I’m Scratching my Head…

Wes B

Mostly Harmless
Jul 28, 2019
A number of women appear to be deeply affected by romantic stories in which a woman must choose between a man who's strong, upright, and handsome (and usually rich...) and another man who's powerful, mysterious, and dangerous.

That's the basic plot of Phantom of the Opera, which I was fortunate to be able to see on Broadway, some years ago. I was initially puzzled to see many, many, many women purchasing these velvet roses, at maybe thirty bucks a pop. Since the roses symbolized the Phantom, who I'd initially presumed was the obvious villain, and especially since many of those women cradled the roses so lovingly, I was confused 'till I eventually caught on. (I do learn... however slowly...) And suddenly I began to get a glimmer of why the play had such wild popularity, and longevity (I mean, the music was spectacular too... but still...)

A wildly popular book series that does something similar is Janet Evanovich's bestselling "Stephanie Plum" series. I'd read only one book in the series, in a mystery book club I was part of, at the local Barnes & Noble. I was the only guy, among about 15 women, most of whom were rabidly enthusiastic about the books. The ladies were normally a fairly serious, no-nonsense bunch, but for that one evening, they pretty much transformed into wild teenagers, split fairly evenly between their favor to the strong, protective guy, and the mysterious, dangerous one. I realized later that for that one evening, i had become "one of the girls," and they were oblivious to the fact that there was a man in their midst.

At the following meeting, the serious faces were back, and nothing was ever said of it. <Cue Rod Serling voice...> Wes had entered... The Twilight Zone...

That was my first exposure to the fascination some ladies have with the "dangerous" man (I was naïve enough to ask some of them what the deal was, and the reply was an enthusiastic, "He's so DANgerous!!!")

So fascinating...


Mar 1, 2019
Thanks to your research, @Crawdad, I now know the mistake I made—after writing less than conventionally attractive/wealthy/competent heroes for the first several books (though I did have a Bad Boy, he came to a Bad End, which kind of spoils things, apparently.)

Finally, I decided to go with the tried-and-true “ruggedly handsome and rich” character. I even made him a little bit possessive…but…wait for it…I gave him red hair! Fail. LOL.

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