We are so happy to have Vanessa Kelly with us again today. Vanessa is not only a fantastic author, but a delightful person as well, as all the Dishes can attest to---one of the highlights of RWA is seeing our "old" friends and meeting new ones. Her third full length historical novel, My Favorite Countess was released on May 3rd. I'm reading it right now, and it is fantastic! Stay tuned for my review on May 9th. Please join me in welcoming Vanessa back to The Romance Dish. She's going to tell us all about her "bad girl" heroine, Bathsheba.
Redeeming The Bad Girl
Hi everybody! It’s great to be back with the gals who dish and I want to thank all of you for having me on. I’m so excited to be here because my latest Regency-set historical romance, My Favorite Countess, hit the shelves on Tuesday. And I’ll be honest with you—I lurve this book. It was so much fun to write, partly because the hero was so dreamy but also because the heroine presented me with a real challenge.
Bathsheba, my heroine, is a bad girl. Sometimes she can be a very bad girl, and that makes life interesting for the romance writer. We’re used to bad boy heroes. The reformed rake, the former delinquent who ends up as either a cop or a soldier, the vampire who falls in love and regains his soul, that’s something we’re all familiar with. And we love it, because a man like that is a four-square hero but he also brings a dark and dangerous vibe that usually works out pretty well for the heroine—especially in bed!
Nothing is more satisfying to a reader than to see a man who formerly walked on the wild side transform through the love of a good woman.
But reforming a bad girl? It’s not done very often, at least not in historical romance.
I didn’t deliberately set out to create a redemption story for the heroine of this book. It was Bathsheba herself who drove the narrative. For those of you who read my previous book, Sex and The Single Earl, you’ll remember that Bathsheba was the villainess of the piece. She was very nasty to the heroine, even going so far as to attempt to destroy Sophie’s reputation. That book needed a villainess and Bathsheba filled the role very well.
So how crazy was it that I decided to make Bathsheba the heroine of my next book? Real crazy, but even as far back as Sex And The Single Earl I could envision her backstory and the motivations that drove her to act like such a vixen. Those motivations had to be rock solid if I had any chance of redeeming Bathsheba, because who the heck wants to read about a beautiful but viper-tongued countess who leaves a trail of destruction in her wake?
Um, actually, I did! So I set myself the task of redeeming her. I gave her a compelling reason why she had to be so ruthless, and I made it one that would be sure to engender sympathy in the reader. Bathsheba has a great deal of courage in her own right, and she’s been forced into choices she never wanted to make. She also takes responsibility for her bad behaviour and doesn’t make excuses. I really like that about her. She does what she does because she believes it’s the right thing to do, and she’ll suffer the consequences if she has to.
And I do make her suffer the consequences. Bathsheba must tread a pretty steep path to redemption, but it’s the only way a reader could ever accept and forgive her past behaviour. Of course, I also made sure to give her a hero who could prod her to make that journey—Dr. John Blackmore, crusading slum doctor and all around good guy. He’s the exact opposite of everything Bathsheba though she ever wanted in a man, and he’ll force her to see that sometimes you have to make the truly right and good choice, even if it hurts.
Redemption is a classic and much-loved theme in romance novels, and I’d love to see more bad girls take that path. After all, why should guys have all the fun?
What about you, readers? Can you think of any other novels where the heroine must be redeemed from a path of wickedness, or at least naughtiness? Do you like that kind of story, or do you prefer your heroines to be as pure as the driven snow? One commenter will win a copy of My Favorite Countess.
Vanessa Kelly writes Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra, and was named by Booklist as one of the new stars of historical romance. She also writes contemporary romance with her husband under the pen name of VK Sykes. You can visit her on the web at: http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com