Way ahead of you dude.
The day before those soul-shredding comments reached my inbox, I already decided to cover each of my favorite authors and what I’ve noticed that sets them apart from others. After I’m done with “20 Things I’ve Learned from JR Ward,” expect to see topics on Larissa Ione, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter, Laura Wright, and Karen Marie Moning. These ladies are on my automatic recommend list, where I’m like YOU MUST READ THEIR WORK, and then get kinda pissed if the other person doesn’t.
I feel the need to mention that I haven’t met any of these authors (I doubt that's a surprise). These are purely my observations and opinions based on their books and social media presence.
Let’s move on to Part 2 of JR Ward!
6. We need to empathize with the hero and heroine.
Going back to V from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. No, I haven’t been tied up and whipped to get off. No, I haven’t tied up or whipped anyone else to get off. Have my inner demons chased me to self-destructive behavior? Check out #1 from the previous blog. At times, my ice cream hunt was (is) a daily occurrence. And I’m a trichotillomaniac. I wish my disorder had a cooler name, but there ya go. I pull my hair out and the shot of pain gives me a feeling of profound stress release. A close relation to my weird-ass disorder are cutters. Pain equals less mental pressure. I get it, V. I get it.
Not all empathy needs to stem around major personal demons. Sometimes the ones we almost don’t notice, but get to see characters experience, bond us the most with them. Zhadist and Bella were my favorite Brotherhood couple even before I fell in love with their short story, the one after their book. Was there any action? Nope. Did she stand in front of the mirror, like I have many times before, and think the matronly changes in her body affected the desire of her mate? Yep. Did Zhadist think she was just as beautiful as ever? Yep. My husband and I aren’t vampires, yet I can relate. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see both characters’ insecurities, not just the typical chick worries.
7. We should empathize with secondary characters.
Who doesn't get a kick out of Fritz?
Or Nigel and his partner (can’t remember his name, I’m even worse with fictional names than real life names)? They didn’t have their own book in the Fallen Angels series, but they had a nearly complete story throughout the series. It was heartbreaking, it was touching, and I got just as attached to them as I did to the hero and heroine.
Then there was Butch. He got his own book, but we got to know him from book one in the Brotherhood series and were ecstatic to discover he had a place (and his own book) in the Brotherhood series. Ward is a master at introducing us to characters, their personalities, and their inner demons long before they ever get their own book. We don’t just get an appearance, we get to know them, get introduced to their struggles, and it makes their book so much richer.
8. We can empathize with the bad guys, but they’re still bad.
Davina was a riot. A demon with OCD seeing a therapist? Fabulous. She was almost unrepentantly evil. We liked her character in that we hated her. We enjoyed her final demise, because she deserved it. Ward didn’t pull that Maleficent bullshit, where the evil character was really just wronged and misunderstood. There’s the bad guys that are really pretty decent once they find a reason for redemption, and then there’s the evil bastards that need to be killed.
9. Not all heroines are virgins.
Ward wrote one that was even a prostitute. I know that’s unusual, but not unique, but I get tired of the big ‘v’ heroine. Haven’t we all gotten tired of the man-whore vs the virgin angle? Okay, no, it still has its appeal, as long as it’s not every story.
There are a few virgins in the Brotherhood series, but their virginity makes sense. I can barely tolerate a paranormal romance with contemporary characters that are virgins.
10. Pets can add to the story without being comic relief.
The cat in The Shadows. Typical cat behavior because cats always like males who couldn’t care less about whether the cat exists or not. I see it every time my husband walks into a room with a cat. They love the guy. Back to Ward’s kitty: “goddamn cat” didn’t have any stereotypical funny cat behavior, but her presence enriched the character, and made me smile a bit. Then there’s Dog in Fallen Angels and the king’s seeing-eye dog in the Brotherhood series. The pets have identities that stand alone. They aren’t comic relief, they aren’t playing up a stereotype, they aren’t just there to die (I forgot to warn my son when they watched Old Yeller in class…). They are characters that make the story richer.
We're half done readers! Next week, I'll cover #11-15. In the mean time, I'll be getting more, likely brutal, contest results back. It's going to make a helluva blog :)