So I’m going to ramble—as you can see from the title above—about redemption, the rake and the reluctant hero because 1) the title sounds good and 2) that’s what I want to talk about.
With Hope’s Folly’s release this week, I’ve been surfing blogs and review sites to see what readers and reviewers think of Philip and Rya. Beyond the obvious reasons for doing this there’s my curiosity about reaction to my character of Admiral Philip Guthrie who, in the world of romance novels, would fit more squarely under the Good Boy banner than the rogue or Bad Boy.
The romance genre—and science fiction romance hasn’t shied from this—is replete with rakes and rogues. Bad boys in need of reformation. Susan Grant penned the fabulous Reef in How To Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days and the wonderfully sexy Finn in Moonstruck. Nora’s JD Robb has Roarke. Robin D Owens has Ruis and a ton of others. Rowena Cherry has her bad boy gods. And the list goes on. There’s even my Sully in Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark.
Bad boys are fun. And there’s something satisfying about watching a rake succumb to love. We root for Inara and Mal to finally get together in Joss Whedon’s universe. And author Colby Hodge has her sights set on Jayne… If anyone can reform Jayne, it’s Colby aka Cindy Holby.
Philip Guthrie didn’t need reforming. Okay, he needed a kick in the pants over what happened between him and Chaz Bergren but Philip was and is a “good guy.” Honorable. Trustworthy. A veritable Boy Scout.
Which makes him a bit odd as a hero of a romance novel, even a science fiction romance novel. But as I write I’m beginning to discover the lure of the good man.
Good guys need love too.
Maybe I should get a bumper sticker printed up (do starships have a place for bumper stickers?)
Good guys also need redemption, maybe even more than those sexy rogues, because they are good guys. They know when they’ve failed. They hurt deeply when they’ve failed. They know what’s right and what’s wrong. Moreover, they know they’ve tried to do the right thing and when the right thing goes sour, they take the blame inside themselves.
Book reviewer (and former US Naval Academy instructor) Dr. Phil Jason uses this phrase in his review of Folly: “The tug of war between decorum and passion…” and I like that immensely. I think it nicely sums up what happens when a good guy gets his essence pushed to the limit.
A rogue can struggle against doing what he sees to be the wrong thing, but the wrong thing is what comes naturally to him. The good guy, well, doing the wrong thing isn’t even in his vocabulary. So it becomes a very real “tug of war between decorum and passion.”
Which makes it, to me, somehow deeper. Somehow more threatening. As an author, you always ask yourself what a character has to lose? And a loss of honor, a loss of self-respect, is a huge thing.
He’s driven by something even deeper: part honor, part untapped potential and a very real knowledge that he—and someone he cares about—have their backs against the wall. And there’s no way out but the one he has to take.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.” ~Maryanne Williamson
Eighty thousand words to go.
HOPE’S FOLLY, Book 3 in the Gabriel’s Ghost universe, Feb. 24, 2009 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books: http://www.linneasinclair.com/
“If we can’t do the impossible, then we need to at least be able to do the unexpected.” —Admiral Philip Guthrie