Leah Braemel's fourth installment in the Hauberk Protection series, Hidden Heat, features Sandy Hallquist, a woman who helps manage an elite group of bodyguards. As she's drawn inevitably closer to cohort and part-time assassin Troy McPherson, Sandy begins shedding her Midwestern "good girl" image for an intense, kinky fling with the irresistible hero. We were curious to see what motivated this heroine to talk a walk on the wild side, and the author was more than happy to share.
The reasons behind a heroine’s transformation are going to be different in every book, and different for every author. For myself, I don’t see Sandy as going from “good girl to bad” because that implies what she’s doing is bad and I don’t think she’s bad at all. She’s not robbed any banks or kidnapped or killed anyone. She’s unhappy with the vanilla sex that the rest of us choose, so society labels her as being bad when she sees herself as just seeking excitement.
Why would a normal, outwardly vanilla-looking, all-American girl from the Midwest decide she wants more? Why do any of us want more excitement?
Sandy is first introduced in Personal Protection, book two of the Hauberk Protection series. In that book, she’s a secondary character who serves as administrative assistant to Sam Watson, the head of Hauberk Protection, but she also keeps the rest of Hauberk Protection managers in line. As a former administrative assistant to a major security company myself, I know that you have to be able to stand up to those uber-alpha males and you have to be able to deal with stress and pressure. Something she proves herself very capable of doing. So I figured that as Sandy hears the tales of the dangers the adrenaline-junkie agents face, she decides she wants to push her own boundaries, and being surrounded by all their confidence, she gains more confidence in herself and her own decisions. Add in a roommate who is much more experienced and hardened to life, and Sandy’s metamorphosis from the vanilla good-girl to what society would label as a bad girl is not a big step for her.
I’m sure she, along with many others, would argue that society has no place labeling her decision to allow herself to blindfolded, or spanked, or attend a sex club, bad. But I think that might also be part of the attraction for her, part of the reason she finds excitement in crossing the socially forbidden line. Because she knows her parents — and society — wouldn’t approve. In crossing that line, she learns implicit trust in the man she loves, as well as discovering an inner strength in herself that maybe she’d questioned before. So by the time Hidden Heat ends, she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. She’s happy with her life with Troy and the choices they’ve made together. Isn’t that a goal everyone should have?
- Leah Braemel