There’s a definite difference between the two. The bad boy, he gives off the impression that he simply owns an attitude problem. Cocky, confident, usually tattooed, commonly slumming it with a less than favorable crowd and owns a distinct air of mystery. On some level, he harbors anger, has some trust issues, and all the while, he’s just waiting for somebody to help settle him. All of those things essentially draw the women—or the one woman—in.
Everybody loves a bad boy. Especially in romance.
Maybe the reader clings on to them because it’s possible they too met that bad boy once. Haven’t we all? Like a fun trip down memory lane, almost.
But what about the boy who is just bad?
In my mind, he’s a pull no punches kind of guy. He doesn’t mess around, or play games. He’s probably mixed up in a bad business, or he just is the bad business in a whole bunch of ways. Tough as steel, knows his way around a good fist—or worse—fight, and really, he’s not hiding who he is in the least. There is no air of mystery as to why he is the way he is, or why he acts like he does, it’s pretty obvious by his demeanor, behaviour, and company alone.
And that attitude problem? It’s not actually a problem, it’s a way of life. He owns it proudly.
It’s more than likely people mix the two up because when the line starts to become faded between the bad boy and the boy who is bad, it’s hard to tell the difference.
When I started to write The Arrangement, my intention was not to write a bad boy. It wouldn’t be possible to give the hero Anton the qualities of only that type of character and still expect him to do all of the things he needed to do in the story.
And what was that, you ask?
Well, the better question would be, what is he?
Anton Avdonin is, by all means, a criminal. He’s the mob boss of the Russian Mafia in Brighton Beach, New York. Take a moment to look at the word mafia and think about what moves around it. Danger, illegal activity, criminal behaviour, and the laws of that life. A bad boy does not fit into the role as the head of an organized crime family … but the boy who is bad does.
Essentially, the question I had to ask myself was, could a villain by society’s standards make a good hero in romance? The answer was a resounding yes!
And why is that?
Well, the heroine, of course. She’s what keeps the hero from crossing over the lines, or, she can make him leap past them without hesitation. Even the boy who is bad loves.
Here’s a little taste of that:
“So, a dangerous combination for my sensitive heart …”
“You’re right; it is because I’m a risky kind of man. I’m not a good one and I don’t pretend to be. I’ve got stars on my shoulders and a rose on my chest for a reason.” His hand left her shirt before he spread his thumb and pointer finger to give Viviana the view of an inverted cross tattooed between the digits. “Marked for a worthy hit,” he added, not sounding smug or prideful, just honest. “But, I’m a better man than others. I love you best and hold you tight at night.”
“So, my man, then?”
“Always and only.”