Monday, November 14, 2011

Male On Monday: The Allure of the Bad boy

Romantic Suspense Author Gail Barriet confesses why she loves a Bad Boy.
As a writer of romantic suspense novels, I spend a lot of time thinking about men -- their personalities and goals, what motivates them and how they think.  I have to analyze what makes them appealing to my heroines -- including, of course, how they look.


It’s a tough job, I know.  But what makes a man attractive is a question

I’ve pondered for years, ever since my best friend in elementary school pointed to the Beatles poster on her basement wall and asked me which one I preferred.  I was embarrassed to admit that I didn’t like any of them.  Although I loved their songs, I’d never fantasized about them.  Since she refused to accept my indifference, I randomly chose Ringo Starr, Prince Valiant haircut and all.  What I didn’t confess to her was the secret crush I had on the local bad boy, the kid I’d seen smoking behind the dance hall one summer night.  He wasn’t as cute as Ringo Starr, but he was far more alluring to me.  He was daring, a rule-breaker, off-limits.  The kind of guy I knew I wasn’t supposed to like.
So began my lifelong fascination with bad boys.  Not that there’s anything wrong with admiring the latest Hollywood heartthrob. 

I was as much a sucker as the next girl for Paul Newman’s gorgeous blue eyes.  But what I really liked about his eyes was their intensity.  I eventually realized that it wasn’t classical good looks that drew me to a man, but his intelligence and passion, his commitment to his honor and cause.  His willingness to take on world, refusing to bend to society’s unfair dictates no matter what the cost.  I liked the underdog, a man who came from nothing, but whose character made him succeed.

One such man is Richard Sharpe, the hero of Sharpe’s Rifles.  Raised from the ranks after saving Wellington’s life, he faces disdain and discrimination from the aristocratic officers who refuse to accept a lower class man in their midst.  He also suffers resentment and insurrection from his former comrades, the enlisted men -- until he proves he knows how to lead.  In battle after battle, despite the seemingly insurmountable strikes against him, he uses his intelligence, street smarts, and survival instincts to win the fight -- and earn his men’s respect.

And since that indomitable spirit comes in a scruffy package, so much the better for me.  Forget Pierce Brosnan sipping a highball or the boyish looking Brad Pitt.  I’ll take worn blue jeans over a tuxedo.  A Harley over a Maserati.  Give me a battle-hardened Mel Gibson.  Tough-looking Javier Bardem.  Liam Neeson with his nose slightly out of whack. 

Not surprisingly, the heroines in my books share my taste in men.  Whether he’s a soldier, mercenary, or thief, the heroes in my stories are men who stand and fight.  They’ve got brooding scowls, rough-hewn jaws coated with beard stubble, and they don’t always play by the rules -- in or out of bed.  But the heroine can depend on them.  They’ll defeat her enemies and defend her with their dying breaths.  And when they turn that intensity and passion on can’t get more thrilling than that.

So what about you?  Do you have a favorite bad-boy hero?  Any secret crushes?  Am I the only woman in America who isn’t enthralled with Brad Pitt?  I’d love to hear!

A former Rita® finalist, award-winning author Gail Barrett has put her fascination with unorthodox heroes to use in High-Risk Reunion, the first book in her Stealth Knights miniseries about semi-reformed bad boys who use their skills for the greater good.To learn more about Gail and her books visit her at her website You can buy High Risk Reunion from eharlequin, Amazon or whereever good books and ebooks are sold.


  1. Gail,

    I understand completely. I was never one to go with the flow. When the Tom Cruise craze of the 80's was going on with Top Gun--everyone accused me of joining the Navy because I wanted to be a pilot groupie (hopefully to find Maverick or Goose or even IceMan) out there in the real Navy. Nope! Just wanted to serve--they didn't hold my interest.

    I went for Harrison Ford or more importantly his characters. There was something about the roguish Han Solo/space captain and the professor/adventurer who could save a damsel in distress and fight Nazi's without losing his hat :) . But there was something about his chin scar, too that mad him real.

    Great post this morning!


  2. Loni, I completely agree! Harrison Ford plays some great bad-boy characters. And he is handsome/sexy in a real-man way, not "cute" like so many of the Hollywood types.

  3. Great blog! I have to say it took me a while to start appreciating the bad boy. Back when Star Wars first came out, I kinda liked Luke Skywalker. Han Solo was too intimidating. But then I was a very sweet young thing then. 10-11, maybe? I think I was well into my teens or maybe even twenties before I started preferring Han to Luke and Gene Kelly to Fred Astaire. Late bloomer, I guess.

  4. That's a great example, Jenna. I think a lot of women preferred Luke because he was cute and safe. As you said, Han Solo was disturbing because of his rogue personality -- but much more exciting, too. That's probably why we like reading about bad boys in books or seeing them in movies -- it's a safe way to indulge the attraction. I never did have the courage to talk to Rodney the smoker:))))

  5. Gail,
    I've always loved the bad boys! When I was younger, I loved every single one of those Outsiders. (Had a soft spot for Pony Boy--who was the best of the bad boys, but... oh well.) I loved Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. I walked around asking "How you like them apples?" for weeks. LOL.
    In books today, Rachel Gibson does a great job with bad boy characters and making them likable. My favorite bad boy who I've read recently is Reyes in First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones. He's the ultimate! In YA books, Simone Elkeles does a great job.
    I think I've always been drawn to bad boys in movies and books because I realized that--personally--they weren't the right choice for me in real life. :-)

  6. B rad Pitt does nothing for me!

    Give me A;ex O'Loughlin anyday!

    I always love a bad boy but I'm glad I married a good man who can be a bad boy when he needs to be! ; )

  7. Kimberly, thanks for the laugh. I can picture you quoting the movie:))) Another great bad-boy hero in fiction is Luke in Nora Roberts' book Honest Illusions. She makes the entire family of thieves seem admirable:))

  8. Thank you, Robin! I'm glad I'm not the only woman in America unimpressed with Brad! And you're right about marrying a good guy. I think the secret to making a fictional bad boy work is to show that he is really a good guy deep down -- just with some rough edges. There is nothing romantic about a hard-core criminal!

  9. I've got an issue with bad boys that redeem themselves.

    And sarcastic men.

    Particularly, sarcastic men that have a good heart that wear the bad boy persona like a well-worn, sexy leather jacket.

    Harrison Ford was one of my first major crushes. Han Solo still does it for me. And don't get me started with Indiana Jones! Something about a man in a fedora wielding a whip who is deathly afraid of snakes. **sigh**

    I loved Spike in Buffy. He was a horrible person, but he worked hard to redeem himself (and atone for his sins, which he freely admitted) after he did some pretty terrible things. Plus, he was broody, snarky, and blonde. I love blonde men!

    Last but not least is Sawyer from Lost. Holy crap ... Josh Halloway is hot on his own but when he threw on the sarcasm (giving the other castaways pop culture nicknames) and then showed his vulnerable side and eventually sacrificed himself for the other castaways and finally found love (and was very committed to her). Wow! I'm swooning as I'm writing this.

    A good bad guy is good at heart ... and being good to look at helps, too. :P

  10. Hi Gail,

    Great post! My bad boy crush is...Johnny Depp. He has that mysterious, bad, you-never-know-what-he'll-do-next vibe. I read an interview where he admitted to playing Barbie's with his little girl. There's nothing sexier than a bad boy who'll play with dolls to make his little girl smile.

  11. Gail, I do believe you've outed us all! :-) I think you're so right, a major part of the attraction to fictional bad boys is that it's safe to indulge the fantasy. I had to laugh at your comment about Pierce Brosnan--when I watched GoldenEye I couldn't help but root for Sean Bean's character! Keep on doing what you're doing because I adore your heroes!

    -Kathy Altman :-)

  12. J.T., those are all wonderful examples. You're absolutely right about the attitude . A vulnerable bad-boy who thinks that he needs no one gets to me every time. That inner vulnerability is very appealing:))))

    Oh - have you ever seen the old Shelley Long movie called The Boyfriend School? She is a romance writer who transforms her brother into a lost soul/bad boy hero so he can attract the girl he likes. He calls himself Lobo (wolf) and has a little mantra he keeps repeating: "I am Lobo. I need no one. I hunt alone." That cracks me up every time:)))

  13. Barb - Johnny Depp is another fabulous example:))) And as far as playing dolls with his daughter goes, what an endearing trait! That would make anyone fall in love with him!!!

  14. Thank you, Kathy!!! That was a super nice thing to say! And I agree with you about Sean Bean:))

    My mother always says that "There's nothing like a man in a suit." Every time she says that, I shrug. I agree that a man can definitely look good in a suit or tuxedo, but super suave guys don't do much for me as a rule.

  15. Hi Gail. As usual, I'm late to the party. :) I'm with you. I'll take scruffy anytime. I love reading and writing, not necessarily bad boys, but tough guys. I've never been one for a man in a suit. The exception being an FBI guy.

  16. Exactly right, Anita. Or a bad boy wearing a suit to go undercover...but his inner toughness shows through (like a wolf in lamb's clothing):)))

  17. Hi Gail,
    Getting to everything late these days - digest on the yahoos, you know what I mean. I well remember your fascination with bad boys. I'm glad you've put it to good use! Wishing you all the best with your new series.

  18. Thanks, Maggie!!! Angst and bad boys must be my hallmarks:))))