Friday, June 28, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Loving and Writing Anti-Heroes by Avril Ashton

I’ve got a thing for anti-heroes. I’m intrigued by them and unlike the heroines in romance novels, I’ve got no interest in changing them or making them fit into some kind of societal mold. I’m more likely to read a book about a bad boy (and I do mean bad, just because he has tattoos, that doesn’t make him anti-hero) than I am to pick up a book about a doctor or lawyer or whatever. There’s something about a man who does as he pleases, who makes no excuses for who and what he is.

The perfect anti-hero is one with a rich back story, not one being bad for bad’s sake, but one who has a reason. It’s a romance novel, you want to root for him, you want him to find his elusive HEA and be with his other half. Tugging on the reader’s heartstrings despite how horrid they may think the hero acts.

My Brooklyn Sinners series is all about the anti-hero. Every one of them does bad things, horrible things. They’re wrecked and damaged and they lash out, hurt people, kill them even. Now that right there is enough to make you want to turn away, of course. How can you care for and root for a killer? This is where the all important back story comes in. Having an anti-hero is all well and good, but if you want to make readers feel for him, giving him a why is most important. Why is he this way? Why does he do what he does?

Every one of my heroes has demons, they had events happen that made them into the men they are. Events that molded them, sent them to the streets to pick up the guns, to hurt, to do damage. The back story isn’t one that excuses the bad behavior and illegal activities, it explains it. That moment when the reader goes, “Ah. Now I see. I don’t like it, but I understand it.” That’s really want I want, for you to understand why they do what they do. Now you know.

The anti-hero brings with him great conflict, which I love. Naturally, they’re not good men, but are they bad? You can’t paint them all with the same brush. They straddle the fine gray line, and will not hesitate to step over into the dark side. Despite hovering on that line, they’re more comfortable embracing the dark than the light. They have to have a reason to do so, something that makes it okay.

Back story.

Syren Rua fits nicely into the bad guy mold. As the man known as Faro, he’s the face of the Delatorre cartel. He makes the business deals, oversees drug shipments, facilitates gun buys and sees nothing wrong with blackmail, embezzlement and just plain not-nice stuff. Where in there is the guy we’re supposed to root for, to care about, to give his HEA? Who in their right mind would like to see this guy find love, settle down?

Throw in the back story, give him a reason for why he walks that line, why he walks through fire, and somehow that bitter medicine goes down a whole lot easier, does it not? Because Syren has many facets to his personality He’s got a light, flirty side, a dangerous, sharp edge, and a dark, vulnerable inner core that one can’t help but fall for. All of it blends to make him the anti-hero we can’t help but love.

I think the reason I’m so in love with the anti-hero, and will always write them, is because I have my own anti-hero. I fell in love with one, locked him down but good, and made him my muse. Much of his life is retold between the pages of the Brooklyn Sinners. A fantastical tale, to be sure. I took his words, his life experiences, and turned it into a romance novel. He’s not a fan of fiction, so he knows nothing about it except the very watered-down version. I give him one line descriptions since his eyes tend to gaze over mighty quick.

To know an anti-hero, to know the source of their pain, their heartache, to understand why, is to love them. You can’t help but love them.

A Sinner Born
Book three in the Brooklyn Sinners series.

One man buried in secrets. Another still grieving the love he lost. Their worlds collide in a battle between memories, old and new, while trust hangs by a fragile thread.

Syren Rua is at war. He battles painful childhood demons and his intense need for the first person who makes him feel. As Faro, Syren makes deals with the worst while taking the steps necessary to bring his family’s killer to justice. He isn’t one to indulge in selfish needs, but he’ll make the time in this instance. Syren has been watching Kane Ashby, craving the grieving man for his own. He’s always stayed away from temptation, but that’s about to change.

Kane isn’t over the death of his long-time partner. He’s certainly not ready for a relationship, sexual or otherwise, but Syren isn’t a man who takes no for an answer. The unpredictable Syren offers nothing but secrets and brings with him memories so dark, they could wipe out any chance the two might ever have. Syren brings Kane’s heart back to life. But it is also Syren who could inflict the most damage.

Inside Scoop: One of our heroes has a panty fetish. And it’s hot. This book also contains brief references to rape and child abuse.

A Romantica® gay/lesbian erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Buy Link


“There’s this thing called reality,” Faro continued. “I’m not too fond of it, but it has its uses.” He chuckled dryly. “Like now, reality says I should go, leave you alone. It’s a bitch like that, depriving me of what I want. But I know there are a lot of very good reasons to listen.”

“I’m—I don’t date criminals.”

Faro laughed, a sharp burst of mirth that crinkled the area around his eyes and sent the too-serious orbs to twinkling when he faced Kane. “Sim, eu sei.” He shook his head. “Yes, I know.”

“And yet, here you are.” Stood to reason Kane would point out the obvious.

“Here I am.” Faro produced the cigarette again and twirled it around his fingers, gaze glued to it. “Reality, eh?”

“If things were different.” Kane swallowed. “If you weren’t—”

“If only I wasn’t who I am.” Faro met his gaze. “If only.”

“I could’ve—we could’ve tried.” His lips moved, he heard the words, but damn if Kane believed that was him speaking. Yet, they didn’t sound wrong. Only weird.

“Would we?” Faro lifted a brow. “Are you over him then, your dead lover?”

Kane recoiled as if bitch-slapped. “No,” he forced the word out before his throat closed in on him. “Do not. He’s off-limits.” Son of a bitch. Son of a bitch. He knew about Bailey.

“Right, so that’s a no.” Faro nodded sadly.

“Don’t you fucking dare!” Kane lunged at him, grabbing Faro by the lapels. “You have no right to him. Don’t ever bring him up.” His chest hurt, the pressure too much. He felt himself slipping into it, the panic, the despair. Breath rattled from his throat while words fell from his lips. “He was better than you could ever hope to be. He was good and kind and decent and he was mine.”

Faro held still beneath him, his eyes like lasers focused on Kane’s face. Alert. No trace of fear on him, nothing to give away his emotions.

“He’s mine and you don’t ever get to bring him up. I earned the memories, not you.”

“I can respect that.” The faint scent of mint accompanied Faro’s words and Kane dropped his gaze to his mouth, watching his lips move. “My tailor will be very pissed if you mess up the suit.” He leaned closer, warm breath washing over Kane’s face and neck.

Kane closed his eyes on a shudder.

“Breathe, Marshal,” Faro spoke against his ear. “You’re no good to me if you expire from lack of oxygen.”

But Kane refused to inhale, he refused to take the scent of Faro—hot and earthy—into his lungs.

Gentle fingers traced his jawline then cupped his cheek. “Look at me.”

Kane did. He opened his eyes to find Faro now leaned back against the car door. Kane shifted, realizing then he lay across the center console, his lower body draped over Faro’s legs. He moved to get off, but Faro grabbed his upper arms.

“Breathe with me,” Faro coaxed. “Stay right there and breathe with me.” His body moved when he took a deep breath then let it out. Kane stared deep into his eyes. “Do it.”

He took a breath in and let it out, matching Faro in his breathing. They were quiet except for the deep breath in and the whoosh as it rushed out.

“That’s it. Breathe for me, deeply.” Faro’s hand crept up Kane’s arm and over the back of his head, resting on his nape in a gesture that was more than a little possessive. That touch gave him the impetus he needed to move away and mean it. To drag his ass back into the driver’s seat and away from Faro.

“I need you to leave.” There was no anger in his words, no rage or censure. All he felt was drained.

“I recognize that retreat for what it is, Marshal.”

“Stop calling me that,” Kane barked at him. “You know my name.”

“I do. Are you giving me permission to use it?”

“You can do whatever you want.”

“Then I’ll call you Marshal.

Disappointment chilled Kane’s insides. Why did he want Faro to call him by name? That would make things more personal and it was the last thing he wanted.

“You were telling me how good we could’ve been together, if I wasn’t who I was,” Faro goaded.

“I said no such thing.” Kane started his car. “Get out, I have to go.”

“Hot date?” Faro flicked a lock of hair away from his eyes. “Are you dating someone, Fed?”

“That’s none of your business.”

Faro leaned over. “Not an answer.”

“For you it is.” Why was he so close? Why the hell couldn’t Kane get away from the smell of him?

“I’ve seen you with your partner,” Faro continued as if Kane hadn’t spoken. “He wants you.”

Kane shook his head. “I’m not going there with you.” He didn’t even bother asking how and why Faro knew about Vince. Some things he was starting to figure he didn’t need to know.

“But are you going there with him?”


A Caribbean transplant, Avril now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y with a tolerant spousal equivalent. Together they raise an eccentric daughter who loves reading and school (not so much school anymore). Avril’s earliest memories of reading revolve around discussing the plot points of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with an equally book-minded mother.

Always in love with the written word, Avril finally decided to do the writing in August of ’09 and never looked back. Spicy love scenes, delicious heroes, and wicked women burn up the pages of Avril’s stories, but there’ll always be a happy ending; Av remains a believer of love in all its forms.

Addicted to cake, the ID Channel and the UFC, Avril writes Erotic and GLBT Romance for Ellora's Cave, Evernight Publishing, eXtasy Books, Secret Cravings Publishing and Total-e-Bound.


Friend Avril on:!/AvrilAsh 

Amazon Link:


Giveaway: I’m giving away a copy of A Sinner Born to one of you lovely folks who comments below. Be sure to include your email address.

  • Leave a comment and email
  • Must be 18yrs or older
  • Winner has 48hrs to reply to email or another will be chosen
  • Contest runs until July 3rd 11:59pm EST


  1. I love an anti-hero. I blame it on the 70s. I came of age with Snake Plisskin, The Ice Pirates, Aiken Drum and Thieves World.

    I've written more than a few.

    1. Hi Angelia, thanks for stopping by :)

  2. Great to see the series continue--I'm in!


  3. Although I turned my back on the anti-hero world, I enjoy reading about them, especially when they get a HEA.

    1. Love reading them, Susan. Good luck!

  4. Love this series,count me in.

    1. Hey Cornelia, thanks for stopping by!

  5. I'd love to read this story. Thanks for the giveaway. Please count me in.


  6. Great series! Please count me in. Thanks!


  7. Hi Avril,

    great post. I like to work the anti-hero into my stories, too - but, sadistically, I guess, I like them to exit the tale as the winner - but without the acceptance or support of the other characters.

    Love your work!


    ashenwhite (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Thanks Ashen (loving that name, btw)

      Love when they win, too, and they definitely don't need the acceptance of others. Well, except their love interest ;D

  8. Looks like a good one. Please include me. tmadamski(at)msn(dot)com


Go ahead and talk to me!