Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why I Love Evil Villains

By Beverley Eikli

Throw a truly evil villain into a love story and I’m hooked. Melodrama featured heavily in the stories I wrote as a child and teenager. Gothic thrillers like The Mysteries of Udolpho by Mrs Radcliffe and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen inspired my adolescent attempts to combine romance with a healthy dose of drama and intrigue – always with an evil villain.

One of my favourite villains is the unctuous Reverend Kirkman in my Regency Romantic Intrigue Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly, originally published in hardcover by Robert Hale and now recently released as an e-book and in paperback.

The Reverend's sinister motives in wanting Olivia for his wife lead him to blackmail and ultimately, worse, as Olivia tries to reclaim the infant son her abusive late husband has decreed be brought up by a cousin. Other dark secrets to which she unwittingly holds the key threaten the love she’s found with the boy’s guardian.

Writing the resolution to Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly was infinitely satisfying as I dished out exactly what the truly villainous Reverend Kirkman deserved at the same time as re-imbuing Olivia with the courage and self esteem her late husband had knocked out of her.

Whether I’ve plotted it, or not, an evil villain always seems to emerge from my first drafts…just as redemption is, unconsciously, my most popular theme.

I guess the forces of good and evil knitted together with a redemption theme make a good combination; and the habits and secret pleasures of one’s childhood can take a lifetime to overcome.

Here's the premise of Lady Farquhar's Butterfly:

The beautiful widow, Olivia, Lady Farquhar, accepts that her sullied reputation bars her from polite society.  She won't accept, however, the terms of her vengeful late husband's will which deny her the right to bring up their son, Julian.
Concealing her identity in order to reclaim Julian, Olivia unexpectedly finds love with the boy's kind and gentle guardian, Max. But happiness is fleeting as Olivia's past returns to haunt her.
Blackmailed into a union with her late husband's religious confessor, Olivia faces a loveless future.   
For how can she reveal to Max that she has unwittingly denied him his birthright?

Here's an Excerpt:

This scene takes place when Olivia’s actions to save her cousin have been misinterpreted by the man she loves.

The empty silence stung her ears.
Shocked, she whispered, “I had no idea you hated me so much.”
“Not as much as I love you.“ He gave a shuddering sigh and his voice cracked as he added, “But self-preservation prevents me from succumbing to the lust that consumes me as we speak. For it is lust, only, Olivia. Tonight you proved there is nothing in you to love.” Raising himself he glared at her. Never had he looked so like Lucien. “Besides, you are going to marry Kirkman. You know there is no other path open to you.”
Stung to indignation she wiped her eyes. “Should I be compelled to atone the rest of my life for compromising myself before him?” Hunching herself into the corner the anger built within her. “I can’t do it. I won’t,” she flung at him after a moment’s silence.
“And Julian?”
Goaded, she muttered, “He is Lucien’s heir and as long as the world believes that he will be fine.”
“Is that a threat?” Max spoke quietly. After a moment he let out a humourless chuckle. “So you would tell the world the truth if I only had been prepared to wed you and conveniently dismiss what stood between us?”
He was looking at her as if he could not believe it.
“I can manage very well without Mr Kirkman and if you choose to deny me my son on account of it, you are within your rights,” she said coldly.
“And I can manage very well without you!”
The anger drained from her. Sorrow took its place. They had once loved each other. It could have been so wonderful.
“Olivia.” There was so much pain invested in the word she nearly wept. She kept her head averted.
After a silence he shrugged and there was a distance to his tone as he said, “A boy needs a father.”
“Mr Petersham would have done just as well.”
Max gave a sardonic chuckle. “You really are trying to live up to your reputation.”
She made her tone deliberately careless. “Since it was only you I wanted—yet clearly it is impossible for us to live with the uncomfortable truth between us—I no longer care what becomes of me. I shall make a point of enjoying my road to eternal damnation.” She smiled sweetly. “When your worthy Miss Hepworth becomes too tiresome you can look to The Tatler for some diverting scandal about the latest exploits of the brazen Lady Farquhar.”
Clearly he did not share her self-deprecating humour for he said with a narrow look, “The future Viscount Farquhar will not be brought up in such a manner. If you want to keep Julian, you forget yourself, Olivia.”
She tensed as she registered his words exhaled on a shuddering breath.
 “At the end of the week you shall marry Reverend Kirkman. He has been … good … to you. You deserve each other.”
“Oh God,” she whispered, covering her face with her hands. “Would you really condemn me to torment by forcing me to marry the reverend? Just because he knows the worst of me? I am not so far beyond redemption?”
“I have discovered too much, Olivia, to know what alternative you have.”
She nearly choked on her anger. “You self-righteous beast!” she cried, lunging at him with flailing fists. “You’re no better than Lucien! I hate you!”
Caught by surprise as the glancing blow struck his jaw, he gripped her wrists while pain tore behind his eyes.
“You hate me?” he repeated.
He could not believe it of her. What did she expect? To allow her carte blanche to continue her reckless, ill-chosen path, dragging Julian along with her?”
Wincing, he acknowledged his love for the boy. How could he not? For more than a year they had been as close as father and son.
Her eyes were like blue thunder, her skin flushed and her creamy flesh tantalisingly bared by her sumptuous, scandalous dress; he thought he’d never wanted her so much.
But the price was too high. She would forever revel in the power she had over him. He did not think his manhood could sustain a lifetime of it.
She was straining across his lap as he caught her wrists. Holding them above her head caused her body to sag into his. He closed his eyes against the desire to place a kiss upon the flesh that swelled above her low cut bodice; fought the raging impulses that rushed through his body as anger faded beneath his yearning. Her hot breath on his cheek as he parried her blows quickly fanned the flames into full blown desire.
For an instant she stilled. He opened his eyes in the startled silence and saw that she felt it, too. She wilted in his embrace, her face inches from his, her eyes dark pools of need.
The thread that connected their two hearts from the moment they’d met tugged tighter. He was devastatingly aware of the soft contours of her body and for a second he almost yielded.
Of all the women he’d known, none had the power to stir his senses as the fascinating, faithless creature before him. 
Common sense returned and he jerked back as if stung.
He turned his head away before the hurt and surprise on her face could weave their spell upon his all too susceptible heart.
“We’re here,” he said as the horses turned into the stable yard. With enormous effort he kept his voice neutral. “Kirkman is waiting for you.”
She did not want to go. He knew he forced her against her will; that he was abusing his power in this act of spite and self-righteousness.
He didn’t care. If she hated him for it, all the better. He didn’t know if he had the fortitude to hold out if it was any other way.
Smoothing her dress she sat back in her seat, glaring at him. “I had not known such a fine line existed between the affection you’ve always extended towards me and” — she nearly choked on the words — “the disgust you clearly feel for me now.”
When he didn’t answer she whispered after a silence, “Could I change your mind?” Then, more desperately, “I do not wish to marry Reverend Kirkman. Since I have made that plain, perhaps you’d like to know my reasons.”
“I’m not interested in your reasons.” He knew he was being childish and pig-headed but he wanted to hurt her. Humiliate her.

The carriage jerked to a halt and Max rose over her in the small space. It was not a comforting thought that his domination and angry snarl: “Perhaps confessing tonight’s little dalliance might ease your conscience” could only remind her of Lucien. Yet perhaps Lucien’s behaviour was not so reprehensible given all he had learned of Olivia.  Opening the door and jumping out onto the hay-strewn cobblestones he added, “If you have one.”

 Long and Short Reviews - 4 1/2 Stars
"Sweet with heat and hard to beat, Lady Farquhar's Butterfly gains momentum as it builds to a terrifying climax....
Beverley Eikli’s concise, smooth, and subtle writing reveals characters and their motivations with a style that makes Lady Farquhar's Butterfly fascinating—a thoroughly enjoyable, page-turner of a tale."
RED ROSES FOR AUTHORS gave me 5 Stars and a Red Roses for Authors award.

Author's Bio
Beverley Eikli wrote her first romance novel when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page (p550!) was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.
After throwing in her secure job on a metropolitan daily to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure: living in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome bush pilot she met around a camp fire. Seventeen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s during low-level survey sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland's ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband and two daughters in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne.
She writes traditional Regency Romance as Beverley Eikli and sensual and erotic historical romance as Beverley Oakley.

You can visit her website here.

Buy Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly in paperback here
Buy kindle edition here

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