Welcome to Sugarbeat’s Books – The Home of the Romance Novel!
Today we are welcoming Donna Cummings to the blog! She and I were talking about luscious highwaymen in romance novels and how there doesn’t seem to be enough of them. All a Highwayman needs to bring him around is a good woman – we all know this from the stories that we have read. Really, a man dressed all in black robbing a damsel at gunpoint but is so gallant that he leaves her with a kiss on the hand – swoon worthy, isn’t it.
Donna has a great book out, Lord Midnight. You can tell the book is good from the cover (at least in my opinion!) She is offering a copy to one lucky reader. Just fill out the form at the bottom of this post to be entered! This giveaway is international as it is an e-book being given away!
Let’s find out what she has to say about our subject today!
The Hero-Villain Spectrum by Dona Cummings
Every story needs at least one hero and a villain. They are opposing forces, trying to move toward a goal while keeping the other from reaching his or her objective. It’s the push-pull of their efforts that keeps us turning pages when we should have turned out the light hours ago.
However, the hero isn’t 100% pure goodness, nor is the villain 100% nasty evilness. That would be 100% predictable, and probably 200% boring. It’s a lot more interesting when there is a 51%-49% split, with that 2% determining who is praised as a hero and who is booed as the villain.
In my Regency historical, Lord Midnight, Gabriel is a highwayman, living on the wrong side of the law. He does so because he has been robbed of his birthright and nearly killed by his uncle Edmund. Since Gabriel can’t get justice, he seeks revenge, plotting to seduce his uncle’s bride-to-be, in the home that once was his own.
Edmund has his own goals, ones which he considers worthy, even laudable. He wants a son to inherit his estate, the very one he stole by trying to kill the rightful heir. However, the world believes him to be a highly respected peer of the realm, a trusted adviser to the Prince Regent.
On the surface, Gabriel would seem to be more villain than hero, since he robs coaches for a living. He’s also plotting revenge, and while it is based on righteous reasons, it would completely ruin an innocent’s life. Gabriel has to decide if he is willing to let an act of vengeance transform him into the sort of person he has despised for years.
A villain, on the other hand, is not likely to struggle with the moral rightness of his motives. Edmund is convinced he’s on the correct path, and when he thinks someone is trying to thwart him, he’s genuinely hurt and puzzled. He’s capable of tender emotions, just not for the same things that touch a hero’s heart.
Here’s a scene where the heroine, Marisa, has had to decide quickly who is villainous, and which man she can actually trust. She’s just gotten Edmund to leave her bedchamber before he could discover Gabriel was hidden in her bed:
She whirled around at the sound of the laughter emanating from her bedcovers. The interloper lounged on her bed, his head resting on one upraised hand. Her knees nearly buckled from his heart-melting smile; the devilish blue eyes peering at her left her unaccountably breathless.
She could only assume her reaction was the aftermath of her experiences, first at seeing the highwayman in her bedchamber, followed by Edmund’s unwelcome visit. Yet she had never responded to fear in this fashion, and it made her waspish.
“What do you think you were doing?”
“Hmm.” He tossed the entangling bedcovers aside. “I think—no, I’m fairly certain on this point—I was nibbling on your delectable skin.”
Her stomach plummeted, causing a tingling in regions of her body that seemed only remotely connected. How did he manage to cause such a wealth of unfamiliar sensations? Edmund had never incited such responses.
“You might have given yourself away,” she chided.
“No, my sweet, you would have given me away.”
“And well I should have,” she retorted, knowing she was unable to do so. “It took all I possessed to retain my composure.”
“A most admirable feat,” he said as he approached her. “I must offer my abiding gratitude for your brave deed.”
Marisa’s gaze roamed the wickedly handsome man. He towered over her, yet not in the menacing fashion Edmund did. His smile was not a dastardly one, not with that dimple. And Marisa was certain real villains did not possess such startling white teeth.
Would a genuine scoundrel be the cause for the fluttering in her stomach, that unsettling feeling that something momentous was about to occur?
“Have you a weapon?”
His lips twitched as he reached into his boot. “I have this wee pistol, but in my profession, it is more for show than to do real harm.”
Marisa watched as he replaced the gun.
“I do not possess the nerve to place the loaded thing into my boot, for I am dashed fond of my toes.” His theatrical grimace made Marisa laugh. “And you could be safe in the next shire in the time it would take for me to ready the shot.”
“Are you frightened of me, angel?” He lifted one of her curls with his index finger.
“Not of you, no. Had I known of the pistol’s proximity earlier, however, I might have prevailed on you to dispatch my betrothed.”
He raised his eyebrows in an exaggerated fashion. “A bloodthirsty lass. Perhaps it is I who should be frightened of you.”
Marisa laughed aloud. “I am the spawn of the devil. Or so Father has told me time and again. Unfortunately I cannot convince my father that the commotion attributed to me is not my fault, at least not due to genuine sinfulness.”
“Indeed.” He twisted her blonde curl about his finger, as spellbound as he had been during the robbery. “Perhaps it is because you are afflicted with other character defects as well.”
“I will admit that my quest for knowledge has often led me down paths avoided by the fainthearted.” Her curiosity could not be contained a moment longer. “Why are you here? Should you not be on the roadways?”
“I am a different sort of highwayman,” he answered.
“Then you could take me with you! I could ride with you, just until I am so far away from here that Lord Westbrook is unable to find me. You would not need to concern yourself with me any further.”
“It grieves me to refuse such a delightful invitation, but I fear I must.”
“Why? I shall be no trouble. And I shall not sound the alarm against you. I have proven myself in that regard already. Twice in fact.”
He studied her for several long moments. Hope and fear mingled together in those long moments of indecision.
He did not frighten her. Perhaps it was because her instincts assured her she would come to no harm with this man. He had had numerous opportunities, when he had stopped her carriage, and again when he had entered her bedchamber. Yet he had not availed himself of any, even when she was at the most vulnerable.
In truth she viewed him as an ally, unlike her traitorous brother. She could not pass up this chance to flee, to rescue Aunt Althea from the dire fate that awaited her if Marisa were to fail. It was not likely the highwayman would continue to appear each time she sent a prayer heavenward, asking for deliverance, so she had to avail herself of this opportunity.
At last he shook his head. “I cannot bring you with me. It is much too dangerous.”
“It will not be dangerous, I assure you. I am an excellent horsewoman.”
“It is dangerous for me as well,” he said. “I have already tempted Fate more than is wise this evening. I must leave, and I must leave you behind.”
“Of course,” Marisa said, ducking her head, feeling the heat rise in her cheeks.
What had she been thinking? It had been a reckless notion, one she would have left unexpressed were it not for the need to take quick action. She was grateful he was a highwayman, and thus possessed of the chivalry to deny such a wild request.
So tell me, who are your favorite heroes? What type of villains do you like best? One lucky commenter will receive an e-copy of Lord Midnight.
Donna Cummings: I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorous contemporary and historical romances.
Currently I reside in Massachusetts, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, consuming mojitos for breakfast and wearing flip flops year-round.
GABRIEL DeVAULT, a dashing highwayman, lives to avenge himself against the uncle who stole his title and tried to kill him as a child. One night’s robbery yields unexpected riches when his uncle’s spirited bride-to-be falls into Gabriel’s arms. Now his plans for vengeance include seduction of the innocent miss, in the home that once was his own.
MARISA DUNSMORE is blackmailed into wedding the cold and calculating Edmund DeVault, Lord Westbrook, to protect her beloved aunt. When her attempts to escape the upcoming marriage fail, she turns to the man she knows as Lord Midnight, entrusting him with her love, and her future.
Soon Gabriel must choose: saving the woman who stole his heart, or destroying the man who stole his life.
I’d like to thank Donna for dropping by and sharing! If you are interested in winning an e-copy of Lord Midnight, please fill out the form. You’ll notice that I’m adding extra points for anyone who follows Donna on Twitter 🙂