Someone once asked me why I love romance novels. Reading, writing, they were genuinely curious what the big deal was.
I’ve got a thing for angst.
A big-raging-over-the-top-monster-sized love for angst.
As a reader I don’t want to read how easy love is for characters. I want them to work for it—burn for it. I want it to exist just out of reach until the very last possible second and hot damn I want to ache when they finally, finally get to reach out and clutch their Happily Ever After in their little hands and never ever let it go. When a story leaves me breathless by The End I can’t help but fall a little bit in love.
This love of mine translates to my writing. I love, love, love putting my characters through the ringer, if only for a little while.
Usually my guys need to work their own issues out before they can even think about accepting the love of another. They have issues and they’re comfortable with them. They see them as their penance for whatever hand life had dealt them. Really, they could all just used a big, sweaty, man hug. It takes a special kid of man to pull my broken heroes out of their (usually) self-imposed exile from mankind. They’re usually mouthy and a bit pushy. So, you know, the best kind of man.
My Southern Honor series stars a whole group of men who boldly wear their tattered, broken existance on their sleeves. They think they’re not worth fixing and they’re not about to let anyone close enough to really try.
And really…who doesn’t like their hero a bit broken?
Here’s a bit from Homecoming, book one in the Southern Honor series. Just a little taste of what Jack and Dillon are up against:
“What the hell, Jack?” he huffed, opening the passenger door and forcing the bigger man to the bench seat. “What were you thinking?” He pushed Jack’s blunt-fingered hand out of his way and probed as gently as he could at the ribs his friend had been holding. He tried to ignore the way the play of muscles under the body-warmed shirt brought his own body to life. “No, don’t answer that. You weren’t thinking, you big dumb gorilla. You were reacting.” He felt more than heard Jack’s painful hiss as his fingers passed over injured bones. “Nothing’s changed has it?”
When he moved his hand under the hem of Jack’s shirt and made contact with his bare skin, he thought he was going to lose it. This close, he could smell the essence of the man. The scent that would always be Jack—dark and seductive—it was the same and so much better than he remembered. Trying to talk his wayward body into believing he was only touching the other man to make sure he didn’t re-injure himself, Dillon let his fingers move slowly over lightly fuzzed rippling abs. His slow journey to the offending ribs ended abruptly at a puckered ridge.
He lifted the black shirt and couldn’t hold back the gasp at the sight of Jack’s torso. A map of livid bruises, all in varying stages of healing, colored the skin beneath the hand resting on Jack’s stomach. It was the sight of the angry red scar, a jagged semi-circle running from his ribcage to hipbone that made his heart stop. What had the Delta Force done to this man? Logically, Dillon knew it wasn’t the military that had put these marks on Jack’s skin but his heart was looking for someone to blame.
Under their own volition, his fingers began tracing the red line under them. He knew Jack was home on medical leave, but he’d had no idea it was this bad. These marks, and the other scars, some small burns, spoke of something horrible. Something Dillon didn’t know he wanted to face. When his hand reached the barrier of Jack’s jeans, he noticed Jack had stopped breathing. Looking up, the sight he was faced with made his blood run cold. Jack was staring off over his shoulder, completely shut down. His eyes were an empty void and Dillon had to fight the physical reaction to the sight of those dead blue eyes.
Dillon just stood there not knowing what to do with the rage and longing to take this wounded man into his arms and protect him from horrors he didn’t know how to fight. He just stood there as Jack brushed his hand aside and slipped past him. Watched as the man walked away from him. Just like he had ten years earlier. The bruises were different, but the pain settling in Dillon’s chest was just as deep.