I'm starting to get a little weirded out.
A couple of months ago I was working through a list of stories recommended (God knows where, I've long forgotten) as "Beauty and the Beast" archetypes. I picked up a 2003 SIM called Last Man Standing by Wendy Rosnau. It was an ok story, I guess. I'm not really sure, though, because I couldn't get past the hero.
HE WAS IN THE MOB!!!
Not an undercover cop, not an unwilling participant, but an honest-to-goodness (in fiction at least) made guy.
Now, the author made a half-hearted attempt to portray the mob as a family with a bad PR problem. Shhyah. I don't think so. Murder, drugs, prostitution. Hey, I watched The Godfather. At least Puzo didn't try to pretty it up. Even if some of the characters were marginally sympathetic, you never forgot who they were. You can have a heart for the gunman who says, "Leave the gun. Take the canolis." But you still understand that this man was evil in his soul.
People are going to make lots of noises about bending the rules and thinking outside the box. But you know what? I have a box. I like my box. It's not a big box, but I've cultivated it carefully. I wander around outside it frequently, but I return to my box, my comfort zone, at the end of the day.
To me, this is a line you can't cross. Yes, I've loved heroes who have killed people. I have loved heroes who used to do horrible, evil things. But at the end of the book, in order for me to invest in the HEA, he has to stop. He can't remain at the top of a mafia family that deals regularly in everyday horror.
Now, it's possible this isn't a trend. After all, the only other book I've ever read with such a hero is a recent one called Hunter's Moon by C.J. Adams and Cathy Clamp.
Here's the thing. I think it's worth reading. It's written entirely in 1st person, but from the heroes pov. That's a first for me. The first part of the book is even rather charming. The heroine isn't that bright, but then again, neither is the hero. He is, however, possessed of animal cunning. Did I mention he's a werewolf? Yeah. Did I also mention
HE'S A KILLER FOR THE MOB?!?!?!
It's good to be good at your job. It's good to enjoy your job. Unless it's murder for hire!!!! Better yet, the hero makes a point partway through the book regarding a teenaged colleague of his. It's better the kid should be murdering people for money because otherwise he'd be a serial killer.
Now that's a path of thought I'd never explored.
I understand a number of people enjoyed this book. Like I said, I found it worth reading, but I didn't actually enjoy it. First, I couldn't get past the "I'm a murderer, come live with me and be my love" thing. Second, I never got emotionally connected to the characters. The heroine really started pushing my buttons after a while. The ending didn't seem to fit well, either, but that could be because after I realized it boiled down to werewolf hitman falls for clinically depressed doormat, the whole thing just stopped working.
Anyway, I am really hoping I don't keep running across heroes who feed off other people's misery. And continue to do it after the "I love yous" have been said.
I just watched El Dorado again the other night. Yes, I'm a John Wayne junkie. His character is a gun for hire, but a righteous one. He doesn't hire out to people just looking to make a buck, he hires out for defense of the little guy. And at the end of the movie, he's getting out of the freelance business and will likely become a lawman.
Maybe I'm a sap. Maybe I just like the way he lopes across the dusty street. But dang. That's a hero for me. He grows, he learns, he makes a change for the better.
Even though I enjoy the Sopranos, I agree with you -- a made man is NOT a hero. There would have to be some other mitigating circumstances -- ie undercover cop, FBI agent, etc.
There again I like my heroes heroic.
I love the Sopranos but Tony disgusts me.
I like my box too, and I agree with Michelle, he'd have to be undercover or whatever.
My hero's have to have integrity. That's the most important trait of a hero for me. He may struggle with it, he may have to learn it, but by the last page he has to have it.
I liked Hunter's Moon. That said, I've always enjoyed dark (anti)heroes. I didn't have a problem with Tony being an assassin--then again, I wouldn't. He had integrity, but not a culturally accepted sort. He operates off his own code of honor--not anyone else's, which is something I respect.
*shrugs* To each their own. I'm rather glad to see more books of this sort being published, honestly...
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