Today I am pleased to welcome Josephine Myles and JL Merrow to the low as they continue The Hot Pressure Tour. It was an absolute delight to meet both ladies a little over a week ago (my how time flies) and I offer my congratulations to them both on their most recent releases.
Do Nice Guys Always Finish First in Fiction?
Josephine Myles: Everyone loves the nice guy, don’t they? Come on, just look at him drinking his tea. That big smile and non-threatening pose make him into the perfect romantic hero… or do they?
I have to admit, I’m not much of a fan of the nice guy hero. Anyone who’s too sweet, lovely and kind makes me want to throw my e-reader at the wall. Let’s think about the word “nice”, to begin with. When the word first passed into English 500 years ago, it meant someone who was foolish or stupid. Over the centuries the meaning transformed into particular and finicky, and eventually ended up with the rather insipid way we use it today. I’m willing to eat a nice biscuit, or have a nice cup of tea, but would I really want to fall in love with someone who was just “nice”.
What do you think, Jamie: nice boy or bad boy?
JL Merrow (Jamie): Oh, I’m torn. You see, I get the appeal of the bad boy—I’ve got a definite thing for muscles and tattoos—but I also have a very soft spot for the nice guy. Take Russell in Pricks and Pragmatism—one of the sweetest guys you could meet, with his cuddly sweaters and determination not to take advantage of Luke. Or Matt in Hard Tail, with his klutziness and yummy veggie wraps. And you haven’t even met Jude yet, star of my current WIP, but let me tell you, he’s adorable! You’re going to hate him…
These are the sort of guys who’ll always greet you with a smile and an offer to cook you dinner–what more could you want?
Jo: Now you’re making me out to be a heartless bitch! ;P
Of course I want my romantic heroes to be likable, but that doesn’t mean they have to be all-round “nice”. I like to think my heroes in The Hot Floor are all good guys, but they’ve all got a more stubborn, difficult side too. Like a pearl, they all need a bit of grit in the works to make that shiny niceness palatable.
But what about Pressure Head, Jamie? Care to share something about the evolution of Phil’s character, who really wasn’t all that likable in the first draft?
Jamie: I think the trouble with first-draft Phil is that he wasn’t very keen on letting his guard down. Final version Phil is readier to show his softer side, and all the more likable for it. So thanks for pulling me up on that one! Also, while I, the author, knew Phil to be the sort of guy who helped out at homeless shelters, it wasn’t so apparent to the reader in his actions on page in the first draft.
But I’m starting to think in any case that maybe we have different definitions of “nice.” I think all three of your guys are lovely! Okay, maybe Josh is a bit stubborn, but the other two are total sweeties! *braces self for reaction*
Jo: Yeah, all right. You caught me playing devil’s advocate. They’re sweeties. I agree. But they’re definitely not perfect, and they’re not nice all the time. Rai can be bitchy and jealous, Evan can be controlling, and Josh is hopelessly in denial as to his true nature, which can lead to immature behaviour and foot in mouth syndrome. Perfection: perhaps that’s the real issue. I need a character to be likable in some way to support them (especially in a romance), but too much niceness and my teeth begin to hurt. It’s also a bit boring, wouldn’t you agree?
Jamie: Ah, denial… I think there’s a blog post in there somewhere! But yes, every character has to have some flaws, or they’re simply not believable as a person.
Jo: Agreed. And I can’t help it, but I’ve always fancied the villain of the piece. I’d take Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham over Kevin Costner’s noble (and very American) Robin Hood any day. I think the bad guys usually have so much more charisma, and their morality is often intriguingly murky. I’ve always been a fan of slashing characters on film and tv, and you always end up with a much more intriguing pairing that way than the usually rather bland relationship between hero and heroine. Think Maverick and Ice Man in Top Gun—I’m sure that sizzling sexual tension wasn’t merely in my imagination!
Jamie: Oh, come on, Alan Rickman v Kevin Costner is hardly a fair example! And for that matter, I’m not sure I’m ready to think of Tom Cruise as having sizzling sexual tension with anyone! But apart from that, I’d have to agree, it’s often more fun pairing the bad (but redeemable) boy with the nice guy.
What do you think about two bad boys together? Um, that’s suitable for polite company, I mean!
Jo: Jamie—you just fried my brain and made go on a search for those pictures of the two guys with the tattoos and the half-ripped off clothing I so adore. Of course, we can’t show them here because they’re copyrighted (and NSFW!), but I can certainly put in a link to enlighten readers as to just what I think happens when two bad boys get together! http://www.beautifulmag.com/beautiful/2008/10/lets-talk-about.html
I think it’s probably harder to make a romance work with two bad boys as they need someone more sensible to balance them out… but you see, I’m now going to take that as a challenge and my muse is getting all twitchy and excited. That really isn’t what my next project is meant to be about. Damn you, Jamie!
Jamie: *Rubs hands together in gleeful anticipation of next beta job*
Readers, what do you think? Bad boy or nice boy—which would you snog, marry or avoid?
Comment to win! Jo and Jamie are both offering a choice of a book from their backlist to one lucky commenter on this post, and all commenters will also be entered into a draw for the grand prize (details here), to be announced on 8th October.
About the books:
Some secrets are better left hidden.
When Tom, a plumber with a talent for finding hidden things, is called in to help the police locate the body of a missing woman, he unexpectedly encounters a familiar face. Phil, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case.
Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent? Meanwhile, the evidence around the woman’s murder piles up…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.
Two plus one equals scorching hot fun.
Every time Josh overhears his sexy downstairs neighbors, Rai and Evan, having loud and obviously kinky sex, Josh is overwhelmed with lust…and a longing for a fraction of the love he’s never managed to find. On the night a naked Josh falls—quite literally—into the middle one of Rai and Evan’s marathon sex sessions, the force of their mutual attraction takes control. But just as Josh dares to hope, he senses a change. Leaving him to wonder if the winds of love are about to blow his way at last…or if history is about to repeat itself.
About the authors:
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour.
Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com/
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
For more information about Jo’s published stories, regular blog posts and saucy free reads, visit JosephineMyles.com
Nice boy picture courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net