Tortured heroes are my catnip. I say it all the time in reviews. Most of my favorite romances have heroes who have experienced horrors and now feel themselves incapable or unworthy of love.
Number one on my list will probably always be Zsadist from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He is broken inside from years of torture as a sex slave. He loves his heroine, but hates himself for his reactions to her. I have read Lover Awakened so many times and it never gets old.
Who doesn’t love Zarek from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books? Dance With the Devil was always my favorite in that series, but Kenyon has written tons of tortured heroes I loved. Like Nykyrian from her League series. How many times did a heroine look at one of the heroes like he mattered? For years, Kenyon was my queen of tortured heroes. I thought there was no tortured hero I couldn’t love. (I was later proved to be wrong, but the ones who miss for me are few and far between.)
I love them in historical romances, too. Mary Balogh’s Survivor series features nothing but tortured heroes (and one tortured heroine.) Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels have outstanding tortured heroes. (The newest one, I loved every bit as much as the first.) Seriously, if you haven’t read The Highwayman, you’re missing out.
Any romance subgenre can work one of these guys in and I’ve found myself reading outside of my lane if the hero fits the bill. Military romances. Guys with PTSD. Assassins. Fighters.
There’s a major caveat, though. The hero’s treatment of the heroine matters. He can be awful to the rest of the world, but not to her. Because in my favorite books, she is his salvation. It’s through her love, he finally realizes his self-worth. And maybe he’ll never see himself through her eyes, but still, she lifts him from the darkness and I find that so very satisfying.
I was just talking to @JenReadsRomance about tortured and serious heroes on Twitter over the past few days. And she is crazy-excited for the new Jennifer Armentrout book for its hero.
Me: OH YOU ARE A MAN WHO HAS BEEN VIOLENTLY REPRESSING YOUR FEELINGS FOR YOUR ENTIRE ADULT LIFE, AND NOW YOU ARE ABOUT TO STAR IN A ROMANCE? pic.twitter.com/p1to6XFoLH
— Jen (@JenReadsRomance) September 18, 2018
We are not alone! Join the conversation. Just share your favorite tortured hero in the comments @ me on Twitter with recommendations.