnected people. Perhaps if I were more enlightened, it would have worked better. But I'm just not there yet. I had expectations about directed conversations, about leadership and about the activities that were based wholly on my imagination. Apparently, my imagination, about which I sometimes despair, is working just fine. The trouble was my inability to find truth in any of my fantasies in Costa Rica.

None of this is to say that there weren't moments of happiness, joy and freedom. There were. There were moments of ‘ground-ed-ness’ in the sands of the beach and the waves of the ocean surrounding me. There were moments of authentic connection with people I'd never met or didn't know well, which was nurturing. And there was the inspiration of great natural beauty that always uplifts me. I just wish I could have strung a few more of those moments together, into say a whole day or even a week.

Then I had a weekend alone in Houston to contemplate all of my great expectations and my great disappointments thanks to an unexpected blizzard. All in all, life is good and my memory is intact, unlike poor Charley. And I had a weekend to myself to read, write and do yoga. Sounds like a great retreat to me. Namaste.

<img src="https://www.facebook.com/tr"/>

The Burden of Beauty

The burden of beauty.jpg

I've spent my whole life wanting to be beautiful and not making it. In my mother's world, the one where I spent my formative years, being beautiful was all that really counted—followed closely by being rich, which being beautiful would inevitably achieve. In the world according to my mother, it was never too early to start planning for plastic surgery (she dragged me to have my nose fixed when I was 15), watching my figure like a hawk (which resulted in my developing a major eating disorder), and happily shelling out ridiculous sums of money for couture clothing while balking at buying me a computer for school. The bitch of it  (besides her) was that I never did live up to her standards of beauty and I was therefore always a disappointment to her.  So imagine my surprise as I'm reading the eighth installment of Darynda Jones' entertaining Charley Davidson series, Eighth Grave After Dark, when Ms. Jones introduces the idea that beauty can be a burden, something that is undesirable and even annoying (to be fair, this may not have been the first time she introduced the idea, but maybe the first time I was able to hear it). In the series, Charley, a supernatural being of great power, cleverly disguised as a rather flighty private investigator, falls in love with the ultimate bad boy (about whom I've written here), the son of Satan, a man of impossible beauty named Reyes Farrow. Reyes is smoking hot. As in literally—he burns with the fires of Hell. But he's also figuratively sizzling, with temperatures approaching asphalt in Death Valley in July. Men want to be him. Women want to be with him.

The way Darynda Jones describes him, Reyes can't go to the restroom without throngs of women throwing their thongs at him. Ladies lose IQ points as well as their ability to speak coherently when Reyes walks into the room. And he can cook!  Not to mention his sexual prowess. Sounds like a fairy story, right? Right. But the interesting part of this cautionary tale involves the fact that for Reyes, his beauty is definitely a liability rather than an advantage. He has no interest in the female interest he generates, because he only has eyes for one woman—the one he came to earth to claim, Charley. He doesn't even glance at other women, not even in the "I may be happily married but I'm not dead" sense of the word. And when there is no possibility of these women's attentions being returned, it's like finding out your secret crush is gay. Huge bummer—for the women, that is.

As I have no real idea what it would be like to be so beautiful that men fall over themselves when they behold my visage, I'll have to use my imagination and consider what a day in the life of Angelina Jolie must be like. It seems like the problem with beauty is that it's hard to see beyond it. I mean, you've got to feel sorry for Brad Pitt—yes, he gets to have sex with Angelina Jolie, but no one really takes his acting as seriously as he'd like because he's just too pretty to be talented. I think folks assume that when God gives out the goodies, it would be too unfair to heap too much goodness in any one place. In fact, female actors who hope to garner Academy Awards have to go ugly—think Halle Berry in Monster's Ball or Charlize Theron in Monster—are we sensing a theme here?

Beauty can also be a crutch, a shortcut someone uses to avoid working too hard or expending too much effort beyond making sure hair and makeup are looking fresh and crisp. Humans are attracted to beauty, defined by our lizard brains as symmetry, because being balanced apparently signals strong genetic stock, suitable for breeding and passing along our DNA to the next generation. So beautiful people get stuff the rest of us don't.

I remember during my misspent youth that my friends and I would go to the New York clubs like Area and Studio 54 and try to get in.  And some guy would be standing above the multitudes, looking down and choosing who can come in and who would get kicked to the curb, stranded on the sidewalk because they weren't good looking enough to warrant entry. I had one friend (she's still my friend) who would come to visit from LA and inevitably, when she was with me, we'd get picked to go in. I was always grateful, but also wistful that I didn't have that kind of mojo. 

I have another friend who dislikes getting any sort of compliment or comment on her appearance because she feels that by focusing on her physicality, others are dissing her spirit. I'm not sure I agree with her, but it's an interesting point. I do agree that there is far too much focus on our physical appearance and not enough on our characters and our personalities. Not to mention my personal favorite, our intelligence in all its aspects—academic, emotional, cultural, street smarts, common sense, etc. How we look has no bearing on any of that, except that a good brain can sometimes provide work-arounds for less-than-beautiful areas of our physical selves (a good sense of style and knowledge of hair products are key here).

So, all in all, it's hard to say whether beauty is a gift or a curse or both. I think the most difficult aspect of beauty must be the prospect of losing it. Beauty fades. Character endures. Sometimes, as in my mother's case, the wilting of her rose over time meant her useful life was over (in her mind). It was very sad to watch her wither and withdraw into herself, as she perceived her looks to diminish and finally disappear altogether (in fact, she was more beautiful as a mature woman than she'd been as a young woman, but she never saw that, sadly).

So, I think my mother was dead wrong, and there is so much more to life than what we look like. I aspire to be beautiful to my husband, but behind that, I can't see that it makes much difference. I like to take care and pride in my appearance, but that reflects my sense of self respect and self worth more than a need or desire to be attractive to others. And, as I never achieved true beauty in this lifetime, I'll thank Ms. Jones for the object lesson on the pitfalls of being Brad Pitt. Or Reyes Farrow. And I'll be grateful for the perspective and truth I continue to find in my beloved fantasy books. 

Nothing More Than Feelings

Nothing more than feelings.jpg

I'm reading the latest installment of Darynda Jones' Charley Davidson series, which is so much fun. The books are getting better as they go along, which is awesome. My only real complaint is that I started the series when only the first three or four books were out, and I've had to read new installments one at a time instead of all at once (when Charlaine Harris was writing the Sookie Stackhouse books, I reread the whole series every year when the new one came out, which was awesome but no longer feasible with my schedule and my list of "to read" books, which is getting longer all the time). But I digress. Again. I know, if you only had a nickel for every time I do that, you'd have a pile of nickels. Got it. 

Back to Seventh Grave and No Body, which has made me laugh out loud on several occasions, including the scene where Charley and her best friend are watching a birthing video on the Internet, which an onlooker mistakes for South American porn. I mean, really, I had no idea that one could discern the various ethnicities of porn to such a degree of granularity. And the little sayings at the top of the chapters always make me chuckle (my favorite for this book is "We are all searching for someone whose demons play well with ours."). And who wouldn't fall in love with a character who asks people whether they like their coffee the way she likes her Death Stars, "gigantic, on the Dark Side, and powerful"?  To quote Darynda Jones some more, "Gawd, I love these characters!"  

But now I'm really off the reservation and need to find my way home. Maybe I could get some help from Charley's fiancé, the ultimate bad boys of whom I've written before. He has a map to the gates of Hell permanently tattooed on his arms. Might help. Might not, as I'm drifting even further afield. So, if you could read my emotions now, you would know that I've been very busy amusing myself, but now I'm anxious that I might have annoyed you, dear reader, and that my indulgence could cost me your good opinion of me (assuming you had one to begin with, although if you are taking the time to read my posts, that's probably a good bet--wow, with those kinds of deductive skills, I could be a detective). The issue at hand is whether we would want our significant others to know what we are feeling.  Like, all the time.  In every situation. When I first read about Charley and Reyes' ability to read each other's emotions I was fairly appalled. I can't imagine wanting my husband to be able to know me that clearly and completely. But then I started to pay a bit more attention at home and to reflect on the idea of what we hide from others and what we think we hide, but really don't.

So, would we want our significant others, our friends and even strangers to be able to read our emotions like that?  Again, I think not, in a big way. But, the question at hand is whether we actually fool ourselves into thinking our feelings are so well hidden to begin with. Personally, I've been told I wear my heart on my sleeve so much that I've got a permanent divot on my bicep. Apparently, I shouldn't count on a lucrative career as a professional poker player either.  It's been said that when I school my face it resembled preschoolers playing in the sandbox, rather than a well disciplined organ of my iron-fisted control. So, for me, I'm already an open book. Just ask my husband, who seems to know me better than I know myself sometimes (not an inconsequential feat for someone as introspective and contemplative as I am). He often anticipates my thoughts and actions to an almost scary degree of accuracy. And here I was thinking I'd been clever in telling our children not to let Dad know I bought them the really expensive brand of football gloves when he specifically told me to get the cheaper ones. He can always read my pride in thinking myself clever and my guilt in disassembling. And he knows.

But what about those of us who pride ourselves on how close to the vest we play our cards?  Those of us who delight in denying our companions and observers any insight into the inner workings of our minds or even an inkling of the true feelings of our hearts?  I've written about these people too, as well as my utter delight in cracking the ice that obscures the churning waters beneath click here.  How would these paragons of cluelessness feel if everyone knew what they were feeling?  I'm thinking “horrified” would be a good descriptive adjective to use here. 

Having said that, though, I think the clues are there for those who care to look, even if we can't be 100% accurate about what we are reading off of others. I think that in truth, everyone has "tells" if we know what to look for. A clench of the jaw, a flash of the eyes, movement of the Adam's apple as someone swallows with surprise or some other deep emotion. I think none of us is as inscrutable as we think we are, although some people do elevate obfuscation to high levels.

So, maybe we are more like Charley and Reyes and know what others are feeling than it appeared at first glance. Maybe we just need to pay a bit more attention to becoming aware that there are teeming emotions all around us and respond accordingly, rather than becoming annoyed at the driver in front of us who didn't start as quickly as we'd like or the person in line ahead of us who failed to get her money out of her wallet even though we'd been standing there forever. Because if you pay attention, you might notice that the other is roiling with emotions because they just lost a parent, or a job, or their minds over something that sent them over the edge. 

Feeling others' feelings can make us more empathetic people. Blocking, as Charley tries to do briefly and with hurtful consequences, results in making us less empathetic, less connected, less human. And, as often happens for me, it took a book about demons and angels, not to mention ghosts and other supernatural phenomena, to appreciate the reality of my more mundane world and existence.

Bad Boys-Whatcha Gonna Do?

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.