There are so many wonderful tough guys in fiction that at first I was going crazy trying to pick one to write about. For instance, one of my all-time favorites is Ranger from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Unlike a lot of you, I’m not a Morelli fan. At. All. But I lurves me some Ranger for many different reasons—not the least of which is the way he always rescues Stephanie, gives her anything she needs or wants, and never asks anything in return. Nor does he take her for granted. Not to mention, he’s gorgeous and dangerous. (sigh)
Then there’s Eric Northman from Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series. Now, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about—Gracious Plenty, indeed. Plus, he can wear pink spandex and still be hot and studly. There are also Barrons, Bones, Curran, Dimitri, the entire Black Dagger Brotherhood, all the Dark-Hunters, and a slew of others too numerous to mention, but the one who really captures my heart is none other than…..(drumroll please)……Acheron—or Ash as he’s known to those who love him.
Yes, I’m talking about Ash of the Dark-Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I mean, c’mon, what’s not to love about a six-foot-eight-inch god with swirling silver eyes and long black hair with a bright red streak in the front, who walks like a seductive predator? The opaque black Oakley sunglasses, the long black coat covering that amazing bod, black tees (usually sporting the name of a heavy metal band), black leather pants, and cherry-red Doc Martens boots with skull and crossbone buckles going up each side are enough to fog up my glasses, yet that description alone would make most people cross the street to avoid him.
Of course, his natural god appearance is even scarier. His skin is marbled blue, he has two black horns, black claws and lips, and his eyes are yellow-orange encircled by red. He is the Talimosin, the Destroyer’s Harbinger, the Final Fate, and a single word from him can destroy the gods and the world. Despite having such immense power, he’s gentle and caring. He loves Simi like a daughter (a young Charonte demon who also doubles as his tattoo), and spoils her with a limitless credit card so she can buy whatever sparklies her heart desires. (All together now……aahhh)
Due to the horrendous acts committed against him by humans and gods when he was mortal, he has every reason in the world to wipe out the universe. The atrocities he suffered would have killed a normal child, and yet he chooses to protect mankind. It’s because he was so abused, maimed, and tortured that he wants no one else to suffer the way he did.
Keeping his godhood a secret is of paramount importance, so no one other than Tory (his new wife and newly created god) and a few other gods know what he is, but keeping his human past a secret is even more important. As strong and powerful as he is, the shame of what was done to him guides many of his actions.
You can see why I have such a tender spot in my heart for Ash. He’s a survivor, leader, husband, and protector. Through a complicated, damnable, twist of fate, he also fathered a daughter with Artemis—the bitch goddess as Simi calls her. Soon he and Tory will welcome their first child, and I know he’ll move heaven and earth to protect them from his ever-growing list of enemies.
And that, my friends, is the measure of a true badass hero—he can totally destroy the universe, but instead, chooses to protect it. You gotta love a man with that much restraint and compassion.
I probably shouldn’t say this, but I honestly hope no one makes a movie about him, because in my mind, there’s no way any actor could measure up to his role. And oh, by the way, if you aren’t familiar with him, start with the first book in the series, Fantasy Lover. Now that you know who he is, you’ll be more apt to notice all the wonderful things he does. (….long, protracted sigh….)