Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Guest Blogger - Nicola Cornick

Hello Lucy, hello everyone, and thank you for inviting me to join you today. You’ve had some fabulous guests on the blog and it’s a great pleasure to be here in their company!

I write Regency historicals for HQN Books and you can imagine my delight when I found out that Lucy had written a new Regency, Annabelle’s Courtship, featuring her wonderfully stubborn heroine and equally determined, gorgeous hero. I am a sucker for Scottish heroes and I’m lucky enough to be married to a man who is half Scottish and half Welsh. Such inspiration!

The opportunity to talk about gorgeous historical heroes is one that I can seldom resist, especially not at the moment when I have a new novella out from Harlequin Historicals, The Pirate’s Kiss, featuring the ultimate bad boy hero, Daniel de Lancey. Now this isn’t just a chance to drool over pictures of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in costume (Well, perhaps it is – just a little bit!) It’s also important research for me in terms of why readers like dark, tortured bad boys. Just lately there’s been a resurgence in the dark, sexy Regency (hooray!) with new author Anna Campbell causing quite a stir and Christine Wells’s fabulous rakish hero Sebastian, being very bad indeed in Scandal’s Daughter. And it’s an interesting thing that in romance, reading about those bad boys can be very good fun indeed.

So what is the appeal of the pirate hero? He’s a man of mystery, completely free, daring to live his own life on his own terms. He’s also a man who has turned his back on love but when he meets the heroine she sees a different side to him. She can reach him as no one else can.

Which is your favourite book with a dark hero? Do you like pirates, rakes and bad boy heroes in historical or contemporary romance? What qualities must a hero possess to appeal to you? Please give me your views – and help me with my research!


About Nicola: Nicola has written 26 historical romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon and HQN Books. She has been short-listed for the RWA RITA® Award, nominated twice for the RNA Romance Prize and Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice awards, and has won the LORIES Award of Excellence. She studied Medieval History at London University and in 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction in Public History at Ruskin College, Oxford, for her dissertation on heroes. She is currently researching the history of the National Trust property Ashdown House, in Oxfordshire, where she works as a guide. Her other interests are wildlife and conservation, travel, music, reading and training guide dog puppies.


Lucy Monroe said...

Welcome, Nicola! Smooches on your description of AC. :) I absolutely love historical romance and am thrilled you agreed to blog, as I know the readers are too. :) One of the many books I love with those oh so rakish dark heroes is Christine Feehan's "Dark Desire". Oh, man, do I love this book. What a tortured bad boy hero who is borderline dangerous for the heroine. Not a historical - but has all the richness and layering of one. Which is probably one of the reasons I love her Carpathians so much. Another favorite dark hero is Amanda Quick's in "Ravished" - that book is so beloved, it's practically falling apart and I try to read without breaking the spine! LOL As for what qualities must a hero possess? Honor. Integrity. Loyalty (even when he doesn't want to be). Fidelity. Passion. Strength. And yes some level of sensitivity under that bad boy alpha exterior.

lidia said...

Nicola, Nice to see you blogging at Lucy's party! I loved "The Notorious Marriage."

My all time favorite historical book is "Lord of the Scoundrels" by Loretta Chase. Sebastian reminds of an alpha hero -- transported to the Regency Era. He was tortured by his own misconceptions -- thinking there wasn't anything to love. And the heroine, Jessica was a strong-willed character -- not missish at all. What suprised me the most, was how many times I actually laughed when reading the book.

As for qualities, I agree with Lucy. I've always felt that a loving relationship needs the following: love, trust, respect, loyalty and fidelity. Of course passion is a given. And while at times some of the "ingredients" are missing in the beginning, by the time we get to the HEA, they need to be there for a satisfying read.

Stacy~ said...

Welcome Nicola! Lucy sure has been inviting some fun and interesting guest bloggers, and I love it :)

Hmmm, yes, we all (or most of us) think we can be THE woman to save and change that tortured bad boy, to turn him into what we want him to be, but I think the type of woman that appeals to the bad boy is the kind that isn't really trying to change him, just to love him. Zarek in Kenyon's "Dancing With the Devil" is my favorite tortured hero. Being brutalized from a young age, he's never known any affection, not even from his own family, and it turns him into a human animal. It isn't until Astrid, a woman he's forbidden to be with, comes into his life and opens herself up to him that he begins to become human again. Makes me cry everytime.

Zsadist, another favorite, from Ward's BDB series is extremely similar to Zarek, but Zarek was here first, so he remains my top choice.

These are both contemps, btw, but I do love historicals, and LOS as Lidia mentioned is awesome.

Nicola Cornick said...

Thank you for the warm welcome, Lucy! Hi Lidia, hi Stacy. You've come up with some great bad boy heroes! I agree that Sebastian in Lord of Scoundrels is the ultimate tortured Regency bad boy and has all that past history that has made him what he is. The very first hero of that type that I read was Vidal in Georgette Heyer's Devil's Cub. He was a bad, bad boy and I loved the way that the heroine was so practical towards him and refused to swoon over his terrible reputation!

Good point, Stacy, that maybe redeeming the bad boy is all about loving him unconditionally rather than trying to change him. After all, it wouldn't be the same if he became an angel!

Amy said...

Hi Nicola, I have to agree with Lucy about Christine Feehan's Dark Desire. I don't read very many historicals but I would add Lucy's book Take Me to the list. Jarad has to be one of my favorite tortured hero's. He is separated from his twin sister at birth, grew up with a crule father and was scarred on his face saving his youngest sister from a wild animal and is called Lord Beast by the Ton.

Nathalie said...

A dark hero... I loved the Pirate's Pleasure by Heather Graham... with the idea of twins - a senator and a pirate - battling ofr the love of a lady :)

Anna Campbell said...

i Nicola! Great blog. As ever, your comments are gold dust, my friend. And thank you for the plug. Yes, Kylemore definitely qualified as a dark hero. I love Christine's Sebastian too. I agree with Lidia about Sebastian in Lord of Scoundrels being the ultimate hero. And then when he falls victim to love, it's SOOO compelling to watch. Can't wait for the pirate book, Nicola. As you know I'm a huge fan of your stuff! Lucy, thank you for inviting Nicola on today.

Lucy Monroe said... and Nicola are definitely making me want to read the book. LOL I seriously think I'll have some time over the upcoming holiday weekend. This party and finishing one book and starting another and finally getting my house back are all so time consuming. ;-)

Stacy...I love Zarek! I cry every time I read his book too and I've done so at least six times. Happy sigh. I haven't read Ward yet, but you make the hero all too appealing. And I agree...I think it's the loving the guy where he's at that makes the relationship work for both of them. Then he does all he can to be his best for her. It's beautiful.

Oooh...Amy, thanks. I fell in love with Jared long before I wrote his story and he keeps a favored place in my heart still. His is my favorite story of that trilogy. :)

Nathalie...I haven't read Heather Graham, but I've heard her stories are totally fab. And the one you describe is quite intriguing. :)

Anna...speaking of intriguing stories - I haven't read your first book yet, but it's on my TBB list. As is your upcoming December release. I've got a couple of guest author slots open in December - wonder if you'd like to come chat about the newest book? If so, just email me.

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Anna, how fantastic to see you here! Nathalie, The Pirate's Pleasure has gone straight onto my to read pile. It sounds intriguing. Thanks for the recommendation. I have an extract from The Pirate's Kiss and a contest to win a Mr Darcy calendar on my website at I do try to offer website prizes that give the opportunity to look at gorgeous men in historical costume!

Anna Campbell said...

Lucy, thank you for the invite. I'll definitely be in touch. We met briefly when you visited Oz a couple of years ago. I still remember your wonderful workshop on time management. And you absolutely MUST read Lord of Scoundrels. It's one of the best romances ever written!

And everyone, Nicola gives away fabulous prizes in her contests although somehow I never seem to win - WHAAAAHHHH! Really interesting, different stuff, like a pamper pack from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Still sorry I missed out on that one.

Christine Wells said...

Hi Nicola! Hi Lucy! Looking forward to reading The Pirate's Kiss! Ooh, I love the bad boy hero. Lord of Scoundrels is one of my favourite books, too, Lidia. Oh, and Vidal! Nicola, he still lives in my memory as one of the sexiest heroes of all time, an effect all the more amazing when you think there was not very much overt sexuality in Heyer's books.

Thanks for mentioning Sebastian in Scandal's Daughter, Nicola. He would probably classify as a bad boy with a difficult history than your typical dark hero, I think! Anna C did a fabulous job with the tortured Kylemore and I love Anne Stuart's heroes, too. That woman has an amazing talent for redemption.

lidia said...

Wow! I can't believe (but I can -- LOL) that so many of you love "Lord of Scoundrels." What surprises me is that none of Loretta's other books had the same impact. "LoS" just seems to have all of the necessary qualtities that make it stand out.

Lucy, you see, I was steering you in the right direction by telling you that it is a "must read." LOL

Nicola, this is a great topic!

Estella said...

I like pirates, rakes and bad boys in any book.

Lori said...

Hi Nicola - love your books! I have to agree witheveryone... love Sebastian! I think what stands out so much about Sebastian is not only how tortured he is, but that the book is really written from his POV, so we get a real glimpse into his inner feelings more so than in any other book - so powerful and appealing.

Annie West said...


I loved your post - you're right there's definitely something about a dark hero. I think it's the sizzle of danger and wondering just how far he'll go to achieve his ends. Can you tell I started out reading a lot of gothics?

I'm really looking forward to 'The Pirates' Kiss'. Your 'Lord Greville's Captive' was excellent and I'm eager for more of your books. And since you've written a pirate...! How can I resist? I wonder what the lure is there. I had a hero, Rafiq, who is part pirate (at least the heroine sees him that way) and the idea gave the story such energy. I think the very word 'pirate' can lend sizzle. Am now wishing I wrote historicals so I could write pirates...!

As for favourite dark heroes - Dain in Loretta Chase's 'Lord of Scoundrels' is a favourite,as it is for so many others. Kylemore in Anna's 'Claiming the Courtesan' is up there too - hi Anna!

Looking forward to getting your novella in Australia.


Annie West said...

Oh dear. Nicola, I meant to say I'm looking forward to The Pirate's Kiss (not Pirates')! I suspect your heroine was only kissing one pirate hero (G).


Nicola Cornick said...

Glad you're enjoying this topic, Lidia. Personally I could talk about dark heroes and bad boys for... oh, well, forever! Estella summed it up pretty well, to my mind. I love books with rakish heroes and heroes with dark, complicated pasts.

Hi Christine, I'm so pleased you could drop in! Hi Lori - we definitely all have a passion for LoS in common! I have enjoyed many of Loretta Chase's other books but I think LoS was just THE outstanding book. And Christine, you make such a great point about Vidal in Devil's Cub. He was an incredibly sexy hero, much more so IMO than most of Heyer's other heroes. Actually one of my favourite Heyer books is Beauvallet, which isn't a Regency at all, but I think Nick Beauvallet has the same sort of dangerous attraction as Vidal - as well as having a great name. And he's a pirate as well, of course!! Then there's the pirate in Daphne Du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek. He was just soooo gorgeous. There's a bit in the book when the heroine asks him what a pirate does on a long, hot afternoon and he just leans forward and starts to remove her earrings and says there's only one thing they can do...

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Annie!

Yes, my heroine is a one pirate gal! The sizzle of danger - I like that description! Mmm, there's a definite appeal about the dangerous hero, isn't there. The heroine can't be quite sure just what she's taking on and whether he might just be too hot to handle. You can probably tell I'm getting quite carried away here!

Anna Campbell said...

I absolutely adored Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase, Lidia. It's very different to LOS but SOOO charming. And the hero is different and just to die for.

Hiya, Annie. Oh, Rafiq! He is one chic sheikh! Loved his pirate earring. And thanks for mentioning the Duke of Kylemore.

OOOH, Nicola, got goosebumps when you described that scene in Frenchman's Creek. I haven't read that since I was in high school. Must drag out the good old DDM's and revisit them. I remember really liking Jamaica Inn too. Speaking of pirates, what about good old Errol in Captain Blood or the Sea Hawk, although strictly speaking he was a privateer in that one. SOOO dashing! And such tight, er...tights!

Kim said...

Hi Nicola, I've enjoyed reading your blog and all the comments. As you know, I am a big fan of yours and absolutely love your bad boys. Looking forward to reading The Pirate's kiss.

Hi Lucy, I had no idea you wrote an Historical. I can't wait to read it and I loved Ravished too. My copy is quite dog-eared. LOL Thanks for having Nicola as a guest. I've added a couple of books to my wish list today. :)

Kim said...

Oooops, forgot that my last name wasn't shown. LOL It would be kind of difficult for you to know that I am a fan with just knowing my first name. Hi Nicola, It is your fan Kim Swiderski

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Kim! It's so nice to see you here! Thanks so much for your kind comments about my books. I was totally thrilled when I discovered Lucy's historicals. A friend who had suggested I read Ready also said : "You do know Lucy writes historicals as well..." After that she was talking to thin air as I headed off to check them out!

Anna, I'm a Jamaica Inn fan too. Now I'm sure the hero of that was a bad boy. There was something deliciously dark and dangerous about him. Oh yeah, he was a smuggler, wasn't he. Another outlaw hero. I knew it!

lidia said...

Anna, I haven't read "Mr. Impossible" -- will have to find a copy.

By the way, "LoS" is being re-printed -- 11/27/07 publication date. It has a brand new cover -- I found it on Amazon. Considering it was first published in 1995 -- that says a lot about that particular historical.

I remember reading Rebecca's books back in high school also. They were great!

Nicola, you are right -- there is something about saying a hero is a smuggler, outlaw, pirate, etc... that draws us to want to read the book. He can't be all bad if he's a hero -- right? Look at Robin Hood.

Annie West said...

Lidia, DO, DO look for a copy of 'Mr Impossible'. Rupert Carstairs is divine, though definitely not a dark hero.

Nicola, like Anna I'd forgotten that scene in Frenchman's Creek (obviously too long since I read the divine Daphne). That scene with the earrings sounds fabulous. I'm glad to hear you're getting carried away there. I think it's catching!

And, since Anna has mentioned tights, could I just add a word for those lovely loose old-fasioned shirts. Sigh. And boots. What sort of pirate doesn't have boots to swagger about in...?

Lucy, I think it was positively dangerous letting Nicola talk about pirates here! I'm supposed to be revising a manuscript, not daydreaming about buccaneers.


catslady said...

Any of Julie Garwood's heroes - I guess the fact that they can be a pirate/thief but they're honorable at the same time lol.

Lucy Monroe said...

LOL You're right, Annie...very dangerous. Yummy pirates. :)

Brandy said...

Is it just me, or is Roarke from J.D. Robbs books a "bad boy"? *G* I like pirates, rakes and bad boys, so write on! *G*

anne said...

Your blog is great! Bad Boys rule. In any setting and historicals they are the best.

Nicola Cornick said...

Just dropping in to say thank you to you all for your comments and to Lucy for inviting me. I have had the best time here!

Lucy Monroe said...

Thanks so much for spending time with us, hon!