With: Carolyn Crane
Congratulations to "Timitra", the winner in Carolyn's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!
Hey guys, it’s so nice to be here on Just Romantic Suspense. I’ve been getting your newsletter forever (thanks!) but this is my first time here. And I have a very important thing to discuss.
Is it just me or are we experiencing an explosion of alphahole wildness? It feels like that sometimes. The guys I’m encountering in books lately are seriously over the edge.
Confession: I kind of love it.
I can’t quite stop enjoying these guys. Seeing them do something wrongheaded or be really dangerous and then get totally consumed by lust and love is just deeply satisfying. I love to watch them be bad, to go out of their minds, to turn all that dangerous badness toward protecting the heroine and demolishing all enemies.
I so revel in a book where my jaw is just dropping. I love how it makes me feel inside, kind of like free-falling. I have that with dark romance a lot, but on the suspense side, with Anne Stuart. I love the feeling of a dark Anne Stuart hero, like in Cold as Ice.
My favorite experience of this was with a pretty obscure Anne Stuart book, xxx. For the first third of the book, seriously, I did not know if x was the hero or the villain.
Confession: I loved every minute. I love that experience of not knowing what to think of the hero. It makes me feel alive, like the way a really violent thunderstorm does.
It’s kind of interesting being on the writing end of that. I think readers sometimes imagine that we writers have everything all worked out, and we’re just these mastermind gods throwing our lightning bolts. But speaking for myself, I’m always doing more exploring than masterminding.
I’ll come up with something and think, can I really have him do that? Is this going too far? But I waaaaaant it!! I think at some point you have to not worry about things and let something like that spin.
In BEHIND THE MASK, the hero, Hugo, is this retired mercenary living on a windswept mountain in South America and the heroine, Zelda, is an ex-spy posing as her sister who is a prostitute.
So Hugo ends up taking Zelda captive. It’s a completely wrong thing to do, but I loved pushing him into that limbo between wrong and right. He goes on to treat her in a super caveman way. Like here, dealing with a wound she got:
“Hey.” She tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip around her fingers and continued to peel back the tape, scowling.
“I will be the judge of that,” he said, keeping hold of her as though she were an unruly child.
She gaped at him. He would treat her like a child, now?
Yes. Yes, he would.
She watched, stunned, as he peeled the tape up, little by little.
He would treat her as he wished because she was his captive. She sucked in a breath. It was insane.
She studied his dark brows and his inky lashes. His face had a hard, jagged quality, especially in the harsh cut of his cheekbones. The furrow between his eyes seemed to deepen. Anger? Concern? Annoyance?
He grunted as the bandage came up. Air rushed in around against the pink of the wound, cooling her tender skin. She felt exposed to the world.
“See? It’s fine,” she whispered hoarsely. “It’s nothing.” The last thing she wanted was for him to get it into his head that she needed stitches.
Then later in the scene…
He went to work, rather expertly irrigating the wound over the sink. She stood there, forcing herself to endure his strange, rough brand of care. What choice did she have?
“You’re delaying dinner,” she said.
“Then you’ll cook faster.”
She bit her lip, praying for him not to get it in his head to stitch her up, much as she needed it. Of course he’d be good at it. Medievally meticulous, the way he’d been with the knives on the field. He was a man into control and precision.
Hugo patted her skin dry.
“Thank you.” She pulled her arm, but he didn’t let go—he kept hold, studying the wound.
“This will require a stitch,” he said. “Perhaps two or three.”
“No,” she said.
“It is not a matter of debate. The cut is deep.”
Her eyes fell to the box of vendas de mariposa—butterfly bandages—that he’d pulled down with the stuff. “Those bandages—they’ll keep the skin together. One of those would be perfect. That’s all I need. Please…”
Again he twisted his lips. It meant something when they twisted like that; hesitation, maybe.
“Please, Hugo,” she added softly, using his name, aware that she was pulling him, that she could pull him, affect him. It was a little bit of a thrill, like walking a bloodthirsty bear on the end of a silken cord.
“Do you remember what I said? This is not a democracy.” He released her and grabbed an ice cube from the freezer. “You will hold this to the flesh.” He pressed the ice to her wound.
She complied, full of disbelief and awe at the way he was steamrolling her with his one-pointed confidence. She’d had that confidence once, before Friar Hovde. It was a kind of revelation, seeing it in him, being near him. That fuck-it-all confidence. God, it was beautiful.
It was only when you’d lost your confidence that you came to see its beauty, like a long-lost lover who will never again have you.
He taped plastic over the rough counter and wiped down the surface with rubbing alcohol. He then snapped on latex gloves and doused them with the alcohol, rubbing his hands together to spread it around. He watched her eyes as he held his hands still, hovering them, allowing the bacteria to dry and die.
“Shhh,” he said.
Shhh? Nobody said shhh to her. Treated her like this. Ordered her. She was the co-leader of the fucking Associates.
He torched the needle with a lighter, then rubbed it down with alcohol and threaded it with green fishing line. His technique was good; he was even doing the sterile area. He sterilized his forceps, then he took the ice from her and placed her arm down on the less sterile side of the setup, holding it in place, angled just so.
“You can look away if you like.”
Of course she doesn’t look away. Zelda is a little badass herself—a perfect match for Hugo.
I think the thing about an alpha gone wild isn’t the question of whether it’s wrong or right, or is it too far, though those are important questions, but more, how will the other characters deal with it? And most of all: is it true for this character?
Jaw-dropping moments are exciting to read and write about, but I think in the end, a character has to make sense inside.
Do tell!! what was your favorite jaw-dropping moment in a book?
Carolyn will be giving away a digital copy of one of her other Associates books. Against the Dark, Off the Edge or Into the Shadows. The winner gets to pick one.
BEHIND THE MASK (Associates, #4)
TO SAVE HER PROSTITUTE TWIN SISTER SHE HAS TO SWITCH PLACES WITH HER...
When her estranged sister is won in a card game by a brutal drug cartel, Zelda knows what she has to do: take her place. Save her. Focus on infiltrating the shadowy group--and try not to think about why she left the spying game years ago. She’s slept with dangerous criminals before; she can do it again.
Hugo Martinez is one of South America’s most lethal and wanted men, a legendary mercenary living on a windswept mountain. Even at the height of the war he wasn’t in the habit of taking women captive, but the American whore has seen his face. And he and the orphan boy need a cook. He shouldn’t want this woman, but there’s something so unusual about her…
Meanwhile, Zelda finds herself falling for her captor…but is he the killer she’s been hunting all these years?
About the Author
I am a RITA-winning author of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and other tales of love and adventure (and erotic & dark romance as NYT bestselling author Annika Martin). My books have been published by Random House and Samhain, and I also go the indie route. I work a straight job as a marketing writer, I love to read in bed and run, I’m passionate about helping animals, and I make my home in Minnesota with my husband and two cats.
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