I like ’em bad


My latest read, which I’ve about halfway done with, is Diana Gabaldon‘s Lord John And The Private Matter, which takes place in mid-eighteenth-century London. I’ve only read one other Gabaldon–Outlander–and Lord John definitely does some fairly awful things in that book. But Gabaldon makes Lord John more than just a two-dimensional villain, and that, for me, is totally delicious.

See, I like ’em bad; to my mind, there’s nothing more compelling than someone who seems irredeemable being redeemed by love. One of the best examples of that is
Anne Stuart‘s Black Ice; her hero is really, really bad, but you end up believing in him because Stuart writes him so well.

I was watching Pretty In Pink last night (such a guilty pleasure it’s almost come back around the other way and is okay now), thinking how I’ve always liked the James Spader character more than the Andrew McCarthy character. Sure, he’s a snobby a–hole, but he’s hurting. I also have to admit having sympathy for the Joaquin Phoenix emperor in Gladiator.

Maybe I am irredeemable.

The act of redemption is very hard for an author to pull off; we can all cite many cases where the lukewarm villain in one book is the hero of another. Even in the first instance, the reader can tell the villain isn’t that bad. What takes talent is taking someone truly bad and making their redemption believable. In Regencies, Mary Jo Putney has done it, as has Mary Balogh.

Fiona Apple’s song “Criminal” does a great job of getting inside the mindset of the villain maybe to turn hero. The lyrics are below, with few questions for you to answer (if you’d like) following.

Fiona Apple–“Criminal:”

I’ve been a bad bad girl,
I’ve been careless with a delicate man.
And it’s a sad sad world,
When a girl can break a boy
Just because she can.

Don’t you tell me to deny it,
I’ve done wrong and I want to
Suffer for my sins.
I’ve come to you ’cause I need
Guidance to be true
And I just don’t know where I can begin.

What I need is a good defense
’cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal.
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I sinned against
Because he was all I ever knew of love.

Heaven help me for the way I am.
Save me from these evil deeds.
Before I get them done.
I know tomorrow brings the consequence
At hand.
But I keep livin’ this day like
The next will never come.

Oh, help me, but don’t tell me
To deny it.
I’ve got to cleanse myself.
Of all these lies till I’m good
Enough for him.
I’ve got a lot to lose and i’m
Bettin’ high
So I’m beggin’ you before it ends
Just tell me where to begin.
What I need is a good defense
’cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal.
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I sinned against
Because he was all I ever knew of love.

Let me know the way
Before there’s hell to pay.
Give me room to lay the law and let me go.

I’ve got to make a play
To make my lover stay
So, what would an angel say?
’cause the devil wants to know.

What I need is a good defense
’cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal.
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I sinned against
Because he was all I ever knew of love.

What I need is a good defense
’cause I’m feelin’ like a criminal.
And I need to be redeemed
To the one I sinned against
Because he was all I ever knew of love.

So–do you like bad folks turned good? Which books are the best examples of the villain made hero?

Thanks for reading–

Megan

www.meganframpton.com

 

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