On Rogues and Whey We Love Them

Marlon Brando, looking dirty and brooding and oh so roguish in a publicity still from A Streetcar Named DesireI have a soft spot for rogues. It’s probably not a shocking admission. Aside from the fact that today marks the launch of a new series (!!!!) dedicated to rogues and scoundrels, anyone who loves romance the way I love romance...they way you likely love romance (after all, you’re reading this blog)...probably has a soft spot for rogues. And part of why I love the Writers on Rogues series that is going on all month here is because I'm not alone. Obviously, if you become a romance novelist, you're probably a rogue girl.

It’s rogues, after all, who capture our interest when we’re far too young to understand just how dangerous they are—I can still remember watching a sweaty, t-shirted Marlon Brando bellowing “Stella!” up the steps of his New Orleans apartment house when I was six or seven. I didn’t understand a single thing about A Streetcar Named Desire...I’m not sure I processed that Stanley had hit his pregnant wife, or that he was about to do much worse things to his mad sister-in-law. But I knew he was rough and ragged. And I loved him anyway.

And once we do understand the appeal of the bad boy—once we’ve steeped ourselves in the myth of the leather-jacketed, smoking, swearing, high-school hoodlum (thank you James Dean and Grease and Johnny Depp), we still don’t learn. I spent the large part of my 16th year pining away for a bad boy named Brock. He was everything the name implies—tall and dark haired and utterly unsavory, but he could smile at a pudgy girl with a chip on her shoulder and thoroughly disarm her.

Then we grow up, of course. And we realize just what Stanley was doing to his wife. And we realize that great smile or not, that rogue from high school probably isn’t the kind of guy that you want to bring home to your parents. Or introduce to your friends (I should add, I just googled Brock, and the first hit was an arrest record. Of course.). But this doesn’t change the fact that rogues intrigue you, and that somewhere, deep inside, where you’d never admit it to anyone but your closest, best friend, there’s a tiny part of you that believes that you can be the woman to show that rogue the error of his wicked ways.

That’s where romance comes in. Because, you see, in romance, love heals. And changes. And turns rogues into soft, malleable putty in our hands (well, hopefully not too soft!). In romance, the wallflower captures the rake’s attention, and then his heart. In romance, the quiet, perfect lady stands up to the dark wicked scoundrel, and returns him to the light. And in romance, the rake is redeemed by the love of a wonderful, honest woman.

We don’t love rogues because they’re bad. We love them because they have the potential to be good...if only they find the right woman.

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So, confession time...do you have a rogue in your past? Tell us about him! (But be warned...googling him may cause disappointment!)