~ CHRISTY ENGLISH ~
What Makes A Perfect Historical Romance Hero?
I think what makes a hero perfect are actually his imperfections. Of course, any man in my books is going to be good looking. Extremely good looking. Often with dark hair…or sometimes dark auburn hair…or dark blond. Actually, the men in my books are all different, but they’re all hot.
But along with those gorgeous looks often comes a huge dose of arrogance. Now, that arrogance can get on some readers’ nerves. Sometimes it gets on mine. It definitely gets on the nerves of my heroines. Anthony drove Caroline nearly insane with his overbearing high-handedness in HOW TO TAME A WILLFUL WIFE, and Angelique Beauchamp in my latest, MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK meets Captain James “Jack” Montgomery on the deck of the ship she inherited from her father, and gets a bellyfull of his smug overconfidence in the first five minutes.
From Chapter One, MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK
Angelique Beauchamp, Countess of Devonshire, found a hulking Scot standing on the deck of her ship.
His broad shoulders were barely contained in a coat of black worsted, hard worn but well mended. He wore his auburn hair long, tied in a queue at the back of his neck.
“I understand this ship is for sale,” the Scot said.
Angelique felt the dark of her temper rising like a summer storm, and she clamped it down. “You heard wrong.”
“Well,” he said. “Perhaps I might speak with the owner about that.”
“I am the owner. And I can assure you, the Diane will never be for sale.”
The deck lurched beneath them in the wake of a passing barge, and he reached for her, catching her arm.
“I would thank you not to touch me,” she said. “I would also thank you to let it be known among your acquaintance that the Diane belongs to me.”
“Does it indeed?” He seemed not at all offended by her ire, but amused. The blue of his eyes reminded her of the sky on a clear summer day, guileless, open, hiding nothing. But she knew better than anyone how quickly such a sky could change. Beauty and serenity like that was an illusion, the kind of deception she would never be taken in by again.
“She is a beautiful ship,” he said. For the first time, she heard a hint of his brogue, a shade of Aberdeen thickening his voice as his eyes ran not over the deck beneath their feet, or the furled sails above their heads, but over her.
Angelique felt the old tell-tale heat of desire rising from the center of her belly. She had not felt the lick of a flame like that, nor even smelled the smoke of lust since Anthony Carrington had left her over a year before. She had taken one or two lovers since, of course, but with neither had she felt this warm beginning, this caress of craving.
She clenched her stomach against the onslaught, against the traitorous heat that rose to consume her. She tamped it down, just as she had tamped down her temper. When she raised her eyes to meet his, the man facing her smiled as if he knew her struggle, and welcomed it. As if he knew that he had already won.
She meant to leave the insolent man standing where he was. Since Farvel was nowhere to be found, she would have Smythe start looking for a new captain at once. But before she could take another step, the ship lurched again, and this time her choice of shoes betrayed her and she lost her footing.
Her slippers slid out from beneath her, and she flailed, trying to catch hold of the rigging behind her where it was tied to the mast. Her hands touched not well oiled rope, but a burly, masculine arm. The man laid his hand over hers and drew her close.
His hands were strong and callused. He no doubt spent a great deal of time on a ship at sea, for in spite of the rocking of the deck beneath their feet, he did not sway, but held himself and her as steady as if he stood on dry land.
As Angelique stood close to him, her cheek pressed against his chest, she caught the scent of leather and spiced rum. The scent of that man brought the peace of her childhood back to her, layered over with the heat of lust.
Angelique closed her eyes, and took in his scent, relishing the strength of his arms around her, and the illusion of safety they gave her. The ship rocked again, and she came to her senses. Dear God, had she lost her mind?
She stepped away from the man as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, straightening her gown and pelisse, smoothing her skirts. Two curls had escaped the prison of her bonnet and had fallen across her breast. The man reached for them, gathering them at her throat, lingering over their softness.
She jerked back reflexively, and he released those curls. The tendrils of her hair clung to his fingers like limpets, as if they would tether him to her. Her hands shook as she slid them back beneath her bonnet.
The blue of his gaze was no longer amused. The planes of his face were hard with naked desire. His need called to her own, a siren song that would draw her onto the rocks. The ship of her reason would splinter, and she would be left to drown.
“Good day,” she said again, turning to flee from her own ship. She crossed the swaying deck to the narrow gang plank, certain that she had escaped, but when she raised her gloved hand to steady herself against the railing, he laid his hand over hers, capturing her so that she could not move.
“What is your name?” he asked.
The wind was strong, and a piece of his auburn hair had come loose from the queue behind his head. Angelique felt an almost overwhelming need to reach for that strand, and to draw it back from his face just as he had touched her errant curls. She held herself very still until the longing passed.
“Angelique Beauchamp, Countess of Devonshire.”
If she had thought that her title might discourage his advances, she was mistaken. She saw the unmistakable light of challenge in his eyes, as if by running away from him, she had thrown down a gauntlet at his feet. He smiled as if he had taken it up.
© Christy English, 2014
I think it is a hero’s flaws that make him interesting, that give him dimension and make him human. My heroes seem to come to the page with their failings intact, as well as their good points. Like their hotness. And their loyalty. And their ability to fall deeply in love, and to stay in love with one woman for the rest of their lives. True love makes up for a lot of faults, and both my heros and my heroines have that in abundance.
MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK BY CHRISTY ENGLISH – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2014
How to Become London’s Most Notorious Widow:
1. Vow to NEVER remarry
2. Own a ship and become fabulously wealthy
3. Wear the latest risqué fashions in your signature color
4. Do NOT have a liaison at the Prince Regent’s palace with a naval captain whose broad shoulders and green eyes make you forget Rule #1
Angelique Beauchamp, the widowed Countess of Devonshire, has been twice burned by love, and she is certain that no man will ever touch her heart again. But that doesn’t mean she can’t indulge a little—and it would be hard to find a more perfect dalliance than one with the dashing Captain James Montgomery.
After a brief torrid affair, James tries to forget Angelique and his undeniable thirst for more. The luscious lady was quite clear that their liaison was temporary. But for the first time, the lure of the sea isn’t powerful enough to keep him away…
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