An Unconventional Romance Hero Occupation – Guest Post from Rachel Leigh Smith

Blog headshotWhen I write a romance, it’s all about the hero. He’s the one driving the story, and he’s the one who has to resolve all the problems. It’s what I love as a reader, and what comes naturally to me as a writer.

I’m celebrating the release of my fifth novel, Hidden In Ashes, book five in my paranormal sci-fi romance A’yen’s Legacy series. A’yen’s Legacy is the story of a humanoid alien species, the Lokmane, reclaiming their freedom. They were enslaved by humanity so long ago that their planet was erased from history. The first book, which is free on all retailers, My Name Is A’yen, is the story of finding their homeworld and starts the fight to reclaim their freedom.

The hero of Hidden In Ashes, Lorin, has a rather unconventional occupation for a romance hero. In his world, he’s a daro. Don’t worry! I’m telling you what a daro is.

First, I need to tell you how Lorin came about. It was while reading Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I kept asking myself this question. What if someone was as trained as Acheron, but by choice and enjoyed it? I played around with some already established heroes in my story world, but it didn’t fit any of them. They had the wrong temperament.

So I started from scratch. Lorin, Prime of Arkos House, was born. Along the way, I discovered a whole section of society on his planet that I’d no idea existed. It led to the creation of the system Lorin is a part of—a system he loves and will fight to keep alive.

What is a daro? Think pre-World War Two geishas (Memoirs Of A Geisha, book and movie). A geisha’s life wasn’t about sex, though it did happen. It was about companionship, easing loneliness, and being a safe place. That’s what a daro does.

To be a successful daro, one needs a certain way of interacting with the world. The most important quality is an overwhelming amount of compassion. Lorin is drawn to hurting people and he wants nothing more than to ease their pain for a little while. It’s what draws him to the heroine, Sunny, despite how much he hated her when they were kids.

He also uses his vocation to ignore and cover up his own pain of losing his mother to a disease similar to our Alzheimer’s, and being abused by a mistress who saw him as nothing more than a thing. He’s a slave, as is every other member of his species on the planet Marcase. Sunny is his new owner, and she makes it impossible for him to continue ignoring his own hurt.

Lorin and Sunny are broken people, though Lorin hides his very well. Hidden In Ashes is the beginning of their journey to being whole and healing from the wounds of their pasts.

Don’t worry if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series. This one stands alone. And like I said earlier, the first book, My Name Is A’yen, is free at all retailers.

Question for you. What qualities do you like to see in a romance hero?

HIA 300 x 450Childhood enmity turns to love, with one problem: his heart isn’t his to give.

Lorin is a daro, a Lokmane trained to make humans feel special and valued. As Prime of Arkos House, no one stands between him and the safety of the daros under his care—except his mistress. The dead one, and the new one. He needs to focus on the Essence crisis infiltrating the Houses, and his sister’s safety. Not figure out how to balance his duties with falling in love.

When her mother dies, emotionally wounded Sagira Memeos becomes the Marcasian Empire’s newest High Lady. And reluctant owner of the most sought after daro in said empire. He’s her childhood nemesis, and way too sexy for his own good. With his kindness finding its way into her bruised soul, asking for his help to navigate her succession to ruling high lady probably isn’t her brightest idea.

Lorin wants Sagira. But not if he has to pay for it with innocent lives. She’s a distraction he can’t afford while the bedrock of Marcasian high society is under attack. Not to mention facing losing his sister to the man who wounded Sagira. If the daro houses fall, all hope of freedom goes with them.

Excerpt:
Lorin returned his attention to Sunny. She wore large sunglasses, probably to cover eyes not overflowing with tears. No matter their differences as children, they agreed on one thing as adults: gratefulness for High Lady Memeos’s death. There had to be some way to build a connection with her because of it.

Monday night he hadn’t paid much attention to how Sunny looked. Which he remedied now, standing twenty feet from her. She wasn’t very tall, maybe five-six. He glanced at her feet. Three-inch turquoise patent leather heels, maybe four inches. Without her shoes, she’d be petite. Capable of making him feel like a giant for once.

Her copper hair was wrapped in a tight bun, but the severeness of it couldn’t hide the curls. Which made him miss his own. It was time to stop straightening it and return his hair to the way it was meant to be.

He wasn’t a hair man, but many of his female clients liked it when he toyed with their hair or twirled a strand around his finger. What would Sunny like?

Shame her eyes were covered. They caught his attention. One could tell much about a person from looking into them. As a child, Sunny’s had been silvery blue.

He reached out with his field, just to see. He’d been able to startle her with it when they were kids, which might’ve led to some of her meanness toward him. But now, all grown up, she was a blank slate. Nothing about her leaked through for him to see. A mind wrapped up this way meant the real person stayed hidden while interacting with others.

He’d seen this sort of thing before, when he took clients who’d been sexually abused as children. Didn’t matter whether they were male or female, every single one hid their true self. It often took months to peel away the layers of shielding and anger to get to the child inside, desperate to be safe and loved.

Mama had done her best to provide Sunny that love, but it clearly hadn’t been enough. Sunny’s father had done untold damage to his daughter. Having no father had to be better than having an abusive one.

Hidden in Ashes is available in e-book format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.

Rachel Leigh Smith was swept off her feet at the age of six by Magnum, P.I., then again at nine by Frank Hardy. She remembers her favorite romance novels by the hero’s name, so of course she writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family, a half-crazed calico, a ginger tabby lion, and a menagerie of book boyfriends.

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