Monday 31 July 2017

What is Love? Part 3 - Secrets and the Bad Boy

By Cassandra Samuels

So, here we are again. In this post I thought I'd talk about the more forbidden type of love. I'm not sure if you've heard the term 'the Romeo and Juliet Effect'. This is basically when a new relationship is formed but everyone thinks it's a bad idea, which in turn makes your attraction to that person heighten. In other words you want to be with the forbidden lover even more.

1936 film Romeo and Juliet starring Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma Shearer as Juliet
Why is this so?

Well, part of the reason is freedom. We want to love who we want to love, right? We don't like to be told what to do. It inhibits our freedom. Therefore we will do everything in our power to keep our freedom of choice.

In romance this may be called the Bad Boy trope and it's a popular one. We all like a bad boy and we all want to tame him. Everyone knows they shouldn't be together; he's from the wrong side of the tracks, his past is often murky and he has a chip on his shoulder the size of Russia. He has scars, both physical and metaphorical.

courtesy of Psychology Meow

What do we love more? When the bad boy turns good (not too good) and becomes a man worthy of our heroine (perhaps he was worthy all along)? But to keep the bad boy she may at first try to keep him a secret.

What is more seductive than being told you shouldn't? Doing it anyway and keeping it to yourself, of course. If our heroine is having a relationship with someone she knows others will find inappropriate, she may decide to keep it hidden. It's a little bit naughty and exciting to boot.

picture courtesy of Kristina Flour and sourced from

So why is a secret affair so enticing? When you are having a secret relationship it is on your mind more than usual. You are thinking about it all the time and how to keep it a secret. It feels more important - all those details you have to hide and all those lies you need to have in check. For to keep the relationship to yourself is to protect it. It's exhausting, and probably why secret relationships don't last long, especially if neither is willing to commit.

Do you like Bad Boy books? 

Let me know which one is your favourite. 

Mine is Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

buy a copy here

Love to Love -  looking forward to some grandbabies being born this year.

Love to Laugh - at inside jokes.

Love to Learn - by going to the RWAust conference in August.


  1. The whole story arc of a bad boy needing to be loved is intensely alluring to romance readers. Romance catnip! The stakes for the romance are higher, so the whole book is usually a roller coaster ride, which makes for great reading. I think my favourite bad boy romance is an oldie but still a goodie, Darkling I Listen by Katherine Sutcliffe. Still takes my breath away!

  2. I've heard about this book. I think I will have to investigate. Thanks Malvina. It really is an appealing trope for many for all the reasons you've mentioned.

  3. Hi Cassandra! You've explained the appeal of the bad boy really well, (and I do understand that appeal) but I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of the bad boy. He would have to have a LOT of redeeming features (or a really emotional backstory to give him adequate motivation) for me to like this type of hero. Having said that, though, I did enjoy 'Lord of Scoundrels' because he did redeem himself and became a worthy hero.

    1. Yes, you're right there is a fine line when it comes to the bad boy. Some authors do it so well.

  4. The bad boy hero is, in essence, the tortured hero hiding secrets way down deep and, really, living a lie that he hopes is never found out. Of course, the heroine comes along and, bam, the secret is out in the open and the bad boy is laid bare to the 'good boy' he really is. He'll fight that but his love for the heroine is stronger than his wish to be bad. And, yay, he gets the girl. Love, love, love the bad boy hero!

    1. They can be really fun to write and read a bad boy because deep down we are hoping they can be redeemed.

  5. And I, too, LOVE 'Darkling, I Listen'.

  6. "Flowers from the Storm" by Laura Kinsale is my all time favourite bad boy romance novels. A real page turner.

    1. Oh I love that book Sharon. Talk about characterisation.


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