Category romance

6 Horrifying Villanous Heroes in Harlequin Presents

Since Halloween is just around the corner it’s time to take a look at the scary side of romance. No, not Gothics, although I promise we’ll get to more eventually.

The Harlequin Presents line was notorious for the cruelty some male protagonists could inflict upon their heroines. Some of these books are surprisingly well-written. Yet the horrific truth is that these heroes were villains.

Villainous heroes were popular forty years ago and they still are to this day. Why would anyone ever want to read romances where heroes are the bad guys? Why not? So long as we understand we’re reading fiction, at times it’s hypnotizing to take a peek at the darkness that lurks beneath the human surface. To witness what sadistic torments twisted love can create. And then thankfully close the pages on that misbegotten romantic nightmare.

At Sweet Savage Flame, we’re equally about the Sweet… and the Savage.

Trick o’ Treat.

Storm Centre, Charlotte Lamb
Mansion For My Love, Robyn Donald
The Guarded Heart, Robyn Donald
Shattered Dreams, Sally Wentworth
Indiscretion, Anne Mather
The Marriage War, Charlotte Lamb

4 replies »

  1. Great list and topic. The only one I haven’t read is The Marriage War but the rest of these guys are all nutcases. However, if I have to choose, Jake from Indiscretion is probably my most hated hero ever–the one who I’d most like to see pushed off a cliff–basically everything he does is unforgiveable. Not on your list but worth a mention is Ryan from Robyn Donald’s Smoke In The Wind. Then there’s Revel from Jayne Bauling’s Rage To Possess who is a more complex Zero then Jake and very nearly as loathsome.

    • Ryan from Smoke in the Wind was a total toad! Somehow, I really enjoyed that one, because Venetia was such a such a formidable heroine. Until the end when she gave into Ryan… I was going to add him, but already had 2 Robyn Donald’s on the list. She could write a cruel hero like no one else. I could have made a list just filled with her books.

      I have Rage to Possess, don’t know why I never got to it, though I’m glad to hear it features another hiss-worthy male protagonist. There’s something so engrossing about a well-written book with a hero I just love to hate. Ah, the joys of fiction!

  2. If I could only remember the book’s title or author it would be added to this list in no time; all I can remember is the heroine’s name, Tara. I can’t recall all the details, but it was one of those marriages of convenience and they hadn’t slept together yet, but when the so-called “hero” (and I choke on that) mistakenly thought Tara was seeing her ex-boyfriend on the side, he got got so angry he raped her! (And to make it worse, she had never slept with her ex, she was a virgin.) When he found out he had been wrong, all he said was “I apologize.” That was it! That stuck in my mind all this time, it was so terrible. You’d think he would have begged her forgiveness, said what a miserable excuse for a person he was, but no, just a quick apology was sufficient for him. I think that was where I stopped reading, since I knew they’d end up with a HEA and no way did I want to stick around for that!

  3. I absolutely LOVED this list! I could swallow the H bad behavior if there was an epic grovel at the end but there never is. Does anyone remember Janet Daileys book For Bitter or Worse and Night of the Cotillion? How about Penny Jordan’s Claiming His Shock Heir?

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