Author Archives: Jen

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My love of tortured heroes

Category : book tropes

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.

We are not alone! Join the conversation. Just share your favorite tortured hero in the comments @ me on Twitter with recommendations.


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On formatting a website

Category : Author life

I know I said I would spend the next few posts talking about my favorite types of heroes, and I promise I’ll get there, but first I need to take a little side-journey into my experience building and formatting this website. It’s consumed my last few days and it’s been a real learning experience.

Running a website isn’t foreign for me. I’ve had my review blog for a long time. That started on Blogspot way back in the day, then migrated to WordPress, and eventually moved to a self-hosted WordPress when I bought my own domain. But the biggest difference there was that I won my web design in a Twitter contest. I did virtually nothing to contribute to its appearance beyond a conversation with the designer about the kind of look I wanted.

Fast forward a million years to the launch of this site.

I bought the domain and spent hours working with the GoDaddy people talking through hosting options and working out logistics. For about 15 hours, this site mirrored my other one… until Gregg at GoDaddy explained what I did wrong and helped me start over.

If you’ve never launched a website on your own, it feels kind of overwhelming, especially figuring out what to do with the blank slate in front of you. I spent an entire day scrolling through stock photos for the right models… and don’t even get me started on the same one guy that shows up a thousand times when you have the term “beard” in your search bar. (I’ll never search “beard” on Shutterstock again.) Next came picking a blog theme. (I ended up choosing “Enigma.”) And then I needed an entire additional day just to figure out how to move the slidebar off the center of the guys’ faces. (Big props to the folks on the WordPress forum for providing the CSS code.)

Bottom line: I have no future in web design. But it is exciting to watch it all take shape.

PS — Did you know that .com domains for common names like mine cost in the ballpark of $5K? That’s insane. And why I have a .net.

I’m glad you were able to find me anyway.


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Who I am and what I love

Category : About me

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my site! There’s never a way to kick off one of these without being a little awkward, but here goes.

I’ve been a romance reader and reviewer since 2010 and I’m making it my mission to write the kind of heroes and love stories I want to read about more. My favorite romances feature tortured heroes, like the ones in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series, who only learn their true worth through the eyes of the women who love them. There are so many authors who do an amazing job with this trope, I have tons of inspiration to draw from.

I also love upper class women paired with working class men.

And I love to see a sweet and gentle man finally get his heart’s desire.

Those are the tropes that inspired the first three books in the Cooper Construction series. (And just like that, I have the inspiration for my next three blog posts!)

Brick is the character nearest and dearest to my heart. I can’t wait to introduce you to him.