PLOTTING WITH WOUNDED HEROES

My heroes are all wounded.  Not just emotionally, but physically, as well.  Being a hero in a Cheryl Pierson story is like being an expendable member of the landing party on Star Trek.  If you had on a red shirt when you beamed down to the planet’s surface, you could pretty well figure you weren’t going to be returning to the Enterprise in one piece, or alive.

In my debut TWRP historical western release, Fire Eyes, U.S. Marshal Kaed Turner is tortured and shot at the hands of the villain, Andrew Fallon, and his gang of cutthroats.  A band of Choctaw Indians deposit Kaed on Jessica Monroe’s doorstep with instructions to take care of him.  “Do not allow him to die,” the chief tells her.

Can she save him? Or will he meet the same fate that befell her husband, Billy?  Although Kaed’s injuries are severe, he recovers under a combination of Jessica’s expert care and his own resolve and inner strength.

The injuries he sustained give him the time he needs to get to know Jessica quickly.  Their relationship becomes more intimate in a shorter time span due to the circumstances.  Under normal conditions of courtship, the level their relationship skyrockets to in just a few days would take weeks, or months.

Wounding the hero is a way to also show the evil deeds of the villain.  We can develop a kinship with the hero as he faces what seem to be insurmountable odds against the villain.  How will he overcome those odds?  Even if he weren’t injured, it would be hard enough—but now, we feel each setback more keenly than ever.  He’s vulnerable in a way he has no control over.  How will he deal with it, in the face of this imminent danger?

Enter the heroine.  She’ll do what she can to help, but will it be enough to make a difference?  This is her chance to show what she’s made of, and further the relationship between them.  (If he dies, of course, that can’t happen.)

From this point on, as the hero begins to recover, he also regains his confidence as well as his strength.

It’s almost like “The Six Million Dollar Man”: We can build him stronger…faster…better…

 

He will recover, but now he has something to lose—the newfound love between him and the heroine.  Now, he’s deadlier than ever, and it’s all about protecting the woman he loves.

Or, his injuries may give him a view of life that he hadn’t hoped for before.  Maybe the heroine’s care and the ensuing love between them make the hero realize qualities in himself he hadn’t known were there. 

In my holiday short story, A Night For Miracles, wounded gunman Nick Dalton arrives on widow Angela Bentley’s doorstep in a snowstorm.  Angela is tempted at first to turn him away, until she realizes he’s traveling with three half-frozen youngsters, and he’s bleeding.

As she settles the children into the warmth of her home and begins to treat Nick’s injury, she realizes it’s Christmas Eve—“A Night For Miracles,” Nick says wryly.  “I’m ready for mine.”

In this excerpt, the undercurrents between them are strong, but Nick realizes Angela’s fears.  She’s almost as afraid of taking in a gunman with a reputation as she is of being alone again.

FROM “A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES”

Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.

He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.

“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”

He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”

She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”

“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”

A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.

She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”

He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”

She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”

He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, she found herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”

He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”

To order A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES, FIRE EYES, or SWEET DANGER go here:

 

http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=534

Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
Follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.pierson.92
http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules

16 Comments

  1. Cheryl, thank you for your post. Love your wounded heroes! My next book has a wounded hero, and it really does add a lot of different aspects to a story. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Wow Cheryl! That excerpt makes me wanna buy your book right now! Wounded heroes add intense emotion. In my debut novel coming out this year, my hero falls ill with a high fever and unexplained sickness. And in my second book, the hero is jumped by the villain and suffers a few busted ribs, etc. I’m not sure if something similar will befall each of my heroes, but it’s tempting. lol Maybe it’s the reminder of the hero’s vulnerability that makes it so powerful. Great post!!

  3. Hi Cheryl,
    I love your wounded heroes! Guess it’s just the price they pay if they want to hang around with you. 🙂 And it is a great way to let the heroine show her strength while letting the hero maintain his integrity.
    BTW, A Night for Miracles is one of my favorite Christmas stories ever. I’ve read it the last couple of years during the holidays and I love it more each time!

  4. Hi Margaret,

    I can’t wait to read your wounded hero!LOL There is just something about the interplay between the heroine and hero–maybe that vulnerability–that I gravitate toward, even in my contemporary novels and short stories. In SWEET DANGER, my latest contemporary release, the hero is wounded AND is held captive by his old nemesis. So glad you enjoyed the post Margaret, and I will be eagerly awaiting your wounded guy!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  5. Hi Karen!

    Your heroes sound like my kind of guys! LOL I am so glad you enjoyed the excerpt so much. I will be looking forward to reading your books–they sound right up my alley. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
    Cheryl

  6. Hi Judy,
    Well, after coming off a week long bout of the flu, I must say that your comment just made my day! It just thrills me to know that you loved A Night for Miracles so much. That was one of my favorite things I ever wrote. Even in most of my contemporary short stories I usually have a wounded hero.LOL I’m so glad that you like the wounded heroes I create–there’ll be more to come! Thanks so much for your comment.
    Cheryl

  7. Wounded heroes are my favorite types of men. I love their emotional conflict when they find themselves dependent on someone else — most likely the heroine. Men hate to be brought low where a woman has to save them from whatever he’s facing. You write such strong H/H’s.

    Loved your excerpt. Wow! And I’m so glad you’re feeling better.

  8. I love a wounded hero, Cheryl. I suspect there’s a tiny sadist lurking in my soul.

    🙂

  9. Hi Linda,
    YES! They do hate to be brought low and have to depend on someone else–but the truth is, everyone has to depend on someone else at some point, and that’s always an epiphany when they have been wounded and are at the lowest point, to realize that they do have someone there they can trust. So glad you loved the excerpt!

    Oh, I am so glad to be feeling better, too. Whew–that whatever-it-was really about did me in–I guess it was the flu, it had all the symptoms. Hobbible stuff. But I’m on the road to recovery now!

    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  10. Mary! Kindred spirits!!!! LOL I think we like to hurt ’em so we can love ’em, don’t you?
    Cheryl

  11. Hi Cheryl, I’m working on edits today and sure enough . . . the hero’s wounded. Well, sort of. He has malaria, which leads to all sorts of complications. As a kid I grew up with Bonanza and Dr. Kildare. The influences went deeper than I thought 🙂

  12. Hi Vicki!

    Oh, how I loved Dr. Kildare…Three stars will shine tonight…remember that theme song? And BEN CASEY!!! What a heartthrob. LOL Hey, malaria is great! I am reading Pat Potter’s THE DIAMOND KING right now about to finish it up, and the hero has malaria in there. Great book! Hope your edits are going well–thanks for taking time out to come by and comment–I know you are busy!
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

  13. Wounded heroes often make the best kind. Being not at their best often brings out a person’s true nature. Makes them vulnerable, and what woman doesn’t appreciate that vulnerability.

  14. Hi Patricia,
    I agree! I think that is why I love to create the wounded or ill guys so that the heroine can not only show her caregiving side but also see the vulnerability of the hero–who probably won’t show that part of himself any other way.LOL
    Cheryl

  15. I love wounded heroes, Cheryl and have written a number of them. A woman’s heart naturally goes out to a man who needs to heal.
    Hope you’re on the mend.

  16. Hi Elizabeth,
    Oh, I love them too! Love to read about them and write about them. Yes, you’re right Elizabeth–our hearts do naturally go out to them and being the nurturers we are, we want to help them. And of course that leads to…ROMANCE! LOL
    Yes, I am sooooo much better today. I turned the corner yesterday and improved today, so tomorrow has got to be even better as my strength builds. That flu is nothing to trifle with.
    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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