The romance genre is filled with bad boys from the timeless Rhett Butler (Gone With the Wind) to the suit and tie Bennett Ryan (Beautiful Bastard). Readers just can’t get enough of the tall, dark, and reckless. In Cara Connelly’s latest romance, The Wedding Vow, she cast a bad boy front and center, and it got her thinking about why good girls find these men irresistible. Is it their strength? Their power? Their unattainability? Here, she uses the television show Lost (no spoilers!) to explore what she believes is behind the good girl’s primal need for the bad boy.
Billionaire art thief Adam LeCroix is brilliant, tough, ruthless, and controlling. His list of one-night stands reads like a who’s who of the world’s most beautiful babes. He’s the hero of my latest novel, The Wedding Vow, and he’s a bad boy right down to the bone. I absolutely love him!
But why? I’m a good girl! I’m married to a wonderful, helpful, thoughtful man who treats me like a princess. Why do bad boys set my good-girl heart aflutter?
I think I have the answer!
When it premiered, I was obsessed with it. A few weeks into the show, while we were just getting to know the characters, I asked my girlfriends (over wine): If you were stranded on the island—essentially cast into a primitive environment where your survival might depend on who you chose as your mate—which guy would you cozy up to?
(Keep in mind: This is a fantasy, so the sexiness factor can’t be ignored. We limited our discussion to Jack, Sayid, and Sawyer—the hottest guys on the island.)
We considered each guy in turn: First, there’s Jack.
He’s a doctor, which could come in handy on a desert island. He’s also a natural leader with a strong moral center. He’ll take charge of the situation, make the tough decisions, and takes care of everyone to the best of his considerable abilities. Plus he’s very sexy, and obviously super smart. Seems like he should top the list, right? He’s solid, dependable, and, like I said, very sexy.
Then, there’s Sayid.
Also sexy, and very mysterious. He’s brooding, resourceful, and loyal. He has a code of honor, and he seems like he might have the kind of survival skills that would ensure nobody snuck up and stole his bananas or his woman. Sounds like a good bet, right? He’s an honorable guy who can also fend off the big bad something lurking out in the jungle.
And finally, there’s Sawyer.
He’s smokin’ hot. He’s strong and capable, but he’s also selfish and ruthless, with no conscience, no moral compass, and no code of honor. He’s dangerous, volatile, unreliable, and he doesn’t play well with others. Definitely a bad bet, right? His motto is every man for himself, and let the devil take the hindmost.
Now, by this point in the conversation, we’d ordered another round. We’d dwelt on each guy’s hotness in much greater detail than is reflected above. The time had come to take a vote…
You guessed it: Sawyer by a landslide. Score another one for bad boys everywhere.
But why? By any objective criteria, Sawyer should be last on any sane woman’s list. Why spurn the courageous Jack and the steadfast Sayid for the selfish Sawyer?
I chose Sawyer because… okay, because he’s the hottest. But I also chose him because I believe that if he were my mate, he’d be just as ruthless and dangerous on my behalf as on his own. Petty notions of right and wrong, good and bad, would never enter his mind. He’d keep me alive by any means necessary.
And that, I believe, is a big part of our attraction to bad boys. Of course, other factors come into play: thrills, excitement, defying parental wishes, and flouting societal norms. But underneath it all, we’re wired for survival. We might live in the suburbs now, but our brains haven’t quite caught up. Our instincts still linger in the stone age, where survival of the fittest meant survival of the toughest. On some primitive level, we’re inexorably drawn to the baddest dude because he’s the one who’ll kick the saber-toothed tiger’s ass, bring home the haunch, and keep us and our offspring alive.
In today’s world, we get our meat at the supermarket, and predators are more likely to wear three-piece suits and threaten our retirement accounts than to sneak up and pounce while we’re washing our bearskin panties in the river. So for most of us, Jack would be the best bet. He’d bring home a good paycheck, help with the laundry, coach the kids’ Little League. And he’s hot!
And yet, in some dark corner of our brains—the narrow swath that isn’t consumed with soccer schedules and grocery lists and birthday parties—we still hear the echo of the tiger’s roar. And we feel Sawyer’s elemental pull…
Cara Connelly is an award-winning author of contemporary romances. Her smart and sexy stories have won high praise, earning Cara several awards, including the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®, the Valley Forge Romance Writers’ Sheila, and the Music City Romance Writers’ Melody of Love. Cara, who lives in rural Upstate New York, works as an appellate court attorney when she’s not crafting steamy novels of love and romance.