A Heroine Named Hero

When it comes to historical romances, normally my favorite heroines are the women who break all the rules. Adjectives like quirky, spunky and feisty come to mind to describe them. So I was surprised when just a few pages into this month's RT Top Pick! Notorious Pleasures, I couldn't get enough of Elizabeth Hoyt's new heroine, Lady Hero. She's well-behaved, graceful and seems pretty much flawless, which makes the love triangle between the heroine and two brothers that much more scandalous. Now Elizabeth Hoyt gives us an inside look at the making of manner-minding Lady Hero who has made me love a new kind of heroine.  

Lady Hero Batten, the heroine of my latest book, Notorious Pleasures is nearly perfect. The daughter of a duke, she’s been brought up to do what’s best for her family, which means, among other things, marrying properly. Her life has been arranged for her and she’s perfectly happy with that—until the night she discovers a rather irritating man in flagrante delicto. Because Hero is a nice, nearly perfect person, she stays to help the irritating man and his paramour hide from a suspicious husband instead of simply sneaking out of the room. 

And then the irritating man turns out to be Lord Griffin Reading—the brother of Lady Hero’s new, nearly perfect fiancé. Even worse, Lord Griffin, even with all his imperfections, is much more interesting than her perfect fiancé. Suddenly, Hero’s perfect life is rather messy.

So why would a perfect woman be attracted to a man who is clearly quite far from perfect? And why the heck would I name a heroine Hero?

My Hero is inspired by the Hero in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. Most people think of the wonderful banter between Beatrice and Benedick when they think of Much Ado About Nothing. Rarely do they think of the virginal, rather bland girl who is falsely accused of infidelity. But it is this character, this Hero, who intrigued me, and this Hero that sparked my imagination.

Like her namesake, my Hero is good and upright and maybe just a little bland. Perfection is a little bland, isn’t it? That’s why we remember the volatile Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing instead of poor Hero, and maybe that’s why my Hero finds bad boy Griffin so attractive.

Except Hero herself may not be quite as perfect as she first seems. She’s the patroness of an orphanage in St. Giles, one of the worst parts of London, and often travels there, even though her brother the duke disapproves. When Griffin runs into Hero in St. Giles, he’s alarmed—no gently bred lady should be in such an awful part of London alone. Griffin makes a pact with Hero: he’ll allow her to continue to visit the orphanage if she’ll promise to take him with her so she’ll have protection. Thus begins a clandestine relationship.

I believe that life is sometimes—often times—messy. Just when you think everything is neatly planned, just when you’ve agreed to marry a suitable if boring man, along comes his much more interesting and un-suitable brother. And while a perfect heroine would have the moral fortitude to ignore the tempting but wrong man, my heroines are never particularly perfect in the end. I think that’s what makes life interesting and wonderful. Our imperfections, our mistakes, our ability to change course and embrace the unexpected in life.

Even if the unexpected is a slightly notorious rake.

I hope you enjoy Hero and Griffin and their imperfect love story in Notorious Pleasures!

-Elizabeth Hoyt

You can pick up your own copy of Notorious Pleasures in stores now. (And don't miss the first book featuring the orphanage that Hero supports, Wicked IntentionsHoyt's August 2010 RT Top Pick!)