Thursday, June 28, 2012

Michelle Willingham: Tormented Heroes in Romance

I love to challenge myself with every book I write. Whether it's delving into research for medieval Scotland or writing stories about broken heroes or heroines—I relish the thrill of creating a story that hasn't been done before. But while writing Tempted by the Highland Warrior, I seriously wondered if I'd lost my mind.

A silent hero? A man who has lost his ability to speak? How in the world was I going to pull this one off? At the time it sounded like a fun idea. My wounded hero was traumatized by his torture as a prisoner-of-war during the first War of Independence between Scotland and England. Although his brothers rescued him, he was bordering on madness. The only thing that grounded him and held him steady was his love for Marguerite, the woman who found him.

As I wrote the book, it transformed from a Robin Hood story between a scarred archer and the daughter of a duke . . . into a Romeo and Juliet story. My challenge was to convey the thoughts and emotions of Callum MacKinloch, though he couldn't speak a single word. There were days when I wanted to knock my head against the wall for coming up with this idea—and days when Callum came alive for me, a man imprisoned within his own skin, unable to speak to the woman he loved.

I've always adored tormented heroes, and this one challenged me beyond all others. Some of my favorite wounded men in romance include the Duke of Jervaulx (Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale), Sebastian Ballister (Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase), Zsadist (Lover Awakened by JR Ward), and John Matthew (first introduced in Lover Eternal by JR Ward and then with his own book in Lover Mine). There's something about a strong hero with a dark past that appeals to me, both as a reader and an author.

What about you? Who are some of your favorite tormented heroes? Tell me the book title, and you'll be entered in my drawing to win a signed copy of book one in the MacKinloch series, Claimed by the Highland Warrior (Nominated for a 2012 Bookseller's Best Award).

You can read an excerpt of Tempted by the Highland Warrior at my website. I also love chatting with readers on Facebook or on Twitter

***Michelle's winner is fichen1!  Please email with your mailing info.  Thanks!***


marybelle said...

One of my favorite books is WUTHERING HEIGHTS. If you want tormented, Heathcliff has it in spades. The most angst ridden hero I've ever read.

Felicia said...

Wow, this was certainly a challenging story and character - amazing - my favorite tormented heroes - first and foremost, Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre - definitely Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff - thank you Marybelle for the reminder - Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind - he and Scarlett really did torment each other -

A great topic!


Eli Yanti said...

i'd just finished reading the bride and the beast by teresa mederois and her hero of this book is my fave tormented hero :)

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michellewillingham said...

Some great examples of tortured heroes! Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester are terrific heroes. :)

Eli--I love Teresa Medeiros's books. Yours Until Dawn has another favorite hero.

Karen H in NC said...

I think some of my favorite heroes are in the historical books written by Lisa Kleypas...especially Derek Craven.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Michelle. I love your books. Tempted by the Highland Warrior sounds awesome. Love the cover. My favortie tormented heroes are Zarek from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dance With The Devil, Zsadist from JR Ward's Lover Awakened and Alistair from Elizabeth Hoyt's To Beguile a Beast.

pamerd said...


Great post, I have not read any of your books yet however I have heard great things and they are now on my list to read. I love the tortured hero story. I recently read Shana Galen's The Making of a Gentleman with the tortured hero of Armand Harcourt. Wonderful book.

Thanks for the chance.

michellewillingham said...

Crystal--I haven't read To Beguile a Beast, but I love a good Beauty & The Beast type of story. :)

Karen H--I love Lisa Kleypas's gypsy men. I think Mine 'til Midnight or something like that was a favorite.

Pam--Nice to meet you! Thanks for the Shana Galen recommendation!

megblod said...

I would have to say that my favorite tormented heroes would have to be all the men in JR Ward's BDB series because with each one there is something that is relatable what torments them so they seem even more real.

erin said...

thanks for a great post and giveaway! Congrats on the newest release!

Ummm... the last tormented hero I read was Harry From Eileen Dryer's Always a Temptress :)


Chrisbails said...

The Sharpe brothers from Sabrina Jeffries Hellions of Halstead Hall series. They were tortued because of there parents death, a friends death, and then the threat of being cut off by their grandmother. All 3 boy each have their own demons they have to conquer. Thanks for the great giveaway.

Renee said...

I love a tortured hero and have been waiting (most impatiently) for Callum's story ever since I first read about him. Jane Eyre would start off my list but most of my favorite heroes are tortured. I particularly love a Scot who is tortured by his love of country and honor. One of my favorites is Seducing the Governess by Margot Maguire. A soldier is often the most tortured of heroes.

Pat Cochran said...

My favorite wounded hero was in a TV show:
Vincent in CBS's Beauty and the Beast. In
print, all of Anna Campbell's heroes are
damaged in one way or another!

Pat C.

*yadkny* said...

My absolute favorite tormented hero is Z from the BDB series!

Leah Weller said...

The first one to enter my mind as I read this was Sebastian from My Beloved by Karen Ranney. What a tortured hero! And one to fall madly in love with. :)

I really like the cover for Tempted By The Highland Warrior. His eyes are mesmerizing.

Thank you for the chance in the drawing! :)

Barbara E. said...

I enjoyed Eloisa James' tortured hero Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant in When Beauty Tamed the Beast.

flchen1 said...

Ah, tormented heroes! They're so very lovely because they're fighting themselves much of the way! They don't believe they're worthy of love or can't envision that someone would love them that way... it's such a heartwrenching journey for them to open themselves to happiness! You've written one or two yourself, if I recall ;)

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Jo's Daughter said...

I rather like Gideon from the novel Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell.

michellewillingham said...

It's fun to hear of all your favorite tormented heroes!

Pat--I loved that series when I was growing up. Vincent was a great hero.

Maureen said...

I would pick Christian from Flowers in the Storm by Laura Kinsale.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Carol L. said...

My favorite tormented Heroes are all of the brothers from the Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward. Happy 4th to everyone.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com