Since Halloween is just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at the scary side of romance. No, not Gothic romances, although we’ll get to more soon. We’re talking about villainous heroes in romance novels.
The Harlequin Presents line was notorious for the cruelty some male protagonists could inflict upon their heroines. Most of these books are surprisingly well-written. Yet the horrific truth is that the hero could be the villain in a romance.
Villainous main characters were popular forty years ago, and they still continue to be popular with readers to this day. Why would anyone ever want to read romances where heroes are the bad guys?
Well, 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 romantic nightmare.
Harlequin Presents’ Villainous Male Main Characters
At Sweet Savage Flame, we’re equally about the Sweet… And the savage.
We’ve compiled a list of 6 villainous heroes from Harlequin Presents romances. We have placed them in order of publication. It would be near impossible to rank which male main character is the evilest.
Trick or Treat.
Andreas, Storm Centre
Only Charlotte Lamb could create such a despicable hero as Andreas and still make the story so hypnotizing! Storm Centre is a car wreck read.
Burke, Mansion For My Love
Mansion For My Love was a hard book to review. I’ve both hated and loved many of Robyn Donald‘s Harlequin Presents.
Nicholas, The Guarded Heart
Another cruel Robyn Donald hero! Now this book, The Guarded Heart… I despised Nicholas so much. He was irredeemable!
Hugo, Shattered Dreams
Sally Wentworth created yet another hero who in a crazed, jealous lunatic. But the writing was compelling in Shattered Dreams!
Anne Mather usually wrote reliably entertaining books. Indiscretion was like a gory car crash I couldn’t look away from!
Mark, The Marriage War
And finally, here’s Charlotte Lamb with another detestable hero with The Marriage War. Even Lamb’s stellar writing couldn’t make the villain hero, Mark, likable.
Your Opinion on Villain As the Hero in Romance
Do you think these villainous heroes are too cruel for love? What other heroes in romance could qualify as villains? Please, drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.
Subscribe via e-mail to receive notifications from Sweet Savage Flame and be eligible to win 3 Harlequin Temptation category romances from the '90s.
4 thoughts on “6 Horrifying Villainous Heroes in Harlequin Presents”
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!
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!
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?