|The Rake's Progress by William Hogarth, Plate III, 1735|
Personally, I like to write stories that are somewhat related to real life. As a friend of mine pointed out, in real life, getting involved with a “bad boy” can lead to living in a bad trailer park and explaining to a cop why your man should or should not be arrested.
|Stede Bonnet, pirate|
Because I write stories set in the 1740s, I think of this species of male protagonist’s flaws as follows: criminality (card sharper, highwayman, pirate), promiscuity (seduces every female in sight; worse if he seduces innocent young ladies), anger management problems (excessive dueling), socially irresponsible behavior (excessive risk-taking or gambling, ignoring the responsibilities of his title and estates).
When I began to be bothered by the “bad boy” thing, I realized that what bothered me most was the assumption that love would cure the rapscallion. Romance novelists tend to believe in the healing power of love, and that’s a good thing. I’m happy to endorse the sentiment…within reason. Love will not negate gravity, however. You need duct tape for that. Love may or may not fix character flaws. If the problem is minor, I’m willing to suspend disbelief, because no one’s perfect, including characters.
|18th century highwayman|
Major faults, the ones that go deep, need more than the love of a good woman. That’s why, in my novel, Captain Easterday’s Bargain, the “bad boy” does not get the lady. On the other hand, I liked Ambrose Hawkins, former pirate, art connoisseur, and sneaky son-of-a-gun. So eventually, I wrote a follow-up in which he is the male protagonist. A Duke’s Daughter comes out on April 29, 2020.
|A Duke's Daughter cover art|
...and the obvious suspect usually hangs.