Sunday, 4 March 2012

If you like Wounded Heroes...

My heroes are all wounded. Not just emotionally, but physically, as well. Being a hero in a Cheryl Pierson story is like being an expendable member of the landing party on Star Trek. If you had on a red shirt when you beamed down to the planet’s surface, you could pretty well figure you weren’t going to be returning to the Enterprise in one piece, or alive.

In my debut TWRP historical western release, Fire Eyes, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner is tortured and shot at the hands of the villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang of cutthroats. A band of Choctaw Indians deposit Kaed on Jessica Monroe’s doorstep with instructions to take care of him. “Do not allow him to die,” the chief tells her.

Can she save him? Or will he meet the same fate that befell her husband, Billy? Although Kaed’s injuries are severe, he recovers under a combination of Jessica’s expert care and his own resolve and inner strength.

The injuries he sustained give him the time he needs to get to know Jessica quickly. Their relationship becomes more intimate in a shorter time span due to the circumstances. Under normal conditions of courtship, the level their relationship skyrockets to in just a few days would take weeks, or months.

Wounding the hero is a way to also show the evil deeds of the villain. We can develop a kinship with the hero as he faces what seem to be insurmountable odds against the villain. How will he overcome those odds? Even if he weren’t injured, it would be hard enough—but now, we feel each setback more keenly than ever. He’s vulnerable in a way he has no control over. How will he deal with it, in the face of this imminent danger?

Enter the heroine. She’ll do what she can to help, but will it be enough to make a difference? This is her chance to show what she’s made of, and further the relationship between them. (If he dies, of course, that can’t happen.)

From this point on, as the hero begins to recover, he also regains his confidence as well as his strength.

It’s almost like “The Six Million Dollar Man”: We can build him stronger…faster…better…

He will recover, but now he has something to lose—the newfound love between him and the heroine. Now, he’s deadlier than ever, and it’s all about protecting the woman he loves.

Or, his injuries may give him a view of life that he hadn’t hoped for before. Maybe the heroine’s care and the ensuing love between them make the hero realize qualities in himself he hadn’t known were there.

In my holiday short story, A Night For Miracles, wounded gunman Nick Dalton arrives on widow Angela Bentley’s doorstep in a snowstorm. Angela is tempted at first to turn him away, until she realizes he’s traveling with three half-frozen youngsters, and he’s bleeding.

As she settles the children into the warmth of her home and begins to treat Nick’s injury, she realizes it’s Christmas Eve—“A Night For Miracles,” Nick says wryly. “I’m ready for mine.”

In this excerpt, the undercurrents between them are strong, but Nick realizes Angela’s fears. She’s almost as afraid of taking in a gunman with a reputation as she is of being alone again.

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”
He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into what makes my heroes ‘tick.’ For more information and excerpts, I semi-maintain two blogs for your reading pleasure. is my writing tips and news blog, and is my western historical blog. You can visit my website at


Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment!


Lindsay Townsend said...

I adore your wounded heroes, Cheryl - they are complex, rugged and masculine. I love the way your heroines strive, too, so that together they achieve their HEA.

Lovely, immediate excerpt!

Jen Black said...

My heroes have faults, but they've not been Wounded" until Reluctance - my book coming from MuseItUp Publishing in April. Jack can't get over the death of his wife, and it blights the rest of his life....until - but I won't say more just yet!
Having them wounded gives an immediate and extra layer of depth and intensity to the relationship which can't be bad.

Celia Yeary said...

Hi, Cheryl! Oh, I remember all your poor wounded heroes--but all of them get a pretty woman to care for them. It's a great theme for you because you do it like no other. Me? I cannot bear to wound my heroes--there're usually messed up in their heads, instead. Wow, you are doing so well with you books--and today's post and covers are wonderful!

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Lindsay,
I've often wondered ... what does that say about me? LOL But I don't write very many stories where the hero isn't either wounded in the story or recovering from something when the story opens. I'm so glad you enjoy that gambit--I love it, of course. This is going to be a fun week--you came up with a great idea about "if you like..." -- so many possibilities!

Cheryl Pierson said...

Reluctance sounds great! I always love a plot where the guy is having issues getting over one thing or another but then the woman enters his life and everything changes. She is his lifesaver.

I agree--wounding them adds a layer of intensity that I just love. In my book, SWEET DANGER, I had him wounded AND being held hostage while he was realizing he was falling in love with his neighbor who also was being held hostage.LOL

Thanks, Jen!

Cheryl Pierson said...

Well, yes...your heroes are "wounded" emotionally. Mine always seem to get the double whammy...LOL (Again, I wonder WHY???)LOL I'm so glad you enjoy my heroes. I'm working on the 2nd Kane story right now, but haven't wounded him...yet...

Thanks for your kind words--yes, the "cover gods" have been wonderful to me, for sure!


LK Hunsaker said...

Well, I've read three of these so far and loved them all!

I have a few wounded heroes, as well. One of them is poor Duncan in Rehearsal. He has a heck of a time of it. Daws in Moondrops & Thistles... well, he's a soldier, as is Abraham in Protect The Heart. They both get their wounds.

So whatever it says about you, it must say about me, also. Kindred spirits? ;-)

Linda Swift said...

Very interesting blog, Cheryl. Like Celia, I don't wound my heroes physically, just emotionally. I guess I'm squeamish! I don't have a problem wounding or killing people in my short stories, so maybe I can only tolerate small doses of pain. I wish you continued success with your wounded warriors.

Savanna Kougar said...

Certainly wounding of any type, the heroes, the heroine, allows for relationship and love possibilities that would not have existed.

I've never intentionally created a wounded hero, simply because most beings, human and paranormal, have been wounded in some way, or many ways. That's life.

Dillon, in Branded by the Texans, is wounded near the end of the story fighting to save Kylie and himself.

In my current WIP, the heroine, Sherilyn, was dying because of being struck by a reckless driver. That gives her heroes the only way they have to get close to her, and win her over.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Loraine,

Yes, we must be kindred spirits! LOL I'm so glad you enjoyed my wounded heroes so much. I always have more on the way. You know, I think the world is such a harsh place that it's pretty feasible to expect our heroes and/or heroines to suffer wounds in accidents, war, fights, etc.

Cheryl Pierson said...

hi Linda,
I do it in my short stories and my novels. But sometimes, you don't have a chance to really see it through from beginning to end in a short story, depending on what the plot calls for. So I've had a few of those that I had to write with the hero just recovering from something. Like in White Christmas and Always and Forever, both heroes were firefighters who had been injured and were off work recovering. I think that A Heart for a Heart and Scarlet Ribbons are the only two short stories I've written without a wounded hero. LOL

Cheryl Pierson said...

I think that's one element I like about the wounded hero--if they're wounded, it adds a dimension to the relationship that couldn't have existed otherwise, and it's a great gambit for making the plot move along a little more quickly because they are in an unusual circumstance. And sometimes, as you pointed out, it's the only thing that might throw these people together and force them to spend time and care over one another.

Vonnie said...

Love love love both wounded heroes, whether it be physically or psychologically wounded.

In fact my title line is "Wounded heroes and the women who rescue them."

There's something vulnerable and interesting about a non-perfect man.

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hey Cheryl, My sister-of-the-heart who lives across the country from me - I love your wounded heroes. You have such a good way of writing men: they never obsess like women or go against the code of the West. They are strong and true, making them the perfect heartthrobs. I'm a Cheryl fan.


Sarah J. McNeal said...

Some of your heroes are so wounded they can barely get up off the ground and yet, when they're with their lady love, they seem to summon the energy and power to move mountains. I love them.
all the best, Cheryl

Cheryl Pierson said...

Oh Vonnie, that is a great line! I love it! I'm so glad you enjoy wounded heroes, too. You know what I love about them? They are forced to be dependent on someone for sometimes the first time in their lives. It's a new experience for them, too. So vulnerable is a good word for them. Thanks so much for your comment!

Cheryl Pierson said...

Aw, Maggie, you don't know how often I've wished we lived closer! (maybe about the same amount of times you have???)LOL Thank God for the internet, right? Thank you so much for your very kind words about my guys. I'm so glad you enjoy them so much! Thanks for letting me know--I appreciate all your support.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Sarah, you are such a dear friend. I know what you mean about their inner strength--they just do what they have to do. You have a wounded hero of your own in FOR LOVE OF BANJO that was just released. And your Harmonica Joe was so emotionally wounded it broke my heart! Thank you so much for coming by and commenting!
Hugs to you,

Cheryl Pierson said...

Just got word that my newest .99 short story, JASON'S ANGEL, is LIVE at Amazon...and yes, it does have a wounded hero. It's a Civil War story with a fantastic cover featuring the very hot Jimmy Thomas. Here's the link!