Hero of My Heart is what many readers would call a difficult book—it’s got an initially unheroic hero (an ex-soldier with an opium addiction), an illegitimate vicar’s daughter, and takes place nearly entirely outside of London, far from the society displayed in most historical romances.
In some ways, however, it is absolutely a traditional romance in that the hero and heroine have to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve their Happy Ever After—and (spoiler!) they do.
The first image and idea I had for the book was of a man, obviously under the influence of something, sitting at a worn wooden table while a woman stood on a wooden bar having her virginity auctioned off. In writing Hero of My Heart, I took inspiration from one of the first “damaged heroes” books I read, Edith Layton’s The Devil’s Bargain, which had an intriguingly difficult and broken hero in Alasdair. I even borrowed Layton’s hero’s name for my own hero.
While I love light romances where the most important thing is how much money the hero and heroine might have to live out their days—my first book, A Singular Lady, was about just that—I was interested in delving deeper into what might possibly allow a person to recover from something as painful and…addictive as drug addiction. I also wanted to have the hero and heroine together for the entirety of the book, not separating them to be able to think too much. They had to work out their issues together. The book was initially titled Road to Passion, because they were on the road together so long until someone pointed out the title was reminiscent of those Bob Hope/Bing Crosby/Dorothy Lamour road pictures (there were seven of those in all, began in 1940 and went all the way to 1962! So it was a good idea, just not the same kind of tone I was going for).
Some of my favorite authors write supremely damaged heroes and the heroines who love them in spite of their faults—in addition to Layton, I look to Anne Stuart’s heroes for inspiration, as well as some of Connie Brockway’s darker romances. I also admire how Eloisa James can take an unpleasant person or a person with unlikeable qualities and turn them into someone we can all root for.