Damaged Heroes and a Big TBR Tuesday #Giveaway

A young man that has an intense headache.It’s Tuesday, so it must be TBR Day! Leave a comment to today’s soul-searing question and you’ll be in the running for a Priority Mail box stuffed with books (or, if outside the U.S., an order from Book Depo of your choice of book(s) totaling around USD$15, which is the equivalent to the flat-rate priority box postage.

So, okay, let’s talk heroes in paranormal romance and heroines in urban fantasy. I realized as I was thinking about this, in PNR it’s often the men who have the biggest emotional journeys, while in UF it’s often the female heroine. This isn’t hard and fast, of course. I’m a firm believer, as are most authors, that both the female and male protagonists—and the side characters as well—need to have emotional journeys.

And it stands to reason that if one has an emotional journey on which one needs to go, one has probably been through some stuff.

I was working on my lead male character for the second Wilds of the Bayou novel, a guy named Cole Ryan, and wondering if he was my most damaged hero yet (villains not included). I mean,  in the Penton series, I think Will and Mirren are both very damaged by their pasts. Mirren has, with Aidan’s help, come to terms with his. Will, I think, has not yet dealt with his, not really. It was a big step in his healing process to come clean with Randa at what all his father had done to him, but we don’t yet know how he’s going to handle his father’s final fate. (Okay, I’m trying to write this without too much spoilery but am not doing so well, eh?) And Nik has some serious stuff going on, which we don’t know a lot about yet. (Let’s hear it for Penton 5!)

Among the Penton women, Krys, Glory, Melissa, Randa, and Robin all have troubled pasts, but I’m not sure they surpass the stuff the guys have gone through, which is why they were able to help their eventual mates.

In the Sentinels books, I think, Jake is probably the most damaged character. I mean, DJ has lost a LOT of both people and things important to her, and she’s carrying around a lot of guilt. But Jake had some serious issues that preceded the beginning of the series. He’s tough, but he’s had to go through a lot to finally find a little happiness in his life. Jean didn’t have an easy human life, but I mean, the guy’s rich and immortal, so except that he must be lonely, I can’t feel too sorry for him.

From the collectors, I think Gillian from LOVELY, DARK, AND DEEP probably has the deepest scars, although her “co-star” Shane and both Brody and Sam from DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD had their own issues.

In WILD MAN’S CURSE, both Gentry and Celestine have issues. Ceelie is the most threatened, but I think Gentry has the more difficult emotional journey.

I think Cole has them all beat, though. It could just be because he’s been inhabiting my brain for the last few months as I’ve developed his character, so it feels more raw. Then again, he is very, very damaged. Which begs the question, how much damage can love heal, realistically, in the course of a novel that spans a period of less than a month? I do NOT believe in instalove, and usually find the best I can do is insta-gonna-try. But get ready—Cole is a man with some issues.

So, who’s the most damaged character in your reading? Doesn’t have to be one of mine. I’d probably say just about any of JR Ward’s original Black Dagger Brotherhood guys—especially Zsadist and my own favorite, Vishous. How about you?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

31 thoughts on “Damaged Heroes and a Big TBR Tuesday #Giveaway

    • I still haven’t read any of the Dark Hunter series except the first, because the rampant head-hopping drove me crazy. Has she stopped doing that in later books, I wonder? Obviously, it doesn’t bother a lot of readers because people love these books!

    • Eek, I’m missing something by not having read the Kenyon books. I HAVE most of them, somehow, but should have kept with it past that first book. Do they all head-hop? Can anyone tell me?

  1. I agree with Acheron, Styxx, Zarek, Zsadist and Vishous. I’ll add Jean Claude and Asher from the Anita Blake series too!

    • yikes, more Kenyon! Yes, of course, on Z and Vishous. Jean-Claude and Asher are great tortured characters. I’d be hard-pressed to say which one has suffered most, albeit in different ways. The twist of adding Asher and revealing more of Jean-Claude’s past really deepened JC, who’s still right up there with all-time sexiest vampire :-). He deserves so much better than Anita!

  2. I think of the female heroine more than the men, so I’m going with Jane Yellowrock from Faith Hunter. For side characters I would go with Lucy, but we know what happened to her….

    • Jane Yellowrock is another series I need to read instead of stopping after book one. After all, I’m not wild about the first Sentinels book in some ways. Book one of my favorite series, Dresden, is my least favorite. It took me four tries to get into the Hollows series. So I need to give series two books, obviously.

      Poor Lucy–you have mourned her so. Maybe I should do a Penton prequel novella centered around Lucy and her background and how she and Aidan found each other. Hm….ideas are percolating.

  3. Vlad in the Steven Brust’s Dragaera books. He really isn’t that tortured, but some of Vlad’s personal struggles mirrored ones I was going thru. It got so I had to quit reading the series. All is better with me, it was 15 yrs + ago. Maybe I should check back in with the series.

    • I haven’t read these books, but if the story of Vlad had that kind of impact on you, it tells me that Steven Brust knows how to write a character! You could always try again and if it starts getting painful, just realize this is a series that pushes the wrong buttons for you. 🙂

  4. Will in the Penton Series and Asher in the Anita Blake books. I’m in the process of rereading the Penton series.. getting ready for the next!

  5. I have to go with Asher in the Anita Blake books.And pretty much all of the characters in The Game of Thrones series.

  6. I’d have to go with iAm from the BDB. Especially now. I can’t really think of a different series, but maybe that’s because everyone else has listed it. 😉

  7. hum zsadist is a prim example for sure but right now i can’t think of another one i have one in mind but no name joining the feeling ( more later perhaps)
    i have to agree with Roger about jane yellowrock then october daye has a difficult journey and damaged past as well so a tie between those two
    ( a prequel about Lucy! definitively an idea)

  8. Asher from the Anita Blake series! And I really need to start on the black dagger brotherhood books soon…..

  9. Were there ever any more tortured than JR Wards’s BDB? The most damaged and tortured were Zsadist and Vishous.

  10. The men from the Black Jewel series by Anne Bishop and Reyes from the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Zsadist and Rhage from the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Acheron and Styxx from the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Mikhail Dubrinsky and Gregori Daratrazanoff from the Dark Carpathian series by Christine Feehan

  12. The first character that immediately pops up is Acheron. I don’t even follow Kenyon’s books, I just opened to a random chapter and the things that she described were kinda nauseating. I get that tortured heroes make good protagonists, but I don’t see a point to mindless torment. But anyhow, I think Nalini Singh’s heroes are pretty tortured too haha. Like, any one of the Arrows, Kaleb, I’m pretty sure Aodhan’s story wouldn’t be pretty too once Nalini actually writes his book.

    Anyway, interesting topic!