A Hero in the Hell of His Own Making—On Alasdair Thornham in Hero of My Heart
Generally speaking, bad boys in historical romances are bad because of their indulgences—the rake who sleeps with a variety of women with no plans of settling down, or the gambler who risks his and others’ futures because of his infatuation with the turn of a card.
They only modify their behavior—their indulgent behavior—because of the love of a good woman.
But what if the indulgence is borne not out of hedonism, but out of desperation?
That’s what faces the hero Alasdair Thornham in Hero of My Heart ($2.99 from Loveswept). Alasdair is a war veteran from the Napoleonic Wars, suffering from what we now know is post-traumatic stress disorder. His brother died in the war, his parents have died, and his wife died in childbirth. The guy has suffered a lot. And he’s literally suffered as well, having been shot in battle.
A common prescription doctors offered during this time was to prescribe opium—ladies took laudanum to help them sleep, for example, and opium helped ease the pain of surgery and long-term battle injuries.
Alasdair is given opium after he’s wounded, and he finds himself growing addicted. And, since he thinks he has nothing to live for anyway, since everyone he’s ever loved has died, he continues taking it, his logical mind figuring eventually it will kill him, and his suffering will be over.
This is where he is at when he meets the heroine of Hero of My Heart, Mary Smith. And it’s only after saving, coming to know—and eventually to love—Mary that Alasdair can rid himself of the guilt and suffering he’s gone through since leaving the battlefield.
He’s worse than a bad boy at this point—he’s the worst boy. He’s not sleeping around, but he’s self-destructive in a way that’s far worse than any kind of rakish behavior. He’s not even gambling with his life, since he believes he knows what the future holds. The only thing that rescues him from complete oblivion is Mary. A woman he decides to save since he recognizes she is in her situation through no fault of her own.
Love, romance novels remind us, is the most powerful redemption a character can have. Without love, Alasdair would have literally died.
The long difficult road back from a hell of his own making is what makes Alasdair’s journey so much more harrowing than that of a normal historical bad boy. During his journey, he’s stubborn, arrogant, selfish, and obnoxiously clever. He is, in fact, like most bad boys in his ability to annoy the heroine—and us—as he gradually overcomes his badness. He is, as Mary notices, also intelligent, witty, sexy, fast-thinking, and a highly unlikely savior—but one who saves her nonetheless.
So yes, he is a bad boy, but he’s one of the good ones. I hope you like meeting him in Hero of My Heart.
What are some of your favorite novels about bad boys?
Megan Frampton majored in English literature at Barnard College with a double minor in political science and religion. She worked in the music industry for fifteen years, editing and writing music reviews for a music industry trade magazine and eventually becoming the editor in chief. Frampton married one of her former interns and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with him and her son. When she isn’t writing, she serves as the Community Manager for the romance novel website Heroes and Heartbreakers.