Irredeemable Rakes and Rogues

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Irredeemable Rakes and Rogues

What makes a rake or rouge irredeemable? Is there such a thing? If so, what is it?

Those are questions I asked myself as I created Heath, Earl of Ravensdale, my darkest hero yet. His story, Wagers Gone Awry (Conundrum of the Misses Culpepper, Book 1) just launched, and I do worry readers won’t warm up to him.

Like most haunted heroes, he has redeeming qualities, but are his strengths enough to overcome his blatant faults? I don’t see Heath as the classic anti-hero, like Erik, the phanton from the Phantom of the Opera or Jason Bourne in The Bourne Trilogy, but Heath’s not the smiling conqueror to the rescue either.

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He’s more likely to say, “Bloody hell, won’t do to send five penniless females packing, more’s the pity,” than, “You’ll never have another worry again.” 

Perhaps the humanity of rakes and rogues, those rakehells who are often perceived as part rebellious, part selfish, and part bad boy is what makes them so intriguing. But at what point do they cross the line into hopeless creeps? Is that a purely individual perception of each reader?  

Romance readers enjoy escaping from reality by delving into a well-written story, yet the characters must still be believable and that means they have flaws. Oh, we’ve all read about the swearing, cocky, indifferent hero who will watch his enemy perish with a half-smile on his perfectly molded mouth, yet he’ll rush to the aid of a duckling crossing the road.

Won’t he? 

Flaws make our champions human, but how human do we want them? Let’s face it, the world is full of scumbags (rich, sexy, handsome and poor, balding, and pudgy). Do readers want to read about those kinds of lowlifes? More on point, can readers relate to them as the protagonist? Libertines do exist, after all.

If the roué is contrite and apologetic, can we let him start anew? What if he repeats his poor behavior? Again and again?

I know the troll reviewer who insists every woman born since the inception of time who doesn’t bash men over their heads when they do something she doesn’t like is screeching, “Off with his…”

Well, you get the idea.

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She’s also calling the rest of us, and our kindhearted heroine’s, doormats. Is she right? Are we doormats for forgiving  the cur? When is enough, enough?   

What about the average reader? You know, the one who if he/she doesn’t want a happily-ever-after, at least wants to like the hero by the end of the story.

I’ve read a few books where I didn’t like him (or her) even after I reached the last page. I’m not sure that’s the author’s fault. After all, don’t we each have some things that bother us more about people than others? I’ve had readers rave over a hero while others have basically said he was a sorry sot. Still, I don’t like how I feel after finishing a story when I didn’t care for the hero. 


Here’s an Excerpt from Wagers Gone Awry 

WagersGoneAwryIt seemed most unfair that he should be gifted with wealth, looks, and a physique to rival a Greek god’s. An attractive package on the exterior perhaps, but the trappings hid a blackguard’s treacherous heart.

With a great deal of difficulty, he struggled into his coat, the wetness and tight fit presenting a humorous challenge. Swearing beneath his breath, he wriggled and twisted. Had her life not been shattered, she might’ve chuckled at his antics.

His elbow caught at an awkward angle near his ear, and he curled his lip in irritation. He glanced her way and opened his mouth.

She arched a brow.

Don’t you dare ask for my assistance.

Freddy would fart feathers before she offered to help the earl.

He snapped his mouth shut and a closed expression settled on his features. “You know nothing of me, Miss Culpepper, and your blame is sorely misplaced.”

“Indeed. And on whom shall I place the blame then?”

“If you must blame someone, blame your confounded cousin for being a self-centered sot. Blame your father for not providing for you.” At last, he rammed his arm into the sleeve. He waved a hand in the air. “Blame The Almighty for making you a woman, and not a man capable of providing for himself and his family.”

Too far!

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For me, an irredeemable rake or rogue is one who continues to put his needs and wants above everyone else’s not caring who he hurts, and he’s also unreliable and untrustworthy.

What about you? What’s your deal-breaker, the thing that makes you want to slap a hero upside the head and say, “Wake up, you insufferable cad!”?  




Follow Collette Cameron:


USA Today Bestselling Author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them. Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she still lives in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time. Admitting to a quirky sense of humor, Collette enjoys inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. You'll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.

22 Responses

  1. ki pha

    Oh man, I’ve been through this before. I’m glad it doesn’t happen often but when it does I’m just over my head asking, “what the heck?” Yes, sometimes the heroine needs a slap or two for falling so easily into the hands of that pain in the ashes, but the hero will definitely be knocked out if he’s just being a cod. Gosh they can get on my nerves. When a hero is not understanding of something the heroine did and won’t listen to her at all, that’s when I want to slap him silly. And especially when he’s always reprimanding her actions and thinking badly of her for not rood reasons but rumor. It can get very tiring, fast.

    But for me a irredeemable rake or rogue is definitely how you put it, a selfish unreliable lair. What breaks the deal is if they’re cheaters, unsympathetic, cruel out of this world, and if they are just horrible horrible beings. Like if the hero is always breaking down the poor heroine mentally and verbally. How can you love a man that s emotionally torturing you? But it’s even worse if they were physically harming.

  2. Barbara Monajem

    I haven’t read about many heroes who were so bad I couldn’t stand them. I recall one book where I thought revenge was taken too far, but that’s all that comes to mind. Also, I think one has to bear in mind that while a rake may redeem himself in a book, he would be more difficult to have faith in in real life.

  3. Ashley York

    Excellent definition of “irredeemable rake” and not worth reading about…unless love can change him into no longer wanting to be that way. 😉

  4. Sandra Owens

    Cheating. Can’t stand a hero that cheats on the heroine after they are together. If H/h breakup for a while, I’m okay with him thinking he’ll go out and have a little fun to forget her, but no matter how hard he tries to want someone different, he just can’t.

  5. Angelyn

    You really have the clue right at hand with the term “irredeemable.” I struggle with characterization so this is a big issue for me. Some of my favorite characters are villains because overall they are not redeemable, but some of their actions redeem earlier bad acts. This reminds me of the problem with Beta heroes–they need redemption, too. Freddy Standen completely makes up for his adorable/silly obsession over manners and clothing when he punches the famous rake, Jack Westruther in Heyer’s Cotillion.

    I could go on.

    Great post!

  6. Ally Broadfield

    My deal breaker is when the hero never seems repentant about any wrongdoing, then somehow manages to magically change at the end without there ever having been signs of growth through the course of the story.

  7. jdh2690

    I’m with you, Collette, on what makes a rogue irredeemable. He’s not just a rogue who can be charming and honest and truly love his heroine. He is a bounder and a cad and can be downright mean-spirited! A “deal breaker” for me would be bad manners and not being considerate with his lady love…and others.

  8. Glenda

    I guess I have a few deal breakers. I completely agree with your deal breaker. It’s not enough that he cares and respects his lady love as well as himself. He has to learn to treat others well also.

    Infidelity is a total deal breaker for me. If a man (or woman) cheats during the relationship, I am done with him. I might keep reading in the hopes he does get what is coming to him.

    I do want to see the journey of the rogue as he grows and changes his beliefs. I don’t like the books where he is a jerk up until the final pages and all of a sudden they live happily ever after,

    • Collette Cameron

      I like a little bit of going back and forth. He makes some progress in one area, but still struggles in another. I’m with you when it comes to a sudden transformation at the end of a story. It’s just not believable. He’ll still have flaws, but show me how he overcame the ones that were keeping them apart.

  9. Nancy

    I do not like bad boy books. Most of the so called bad boys are immature l. I do not want to read about a boy. I want to read about a man who can do the hard thing and apologize for something. One who never uses unnecessary violence, and is faithful to his love.He never ruins innocents.
    Many authors call their men rogues or rakes. neither was a compliment. Both rogues and Rakes ( except the company of Rogues) use women. The fact that the mistress was either a courtesan or an adulteress is immaterial. The trouble is that after years of such connections, can the rogue be faithful? Can he cease looking for a new love/sensation?
    People have told women for centuries that a reformed rake makes the best husband. They lied.

  10. Nancy

    Your rafflecopter didn’t like my comment so wouldn’t let me enter the contest.

  11. ellaquinnauthor

    I do like bad boys. I also like men who were bad boys until the moment they really have to step up to the plate. And I have to admit, that my husband of over 30 years was a rake, but he’s been a devoted husband ever since. Shared.