But What About The Bad Guy?
It’s funny how often I hear from people how much they like my bad guys. I mean, it’s kind of the last thing a writer expects to hear after someone finishes a book, but I get it all the time. If you’ve read the first two books in The Eden Series, you already know there’s an upcoming shift in antagonists, but comments from my beta readers and early reviewers lead me to believe I’ll get more of the same comments about the new bad guy (or bad girl, as this story happens to have). J
It’s taken me a while to figure out what’s generating those comments. At first I thought it was because I actually show the antagonists point of view. Not a lot of books do that, but it was a technique I wanted to try and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using it. But I think there’s more to it than just point of view. In fact, I think the answer lies in their root characterization.
Just after I’d first sold Unexpected Eden, I was talking with my editor about Maxis Steysis (the bad guy in book one and two) and his upbringing. As we were talking about what turned him into the ass he is when the story started, she asked me what was good about him. It was that pivotal question that generated subtle currents of vulnerability and depth beyond just being a tool who moved the story forward.
When crafting the new antagonist for Waking Eden, I asked myself the same thing. The result is Serena Doroz Steysis, a woman most people hate, but feel a little bad for as well. As a woman, she’s always been discounted in her family and is desperate to make her own mark. Sure she goes about doing so all wrong, but when you see what she’s grown up with, you can’t help but pity her situation.
What about you? Have you enjoyed any stories recently that featured antagonists you were subtly drawn to? Or do you prefer to keep your focus rooted to the hero and heroine? I’d love to hear your comments and opinions on the bad guys (or girls) in your favorite books.
The Eden Series
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Rhenna Morgan
Date of Publication: 7/26/2016
Number of pages: 272
Word Count: 100,121
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
The only hope of saving their race is to surrender their hearts.
With a long foretold and annoyingly vague prophecy warning of immense change for Eden, Ramsay Shantos is forced to hunt words and legends instead of rebels. For a man of action, it’s the worst kind of agony. Until he encounters a sexy librarian who bears the fated prophecy’s mark. A mark no human should possess.
Tortured by her mixed heritage, Trinity Blair has enjoyed little human touch in her life, let alone intimacy. Even the most innocent contact fills her mind with a person’s deepest, darkest secrets—except for Ramsay. Her immunity to his thoughts sparks a fragile hope that she might finally experience the passion of her Dark Spiritu brethren…unless he’s the dangerous crossroads her father predicted.
When knowledge of Eden goes viral in the human realm, Trinity is Ramsay’s only hope for quelling mass panic. Can he risk revealing the secrets of his race to the guileless ray of sunshine? Or is she the unknown source of Eden’s destruction?
Trinity dropped to her knees beside Ramsay and checked the pulse at his neck. Smooth and strong, unlike the frantic flutter of her own heart.
She smoothed a wayward strand of dark hair off his handsome face. Not just any man could pull off long hair without coming off girly, but this guy did it easily. Kind of a sexy barbarian who’d traded his leather armor for a skin-hugging T-shirt and jeans.
Ramsay’s giant friend crouched opposite her and gripped his shoulder. What was his name? John? No. Jagger. That was it. Golden hair and eyes to match—heck the guy looked like he’d been created by Midas. “What happened?”
“I don’t know.” She checked the back of Ramsay’s head. No blood, but she’d bet he’d sport a nasty goose egg come morning. God, his hair felt sinful. Thick and smooth. “He grabbed my hand and pulled me up. The next thing I knew, his eyes rolled back and he fell.”
Jagger lifted Ramsay’s head, clasped it at the back, and gripped his chin with the other. He scowled down at his friend…or was he concentrating?
“I tried to break his fall, but he’s, well…” She motioned toward Jagger’s torso. “Huge, like you.”
Ramsay’s eyes popped open with a shake of his head.
Jagger eased back on his heels and smiled. “You realize you passing out when you’re coming onto a woman is gonna make for killer blackmail.”
Ramsay studied his friend, then her, then her hand on his chest.
Her hand. On his chest. Not just touching him, but stroking. Small, comforting motions against hard, hot muscle.
Holy crap. She jerked her hand away and stood so fast, she nearly clattered onto the coffee table behind her.
Not one vision. Not before or after his fall. That alone should be enough to crow and dance around for days, but mixed with a good solid feel of those muscles, all she could think about was adding both hands to the mix—minus his T-shirt.
Ramsay stood and narrowed his eyes.
Prey. Beneath his stare, she felt like a gazelle entranced by a black panther.
Jagger stepped closer to him, as though he meant to intercept. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”
The question snapped Ramsay’s focus. “Must’ve been the trip here. My head went fuzzy and that’s all I remember.”
Odd. His words made sense, but the tone and the way he eyeballed his friend made it sound like code for something else.
Jagger’s gaze raked her head to toe before he nodded and ambled back to his seat.
Ramsay prowled closer, not quite as frightening as seconds before, but still on edge. Predatory. He offered his hand. “Let’s try that again. I’m Ramsay.”
Eye candy. The guy was pure unadulterated, grade-A eye candy. She sucked with height estimations, but her lips were on a direct line with the rock hard pecs she’d shamelessly fondled. And there were scattered light streaks in his dark hair. Not much. Only enough to imply her panther spent time lazing in the sun.
His voice rumbled, even more tempting than the rest of him. “I can wait all night.” He held his outstretched hand steady, tanned skin tempting her as strongly as his words. Definitely a sun-prone panther.
She’d touched him twice already. Surely another wouldn’t hurt. “Trinity Blair.”
Their palms met, his hand encompassing hers in a delicious heat that radiated out in all directions and made her want to snuggle up so tight no space was left between them. The world stopped. The bar ceased to exist. No images. No fearsome emotions. Just perfect, addictive touch.
Tessa’s voice cut through the cocoon of her thoughts. “Oh, my God. Did you just touch him?”
Trinity snatched her hand away and stepped back.
“Well, well, well,” Naomi’s sultry voice sounded from the loveseat as she reclined back and draped one arm along the cushions. “This is turning into an interesting night.”
Margo stood, jerked her head at Naomi to move, and motioned at Ramsay to sit. “Why don’t you two take a load off? Me and Naomi are headed to the bar. Anyone want refills?”
Oh, boy. She’d seen that matchmaking gleam in Margo’s eyes before, but never aimed at her. Definitely not good if she wanted to keep any semblance of control for the rest of the night.
“Sit with him,” Margo whispered in her ear before turning and tugging Naomi along with her.
Ramsay grinned, clearly hearing her friend’s traitorous instruction. He reached for her elbow to guide her forward, but stopped and pulled his hand away.
Trinity lurched toward the loveseat and sat as far away from everyone as possible.
Ramsay settled close, not quite in the middle but enough that no one else would join them. His gaze rested on her throat before it jumped to meet her eyes. “So, no touching. Sounds like an interesting story.”
More like the only thing interesting about her, and yet the one thing she couldn’t talk about. Even if she could share something about her Spiritu self, her brain seemed to have gone on strike in favor of ogling the strapping god planted two inches away. “It bugs me, is all. Most people make me antsy. I guess…” She rubbed her hand along her thigh. “I guess you slipped in under the radar, and then after, I didn’t have time to think.”
Again his gaze dropped to her neck, and his smile faltered.
She checked her collar and made sure the sides were pulled together, hiding the pendant her adopted father, David, had given her before he died.
“You sure?” Ramsay tilted his head, considering. “I think we should try again. Test the theory.”
Well, if that wasn’t a perfect opportunity offered up on a silver platter. All her life, the only person who’d been able to touch her without impact was Kazan. She’d give anything to try something beyond a simple handshake.
Ramsay leaned in, his arm stretching along the seat back. His facial structure radiated the same power as his body—proud nose, strong jaw covered in sexy stubble, thick eyebrows, one arched a little more than the other. His warm, earthy scent surrounded her, clean with a hint of something exotic. Sandalwood maybe. “Touch me.”
Hard to call it a command the way he said it. More of a dark, sensual dare. One that worked nerve endings she didn’t even know existed. “Where?”
As soon as the question left her mouth his expression shifted, eyelids lowering slightly over stormy silver eyes. “Carte blanche. Lady’s choice.”
About the Author:
Rhenna Morgan writes for the same reason she reads—to escape reality.
A native Oklahoman with two beautiful girls and a fantastic husband, her resume reflects her passion for new experiences. Since graduating with a Bachelors in Radio, Television, and Film at Oklahoma State, she’s racked up positions ranging from on-air radio talent, skip tracer, and promotions director, to real estate agent, project manager, and business analyst.
Like most women, she’s got obligations stacked tight from dusk to dawn. That’s where the romance comes in. Reading, or writing, romance has been her happy place since she cracked the spine on her first Christine Feehan book years ago. Nothing thrills her more than the fantasy of new, exciting worlds, and strong, intuitive men who’ll fight to keep the women they want.
Whether it’s contemporary, paranormal, or fantasy you’re after, Rhenna’s stories pack romantic escape for the women who need it.