One night while indulging in old movies, I discovered Angel and the Badman. And, yes, a gunslinger/Quaker romance inspired me to go where I’d never gone before. This is John Wayne at his most delicious, gunslinger-best paired with a gentle Quaker who has a quiet strength that completely disarms Wayne, figuratively and literally. It’s a movie I’ve enjoyed several times, but on this occasion it set off what ifs that had never occurred to me before.
Confession: I’ve always been fascinated by shades of gray. I think that fascination leads me to enjoy pairing a bad boy with an angel. When they come together, the dark meets the light and the lovely steam that rises holds so much angst to be explored!
But I also have an aversion to “been there, done that”. As a writer, I like to stretch and grow and push my limits. I’m always looking for something new. No genre is off limits. I write and read it all.
So, as I munched my popcorn and replayed all the good parts of Angel and The Badman, I began to create my own version of the story with twists and turns that would have made the Duke blush.
What if the “angel” in my story was a shape shifter who had been raised to control his abilities with the help of a Centering pendant that was the symbol of his religion? What if calm, quiet and controlled was the only life he’d ever known until a wild, passionate shape shifter seeks refuge at his home?
Robert wasn’t ruled by emotion in any other aspect of his life. He’d been raised to be practical. People who lived in hiding couldn’t afford spontaneity or adventure. Still, all practicality aside, he needed to touch this shifter’s hair more than he needed to be safe.
And it was worth it.
For long moments, as the soft, almost liquid strands twined about his fingers, he was lost in sensation. He forgot about being careful and controlled in all things. That control was the shape-shifters’ religion. It had been passed down to him through the generations as surely as his home had been.
When he touched the rebellious shifter’s hair, when he held the silky strands and rubbed them between his fingers and they shimmered like he’d captured a tawny rainbow in his hands, Robert found a new religion for several catch-your-breath moments.
And then, O’Dare opened his eyes.
He would have pulled back, ashamed to be caught, but O’Dare grabbed his wrist in steely fingers at the same instant he opened his eyes.
They were gold, those eyes, a brown filled with light and fire as the morning sun turned them molten. They were also full of pain and distrust. Even knowing some of the other shifter’s history hadn’t prepared him for the damage in his gaze. Would O’Dare ever be capable of feeling anything else again?
When I explore those shades of gray I mentioned, I always find the concept of love healing our deepest, darkest hurts the most compelling. It’s my favorite theme and it’s one I see evidence of in the real world all around me. The reason I wasn’t hesitant to write a m/m romance is because nothing standing in the way of that healing love is a concept that resonates with my muse. I write romance because I believe in happily ever after and I believe in it for everyone no matter who their soul mate might be.
And, of course, there’s the added benefit of getting to create two luscious heroes for a story instead of only one!
- Jacqueline Barbary
Check out Barbary's "two luscious heroes" and see how Angel and the Badman compares to Savage Sanctuary!