Bad Boy Burnout

One of the questions I get asked most often about Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story is who Ben is based on. Did I know a Ben in high school? (Answer: I wish). Ben is actually a combination of several men I know but the main idea for his character came from a case of bad-boy burnout.

A total Boy Scout who will steal your heart.



Bad boys have been standard fare in romance for a long time. The romance novels I read in high school were full of scoundrels and rogues who led sweet-innocents astray. I gave up on the genre around the time I started college. Fun reading was replaced with text books (I swear I did read some of them) and I got tired of the predictability of the novels. Before the days of self-publishing there were fewer choices and fewer retail outlets where you could find different options. If it wasn’t on the paperback shelf at Target, I probably didn’t read it in the 1980’s. 

But now we have options, tons of options. Not only do we have Amazon, but with the advent of the e-reader, it’s possible for local libraries to carry thousands more titles than their brick and motor buildings can hold. When I jumped back into romance reading a few years ago I started searching for the best novels that were published during my missing years. I found Outlander and Twilight then 50 Shades of Grey and Beautiful Disaster. I was devouring these and loving them. Internet searches also brought me the “If you loved (name of book) then try…” lists. So if I loved 50 Shades of Grey then I will love This Man or Bared to You. Ummm, no. That’s where I hit a wall. For me the follow-up novels were way too close to the original.  I felt like I was reading the same story but with different character names.  I tried other suggestions and kept running into more and more bad boys, who were starting to feel more like colossal a-holes.

But frustration is a good thing for a writer. The more I hated the “heros” I was finding the more I wanted to create my own.  I was dying to read about a smart guy who was going somewhere in life. I wanted a story where there wasn’t a “good girl” out to save some misogynistic loser–so I wrote it. 

Ben was created to turn the current standard for romance writing around. He is the antithesis of the previaling bad boy. He is smart and geeky and driven. And like most real people his assets are also his deficits. He is also a controlling, rigid perfectionist. The final piece I added to make him real was that he was a virgin, but sexual. Logic tells me that just because a teenage boy isn’t having sex doesn’t mean it isn’t on his mind, a lot. Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks is a broody, angsty, bad-boy free zone. 

So, how about you? What type of romance books are you drawn to? Have you reached bad-boy burnout or are you ready for more? Who is the best hero you’ve read lately? Comment below and let me know.

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