Bad Boys – Forever Attractive: Bad Girls – Forever Reviled?


With Valentine’s Day falling tomorrow, Rhobin has asked us to consider why we think Bad Boys are so popular as heroes and Bad girls are so often reviled.

I loved the question because it’s one I’ve thought about a great deal over many, many years. In fact I wrote my long essay on the subject of the Anti-hero in Fiction for my Sixth Year Studies certificate.

Possibly because I knew how much the head of English disliked the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming, but possibly not.

Skipping over that tiny teenage rebellion – what is the attraction of the Bad Boy?


Well, sometimes they are, like this chap, just very attractive. That gorgeous plumage is unlikely to hide a heart of gold – more likely a cast-iron pump going full belt to protect what’s his. But he is good to look at.

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Sometimes, it’s the challenge. The idea that you’re the one for whom he’ll change. Really? He might be fun to flirt with, but he’s no long term bet.

He’s charming, arrogant, devil-may-care and a huge liability. He’s The Saint, aka Roger Moore, he’s James Bond, aka Sean Connery, he’s Antony Di Nozo, aka Michael Weatherly – and he’d be Hell to live with.

As one doesn’t have to, the imagination is free to put him on that pedestal.

Real villains have a place in my fiction. Mariah’s Marriage has Sir Lucas Wellwood. Sir Lucas is a domestic tyrant and a man at the start of the road to becoming a serial killer. Of course, that was not a recognised state of mind in 1822, so Mariah might be forgiven for getting it so right and so wrong.

Bad Girls This frock

Copy Lady Macbeth costume

Copy Lady Macbeth costume

is a replica of an original stage costume for Lady Macbeth. The young designer made it with false nails. The original was made with beetles’ casings. Both are masterpieces.

Lady Macbeth, however, was something else. Power-crazed, she drove her husband, by preying on his already susceptible frame of mind, to commit murder. There’s no forgiveness for her. She’s not, perhaps, the epitome of the ‘Bad Girl’ Rhobin is asking us about. I remember scenes from a Margaret Lockwood film – possibly banned in some places because the necklines were too low? Called the Wicked Lady, the film allowed its heroine to transgress everything until comeuppance called. Like Bond, The Saint and Di Nozzo, she is attractive to the opposite sex and gets a lot of good lines.

A more contemporary Bad Girl might be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and various TV senior female police officers. Do we revile them? Maybe we’re coming at last to respect their quiet strength, although they very rarely get the guy. Fluff and pink trimmed slippers and negligées might, just might, be slipping into history.

One thing that’s an essential truth of fiction is this: The reader does not want to read about their own slightly grey existence; the reader wants romance, fantasy and being taken out of the ordinary. So while much might be misleading, it’s great fun to be attracted and reviled: and reality is never far away.

We have a shorter than usual list of participants this month, but I’m sure you’ll find much of interest in the posts. Begin with Connie Vines and move through.

We all love to hear from you, so please share your views on Bad Boys and Girls.



Skye Taylor
Helena Fairfax
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse
Connie Vines
Fiona McGier
Rhobin Courtright


Romantic Novelists’ Association – Shortlists for the Annual Awards

I am quoting below, with permission, from the announcement posted on the website of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

“The contenders have been announced for the RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) 2016 and the overall, most prestigious, award – The Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Fern Britton, television presenter and author, will present the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Awards for 2016 during a glittering ceremony in the Gladstone Library, One Whitehall Place, London SW1 on 7th March.

The awards comprise six categories – Contemporary Romantic Novel, Epic Romantic Novel, Historical Romantic Novel, Romantic Comedy Novel, the RoNA Rose Award (for shorter and category romance) and Young Adult Romantic Novel – with five authors shortlisted for each one.

The winners of the six categories will be announced during the evening and those six authors will then go forward to compete for the overall prize of The Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Fern Britton will then reveal the author whose book has won the RNA’s most prestigious and coveted award, along with a cheque for £5,000 (five thousand pounds).”

Many of the Readers who read and scored books entered for the Awards were sourced through this blog. Thank you all. We couldn’t have got to this point without your patient assistance.

Again quoting from the RNA blog with permission:

“The Category Shortlists

The Contemporary Romantic Novel category is for mainstream romantic novels set post-1960 and includes genres such as chick lit, paranormal and romantic suspense.

Under a Cornish Sky, Liz Fenwick, Orion
High Tide, Veronica Henry, Orion
The Wedding Cake Tree, Melanie Hudson, Choc Lit
It Started at Sunset Cottage, Bella Osborne, HarperImpulse
A Jersey Kiss, Georgina Troy, Accent Press

The Epic Romantic Novel category contains serious issues or themes, including gritty, multi-generational stories.

The Book of Lost and Found, Lucy Foley, Harper Collins
The Secrets We Share, Emma Hannigan, Headline Review
The Years of Loving You, Ella Harper, Avon
After the Last Dance, Sarra Manning, Sphere
If You Go Away, Adele Parks, Headline Review

The Historical Romantic Novel category is for novels set in a period before 1960.

The Secret Kiss of Darkness, Christina Courtenay, Choc Lit
Dangerous Entrapment, Lesley Field, MuseItUp
Letters to the Lost, Iona Grey, Simon & Schuster
At the Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen, Two Roads
The Consul’s Daughter, Jane Jackson, Accent Press

The Romantic Comedy Novel is for consistently humorous or amusing novels.

One Wish In Manhattan, Mandy Baggot, Bookouture
The Royal We, Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, Head of Zeus
Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café, Milly Johnson, Simon & Schuster
How To Get Ahead in Television, Sophie Cousens, Corvus
Love From Paris, Alexandra Potter, Hodder & Stoughton

The RoNA Rose Award recognises the best in category/series and shorter romance that focus on developing a love affair between the hero and heroine.

The Wedding Reject Table, Angela Britnell, Choc Lit
From Wallflower to Countess, Janice Preston, Mills & Boon Historical
Doctor… To Duchess?, Annie O’Neil, Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Cora’s Christmas Kiss, Alison May, Choc Lit
His Lost-and-Found Bride, Scarlet Wilson, Mills & Boon Cherish

The Young Adult Romantic Novel features protagonists who are teenagers or young adults.

Crow Mountain, Lucy Inglis, Chicken House
Did I Mention I Love You?, Estelle Maskame, Black & White Publishing
Angel Dares, Joss Stirling, Oxford University Press
Lainey’s Lot, Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, Accent Press
Anya and the Shy Guy, Suze Winegardner, Entangled Teen”

Images of authors and books can be found in our photo gallery.