Charlieelf
This is my Christmas blog, so to begin with Charlie the Christmas Elf and I wish you all joy of the season. Especially, don't let it drive you crazy!

One of the things that makes Christmas joyful for me is all the lights and bright colours. I'm not an admirer of a subdued Christmas in pale, supposedly sophisticated shades, but perhaps that's just me. They celebrate it with gusto in the English Cathedral city of Lincoln. I took this picture from this web page.

Lincoln
There's more about this Christmas Fair here.

And the Cotswold village of Bourton on the Water seems to celebrate Christmas in a big way, too. There's more here.

Christmastree
Do you have special celebrations near you? Please share, and point to pictures if you can.

I'm continuing on from my last blog by announcing winners, which seems very much in the Christmas spirit, as it involves gifts.

The poll on my heroes threw up two winners, which was interesting, especially as they have little in common — Rothgar, and Dare.

The Marquess of Rothgar, of course, is a man who's carried power and responsibility from an early age, and who was also shaped by two tragedies. First there was the murder of his baby sister, witnessed when he was very young, but later there was the death of his father and step-mother, victims of the disease he'd brought to his home.

Lord Darius Debenham, on the other hand, is a lighthearted fellow, born to wealth and privilege but as a second son, without the burden of power looming. His tragedy comes from a battle injury, and from subsequent malice. His struggle against opium addiction is more dire than anything Rothgar faces, but Rothgar's burdens are more long lasting.

However, they could both perhaps be described as tormented heroes. So what is it with that? Why do we like that type? What does it stir in us? Truly, I love a light hearted hero like Cyn in My Lady Notorious, Race in Hazard, and Robin in A Lady's Secret. Or Christian in the upcoming The Secret Wedding. Dare is closer in spirit to these.

It's not that I don't admire Rothgar and his ilk, I do, but I enjoy equally the lighthearted charmers who face new challenges in the book. So do please tell me why we love the tormented guys. Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?

Now to prize winners. The winner of the $20 Amazon gift certificate is Ardith. Contact me, Ardith at jo@jobev.com and I'll set that up. Congratulations!

The two other winners, each of a book, are Maureen and Willaful. Contact me as above about what book you'd like. I have a box of the new mass market paperback edition of Dragon Lovers, if you don't have thXmastreeat one yet.

 Back to Christmas. The first free-standing romance novella I wrote was Twelfth Night, and in it I mentioned an old carol called The Burning Babe. There are some quite alarming hymns and carols out there, and this is one. It appealed, of course, to my heroine's madcap brother.

As I in hoary winter’s night   
  Stood shivering in the snow,   
Surprised I was with sudden heat   
  Which made my heart to glow;   
And lifting up a fearful eye
  To view what fire was near,   
A pretty babe all burning bright   
  Did in the air appear;   
Who, scorchèd with excessive heat,   
  Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames,   
  Which with His tears were bred:   
‘Alas!’ quoth He, ‘but newly born   
  In fiery heats I fry,   
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
  Or feel my fire but I!   

‘My faultless breast the furnace is;   
  The fuel, wounding thorns;   
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke;   
  The ashes, shames and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on,   
  And Mercy blows the coals,   
The metal in this furnace wrought   
  Are men’s defilèd souls:   
For which, as now on fire I am
  To work them to their good,   
So will I melt into a bath,   
  To wash them in my blood.’   
With this He vanish’d out of sight   
  And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callèd unto mind   
  That it was Christmas Day.

by Robert Southwell 1561-1595

I find it disconcerting that Southwell was  a martyr who came to a gruesome end. He was a Jesuit priest who was hanged, drawn and quartered in Queen Elizabeth's time.

Doverangel1

This does also remind us, though, that the Merry Christmas of today has not always been the dominant vision of this holy season.In Regency times it was largely a religious holy day with quiet celebration, and Twelfth Night, the end of Christmastide was the jolly celebration.

I have some special news for Laura and any other Italian readers here. Mondadori is soon releasing the translation of Skylark, and next week on the 16th and 17th, there'll be an interview with me posted on the Isn't It Romantic blog, which is bilingual, English and Italian. I'll be popping by there to answer questions.

Xmaswordcard 

So, don't forget to give me your explanation of the appeal of the tormented hero. I'm keen to see if it meshes with my notions.

Happy Christmas!

Jo

80 thoughts on “”

  1. “do please tell me why we love the tormented guys. Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?”
    No! Speaking for myself, I’m not remotely attracted to that role. A “tormented guy” who pushes the heroine into that role can turn me off. OTOH, a tortmentee who’s written as a character with deep conflict, interesting ways of working it out, a significant development arc, and an iffy or imperfect (realistic) resolution… that’s fascinating.
    I also think some tormented heroes are written as the central interesting figure in the story. If I’m inclined to identify with a character (not my usual reading style, but I do it occasionally), or even to root for a character, then it’s not going to be a boring one. It’s going to be the fleshed-out, more-challenging character whose thought process interests me most. So perhaps Laura Kinsale is right, some of the time, that “‘the reader does not identify with, admire, or internalize the characteristics of. . .a heroine. (Instead,) the reader measures the heroine by a tough yardstick, asking the character to live up to the reader’s standards, not vice versa.’ … ‘a romance reader. . .is experiencing herself as hero, and as heroine, completely within her own personality.’ … ‘by desiring the hero’s point of view. . ., readers are actually asking for emotional identification with the hero, not simply his viewpoint.'”
    (AAR, http://www.likesbooks.com/91.html)

    Reply
  2. “do please tell me why we love the tormented guys. Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?”
    No! Speaking for myself, I’m not remotely attracted to that role. A “tormented guy” who pushes the heroine into that role can turn me off. OTOH, a tortmentee who’s written as a character with deep conflict, interesting ways of working it out, a significant development arc, and an iffy or imperfect (realistic) resolution… that’s fascinating.
    I also think some tormented heroes are written as the central interesting figure in the story. If I’m inclined to identify with a character (not my usual reading style, but I do it occasionally), or even to root for a character, then it’s not going to be a boring one. It’s going to be the fleshed-out, more-challenging character whose thought process interests me most. So perhaps Laura Kinsale is right, some of the time, that “‘the reader does not identify with, admire, or internalize the characteristics of. . .a heroine. (Instead,) the reader measures the heroine by a tough yardstick, asking the character to live up to the reader’s standards, not vice versa.’ … ‘a romance reader. . .is experiencing herself as hero, and as heroine, completely within her own personality.’ … ‘by desiring the hero’s point of view. . ., readers are actually asking for emotional identification with the hero, not simply his viewpoint.'”
    (AAR, http://www.likesbooks.com/91.html)

    Reply
  3. “do please tell me why we love the tormented guys. Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?”
    No! Speaking for myself, I’m not remotely attracted to that role. A “tormented guy” who pushes the heroine into that role can turn me off. OTOH, a tortmentee who’s written as a character with deep conflict, interesting ways of working it out, a significant development arc, and an iffy or imperfect (realistic) resolution… that’s fascinating.
    I also think some tormented heroes are written as the central interesting figure in the story. If I’m inclined to identify with a character (not my usual reading style, but I do it occasionally), or even to root for a character, then it’s not going to be a boring one. It’s going to be the fleshed-out, more-challenging character whose thought process interests me most. So perhaps Laura Kinsale is right, some of the time, that “‘the reader does not identify with, admire, or internalize the characteristics of. . .a heroine. (Instead,) the reader measures the heroine by a tough yardstick, asking the character to live up to the reader’s standards, not vice versa.’ … ‘a romance reader. . .is experiencing herself as hero, and as heroine, completely within her own personality.’ … ‘by desiring the hero’s point of view. . ., readers are actually asking for emotional identification with the hero, not simply his viewpoint.'”
    (AAR, http://www.likesbooks.com/91.html)

    Reply
  4. “do please tell me why we love the tormented guys. Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?”
    No! Speaking for myself, I’m not remotely attracted to that role. A “tormented guy” who pushes the heroine into that role can turn me off. OTOH, a tortmentee who’s written as a character with deep conflict, interesting ways of working it out, a significant development arc, and an iffy or imperfect (realistic) resolution… that’s fascinating.
    I also think some tormented heroes are written as the central interesting figure in the story. If I’m inclined to identify with a character (not my usual reading style, but I do it occasionally), or even to root for a character, then it’s not going to be a boring one. It’s going to be the fleshed-out, more-challenging character whose thought process interests me most. So perhaps Laura Kinsale is right, some of the time, that “‘the reader does not identify with, admire, or internalize the characteristics of. . .a heroine. (Instead,) the reader measures the heroine by a tough yardstick, asking the character to live up to the reader’s standards, not vice versa.’ … ‘a romance reader. . .is experiencing herself as hero, and as heroine, completely within her own personality.’ … ‘by desiring the hero’s point of view. . ., readers are actually asking for emotional identification with the hero, not simply his viewpoint.'”
    (AAR, http://www.likesbooks.com/91.html)

    Reply
  5. “do please tell me why we love the tormented guys. Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?”
    No! Speaking for myself, I’m not remotely attracted to that role. A “tormented guy” who pushes the heroine into that role can turn me off. OTOH, a tortmentee who’s written as a character with deep conflict, interesting ways of working it out, a significant development arc, and an iffy or imperfect (realistic) resolution… that’s fascinating.
    I also think some tormented heroes are written as the central interesting figure in the story. If I’m inclined to identify with a character (not my usual reading style, but I do it occasionally), or even to root for a character, then it’s not going to be a boring one. It’s going to be the fleshed-out, more-challenging character whose thought process interests me most. So perhaps Laura Kinsale is right, some of the time, that “‘the reader does not identify with, admire, or internalize the characteristics of. . .a heroine. (Instead,) the reader measures the heroine by a tough yardstick, asking the character to live up to the reader’s standards, not vice versa.’ … ‘a romance reader. . .is experiencing herself as hero, and as heroine, completely within her own personality.’ … ‘by desiring the hero’s point of view. . ., readers are actually asking for emotional identification with the hero, not simply his viewpoint.'”
    (AAR, http://www.likesbooks.com/91.html)

    Reply
  6. **snip **they could both perhaps be described as tormented heroes. So what is it with that? Why do we like that type? Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?
    **snip **
    I’m with RfP. I don’t like tormented heroes, either.
    Now, I will qualify it by saying there are tormented heroes and then there are tormented heroes.
    Although all tormented heroes have undergone tragedy, authors treat them in different ways. I don’t mind the tormented hero whose tragedy has made him into a better man. Knowing his tragedy does not give him the right to hurt others, he faces his demons and goes on with his life, perhaps with a little help from the heroine.
    All too often, the tormented hero just wallows, essentially wailing “Poor me, poor me”, and uses his problems as an excuse to abuse others. Then some fool of a heroine comes along and says “You poor boy, you’ve suffered so much, it’s OK for you to treat me badly.” No. I cannot stand either of them. He’s a selfish clod who needs to grow up, and she’s a doormat encouraging him in his bad behavior. She should tell him to shape up or get out. Now, that’s “cherishing and healing”.
    I hate stories about men behaving badly who get away with it, but even worse are the women who encourage that bad behavior. Neither are worthy of the title “hero” and “heroine”.

    Reply
  7. **snip **they could both perhaps be described as tormented heroes. So what is it with that? Why do we like that type? Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?
    **snip **
    I’m with RfP. I don’t like tormented heroes, either.
    Now, I will qualify it by saying there are tormented heroes and then there are tormented heroes.
    Although all tormented heroes have undergone tragedy, authors treat them in different ways. I don’t mind the tormented hero whose tragedy has made him into a better man. Knowing his tragedy does not give him the right to hurt others, he faces his demons and goes on with his life, perhaps with a little help from the heroine.
    All too often, the tormented hero just wallows, essentially wailing “Poor me, poor me”, and uses his problems as an excuse to abuse others. Then some fool of a heroine comes along and says “You poor boy, you’ve suffered so much, it’s OK for you to treat me badly.” No. I cannot stand either of them. He’s a selfish clod who needs to grow up, and she’s a doormat encouraging him in his bad behavior. She should tell him to shape up or get out. Now, that’s “cherishing and healing”.
    I hate stories about men behaving badly who get away with it, but even worse are the women who encourage that bad behavior. Neither are worthy of the title “hero” and “heroine”.

    Reply
  8. **snip **they could both perhaps be described as tormented heroes. So what is it with that? Why do we like that type? Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?
    **snip **
    I’m with RfP. I don’t like tormented heroes, either.
    Now, I will qualify it by saying there are tormented heroes and then there are tormented heroes.
    Although all tormented heroes have undergone tragedy, authors treat them in different ways. I don’t mind the tormented hero whose tragedy has made him into a better man. Knowing his tragedy does not give him the right to hurt others, he faces his demons and goes on with his life, perhaps with a little help from the heroine.
    All too often, the tormented hero just wallows, essentially wailing “Poor me, poor me”, and uses his problems as an excuse to abuse others. Then some fool of a heroine comes along and says “You poor boy, you’ve suffered so much, it’s OK for you to treat me badly.” No. I cannot stand either of them. He’s a selfish clod who needs to grow up, and she’s a doormat encouraging him in his bad behavior. She should tell him to shape up or get out. Now, that’s “cherishing and healing”.
    I hate stories about men behaving badly who get away with it, but even worse are the women who encourage that bad behavior. Neither are worthy of the title “hero” and “heroine”.

    Reply
  9. **snip **they could both perhaps be described as tormented heroes. So what is it with that? Why do we like that type? Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?
    **snip **
    I’m with RfP. I don’t like tormented heroes, either.
    Now, I will qualify it by saying there are tormented heroes and then there are tormented heroes.
    Although all tormented heroes have undergone tragedy, authors treat them in different ways. I don’t mind the tormented hero whose tragedy has made him into a better man. Knowing his tragedy does not give him the right to hurt others, he faces his demons and goes on with his life, perhaps with a little help from the heroine.
    All too often, the tormented hero just wallows, essentially wailing “Poor me, poor me”, and uses his problems as an excuse to abuse others. Then some fool of a heroine comes along and says “You poor boy, you’ve suffered so much, it’s OK for you to treat me badly.” No. I cannot stand either of them. He’s a selfish clod who needs to grow up, and she’s a doormat encouraging him in his bad behavior. She should tell him to shape up or get out. Now, that’s “cherishing and healing”.
    I hate stories about men behaving badly who get away with it, but even worse are the women who encourage that bad behavior. Neither are worthy of the title “hero” and “heroine”.

    Reply
  10. **snip **they could both perhaps be described as tormented heroes. So what is it with that? Why do we like that type? Is it really that we have a need to cherish and heal?
    **snip **
    I’m with RfP. I don’t like tormented heroes, either.
    Now, I will qualify it by saying there are tormented heroes and then there are tormented heroes.
    Although all tormented heroes have undergone tragedy, authors treat them in different ways. I don’t mind the tormented hero whose tragedy has made him into a better man. Knowing his tragedy does not give him the right to hurt others, he faces his demons and goes on with his life, perhaps with a little help from the heroine.
    All too often, the tormented hero just wallows, essentially wailing “Poor me, poor me”, and uses his problems as an excuse to abuse others. Then some fool of a heroine comes along and says “You poor boy, you’ve suffered so much, it’s OK for you to treat me badly.” No. I cannot stand either of them. He’s a selfish clod who needs to grow up, and she’s a doormat encouraging him in his bad behavior. She should tell him to shape up or get out. Now, that’s “cherishing and healing”.
    I hate stories about men behaving badly who get away with it, but even worse are the women who encourage that bad behavior. Neither are worthy of the title “hero” and “heroine”.

    Reply
  11. Happy families being all the same….
    IRL I don’t want a tormented dude, my personal hero is more like Robin than Rothgar – everything rolls off my man’s back. He lacks angst completely.
    Fiction is twofold – I like a tormented hero OR heroine – it’s more meat to the story, it has more tug going on because happy reads boring unless you can make happy read funny -and not so many writers can pull funny off. Problems are interesting. Hysterical victim mode or creepy abuser dude aren’t interesting – but Dare and Rothgar – their problems were real. They’re working through some, living around others, not either of them a whiny child in the corner, both adults with challenges to address.
    All great stories have central points of conflict – the prince and princess meeting in the forest from perfect places of emotional health and joining their lives together with their loving families to go forward and know only joy evermore – booring! (in fiction, that is).
    You need to creepy family waiting to murder and/or eat the unwary traveler.

    Reply
  12. Happy families being all the same….
    IRL I don’t want a tormented dude, my personal hero is more like Robin than Rothgar – everything rolls off my man’s back. He lacks angst completely.
    Fiction is twofold – I like a tormented hero OR heroine – it’s more meat to the story, it has more tug going on because happy reads boring unless you can make happy read funny -and not so many writers can pull funny off. Problems are interesting. Hysterical victim mode or creepy abuser dude aren’t interesting – but Dare and Rothgar – their problems were real. They’re working through some, living around others, not either of them a whiny child in the corner, both adults with challenges to address.
    All great stories have central points of conflict – the prince and princess meeting in the forest from perfect places of emotional health and joining their lives together with their loving families to go forward and know only joy evermore – booring! (in fiction, that is).
    You need to creepy family waiting to murder and/or eat the unwary traveler.

    Reply
  13. Happy families being all the same….
    IRL I don’t want a tormented dude, my personal hero is more like Robin than Rothgar – everything rolls off my man’s back. He lacks angst completely.
    Fiction is twofold – I like a tormented hero OR heroine – it’s more meat to the story, it has more tug going on because happy reads boring unless you can make happy read funny -and not so many writers can pull funny off. Problems are interesting. Hysterical victim mode or creepy abuser dude aren’t interesting – but Dare and Rothgar – their problems were real. They’re working through some, living around others, not either of them a whiny child in the corner, both adults with challenges to address.
    All great stories have central points of conflict – the prince and princess meeting in the forest from perfect places of emotional health and joining their lives together with their loving families to go forward and know only joy evermore – booring! (in fiction, that is).
    You need to creepy family waiting to murder and/or eat the unwary traveler.

    Reply
  14. Happy families being all the same….
    IRL I don’t want a tormented dude, my personal hero is more like Robin than Rothgar – everything rolls off my man’s back. He lacks angst completely.
    Fiction is twofold – I like a tormented hero OR heroine – it’s more meat to the story, it has more tug going on because happy reads boring unless you can make happy read funny -and not so many writers can pull funny off. Problems are interesting. Hysterical victim mode or creepy abuser dude aren’t interesting – but Dare and Rothgar – their problems were real. They’re working through some, living around others, not either of them a whiny child in the corner, both adults with challenges to address.
    All great stories have central points of conflict – the prince and princess meeting in the forest from perfect places of emotional health and joining their lives together with their loving families to go forward and know only joy evermore – booring! (in fiction, that is).
    You need to creepy family waiting to murder and/or eat the unwary traveler.

    Reply
  15. Happy families being all the same….
    IRL I don’t want a tormented dude, my personal hero is more like Robin than Rothgar – everything rolls off my man’s back. He lacks angst completely.
    Fiction is twofold – I like a tormented hero OR heroine – it’s more meat to the story, it has more tug going on because happy reads boring unless you can make happy read funny -and not so many writers can pull funny off. Problems are interesting. Hysterical victim mode or creepy abuser dude aren’t interesting – but Dare and Rothgar – their problems were real. They’re working through some, living around others, not either of them a whiny child in the corner, both adults with challenges to address.
    All great stories have central points of conflict – the prince and princess meeting in the forest from perfect places of emotional health and joining their lives together with their loving families to go forward and know only joy evermore – booring! (in fiction, that is).
    You need to creepy family waiting to murder and/or eat the unwary traveler.

    Reply
  16. I don’t want a tormented hero either, too much trouble. I like to read about them though, as long as they don’t take their torment out on everyone around them. I do love heroes with a sense of humor, love to laugh.
    I also, love the lights this time of the year and I even like snow flurries (not storms) with a just a little cold in the air to turn noses red, to go with those lights. And, music coming from someplace filling the air. We had thousands of people show up for the lighting of our city this year, it was a wonderful feeling. There were tons of children being carried on their parents shoulders. It was a very touching sight.

    Reply
  17. I don’t want a tormented hero either, too much trouble. I like to read about them though, as long as they don’t take their torment out on everyone around them. I do love heroes with a sense of humor, love to laugh.
    I also, love the lights this time of the year and I even like snow flurries (not storms) with a just a little cold in the air to turn noses red, to go with those lights. And, music coming from someplace filling the air. We had thousands of people show up for the lighting of our city this year, it was a wonderful feeling. There were tons of children being carried on their parents shoulders. It was a very touching sight.

    Reply
  18. I don’t want a tormented hero either, too much trouble. I like to read about them though, as long as they don’t take their torment out on everyone around them. I do love heroes with a sense of humor, love to laugh.
    I also, love the lights this time of the year and I even like snow flurries (not storms) with a just a little cold in the air to turn noses red, to go with those lights. And, music coming from someplace filling the air. We had thousands of people show up for the lighting of our city this year, it was a wonderful feeling. There were tons of children being carried on their parents shoulders. It was a very touching sight.

    Reply
  19. I don’t want a tormented hero either, too much trouble. I like to read about them though, as long as they don’t take their torment out on everyone around them. I do love heroes with a sense of humor, love to laugh.
    I also, love the lights this time of the year and I even like snow flurries (not storms) with a just a little cold in the air to turn noses red, to go with those lights. And, music coming from someplace filling the air. We had thousands of people show up for the lighting of our city this year, it was a wonderful feeling. There were tons of children being carried on their parents shoulders. It was a very touching sight.

    Reply
  20. I don’t want a tormented hero either, too much trouble. I like to read about them though, as long as they don’t take their torment out on everyone around them. I do love heroes with a sense of humor, love to laugh.
    I also, love the lights this time of the year and I even like snow flurries (not storms) with a just a little cold in the air to turn noses red, to go with those lights. And, music coming from someplace filling the air. We had thousands of people show up for the lighting of our city this year, it was a wonderful feeling. There were tons of children being carried on their parents shoulders. It was a very touching sight.

    Reply
  21. Sound lovely, Kay. Where do you live?
    I love the way people decorate the outside of their houses with lights in North America. I’m not sure that’s caught on in Britain, but we did always put the lit Christmas tree in a window so it could be seen from outside.
    I think it’s all in a wonderful spirit of sharing light and bright.
    Interesting comments. No, I don’t suppose most women want a tormented hero in their real life, so why are we often drawn to them in fiction?
    I don’t think it’s because anything else is boring. Trouble coming to untormented people can be just as good a read, can’t it?
    I hope so, because that’s really the dynamic of The Secret Wedding.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  22. Sound lovely, Kay. Where do you live?
    I love the way people decorate the outside of their houses with lights in North America. I’m not sure that’s caught on in Britain, but we did always put the lit Christmas tree in a window so it could be seen from outside.
    I think it’s all in a wonderful spirit of sharing light and bright.
    Interesting comments. No, I don’t suppose most women want a tormented hero in their real life, so why are we often drawn to them in fiction?
    I don’t think it’s because anything else is boring. Trouble coming to untormented people can be just as good a read, can’t it?
    I hope so, because that’s really the dynamic of The Secret Wedding.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  23. Sound lovely, Kay. Where do you live?
    I love the way people decorate the outside of their houses with lights in North America. I’m not sure that’s caught on in Britain, but we did always put the lit Christmas tree in a window so it could be seen from outside.
    I think it’s all in a wonderful spirit of sharing light and bright.
    Interesting comments. No, I don’t suppose most women want a tormented hero in their real life, so why are we often drawn to them in fiction?
    I don’t think it’s because anything else is boring. Trouble coming to untormented people can be just as good a read, can’t it?
    I hope so, because that’s really the dynamic of The Secret Wedding.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  24. Sound lovely, Kay. Where do you live?
    I love the way people decorate the outside of their houses with lights in North America. I’m not sure that’s caught on in Britain, but we did always put the lit Christmas tree in a window so it could be seen from outside.
    I think it’s all in a wonderful spirit of sharing light and bright.
    Interesting comments. No, I don’t suppose most women want a tormented hero in their real life, so why are we often drawn to them in fiction?
    I don’t think it’s because anything else is boring. Trouble coming to untormented people can be just as good a read, can’t it?
    I hope so, because that’s really the dynamic of The Secret Wedding.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  25. Sound lovely, Kay. Where do you live?
    I love the way people decorate the outside of their houses with lights in North America. I’m not sure that’s caught on in Britain, but we did always put the lit Christmas tree in a window so it could be seen from outside.
    I think it’s all in a wonderful spirit of sharing light and bright.
    Interesting comments. No, I don’t suppose most women want a tormented hero in their real life, so why are we often drawn to them in fiction?
    I don’t think it’s because anything else is boring. Trouble coming to untormented people can be just as good a read, can’t it?
    I hope so, because that’s really the dynamic of The Secret Wedding.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  26. If it’s done well, tormented characters have more conflict in their stories and make their stories more interesting. They also lend themselves to really interesting growth/ character arcs.
    Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.

    Reply
  27. If it’s done well, tormented characters have more conflict in their stories and make their stories more interesting. They also lend themselves to really interesting growth/ character arcs.
    Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.

    Reply
  28. If it’s done well, tormented characters have more conflict in their stories and make their stories more interesting. They also lend themselves to really interesting growth/ character arcs.
    Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.

    Reply
  29. If it’s done well, tormented characters have more conflict in their stories and make their stories more interesting. They also lend themselves to really interesting growth/ character arcs.
    Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.

    Reply
  30. If it’s done well, tormented characters have more conflict in their stories and make their stories more interesting. They also lend themselves to really interesting growth/ character arcs.
    Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.

    Reply
  31. I was just about to say pretty much the same as Michelle – but come to think of it, I think I am also just particularly fond of angst in my reading. I am, after all, the person who described my favorite generic moment in a romance as “the part where their hearts break.” 🙂
    But as you can see from my (winning, woo hoo!) answers to the “hero you’d like to spend time with” question, in real life I would far prefer an amusing fellow. And do.

    Reply
  32. I was just about to say pretty much the same as Michelle – but come to think of it, I think I am also just particularly fond of angst in my reading. I am, after all, the person who described my favorite generic moment in a romance as “the part where their hearts break.” 🙂
    But as you can see from my (winning, woo hoo!) answers to the “hero you’d like to spend time with” question, in real life I would far prefer an amusing fellow. And do.

    Reply
  33. I was just about to say pretty much the same as Michelle – but come to think of it, I think I am also just particularly fond of angst in my reading. I am, after all, the person who described my favorite generic moment in a romance as “the part where their hearts break.” 🙂
    But as you can see from my (winning, woo hoo!) answers to the “hero you’d like to spend time with” question, in real life I would far prefer an amusing fellow. And do.

    Reply
  34. I was just about to say pretty much the same as Michelle – but come to think of it, I think I am also just particularly fond of angst in my reading. I am, after all, the person who described my favorite generic moment in a romance as “the part where their hearts break.” 🙂
    But as you can see from my (winning, woo hoo!) answers to the “hero you’d like to spend time with” question, in real life I would far prefer an amusing fellow. And do.

    Reply
  35. I was just about to say pretty much the same as Michelle – but come to think of it, I think I am also just particularly fond of angst in my reading. I am, after all, the person who described my favorite generic moment in a romance as “the part where their hearts break.” 🙂
    But as you can see from my (winning, woo hoo!) answers to the “hero you’d like to spend time with” question, in real life I would far prefer an amusing fellow. And do.

    Reply
  36. I’m not sure I can add much that is profound to the conversation…except to say that I love Dare and Rothgar because they are dealing with their problems in honorable ways, seeking to protect those around them, but in sensible ways, not ridiculous self-imolating ways. I like tormented heroes in stories because I know that they will find balm and, if not complete healing at least hope of healing, by the end. In real life, things are far more messy, which is why I, like others, like my angst-free guy. 🙂 I don’t know, Jo, I just know that you have written some of the most compelling, lovable heroes I’ve read. 🙂
    As for holiday displays, we just went to the Holi-Dazzle parade in Minneapolis tonight. It was cooooold! But worth it to see my 2 year old soooo excited. 🙂

    Reply
  37. I’m not sure I can add much that is profound to the conversation…except to say that I love Dare and Rothgar because they are dealing with their problems in honorable ways, seeking to protect those around them, but in sensible ways, not ridiculous self-imolating ways. I like tormented heroes in stories because I know that they will find balm and, if not complete healing at least hope of healing, by the end. In real life, things are far more messy, which is why I, like others, like my angst-free guy. 🙂 I don’t know, Jo, I just know that you have written some of the most compelling, lovable heroes I’ve read. 🙂
    As for holiday displays, we just went to the Holi-Dazzle parade in Minneapolis tonight. It was cooooold! But worth it to see my 2 year old soooo excited. 🙂

    Reply
  38. I’m not sure I can add much that is profound to the conversation…except to say that I love Dare and Rothgar because they are dealing with their problems in honorable ways, seeking to protect those around them, but in sensible ways, not ridiculous self-imolating ways. I like tormented heroes in stories because I know that they will find balm and, if not complete healing at least hope of healing, by the end. In real life, things are far more messy, which is why I, like others, like my angst-free guy. 🙂 I don’t know, Jo, I just know that you have written some of the most compelling, lovable heroes I’ve read. 🙂
    As for holiday displays, we just went to the Holi-Dazzle parade in Minneapolis tonight. It was cooooold! But worth it to see my 2 year old soooo excited. 🙂

    Reply
  39. I’m not sure I can add much that is profound to the conversation…except to say that I love Dare and Rothgar because they are dealing with their problems in honorable ways, seeking to protect those around them, but in sensible ways, not ridiculous self-imolating ways. I like tormented heroes in stories because I know that they will find balm and, if not complete healing at least hope of healing, by the end. In real life, things are far more messy, which is why I, like others, like my angst-free guy. 🙂 I don’t know, Jo, I just know that you have written some of the most compelling, lovable heroes I’ve read. 🙂
    As for holiday displays, we just went to the Holi-Dazzle parade in Minneapolis tonight. It was cooooold! But worth it to see my 2 year old soooo excited. 🙂

    Reply
  40. I’m not sure I can add much that is profound to the conversation…except to say that I love Dare and Rothgar because they are dealing with their problems in honorable ways, seeking to protect those around them, but in sensible ways, not ridiculous self-imolating ways. I like tormented heroes in stories because I know that they will find balm and, if not complete healing at least hope of healing, by the end. In real life, things are far more messy, which is why I, like others, like my angst-free guy. 🙂 I don’t know, Jo, I just know that you have written some of the most compelling, lovable heroes I’ve read. 🙂
    As for holiday displays, we just went to the Holi-Dazzle parade in Minneapolis tonight. It was cooooold! But worth it to see my 2 year old soooo excited. 🙂

    Reply
  41. I don’t honestly see Rothgar or Dare as ‘tormented’ in the usual sense – they’re both too mature, are dealing – not always well, but the best they can – with some very very real problems – they’re both just realistic, complex, multi-dimensional heros that feel very ‘human.’ I think that’s why they come up as reader favorites.
    Now, for something completely different – Christmas here in the islands is FAR from subtle, subdued or pastel. Enjoy!
    Donna

    Reply
  42. I don’t honestly see Rothgar or Dare as ‘tormented’ in the usual sense – they’re both too mature, are dealing – not always well, but the best they can – with some very very real problems – they’re both just realistic, complex, multi-dimensional heros that feel very ‘human.’ I think that’s why they come up as reader favorites.
    Now, for something completely different – Christmas here in the islands is FAR from subtle, subdued or pastel. Enjoy!
    Donna

    Reply
  43. I don’t honestly see Rothgar or Dare as ‘tormented’ in the usual sense – they’re both too mature, are dealing – not always well, but the best they can – with some very very real problems – they’re both just realistic, complex, multi-dimensional heros that feel very ‘human.’ I think that’s why they come up as reader favorites.
    Now, for something completely different – Christmas here in the islands is FAR from subtle, subdued or pastel. Enjoy!
    Donna

    Reply
  44. I don’t honestly see Rothgar or Dare as ‘tormented’ in the usual sense – they’re both too mature, are dealing – not always well, but the best they can – with some very very real problems – they’re both just realistic, complex, multi-dimensional heros that feel very ‘human.’ I think that’s why they come up as reader favorites.
    Now, for something completely different – Christmas here in the islands is FAR from subtle, subdued or pastel. Enjoy!
    Donna

    Reply
  45. I don’t honestly see Rothgar or Dare as ‘tormented’ in the usual sense – they’re both too mature, are dealing – not always well, but the best they can – with some very very real problems – they’re both just realistic, complex, multi-dimensional heros that feel very ‘human.’ I think that’s why they come up as reader favorites.
    Now, for something completely different – Christmas here in the islands is FAR from subtle, subdued or pastel. Enjoy!
    Donna

    Reply
  46. Michelle said “Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.”
    That’s a point, but I think if untormented characters are put into difficult situations it usually shows them parts of themselves they hadn’t know, or could test loyalties and beliefs and such. That can be powerful, too, don’t you think?
    Love the Hawaii pictures, Donna.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  47. Michelle said “Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.”
    That’s a point, but I think if untormented characters are put into difficult situations it usually shows them parts of themselves they hadn’t know, or could test loyalties and beliefs and such. That can be powerful, too, don’t you think?
    Love the Hawaii pictures, Donna.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  48. Michelle said “Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.”
    That’s a point, but I think if untormented characters are put into difficult situations it usually shows them parts of themselves they hadn’t know, or could test loyalties and beliefs and such. That can be powerful, too, don’t you think?
    Love the Hawaii pictures, Donna.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  49. Michelle said “Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.”
    That’s a point, but I think if untormented characters are put into difficult situations it usually shows them parts of themselves they hadn’t know, or could test loyalties and beliefs and such. That can be powerful, too, don’t you think?
    Love the Hawaii pictures, Donna.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  50. Michelle said “Trouble coming to untormented folks can be interesting, but do they have any internal conflict? I do think internal conflict makes stories much more interesting and “deeper”.”
    That’s a point, but I think if untormented characters are put into difficult situations it usually shows them parts of themselves they hadn’t know, or could test loyalties and beliefs and such. That can be powerful, too, don’t you think?
    Love the Hawaii pictures, Donna.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  51. I think tormented heroes lure us into the story because we (the readers) get to “fix” them vicariously through the heroine. There are limits of course… most of them already mentioned, and my primary one being “no taking it out on others,” at least not w/o apologizing, immediately. Otherwise, the hero has no emotional maturity, an important element to heroism. Dare is one of my favorites because he exemplifies this quality so well.
    Happy Christmas, Jo.
    Nina

    Reply
  52. I think tormented heroes lure us into the story because we (the readers) get to “fix” them vicariously through the heroine. There are limits of course… most of them already mentioned, and my primary one being “no taking it out on others,” at least not w/o apologizing, immediately. Otherwise, the hero has no emotional maturity, an important element to heroism. Dare is one of my favorites because he exemplifies this quality so well.
    Happy Christmas, Jo.
    Nina

    Reply
  53. I think tormented heroes lure us into the story because we (the readers) get to “fix” them vicariously through the heroine. There are limits of course… most of them already mentioned, and my primary one being “no taking it out on others,” at least not w/o apologizing, immediately. Otherwise, the hero has no emotional maturity, an important element to heroism. Dare is one of my favorites because he exemplifies this quality so well.
    Happy Christmas, Jo.
    Nina

    Reply
  54. I think tormented heroes lure us into the story because we (the readers) get to “fix” them vicariously through the heroine. There are limits of course… most of them already mentioned, and my primary one being “no taking it out on others,” at least not w/o apologizing, immediately. Otherwise, the hero has no emotional maturity, an important element to heroism. Dare is one of my favorites because he exemplifies this quality so well.
    Happy Christmas, Jo.
    Nina

    Reply
  55. I think tormented heroes lure us into the story because we (the readers) get to “fix” them vicariously through the heroine. There are limits of course… most of them already mentioned, and my primary one being “no taking it out on others,” at least not w/o apologizing, immediately. Otherwise, the hero has no emotional maturity, an important element to heroism. Dare is one of my favorites because he exemplifies this quality so well.
    Happy Christmas, Jo.
    Nina

    Reply
  56. Thank you so much for picking my name! The reason I like to read about the tormented hero is to watch him recover and rebuild his life with the love and help of the heroine. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and everyone!

    Reply
  57. Thank you so much for picking my name! The reason I like to read about the tormented hero is to watch him recover and rebuild his life with the love and help of the heroine. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and everyone!

    Reply
  58. Thank you so much for picking my name! The reason I like to read about the tormented hero is to watch him recover and rebuild his life with the love and help of the heroine. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and everyone!

    Reply
  59. Thank you so much for picking my name! The reason I like to read about the tormented hero is to watch him recover and rebuild his life with the love and help of the heroine. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and everyone!

    Reply
  60. Thank you so much for picking my name! The reason I like to read about the tormented hero is to watch him recover and rebuild his life with the love and help of the heroine. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and everyone!

    Reply
  61. Thanks for all the comments.
    I have a feeling that Sherrie might be suffering a power blackout with all the wild weather around, just in case you’re waiting for her usual Sunday wrap up.
    Keep warm and safe,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  62. Thanks for all the comments.
    I have a feeling that Sherrie might be suffering a power blackout with all the wild weather around, just in case you’re waiting for her usual Sunday wrap up.
    Keep warm and safe,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  63. Thanks for all the comments.
    I have a feeling that Sherrie might be suffering a power blackout with all the wild weather around, just in case you’re waiting for her usual Sunday wrap up.
    Keep warm and safe,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  64. Thanks for all the comments.
    I have a feeling that Sherrie might be suffering a power blackout with all the wild weather around, just in case you’re waiting for her usual Sunday wrap up.
    Keep warm and safe,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  65. Thanks for all the comments.
    I have a feeling that Sherrie might be suffering a power blackout with all the wild weather around, just in case you’re waiting for her usual Sunday wrap up.
    Keep warm and safe,
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  66. +JMJ+
    Jo, perhaps the popularity of the relatively tormented Rothgar and Dare can be traced to the original question, “Whom would you most like to spend a night with?” Even though I wasn’t around for the poll, I would have taken the short time into account when choosing Rothgar. He sounds fascinating, but the way that playing with a tame tiger is fascinating. I wouldn’t want to be around that tiger all the time, though, because I’d never get to relax.
    However, if the question were more like, “Whom would you want to have as YOUR hero?” then I’m sure that the answers would have been very different. I know I’d pick someone else, like Francis.
    By the way, another great priest/poet who was martyred was Richard Crashaw. I’ve read him in both English and Latin, and he is always wonderful.

    Reply
  67. +JMJ+
    Jo, perhaps the popularity of the relatively tormented Rothgar and Dare can be traced to the original question, “Whom would you most like to spend a night with?” Even though I wasn’t around for the poll, I would have taken the short time into account when choosing Rothgar. He sounds fascinating, but the way that playing with a tame tiger is fascinating. I wouldn’t want to be around that tiger all the time, though, because I’d never get to relax.
    However, if the question were more like, “Whom would you want to have as YOUR hero?” then I’m sure that the answers would have been very different. I know I’d pick someone else, like Francis.
    By the way, another great priest/poet who was martyred was Richard Crashaw. I’ve read him in both English and Latin, and he is always wonderful.

    Reply
  68. +JMJ+
    Jo, perhaps the popularity of the relatively tormented Rothgar and Dare can be traced to the original question, “Whom would you most like to spend a night with?” Even though I wasn’t around for the poll, I would have taken the short time into account when choosing Rothgar. He sounds fascinating, but the way that playing with a tame tiger is fascinating. I wouldn’t want to be around that tiger all the time, though, because I’d never get to relax.
    However, if the question were more like, “Whom would you want to have as YOUR hero?” then I’m sure that the answers would have been very different. I know I’d pick someone else, like Francis.
    By the way, another great priest/poet who was martyred was Richard Crashaw. I’ve read him in both English and Latin, and he is always wonderful.

    Reply
  69. +JMJ+
    Jo, perhaps the popularity of the relatively tormented Rothgar and Dare can be traced to the original question, “Whom would you most like to spend a night with?” Even though I wasn’t around for the poll, I would have taken the short time into account when choosing Rothgar. He sounds fascinating, but the way that playing with a tame tiger is fascinating. I wouldn’t want to be around that tiger all the time, though, because I’d never get to relax.
    However, if the question were more like, “Whom would you want to have as YOUR hero?” then I’m sure that the answers would have been very different. I know I’d pick someone else, like Francis.
    By the way, another great priest/poet who was martyred was Richard Crashaw. I’ve read him in both English and Latin, and he is always wonderful.

    Reply
  70. +JMJ+
    Jo, perhaps the popularity of the relatively tormented Rothgar and Dare can be traced to the original question, “Whom would you most like to spend a night with?” Even though I wasn’t around for the poll, I would have taken the short time into account when choosing Rothgar. He sounds fascinating, but the way that playing with a tame tiger is fascinating. I wouldn’t want to be around that tiger all the time, though, because I’d never get to relax.
    However, if the question were more like, “Whom would you want to have as YOUR hero?” then I’m sure that the answers would have been very different. I know I’d pick someone else, like Francis.
    By the way, another great priest/poet who was martyred was Richard Crashaw. I’ve read him in both English and Latin, and he is always wonderful.

    Reply
  71. +JMJ+
    Arrrggh! =S I wrote Francis’ name, but I was actually thinking of Miles! Why I always start off calling Miles “Francis,” I do not know.

    Reply
  72. +JMJ+
    Arrrggh! =S I wrote Francis’ name, but I was actually thinking of Miles! Why I always start off calling Miles “Francis,” I do not know.

    Reply
  73. +JMJ+
    Arrrggh! =S I wrote Francis’ name, but I was actually thinking of Miles! Why I always start off calling Miles “Francis,” I do not know.

    Reply
  74. +JMJ+
    Arrrggh! =S I wrote Francis’ name, but I was actually thinking of Miles! Why I always start off calling Miles “Francis,” I do not know.

    Reply
  75. +JMJ+
    Arrrggh! =S I wrote Francis’ name, but I was actually thinking of Miles! Why I always start off calling Miles “Francis,” I do not know.

    Reply

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