The masochistic heroine is tough enough to write. Delight in pain, for the endorphin “sub space” glow, or to please her Dom, can be difficult to write convincingly and sympathetically. She needs to be strong of spirit and true of heart and to meld that with submissive desires can be tricky.
But even harder? Crafting the romantic, loving, sympathetic sadist hero.
He’s the possessive guy who cherishes his lady, but also loves inflicting pain on her. That it is “erotic pain” helps differentiate him from the sadistic villain, but in order to capture the reader’s heart, this hero must be perfectly drawn.
The author crafting such a character walks a fine line, allowing him to indulge his carnal appetites on the willing heroine’s flesh, yet be strong, loyal, loving and tender, by turns. If you don’t want to end up with a kinky Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde scenario, you need an exploration and deft explanation of his desires, plus exposing just how awesome it feels when the heroine is swept into the maelstrom of “pleasure/ pain” (as it’s often referred to these days in BDSM erotic romances).
And on top of the issue of doling out pain, I’ve noticed of late a new and darker flavor being added to the S&M romances already being done so masterfully, and that is erotic humiliation.
Having a hero call his loving heroine a “slut,” or putting her in a position to be exposed in a position of humiliation as an aspect of the “play” – or punishment, can be a high wire act. The readers who get it are already on board (I’m one of them). But names like “slut” or edgier, and humiliation play, that can be interpreted by some in a derogatory way (as has happened in recent years when critical public statements have led to the term “slut shaming”) can be startling at best to the unwary reader, and offensive at worst.
So, this is yet another element of a razor sharp sub-genre whose potential is great for the most swoon-worthy uber-alpha sadistic Dom character to ever singe the pages; but if ineffectively done, for the most cringe-worthy misogynist douche bag to ever come down the pike.
Still, edgy romance of this sort is an “eye of the beholder” thing and full-disclosure is always your best bet when talking about a character. And read, study, and craft your raw romance hero with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.
Examples of some authors who have beautifully mastered the art of the loving sadist: Maya Banks in her “Sweet” series, Roni Loren’s “Loving On the Edge” series and Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin’s “Edge” series. ♥