Why Good Girls Love Bad Boys

Show of hands… who loves a bad boy hero?

Yep, me too.

There’s something about putting myself in the shoes of a heroine drawn to a sexy man she knows she shouldn’t want, yet she just can’t stay away from.

Maybe he’s a rock star with a bad reputation. Maybe he’s a biker, who lives outside society’s mainstream.  Maybe he came from a good family, and grew up with every advantage, but then something in his life went very, very wrong.

As the heroine walks his dangerous path, we breathlessly turn the pages, waiting for him to be redeemed by love.

I started as a historical romance fan and adored reading about rakes, rogues and the proper ladies who fall for them. When I turned to contemporaries, I found so many bad boy heroes, I would never run out.

But the ones I love best aren’t the extreme Alphas who star in so many dark romances. If the Kindle best seller lists are any indication, obsessive, possessive billionaire hitmen have lots of fans, but I just don’t happen to be one of them.

The bad boy I like the best has been through hell but still has his heart and humanity intact. He’s got charisma, he’s got courage. He’s a scarred, tattooed survivor. He plays by his own rules and somehow, seems to land (mostly) on his feet.

While the rest of the world might see him as a dangerous outsider, the heroine knows that on the inside, the bad boy is a good man.

He helps her step outside her safe world, and she knows that if things go wrong, he’ll be there to set them right. He’s seen the worst of life and lived to tell about it. And if he’s still trapped in a hell of his own making, she can be the reason he needs to change.

Those are qualities I’ve tried to bring to the hero of Shining Through, the fifth book in my Red Hot Russians contemporary romance series.

cover of Shining Through by Elizabeth Harmon

U.S. figure skating champion Tabitha Turner has spent her life living up to others’ (and her own) high expectations. Heading into her final competitive season, she’s feeling the pressure and keenly aware of everything that she’s sacrificed in order to become one of the world’s top skaters. When she meets Russian skater Daniil Andreev, she’s drawn like a magnet, despite his reputation for trouble.

Daniil, the son of a Russian oligarch and a British supermodel, has spent most of his life rebelling against his family, an oppressive coach, and the Russian sports ministry, which never approved of him. Heading into a Winter Games season he’s determined to put his mistakes behind him and establish himself as a contender for gold.

When Tabitha tempts him to help her take a secret walk on the wild side, he gives her a taste of the freedom she craves, never expecting that one unforgettable night will turn into something more.

One of the things I love most about Daniil and Tabitha is that they accept each other and at the same time, inspire one another to grow and change.

Bad boy Daniil helps Tabitha find the courage to set aside her manufactured Ice Queen image and be true to herself, both in skating and in life. Good girl Tabitha inspires Daniil to set aside his past hurts and never give up on his dream.

Enjoy this excerpt from Shining Through:

“After a tough day on the ice, she’s hitting the hard stuff.”

Daniil Andreev leaned against a tall table, a few feet away. Dressed in skinny jeans, a black leather jacket, and with smudged liner around his eyes, he looked like a member of Green Day who’d wandered into the wrong party.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she snapped, angry that the mere sight of him brought flushed cheeks and noodle-knees.

He came and stood beside her at the bar. His dark eyes looked that much darker because of the smoky color surrounding them. His lashes were so long, she wondered if he was wearing mascara too. Regardless, it took nothing away from his masculinity. It took guts and confidence to carry off the look. Daniil had both.

“Nothing bad, I promise. I enjoyed your program today.”

Tabitha shut off her phone. “I’m glad someone did.”

“I’ve been where you are.” He spoke in a quiet voice and leaned closer. She caught a whiff of Polo Black. He would have to wear her favorite men’s fragrance. “Not only are you disappointed for not skating as well as you hoped, you feel you disappointed others.”

She tried to shrug off the hurt. “No one said this season would be easy.”

“Are any of them?”

His penetrating gaze searched to see behind her public face. Too bad for him, she was a pro at keeping it hidden. She stirred the ice in her drink and offered a careful smile. “So you’ve been where I am. How did you deal with it?”

“I used it as motivation to prove everyone wrong and did what I had to do to stay in the sport. Even things that hurt my pride.”

This sounded intriguing. “Like what?”

“Like training in Lake Shosha, instead of Moscow or Petersburg.” His casual shrug suggested there might be other things, but pushing for more seemed rude. Nor was she sure she wanted to know. “Anyway, three seasons ago, everyone thought my career was over. Everyone except me. Now, I’m on the verge of making it to Grenoble. Whether I get there because of bronze medals, or gold, I’m there just the same.”

Tabitha knew she put too much pressure on herself, but her entire career had been about succeeding against the odds and you didn’t do that without striving for perfection. “Until today, not making the team was just this vague notion I tried not to think about. Now it feels like something that could really happen. But I can’t let it. I’ve worked too hard to fail now.”

“You aren’t going to fail.”

He spoke slowly, enunciating each word. His tone was gentle, but insistent. He believed in her, and she felt bolstered by it, even if she didn’t share it. “You sound so sure.”

His gaze held hers, and a spark of attraction flew between them. “I am.

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