Cast Of Characters: Villain Turned Love Interests In YA


Belle-and-Adam-beauty-and-the-beast-34638217-1018-1500Adam from Beauty And The Beast


Villain turned love interests are the so-called ‘bad boys’ to a greater, more palpable extent– that is to say, the heroine turns against him at one point in time, though most are adversaries to begin with, at least until she cuddles up to the irresistible charms,  and stays there, snug as a bug in a rug. In which case, she realizes that she can’t be with or without him (it’s an inevitable tragedy, but not really). These beautiful nightmares are usually widely misunderstood, where behind the evil veneer, lies a heart of pure gold.



Try to match each quote to the corresponding VTLI who said it from the examples shown above! I may have removed some of the names so that it won’t be such a giveaway! Also to avoid spoilers 🙂

“I love you. I love you more than any other creature, because you are cruel, and kind, and alive.”

“Your soul sings to mine. My soul is yours, and it always will be, in any world. No matter what happens. I need you to remember that I love you.”

“I want to be the friend you fall hopelessly in love with. The one you take into your arms and into your bed and into the private world you keep trapped in your head.”

“I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. You and I going to change the world.”



Kidding! (but goddamn I miss the innocent Stiles)

Okay, not gonna prevaricate, but I think the notion of a ‘bad boy’ is far too common these days, to the extent that the idea of them feels a little hackneyed, which, much to my detriment, subsequently relinquishes their X factor (you know, that one thing, haha. Mmkay I’ll stop with the One Direction references now). But this quandary applies to me (and/or you) especially, because they recur predominantly in Young Adult books, though the occasional author here or there can make them work with exceptional writing. Villains as love interests, however, are a discrepant matter altogether. For one, it could be that many authors are reluctant to turn the tables, because it’s hard to rationalize the actions of an outward rapscallion, and furthermore, give the heroine an upstanding reason to fall in love with him beyond his strange charms. And if the author lays low on his nefarious reputation, does that make him a believable character?

So there lies the dilemma. I, for one, have a hard time tolerating the fact that someone capable of murder and torment is also perfectly capable of love and kindness, although I’m not going to deny the fact that their frequently impervious, almost inconceivable beauty makes it hard for me to spite them wholly. And whenever the heroine speaks of unfurling an affection for such characters, it always makes me controvert her reason, and to an extent, her sanity, because I myself would never think to love someone who engenders an almost unbearable amount of pain and misery.

But guess what? It happens anyway, and sometimes it even works. I guess my sentiments on the matter depend on how the romance is written— I don’t favor unceremonious changes in character, or villains who cut the heroine slack and antagonize everyone else, or even the sympathetic villains, if they continue to walk the path of destruction. Redeeming value is a must, of course!

So I guess it all depends on the pretext. Sometimes, the heroines just happened to have judged them prematurely, such that they’re more decent and accommodating than what one would expect. But as long as they’re not full-blown, cold-hearted, and insensitive bastards who torture and kill with neither rhyme nor reason, I cling to the hope that they’ll make for befitting love interests, and hopefully spice up the lives of the heroines hopelessly in love with them, but who, in the end, can’t ever help it anyway.

What about you? Do you approve of villain turned love interests in YA? Who are other examples that you know of, and which are your favorites? Do tell me in the comments below 🙂


16 thoughts on “Cast Of Characters: Villain Turned Love Interests In YA

  1. I think it’s really a fine line on whether or not villains turned love interests work in YA. Like you said in your post, it’s hard to make readers change how they see a character. I know that I absolutely loathed Warner in Shatter Me, but he completely won me over in Unravel Me. Like you said, as long as they are not completely wacko insane, I tend to hope for a change.

  2. First of all, HASDOIFAWEOIFJSD, I always find that such a beautiful picture of Beauty and the beast ❤ Okay, fangirl time over. On to the real topic.

    I think there are two types of bad buys. The ones with a tormented past who act like assholes because they have a 'reason' – but they are actually just assholes who need to die.
    And the bad guys like the ones you mention in your post. The ones I like, because they are complex and interesting. I agree that in real life sweet & murder don't go in the same sentence, but in a book it strangely seem to work.. Like Ignifex. I love him as a character in the book and I ship him so hard with Nyx, but having someone like that in real life? No thanks..

  3. To be honest, I kind of agree with you on the bad boy front. I think because most girls fall for them (book wise), there was a HUGE BOOM of bad boy book boyfriends, and some of them were just not right. I think there needs to be a bit of a pause with the bad boys.
    I will always fall for the villain. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I would in real life. I mean cruelty/harm/murder is not okay in ANY circumstance. But in a book it’s different. You know they’re fictional, and when they get unrealistically turned around by the author to become the vision of a perfect love interest you can rejoice because it makes your attraction to them less taboo. See: Warner.
    But then there’s the opposite. You THINK they’re good (maybe you have an inclination they are bad), but then they turn bad. You cannot just turn off your book boyfriend feelings. The author already reeled you in with sexual tension and swooning and then suddenly we’re supposed to hate them because of their desire for world domination? Nup, Too hard. See: The Darkling.
    I don’t necessarily APPROVE of the villain turned love interest, however. I can ship it all the way, but like I said earlier in this comment: cruelty is not okay. And I just hope that impressionable young girls who are reading about villain turned lover realise this, as well. They’re fictional. Villains or just horrible people in REAL LIFE DO NOT CHANGE. And it is SO NOT OKAY to think they will. Sure, I may be being pessimistic but it’s kind of wacked if you apply real world-ness to these love interests. Ignite Me spoiler … it’s awfully convenient that Juliette seemingly FORGOT that Warner tied Adam up and tortured and beat him. And Mafi pretty much never mentioned it again – almost like it had never happened. It DID happen, and it so wasn’t okay. We’re only willing to overlook it in light of enjoying the story and not letting anything get in the way of our swooning. But if that was real life, I would be yelling at Juliette to get FAR FAR AWAY from the crazy torturous man, you know?
    So yeah. Whilst I like reading about them, I just hope that readers can apply some caution.

  4. I’ve got to admit, I do love bad boys in books. 😉 I almost always go for him over the good guy. (MORPHEUS. From Splintered/Unhinged. Mine mine mine.) oh gosh, those quotes were good. “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. You and I going to change the world.” — that is definitely Darkling. But I can’t quite figure out which on is Warner’s. Bad me. o.O I did love Warner better. Waaaait, Stiles doesn’t stay innocent??! I’ve only watched like 3 of those, but he’s so funny!! XD

  5. God I love that word. Rapscallion! I’m going to have to remember to use it sometime soon 😉

    I’m with Chiara – I’ll always fall for a villain. I think it’s because the villains always have more depth to them; more layers in their character. The heroes are usually more two dimensional, because they’re just good people. But the villains, if they grow and change like there, there’s so much more meat to who they are. And I love people (and characters) who have more substance. I like the psychological aspect of it all 😀

  6. Every time I read your post I feel like it’s great revision for me on the SATs haha and I feel so accomplished if I know a word!

    Anyways, you bring up some very interesting points! I can definitely see where you’re coming from. To me, I believe it’s in the balance between good and evil. We are all capable of good and evil, I believe that the villains choose to suppress the good within them to let the evil become who they are. Perhaps with the introduction of the heroine, their presence helps to bring back that good within them. Villains are indeed very complex characters and I think that’s part of the appeal as well because we just can’t pinpoint how they think. Fantastic post Jasmine!

  7. Okay with the quotes, pretty sure it’s
    1. Ignifex
    2. Akiva
    3. Warner
    4. Darkling

    Tbh, I prefer the nice guys over the villains in general, but there are definitely a few exceptions to that rule, two of which are Ignifex and Warner. (I like Akiva as the love interest for Karou, but prefer Ziri overall and don’t ship anyone with Alina. Except maybe Sturmhond lolz.)
    And I totally agree, it all depends on how well the romance is written- if there’s some crappy character development then clearly I’m not going to be particularly receptive to the villain becoming a love interest, but if you can really see the thought process behind the change, then it’s totally acceptable 🙂

  8. *after looking up some words in the dictionary*

    I don’t mind if the heroines fall in love with villains, it all depends on the character development and how the romance is written. Who knows if there’s a golden heart beyond the guy’s arrogant and evil act? I’m incredibly fascinated by the compelling one like The Darkling — he seems to have tons of layers of character. But there are also the kinds of love interests who act like a douchebag just because they have a terrible past — that, I generally dislike -___-

  9. I have NO idea what it is but I am absolutely obsessed with romances that feature the villain. Warner and the Darkling are my book favorites while Rumplestilskin and Hook from Once Upon a Time are my TV favorites 🙂 I think it’s because I love the redemption and underdog storylines. There is, however, a clear line (like Kezia said!) of douche and redeemable bad guys. Great post 🙂

  10. Opposites attract! I was just having a discussion like this at my mom’s group. Apparently it has been said that when a person is younger they are more likely to fall in love with their opposite because you are more adventurous and your opposite stretches you. When you are ‘older’ (I think they said 35 and older) you are more likely to fall in love with someone more similiar in personality to you. I have found this too be true in real life and most of the books I read!!

  11. I kind of like this new trend! It’s better than insta-love, haha. I’ve only recently read two (I think) examples of it recently: the Grisha and Shatter Me trilogies, and I’ve really enjoyed it both times. It’s interesting to watch characters develop and change from seemingly-bad to possibly good. Or to see your ship change from one couple to another as the series goes on. I would hate to see it become super trendy in YA, but I really like what I’ve seen from it so far, and wouldn’t mind reading more books that have this trope in the future.

  12. From the ones you mentioned I’ve only read about Warner, and I have to say that yep, I was okay with that! I mean I love Adam, I really do, but Chapter 62 really changed my whole view on that one… I’m waiting for Ignite Me to come in for me at the library, so I’ll have to see where that whole thing goes before I can finally decide. But in general, I think villains turned love interests can sometimes make for really interesting plot twists, and can take the book in a direction it might not have gone in before. But other times, if the villain remains a villain to everyone but the love interest, I’m so not on board. Thanks for the awesome discussion!

  13. I ADORE Beauty and the Beast :D!! Belle is the one Disney princess I can relate to most. It’s a beautiful story I’ll always cherish and will never forget the lesson it teaches. I also really like the idea of the male protagonist being the antagonist/bad guy at first 🙂

  14. I love these type of characters. Those bad boys who are so rude, arrogant and too gorgeous to the point where you can’t even hate them but have a broken and vulnerable personality inside that they are so desperate to hide.I’ve always been captivated by them.
    Warner and The Darkling are my favourites in that category.

    Mishma @ As the page turns

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