The Romance Reviews

Sunday 2 August 2009

Joanna Waugh: Imperfect heroes

I adore imperfect, emotionally wounded heroes. The kind you don’t like at the beginning of a book but grow to love just like the heroine does. In my debut Regency historical BLIND FORTUNE, Charles Lowden. the Marquess of Granville, looks like an Adonis but he’s an arrogant, self-centered misogynist:

“If he had to take a wife, Ashford’s daughter was an unexceptionable choice. When combined with Charles’ own good looks, her fair beauty would produce handsome children. More important, [she] was biddable, or so her father had insisted...Capable of being molded to suit her husband’s lifestyle. She would learn to accept Charles’ many and long absences, to tolerate his love of the manly sports and share his preference for country life. All he required in return was that she provide him with an heir. Two, just to be safe. After that, [she] would be free to live her life without interference, just as long as she practiced discretion.”

Charles’ disdain for women is rooted in his mother’s suicide by laudanum when he was a child. Her abandonment left him at the mercy of an emotionless father and forced him to wall off his own feelings in order to survive.

When he meets Lady Fortuna Morley, he doesn’t realize she is blind:

“A curious sense of déjà vu crept over him. Frowning, Charles let his gaze follow Lady Fortuna and her companion until the two of them had disappeared into the hall. Then it hit him. His mother had behaved in just that manner when under the influence of laudanum. All at once it became imperative to quit Ashford House and put as much distance as possible between himself and its inmates.”

Lady Fortuna dislikes him as well. She plants herself in the path of what Charles wants, which is to wed her eighteen-year-old cousin:

“A new strategy percolated to the surface of his thoughts. He couldn’t afford the self-righteous Lady Fortuna Morley sniping at his back once he and Juliana were married. She had to be taught her proper place before he and her cousin exchanged vows in St. George’s, Hanover Square. One word to the baron would put a stop to the chit’s scheming but it would also end the fun. Charming the lady out of her disdain…would be infinitely more diverting.”

So begins a battle of wills. Charles invites Lady Fortuna and her family to Lowden Hall where he starts to reassess his life:

“His self-indulgent lifestyle was starting to wear on him. For some time now, he’d felt drained and emotionally exhausted, as if a great void had opened in the middle of his chest. The only time he seemed to come alive in recent weeks was when he and Lady Fortuna engaged in verbal combat.”

Gradually, he comes out from behind the wall he’s erected around himself:

“Charles’ thoughts returned to that earlier conversation in the garden. No one but a fiancée should be privy to the sordid truth about his mother’s death. So why the devil had he told Lady Fortuna about it? Because something between the two of you has changed, a voice in his head insisted. The shift was a subtle one but, nevertheless, discernable. Like well-matched pugilists, he and Fortuna now seemed to be warily circling each other in expectation of an armistice.”

It occurs to him that:

“Something more than simple desire was at work here. The sensation was exhilarating yet poignant, reminiscent of the way it felt coming home to Lowden Hall after a long absence.

“Charles suddenly was struck by the fanciful notion that, at some fundamental level, he and Fortuna were linked. That invisible connection now tugged at a spot just below his breastbone.”

Nevertheless, the road to love and happiness is a rocky one:

“The situation with Juliana be damned. He should offer for Fortuna right now. Except that he couldn’t, in good conscience. Not yet. Pride dictated that he free himself of all encumbrances before he asked for her hand. She deserved that much. She deserved more.

“He couldn’t live without her now. No matter what happened from this moment onward, he would never let her go. She was his — to have and to hold and protect. Except that, in the later case, he’d failed to shield her from the most immediate threat to her welfare.

To learn more, you’ll have to buy the book! Check my website at for purchase links. You’ll find them along with additional excerpts when you click on “Joanna’s Books.”


Lindsay Townsend said...

A fascinating hero, Joanna! I love the characterisation you bring to both Charles and Fortuna, and the depths you show in both. BLIND FORTUNE is a compelling read!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Joanna,
Great hero, a ruthless bastard waiting to be tamed by the heroine. My kind of hero. Great excerpt.

Joanna Waugh said...

I'm glad you liked the excerpts Lindsay. Thanks for inviting me to blog today. Charles is one of my favorite heroes. He thinks Fortuna is like the Kate from Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. As you pointed out Margaret, Charles is really the one in need of taming! And Fortuna is just the woman to do it.

LK Hunsaker said...

Joanna, I like redeemable heroes, also, and Charles is a deeply fascinating hero. As I read Blind Fortune, I alternately wanted to see him succeed and knock him down a few pegs. ;-) I do look forward to your next hero, and the story that goes with him, of course.

Unknown said...

JOANNA--I like the different storyline, that of your heroine being blind. And to pair her with the arrogant hero is the perfect vehicle too ffer him redemption--we all love the angst-filled plot, and you have created a perfect couple for such. Good luck with your book and sales--Celia

Joanna Waugh said...

Thanks for the kind words, Loraine. I'm so glad you liked BLIND FORTUNE. Thanks also for the wonderful review you gave it.

Celia -- The blend between Lady Fortuna and Charles felt so right. Both characters are emotionally scarred, both yearn for meaning. That they find it together is a theme that resonates with me because I've lived it. Not until I married my late husband did I become the person I am today.

Keena Kincaid said...

I think I'm in love with Charles already. I love his arrogance in the beginning and how that begins to crumble once he meets a person who matters. Hopefully, he'll realize that in time before he breaks Lady Fortuna's heart.

DanielleThorne said...

Oh good, it's not just me! I love heroes with baggage, don't ask me why. I love to see them change and heal through their adventures with a strong heroine; I like to see them learn to love and fall head first---just let go and fall. Perhaps it is a maternal thing, or maybe I'm just fascinated by bad boys turned good. I hope Charles works his issues all out!

Joanna Waugh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanna Waugh said...

ome of us just like complicated relationships, Danielle. But we're hard women to live with! Sometimes my late husband and I would argue about some philosophical point and he'd get frustrated because he just couldn't understand why it was important! I think I deliberately made our relationship more complicated than it was because I needed it to be.

Keena -- Rest assured that, despite the pain I put them through, all works out in the end for Charles and Fortuna!

Martha Eskuchen said...

Hi Joanna! Stopping by to say hello! You did such a good job making Charles a hero that you don't like at first but end up liking by the end of the book! He was so good to and for Lady Fortuna once he recognized her vulnerabilities too! You know I really enjoyed the book!!

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Joanna, most beautifully written excerpts and emotionally charged in a manner I rarely see, anymore, but deeply appreciate.

Jane Richardson said...

Lovely, Joanna - another kind of hero again. :) I like the background you've given him, and the reasons why he behaves the way he does in the beginning, and then how his life begins to change. Very real!

Jane x

Jane Richardson said...

Lovely, Joanna - another kind of hero again. :) I like the background you've given him, and the reasons why he behaves the way he does in the beginning, and then how his life begins to change. Very real!

Jane x

Joanna Waugh said...

Hi Martha! Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the wonderful review of BLIND FORTUNE you did for your blog and Sweet and Sensual Romance. Savanna and Jane -- thanks for the kind words and for dropping in to chat!

Cheryl Pierson said...


I love the way you did your post, with the excerpts illustrating what you are saying. Very interesting! This book looks wonderful!

Chelle Cordero said...

I love fiction that closely emulates real life - complicated.

Great excerpt.