As discussed last week, Samael, the hero in my work-in-progress, suffers from the deadly sin of Pride.
As part of my research for the character, I asked the other Eight Ladies for book recommendations. They came up with some great suggestions! Today, I’m going to talk about some of them.
The Misunderstood Proud Guy
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Mr. Darcy is the “pride” character mentioned in the title. He is wealthy, owns an estate and is the object of all the matchmaking mothers in Longbourn, where he’s visiting a friend. When he haughtily refuses to dance with the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, she takes him in instant dislike.
Over the course of the book, though, it becomes clear that he is a good man. Much (though not all) of of what people view as pride is really a combination of introversion and shyness.
The Broken Proud Guy
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Sebastian Leslie Guy de Ath Ballister, aka Dain, prides himself on his bad behavior. The product of a very bad marriage that resulted in his mother abandoning his father (and him) when he was eight years old, followed by years at prep school being tortured by other boys, leaves him with the conviction that he was damned from birth. When his father dies and he inherits the estate and title, he decides to live out that belief.
Miss Jessica Trent has helped rear ten male cousins, so boys behaving badly are nothing new to her. Over the course of a very enjoyable 357 pages, she brings Dain to heel and mends him.
The Redeemable Proud Guy
Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The gods were smiling the day Bobby Tom Denton was born. Smart, good-looking, gifted at business, irresistible to women and an exceptional athlete, he had it all until an unlucky tackle in the Super Bowl ended his football career. Although he’s ridiculously generous to friends and acquaintances, who are more than willing to take advantage of his generosity., he doesn’t let anyone get close to him.
Gracie Snow was not born under the same star. Average-looking, badly dressed, nearly broke and a thirty-year-old virgin, she was raised in a nursing home. She’s much more at home with old people than a hot young bachelor.
When an odd feeling of connection leads Bobby Tom to consider helping Gracie shed her virgin status, he eradicates the feeling by telling himself it’s beneath him to have sex with a “charity case.”
By the end of the book, both Bobby Tom and Gracie learn to value Gracie for the excellent person she is, and Bobby Tom finally learns to set boundaries.
The Accept-Me-As-I-Am Proud Guy
Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer
The Marquis of Vidal was born heir to a wealthy dukedom. Bright, good-looking and athletic, he believes he is entitled to whatever he wants, including attractive young women.
Mary Challoner is a sensible middle-class young woman with middling looks and a very good brain. When she perceives that Vidal is about to ruin her beautiful but rather silly younger sister, she disguises herself as Sophia and takes her place, thinking to teach Vidal a lesson.
But Vidal is quite capable of kidnapping an unwilling woman. Only after Mary shoots him does he realize her reluctance isn’t feigned.
When the book ends, Vidal has learned to treat Mary with respect, but is otherwise essentially unchanged.
The Cosmically Ordained Proud Guy
The Iliad by Homer
This last one is not a romance, and was suggested by G.S. Kenney, author of Freeing Eden and The Last Lord of Eden.
Chosen by the gods to be invincible, Achaean warrior Achilles doesn’t handle frustration well. When Menelaus, leader of the Achaean army, appropriates Achilles’ slave girl, Achilles retires to his tent to sulk, refusing to join his comrades on the battlefield.
Without their best warrior, the Achaeans get destroyed on the battlefield, so Patroclus, Achilles’ bestie, dresses up in his friend’s armor and goes to battle pretending to be Achilles. Unfortunately, the armor doesn’t work for him and he winds up dead.
Overwhelmed by guilt, Achilles gets up off his duff and does his job–and gets killed, too.
My Proud Guy
So now I just have to decide which of these gentlemen, and thus which character arc, is the model for my hero, Samael.
For help in maintaining the personalities of my characters, I sometimes fall back on a book called “Heroes & Heroines/Sixteen Master Archetypes.” It defines eight archetypes for heroes and heroines and points to fictional characters as examples. The male archetypes are Chief, Bad Boy, Best Friend, Charmer, Lost Soul, Professor, Swashbuckler, and Warrior. I thought you might want to think of Samael as something in addition to full of pride, since no one is only just one thing. For example, in the prideful characters you mention, Dain is a Lost Soul by this archetypical assessment. The virtues: devoted, vulnerable, and discerning. The flaws: brooding, unforgiving, and fatalistic. Vidal in Devil’s Cub is probably a Swashbuckler (fearless, exciting, capable AND unreliable, foolhardy, selfish) rather than the Bad Boy (charismatic, street smart, intuitive AND pessimistic, bitter, volatile). And then the book shows how each of these archetypes would interact with the heroine archetypes. It’s a fun read, and for me, instructive.
I’m not suggesting you use this book, but I’m just thinking that broadening Samael’s characteristics would give you some more options to play with. Whatever you go with, I’m sure you’ll do Samael proud!
I read this a few years back and found it really interesting. I remember thinking that Susan Elisabeth Phillips almost always writes the Spunky Kid as her protagonist.
I knew I needed to give Sam other traits but this is a good reminder that certain traits tend to go together.
Off to look more deeply!
I had this book in my Kindle library. Reading through it again made me realize Vidal’s backstory doesn’t explain why he’s a Bad Boy. He just is.
I think characters in romance have become more complex over the years.