Elizabeth Hoyt is blogging over on Romance Vagabonds today, and if you haven’t read The Serpent Prince yet – go do so. Yeah, now. I’ll wait.

Seriously, it’s that good. Simon, the hero, is just to die for. And when I try to understand why this book affected me the most viscerally of the trilogy – apart from the copious amounts of actual viscera spilled (it’s a tad violent) – I have to conclude that it’s because I’m just a sucker for a tortured hero.

What is it about this theme that is so lasting, from Beauty and the Beast to modern romance? That the love of a good woman can negate all manner of pain, suffering, inhumanity (figurative or literal) and heal a broken man? Rationally, I know it’s never so simple, but the fantasy is so powerful.

Like in high school, I knew this guy who cut himself. He was a nice, smart, funny guy, and his arms were a crosshatch of razorblade scars. Aside from government class, we had almost nothing in common. But oh how I loved to imagine that if I was his girlfriend, I would love him so good that all his problems would go away and all his wounds would be healed. Of course that wouldn’t have been the case. He had a girlfriend, a perfectly sweet one, and obviously she wasn’t the answer. He probably needed therapy and medication and who-knows-what. I hope he eventually got it.

I knew all this then, on some level. Still, I couldn’t help fantasizing ….

Why does this idea resonate with women so deeply, that we can ‘save’ a man through love? Who are your favorite tortured heroes? In real life, have you ever dreamed about ‘saving’ a tortured guy of your own? Ever tried? And how did that work out, if so?

9 comments to “TMI Tuesday – Tortured Souls”

  1. terrio
    · September 11th, 2007 at 9:18 am · Link

    That book is in my TBR – I really need to get to it. This is a great topic. I think it’s similar to the idea we can turn a bad boy good if we can just get him to fall in love with us. We all know it ain’t happening but hope springs eternal.

    The ex-bf was quite tortured. Broken home, horrible junky mother, major anger issues. But instead of getting help he went the route of keeping every emotion under complete control. Someday that powder keg is going to blow and I’m sort of happy I won’t be there to get caught up in the fall out. Lucky for me, by the time we got together I was old enough to have a foot in reality and I knew I couldn’t fix it. If we’d met 5 or 10 years earlier, there’s no telling.

  2. Renee Lynn Scott
    · September 11th, 2007 at 10:26 am · Link

    I married my tortured hero.

    For me, my first, not that he was all that tortured was Danny Zuko. I mean he was, from the world’s perscpective a hoodlum and he wanted the goodie goodie two shoes.

    And then came along Eddie and the Cruisers. Does anyone remember that one?

    In my heart of hearts at the tender age of 13 I knew I could have saved Jim Morrison if only I had been born in another decade.

    Prince in Purple Rain.

    William Wallace, Braveheart!

    What I think it all boils down to is that we as women are born nuturers. And when we see things helpless we oooo and aaahhhh. When we see someone wounded we want to love them and heal them. The more tortured the more love we want to give. It’s our nature.

  3. Lindsey
    · September 11th, 2007 at 10:37 am · Link

    I definitely enjoy the tortured hero fantasy and have crushed on my share of tortured guys from afar.

    But all guys are a little bit tortured (or think they are) so I find part of the attraction is in the discovery that a seemingly-together guy has hidden vulerability – and that I am surely the only person who could have discovered it. Conversely, I’m not very sympathetic to guys who immediately want to pour out their whole troubled past to me – I don’t negate all manner of pain, suffering, and inhumanity on a first date.

  4. Maggie Robinson
    · September 11th, 2007 at 3:02 pm · Link

    Oh yeah. Dated the boy who’d been in juvie hall…broken home…James Dean lookalike…he wrote poetry. Bad poetry. Can I just barf now? We wound up being friends rather than lovers, thank God. I don’t have the patience to even THINK of getting mixed up with a tortured soul anymore…I’m too selfish now.

    And of course, Mr. R has spoiled me for all others, LOL.

  5. Tessa Dare
    · September 11th, 2007 at 6:34 pm · Link

    Terri, see – now your exBF is exactly the kind of guy I lurve to read (and write) about – but the guy I’d never want to actually date. Sounds like you made the right call.

    Renee – I love your examples! Esp. Purple Rain. Man, it’s been a while since I saw that. I think you’re absolutely right about our need to be nurturers, too.

    Lindsey, excellent points. I completely agree that a guy who spills his whole horrible past on the first date is not the sexy ‘tortured’ type – he’s the annoying whiny type. Not fair, is it? Poor guy probably thinks the chicks will dig his open communication. But I completely agree about the vulnerability issue, and the idea of an apparently strong guy who will lay bare his pain with one woman only. Yep, that’s the heart of it.

    Maggie – I think Mr. R. has spoiled me for all others, too. 🙂 And oh, did the great Jane ever have it right – there is nothing like bad poetry to drive away love.

  6. Ericka Scott
    · September 11th, 2007 at 8:35 pm · Link

    Chiming in late…as always.

    My ex-hubby was/is a tortured soul. I suspect in reality it’s a mix of depression, ADD, and OCD. He’d probably be better with some pharmaceutical help…but that’s why he’s a tortured hero. Never asks for help…he’s just going to struggle along miserably. I thought I could “help” and “fix” things. After 7 years of it, I learned my lesson. If you meet a torture hero, RUN, RUN VERY FAST!

  7. Santa
    · September 11th, 2007 at 8:57 pm · Link

    I have to agree with you on Simon. He was delish on so many levels for me. A man driven by his code of honor to exact vengence on his family’s enemies.

    As for my own hero worshipping…give me a tortured soul every time. More battle wounds the better. Draven. Lord Dain. Prince Rainier.

    In real life I too married my tortured hero. Was it because I wanted to nurture him and make him all better? Was it because I saw in him more than he could ever see in himself? I don’t know if I could really point to those as legit reasons. They smack of pity and that is one thing I have never felt for him.

    However, they do sound spot on for a great story arc. Thanks for giving me some clean visions of my next hero!

  8. Alice Audrey
    · September 12th, 2007 at 7:24 am · Link

    Depending on how you look at it I’ve dated tortured heroes or losers a fair amount.

  9. Tessa Dare
    · September 12th, 2007 at 8:42 am · Link

    Ericka, So sorry you had to find out the hard way, but I’m glad you’ve found your own HEA with a healthy hero!

    Santa – from what I’ve heard of your hero, he sounds like he knows a good thing (you!) when he sees it. Glad the blog sparked some ideas for your next story!

    AA – LOL. Now Mr. Al would be none of the above, right?