Can a villainess be redeemed?

Just a quick question based on reading preferences:

Can a villainess be redeemed (and before anyone puts “No” on principal, I am NOT thinking of redeeming Olivia, so be fair, please)?

58 thoughts on “Can a villainess be redeemed?”

    1. You crack me up! Your love for Olivia is just unreal to me. I think most people are redeemable, however, there is a very fine line, and I believe she crossed it. Or perhaps I crossed it by sending her off to the asylum…

      1. I believe I just had a minor coronary. *Checking for a pulse…* *cannot find one….* *stunned speechless…*

        Seriously, Wallace?!?! I thought you HATED him in Reluctant (which I guess is why you added that part about changing your mind). But the extent of the hatred, had me worried you’d hate his book, too, to be quite frank.

        I guess this is just another example of how miracles are still possible today… Goodness. I have no idea what to say. He is a real sweetheart, though.

  1. Yes, I think so but there are lines of no return.
    Olivia is beyond and Benjamin was not. Then again maybe the answer is just yes. After all we are all sinners.

    1. Very true, LeeAnn, we’re all sinners. I do wonder that what makes Olivia beyond return whereas Benjamin wasn’t. He did try to bribe someone to bring an excessive amount of shame to a family–without revealing his motives, of course. Once we read his book and knew the reasons behind his actions, it’s easier to forgive and love him, however, had the end of his story been at the end of the first book, I doubt he’d be considered so lovable.

  2. You had me laughing with this one because I immediately thought, “No, not Olivia.”
    But, I really do think they can. As LeeAnn said, we are all sinners and GRACE is for everyone. I am a huge fan of grace.

    1. Nope. Not Olivia. I honestly cannot think of a single thing for her to do to be able to redeem herself in the eyes of the readers–or me for that matter.

      In real life, yes. I believe in second and third and fourth and 100th chances, as we should forgive others as Christ forgives us. However, in a book it’s a little different. It’s hard as a reader to instantly like the person we’ve been trained to hate. Examples: Benjamin and Liberty. Benjamin was far worse than Liberty, but he’s far more loved. LOL I guess that more proves that men are more easily forgiven than women…

  3. So all I saw was the title when I checked my email on my phone so the entire way home from work I was wondering what had popped into your mind about Olivia. I was wondering if you were going to try a whole taming of the shrew thing but I still wasn’t sure how Olivia could be redeemed. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when you said you were not thinking about Olivia.

    1. Have no fear, Karen, I’m not going to attempt the impossible: Taming Lady O. Personally, I just don’t see how she can be redeemed. And haven’t I already attempted a Taming of the Shrew book? I’ll leave it up for you to decide which one of my books falls into THAT particular category… LOL

      1. Well yeah I was thinking that as well but there is no need to mention which book that is. Althought dispite popular opinion I have never really seen that character as a shrew just trying to make her own mark in the world any way she can. It just took the perfect Hero for her to get her to relaxe a bit.

      2. LOL!

        I just think she’s misunderstood, to be honest. Some people “get” her and they’re the ones who enjoy the book. There are others who don’t, and it drives them nuts. LOL And he WAS the perfect hero, wasn’t he?

      3. Yes he was. Although he is in a 3 way tie for my favorite of your heros. Ironic that I go for your more Beta Hero’s then your Alpha ones like Gateway that everyone loves after they find out is motives.

  4. Your response options were great…it was hard to choose one because there was truth in each. I love Gateway, and I love a rake (the more rouge-ish the better :), but I can’t think of a single female character that I’ve accepted as reformed… I ultimately went with “depends on the crime” because I suppose anything is possible.

    I am also wondering what you’re up to… You rarely have a poll that isn’t followed by an interesting announcement. *Hmmm*

    1. I am also wondering what you’re up to… You rarely have a poll that isn’t followed by an interesting announcement. *Hmmm*

      I’m sure I have NO idea what you’re talking about… *grins*

      1. Well, that IS my job: get people intrigued enough to look forward to the next book(s). Ha ha ha ha ha!

        I still don’t know if it’ll work out or not to pursue this storyline. I’ll have to do a bit of consulting with a trusted source or two before I make a decision.

    2. In an effort to find out more info, are you thinking of a new series in which a Gateway is pulled with a character or is this a single book where she starts off horriable and then is redeemed???? And Could it not be argued that you have already done that with Liberty.

      1. 1. I shall never tell! Not until the book comes out, that is.

        2. It could be argued I did this with Liberty, but it can also be argued that she was not redeemed. Some think so, some don’t. I have in mind to have another Gateway type character who the MAJORITY thinks is redeemed and loves her when it’s all over.

  5. Ok I hope I didn’t cause you to hurt yourself by falling off the chair with my statement about Wallace. I went back and found my bata review of HRG and um yeah I was harsh toward him although most of it was directed in another direction. But Wallace is just so sweet in HIG that he won me over which is what the Hero is suppose to do lol

    1. *sniffles* It’s okay. You’re not the only one who didn’t love that book. Nor were you the cruelest. Believe me.

      Anyway…Wallace is a sweetheart and I agree, he does exactly what a hero is supposed to: win the reader’s heart–I know he won mine.

  6. I have never enjoyed reading people’s comments as much as I have for this post. Every time I get a notice of a new comment I get so excited to read it, knowing I am probably going to laugh or at the very least smile.

    I guess I was a little biased towards Wallace from the start. As soon as we met him counting bricks at a ball he found a little place it my heart that just kept getting bigger and bigger. I could just picture one of my twins (Jonathan) doing the same thing.
    As for Liberty, I never thought of her really needing redemption, just a new way of thinking on some things. I actually really liked her and could understand why she was the way she was.

    As I stated earlier in my other comment, I love grace and redemption, no matter if the person is male or female. So this whole topic really had me thinking all day. I realized I really do find the whole villain thing fascinating. I never found myself hating Gateway in the first book, just curious as to why he was doing what he was doing. I love getting to know why a villain is the way he/she is. Sometimes it’s a past event or childhood circumstances. One of my favorite villains is the character Lex Luthor from the television show Smallville (not from the Superman movies). I loved getting to see where he came from and how he came to be so evil. I think delving into a characters past like you did with Gateway in the 3rd book , makes a villain seem more human.

    I better quit writing before I bore everyone with more of my thoughts on the subject.

    1. Well, at least you’re enjoying the comments!

      I created Wallace as a means to take some of the serious tension away from that book. At that point in the book, things were intense almost to the point of being painful, so just “going with the flow” I created Wallace. He was just meant to be an unusual fellow with weird tendencies used to bring about some comic relief. But like you, he dug himself a secure home inside my heart and never let go.

      As for Liberty. There have always been and will always be mixed feelings regarding her. I don’t think she needed redemption, but I do think some people don’t really understand her or her motives, they just see her as immature.

      Following the debut of Secondhand, I received an email that congratulated me on finally writing a strong heroine who wasn’t a shrew! LOL

      I’m glad you liked Liberty, though. She’s actually a good person, just a bit misguided at times.

      I love the villain turns hero storyline, which is why I used it with Gateway. But it’s different with a female as the villainess. However, like you mentioned, going into their past and explaining why they are they way they are (villainous) helps to make them lovable.

      We shall see!

      Oh, and you’re not boring me, either.

      1. Ok the comment about finally writing a strong heroine who is not a shrew in Her Secondhand made me laugh because in my humble opinion if i had to pick between Liberty and Juliet for being a bigger Shrew I would pick Juliet although I love them both so don’t get me wrong. Juliet is just more vocal with her opinions where as Liberty was more devious. I always think of a Shrew as vocal and in your face with what they want. But in the end I just love that each of your Heroines are different and unique, no cardboard cut outs for you.

      2. Seriously, Karen? You thought Juliet was more shrewish?

        I’d have to go with Liberty because all Paul had to do was breath and she was riled up, at least Juliet had a reason to be angry with all the things he did to her.

        But I do concede your point, on a shrew being more vocal. But if that’s the case, there might be another how might take that prize–according to some. (Since they’re all my heroines, thus I love them like children, I cannot actually speak bad about any of them, but even I have to acknowledge that one or two might have been a little less endearing than the rest.)

        And nope, no cardboard cut outs for me! I LOVE different type of characters, it’s what makes me different and it’s what I enjoy reading/writing.

    2. Sarah, I don’t find your comment boring either. To be honest, Lex Luther in Smallville is my favorite character because even though he’s the bad guy, you get to understand why he got to be that way. I thought the writers of that show did an awesome job of creating a sympathetic villain.

      Grace and redemption are my favorite themes, too.

      1. Sorry, ladies, I never watched that show so I can’t comment, really.

        However, villains have always fascinated me. I honestly don’t think any of them are evil just to be evil. I think they have to have a reason. Look at Darth Vader (WARNING: I am a HUGE Star Wars fan… Be warned). After seeing the prequels (though I admit I like the originals better) you got to see what happened and why he was that way. There is ALWAYS a story behind why people act the way they do, you have have to find. it.

      2. I was thinking about good ol’ Darth today as well. It was very interesting to get to see Anakin slowly moving to the Dark Side. I too am a big Star Wars fan and of course like the originals better,but it was fun to have the back story.

      3. Which is why the villain is sometimes one of the most intriguing parts of the book. Where would Star Wars be without Darth Vader? I don’t think villains start down the road to being bad by intending to. I think things happen along the way where they have to make choices and systematically choose paths that seem innocent enough but aren’t. Like with Anakin. He wasn’t trying to do something bad. It snowballed until he was pretty much trapped into it.

        BTW, the guy who plays Lex Luther on Smallville is my idea of a hot guy. I would have picked him over Clark. hehe

      4. In the early seasons of Smallville I would have picked Lex too. Although, I think both actors are handsome in their own way. The funny thing is, I didn’t even want to watch the show, but my husband is a big Super Hero fanatic and I got roped into watching it. Then he bought all the seasons on DVD and every year I GET to watch them with him. Although, I would much rather watch Smallville than every episode of every Star Trek show ever made (which I also GET to sit through at least once a year). I may have loved Star Wars before we got married but I was not a fan of Star Trek. 13 years later I guess I can say I am a fan of certain Series of Star Trek but not all of them.

      5. Sarah, I am SO sorry about your Star Trek torture fest. I can handle Star Wars but I CANNOT do Star Trek. Thank heavens my husband doesn’t enjoy that show or I might go insane.

        Now about Anakin/Darth. Though I didn’t love the new series as much as the older ones, I did enjoy seeing why he was the way he was. This is so embarrassing of me to admit, but I’ve actually had conversations with my husband about, “Well if this hadn’t happened, I bet he’d have stayed good.” Which is useless since the underlying theme is that there was a prophecy so just like Judas betraying Jesus, Anakin HAD to turn bad–it was prophecy.

        (On an off-note, I found Darth Maul to be one of the ugliest creatures in the entire series. Those little horns growing out of his head that way. GAG!)

      6. We sound very similar, Rose. I too have had conversations with my husband about the same thing. He usually just shakes his head at me. Darth Maul was quite ugly, so much so that I actually threw away the pair of underwear that came in the multi-pack that had his face on them. I couldn’t have my boys walking around with him on their tushies now could I?

      7. YUCK! I think I’d have thrown those away too for fear if my kids sat down they’d get stabbed in the cheeks by those horns! (I hope everyone got the joke there, and it’s not me laughing alone… LOL)

        Seriously though, I’d rather look at a picture of the catfish pilot than Darth Maul.

        Okay and this is all I’ll say on the subject of the series and how everything went because A. it’s just a move. B. George Lucas wrote the books the way HE wanted them to go and as an author who has had people write to me about how they’d have written the book differently, I can totally respect his decisions and story, and C. usually when ladies see the words Star Wars, their eyes start glazing over! LOL

        But…I’m of the opinion that had Qui-Gon Jinn lived to train him, I don’t think he’d have turned out evil. I think he understood him better and they seemed closer, of sorts, than Anakin did with Obi-wan. Just a theory. But in the end it doesn’t matter, because if I were to write Mr. Lucas and tell him my opinion, he’d probably tell me what I long to tell those who write me with their suggestions, “Well then, go write your own darn book!”

  7. Olivia could be redeemed if you give her amnesia. She manages to con some asylum employee into helping her escape. While on the run, she has a fall or something, loses her memory, and a duke who has removed himself from society (due to something he feels guilty for but is really innocent) finds her and nurses her back to health. She has lost weight but is still plump (even us chubby girls need love) and though she’s not the most beautiful woman on the planet, her new personality endears the duke to her. Olivia never regains her memory though she learns of her past from someone who recognizes her, and she’s appalled she ever acted that way, sheds lots of tears, etc. She then marries the duke, and lives happily ever after with two or three children. Oh, and the duke comes to realize he really is innocent but still choses to live his recluse life with his new wife because a lot of people don’t like Olivia and won’t believe she has changed. πŸ™‚

    1. LOL! I would read that… maybe a privately released short. I have to admit, I enjoy Olivia’s over the top awfulness. Not all characters need to be redeemed. Life is not always flowers and butterflies, sometimes people are just not nice… the best we can hope for is that they provide the rest of us with some comic relief. Plus, let’s all admit… it’s pretty satisfying when Olivia gets shipped off to the asylum. Is it just me? I gave a mental clap and cheer πŸ™‚

      1. LOL on Olivia’s over-the-top awfulness. Some love it, some hate it. I love it because quite frankly it’s funny–and while some may argue that it’s overdone or nobody is really like that. I disagree. I’ve met several Olivias (people who don’t seem to have one single redeeming quality) in my lifetime.

        Truly, I didn’t know what else to do with Olivia. I couldn’t let her live at Ridge Water. Then that’d ruin Marcus and Emma’s happily-ever-after. She HAD to go somewhere and that was the only place I could think.

        It also helps to explain the extent of her awfulness: she was mentally unstable.

        Off-topic: well, not really. When I was writing that scene where Marcus and Juliet are dancing and they get interrupted because there is a special note for Marcus, originally, I had Olivia, yielding–and swinging–a club barge into the room. But alas, THAT was too much, so I settled for a messenger come in then and Olivia naked for Juliet’s first encounter with her later.

      2. Darah,
        LOL Yep. I enoyed Olivia’s over the top awfulness, too. I can’t see redeeming her unless she had amnesia. It doesn’t fit her character. Even so, I didn’t hate her as much as some people did. I guess it’s because of the scene with her in Intentions of the Earl which struck me as more humorous than mean, so my first impression of her wasn’t that bad. It’s that first impression that has stuck with me the most.

      3. Ruth,

        What did she do in Intentions that made her so funny that endeared her to you? Proposing to an unsuspecting Andrew?

        I have to admit, while Andrew is not one of my most expressive characters, I didn’t struggle at all to imagine the look on his face at that point! LOL

      4. It was Olivia proposing to Andrew and then Alex getting stuck with her. No one wanted to be with her because she was obnoxious. I thought it was hilarious. I was laughing through the whole thing. That’s the Olivia I remember best. πŸ™‚

      5. Well originally, Alex and Olivia WERE supposed to end up together and it was during that walk that she was going to confront him about having her tossed out of his science society and he was to discover her love for plants, yada yada yada. But she’d already become shrewish at that point and I couldn’t go through with it. So I just made him suffer with a walk with her… Besides, someone had to keep Alex occupied so Andrew could take Brooke into the orangery for a few kisses…

    2. Hmm, of course I cannot copy your idea exact, but it something to think about if I ever run out of ideas. And believe me, I’d HAVE to run out of ideas before I can entertain this one! LOL

      But I must hand it to you, at least you had a way to redeem Olivia. I took the easy way out and have let her remain in the asylum… LOL

      1. Even if you don’t use the idea for Olivia, maybe there’s another character who’ll pop up who might be escaping from somewhere and run into the duke who’s hiding from the world for some reason. πŸ˜‰

      2. That’s certainly an option–but NO Olivia. I seriously doubt anyone would want to read a book about her after how awful I’ve portrayed her already.

  8. Ruth as much as I love your idea and think it could prove to be an instersting novella (not sure I could handle and entire novel of Olivia even with amnisa) I’m not sure I would really see her as redemmed in the sense that Gateway was. Or even like Darth Vader is at the end of the original trilogy.(I love the orignial Star Wars too Rose) I think she would have to maintain her memory but come to a moment where she faces how awful she truly is and does a 180 and goes over the top since she is an over the top character to mend fences.

    1. You know, I just recently read a book were a similar thing happened to the male character. He was actually stripped of his title in an earlier book and then in the next book he got amnesia and was a very nice guy and then he remembered how bad of a person he actually was and felt great remorse over it.

      I have been trying to think of a redeemed female character (book or movie) all day and can’t really come up with one. Anyone of you have someone you can think of? I just keep coming up with males.

      1. Nope. I can’t think of a female character either. Regarding Henry is my favorite memory with the theme of a man turning his life around, but see, that’s the guy, though his wife did sleep around, too, before he got amnesia so that would be a very minor female character change. It’s all I got, though. I mean, the real jerk was the husband.

      2. Love that movie! I can come up with women characters that turned their lives around after being a prostitute/mistress, like in Pretty Women and numerous books I’ve read, but they weren’t villains.
        There is a book by MaryLu Tyndall (One of my favorite authors besides Rose) called “The Red Siren” where the main character is lady pirate, but she wasn’t really a villain. Hmmm. Guess I will have to keep thinking. There has got to be at least one.

    2. Olivia could get down on her hands and knees, sobbing uncontrollably, and kissing their feet. Then she could apologize for every single offense. 400 pages later, the book will be over (because she has a very long list). LOL πŸ˜€

    3. Karen–you know you love Olivia! But alas, even doing good deeds will not repair the damage she’s wrought to my characters, that insufferable chit!

      Sarah, Just curious but how on earth was he stripped of his title? Oh, Pretty Woman, but she’s not really a villain, she’s just a prostitute who cleans her life up. This isn’t an exact comparison but it’s kind of like Caroline who was destined to be a prostitute but is given a little help in the way of her uncle taking her in then marrying Alex who loved her, thus freeing her from her shameful past. Oh, thank you for flattering me! I’ll try not to let it go to my head that I’m one of your favorites, however, I’ve never heard of that book.

      I guess that settles it and I’ll just have to write such a book–of sorts…

      Ruth, I LOVE that movie. We discussed it once before, last spring I think and I remembered it vaguely then, so I rented it again and LOVED it. But yeah, he was the worse of the two and the one who needed redemption. And yes, Olivia would 400 pages to beg enough for people to even consider forgiving her. She did some real awful stuff.

      1. Yes I love Olivia in the same way I love root canals. LOL. No seriously she is probably the best awful character I have ever read and the fact that she is just so over the top makes it even better. Although the mental image I have of her is disturbing and I did make the mistake of finding out what stones translates to in pounds which really did not present a pretty picture for me in Her Seconhand Groom.

        I’m still kicking myself for not thinking of Elphaba sooner though. I’ve been playing Wicked on my Ipod pretty much straight since I have tickets to go see it. And If the Wicked Witch of the West can be redeemed I think its pretty clear that anyone (except maybe Olivia can be redeemed you just have to go back and show their motives in a different light.

      2. LOL on converting stones to pounds. Funny, my husband said he became ill reading the scene with her in it in Secondhand–he probably had the same mental images you did!

  9. I can’t believe it took me this long but I have an example. The wicked witch of the west from the wizard of oz is redeemed in the Broadway show Wicked. Its a total Gateway redemption.

    1. Wow! Way to go, Karen! I forgot all about Elphaba. I have mixed feelings about Wicked so that is probably why I forgot about her. While I loved the back story to her character, I did not enjoy the musical and I LOVE most musicals. I know most people love it, but not me, probably because I do not care for the Wizard of Oz. I know, I know, that is almost unheard of, but alas, it’s true.

      1. You know I’m not a huge Wizard of Oz fan either but I do Love Wicked. I’m going to go see it in 5 weeks with one of my friends and I’m so excited. And of course I totally Identify with Elphaba and never thinking of her as a Villianess which is probably why it took me so long to come up with her as an example.

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