I always grin (wickedly) when a reader writes to me and says:
“Michael was such a jerk in the first book of your VELVET LIES series! I never thought I would like him as a hero. But after reading HIS WICKED DREAM, now Michael is my favorite hero!”
So how does an author take a slightly tarnished, irascible secondary character and turn him into a romantic, sigh-worthy hero for a spin-off novel?
That was my challenge as I set out to write HIS WICKED DREAM.
When we meet Michael Jones in the prologue of SCOUNDREL FOR HIRE (Book 1, Velvet Lies Series,) Michael is a bit of a bully. As a matter of fact, he punches 14-year-old Rafe in the face! The antagonism between the two brothers is reminiscent of Cain and Abel. Rafe tells the reader, uncharitably, that the stern, uncompromising Michael is destined to be a hanging judge.
But Michael is destined to be a doctor. I give the reader peeks into his nurturing nature when (in his own, irascible fashion) he worries about his youngest brother’s coughs and commands the child to come inside during a snowstorm. Michael even (grudgingly) throws his scarf to Rafe to compensate for bloodying his nose.
Romance is all about happy endings, but in the fictional universe, a character isn’t allowed to live happily ever after unless he pays for his sins. To keep Rafe fans from hating Michael, I had to prove to them that Michael was worthy of true love.
When HIS WICKED DREAM opens nearly 15 years after Rafe’s story begins, we learn that Michael is a troubled man. A wounded hero. A doctor who failed to save the most precious life of all. We’re moved to feel a grudging sense of forgiveness toward Michael – especially since he can’t forgive himself.
As an author, I stretch my skills by writing different character types. Rafe is a wickedly witty, smooth-talking con man, who is wanted by the law.
Michael, by comparison, is an upstanding citizen, who takes seriously the responsibility of raising his (rebellious) kid sister. No two heroes could be less alike, and yet, each hero won awards. Rafe received a K.I.S.S. from the reviewers of Romantic Times Magazine, and Michael won the Readers Choice Award for Best Hero on the Avon Books website.
Michael is my first attempt at an Alpha hero. I know that some readers ONLY want to read Alphas, so if you fall into that category, you’ll love Dr. Michael Jones (and you’ll cheer heartily each time Eden, his true love, puts the ornery cuss in his place!)
More importantly, you’ll see – as Eden does – that Michael is a deeply caring, vulnerable man with a painful secret. When Michael denies himself love, it’s not because he’s afraid of it. He refuses to take a wife because he fears his secret will cause pain to a good, honest woman.
Fortunately, Eden is a healer, too.
And as every Romance reader knows, true love heals all wounds.
After losing his kid-brother to consumption, Dr. Michael Jones is obsessed with saving lives. He has no room for love or a wife. But the nights are lonely, and Eden haunts his dreams.
Then, Eden becomes his backdoor neighbor and turns his world upside-down with her unconventional healing skills and sweet temptation.
But outlaws return, forcing Michael to confront his past if he is to save the most precious life of all.
Previously titled: Always Her Hero
HIS WICKED DREAM
(Book 2, Velvet Lies Series)
By Adrienne deWolfe
Her voice was a breath, a sigh, and far too husky for her own good. Michael rolled to his side in the hay of the stall and drew his knees to his chest, pretending not to hear.
An uncertain scrabbling followed. A horse stomped; another nickered.
“Mister?” the young woman whispered again, more insistently this time.
He cracked open a swollen eye. On a line with his chin, he glimpsed dusty boot toes, a touch of lace, and the thrice-turned hem of a faded green skirt.
The skirt moved closer. “Um… are you hurt?”
“Doesn’t matter,” he snapped.
Those contrary skirts billowed about twelve inches from his nose. “You don’t look so good.”
“Yeah, well, I had a rough day.”
“Were you in a fight?”
“More like a massacre,” he muttered. Hoss was lucky he still had a tooth left.
Michael forced his eyes back open. She was kneeling beside him now. She appeared to be about 17.
“Why are you still here?”
His growl didn’t have the desired effect. She leaned over him, a gleaming strand of auburn curling over the swell of her bodice.
“It’s raining. I can’t leave the stable till the storm’s over.” She sounded apologetic. “Besides, you saved me from that outlaw.”
Great. Now he had a babe in bloomers batting eyes at him, thinking he was some kind of hero.
“I always stable Valentine during storms,” she prattled on. “He’s afraid of thunder.”
“Well, I’m not. Go away.”
Her palm, smelling faintly of leather, hovered, trembled, then resolutely touched his brow. He wondered if she was ornery or just hard of hearing. When she reached for his ribcage, he flinched and grabbed her wrist.
“What the hell are you doing?”
She blinked at him. Green eyes, he noted fleetingly. Curious and innocent.
“Seeing what hurts.”
“You don’t listen so good.”
“Oh. Did you already tell me?”
“Look.” He struggled to sit again. “I’m a bad man. An evil man. And if you don’t get away from me, you’re going to regret it.”
“Papa says there’s no such thing as evil men. Just frightened ones.”
Michael ran an exasperated hand through his hair, found a tender spot, and winced. His head hurt. Every blasted inch of his body hurt.
Seeing him grimace, she sat back on her heels. “Wait here.”
Suspiciously, he watched her rise and turn. Russet ringlets cascaded down her sleek little spine; hair ribbons bounced against her shoulders. She had enough patches on her skirt to quilt a blanket; still, she didn’t have the manner of a cracker. And her accent wasn’t southern white trash, either. He wondered fleetingly where she came from. Not this Tennessee border town, that was certain.
He started. Had he dozed? She was standing above him again. He heard a snap; something woolly and musty fluttered over his head. The next thing he knew, she was kneeling, tucking a horse blanket around him.
“You don’t want to catch your death of cold,” she explained.
He might have laughed if he weren’t so certain the pain wouldn’t be worth the attempt. He didn’t give a damn about his own health. Living didn’t have much appeal to a physician who was a failure.
“I told you to go away.”
“You didn’t mean it.” She dipped the hem of her apron in the bucket of water.
“The hell I didn’t.”
“Talking Raven told me sick people always say things they don’t mean.”
“Ow!” He jerked away as she dabbed at the gash above his eyebrow.
“It wouldn’t hurt,” she retorted matter-of-factly, “if you’d stop fussing.”
“God almighty. When was the last time you had a spanking?”
A dimple creased her cheek. “You won’t hurt me. What’s your name, mister?”
“None of your damned business. This isn’t a church social. Do you have any idea what your father’s going to do when he finds out you’ve been holed up in a stable with a man? A bad man?”
Her hands hesitated in mid-wring. He thought he’d finally put the fear of God in her, until she shrugged, twisting the apron free of sullied water.
“You’re not so bad.” She darted him a sideways glance. “Aside from your manners, I mean.”
Winner of the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Hero
Selection of the Doubleday Book of the Month Club