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L.J. Smith “Bad Boys"


 
    Okay.  I’ve seen a lot of people comparing the characters in L.J. Smith’s books, specifically the male characters (Gabriel, Damon, Ash, Nick, Julian) and because I feel so connected to these characters, I would like to express why I believe that they AREN’T the same, and why each one is near and dear to my heart.

     First of all, I’ll admit there’s a reason for these comparisons.  These guys all seem to have certain things in common, mainly the bad boy persona.  Each of them seems to appear, at least at first, as tough guys.  They have this in common, and one other thing of course which is that their toughness is usually a mask, a tool used to hide them from hurt.  And yet I cannot see their characters overlapping.  Here I’ll explain why each of them is special and why they appealed to me.  You are, of course, free to disagree.

Nick Armstrong:  The Lone Knight


Let’s start with Nick.  The Secret Circle books were the first books that I read by L.J. so Nick was the first to make it into my heart.  One of the things I’ve learned is that Nick doesn’t seem to be as popular as L.J. Smith’s other male characters.  Why?  Maybe because he never seems as tough as the others.  Nick is a loner and kind of quiet.  He asserts himself when he feels the need to but the rest of the time he more or less leaves people alone.  To compare, he’s actually VERY different in this aspect from the other LJS “bad boys.”  Another thing that separates him is the “ladies man” aspect.  Nick is never shown to us as the kind of guy who’s always chasing girls, unlike Ash and Damon where this aspect of their personality is clear from the start.  Nick also doesn’t act as if he thinks the world revolves around him.  I loved Nick though.  His insecurities are more quickly revealed than any of the others and that endears me to him.  My heart was captured immediately. Nick, in my mind, is the Real LJS knight in shining armor,
always doing the right thing when it needs to be done, from the first time he saves Cassies backpack from the other guys.

Gabriel Wolfe:  The Tortured Soul


Gabriel.  The Dark Visions trilogy was the second one I read by L.J. and Gabriel was just the kind of guy I love reading about.  Gabriel’s got that sort of dry sarcasm and tough demeanor that make you hang on his every word, his every move.  From the minute he tells Kait that “she” can come into his room, you know this guy’s going to be interesting.  Like Nick, Gabriel’s a loner and not a “lady’s man.”  On the other hand, while Nick seemed a natural loner, you get the immediate feeling that Gabriel didn’t get a choice in the matter.  Gabriel is so outwardly insulting that it’s clear he’s hiding something, in this case a painful past.  Gabriel does NOT come off as honorable at all.  In fact, he does all that he can so that he won’t be seen as a good guy.  Unfortunately for this attitude, he ends up in a couple situations where, during the spur of the moment, some inner decentness manages to wiggle its way out (like when he saves Kaitlin from being attacked behind the institute.)  Gabriel is the guy you want to help. 
You wish you could just tell him that everything’s all right and that he can open up, that it’s all right to be vulnerable.  Luckily, because I couldn’t jump into the book and do it myself, Kait was nice enough to do this for me.  Gabriel, the original tortured soul.

Damon Salvatore:  The Competitor


Damon.  Damon is a definite ladies man.  He’s gorgeous, mysterious, always has something intriguing to say, can recite poetry, and is Italian to top it all off.  Once you are introduced to Damon you’ll never be the same again.  Damon is overconfident and competitive.  In my mind VD wasn’t so much a story of romance as of sibling rivalry.  Damon has to have whatever Stefan has.  While he may be interested in Elena, my feeling is the initial interest had more to do with Stefan’s interest in her than in Elena herself.  Damon just has to feel as if he’s on top of everything. 
No matter what the game is, Damon has to be a winner.  He also glories in attention and in the mysterious persona of himself that he’s managed to create.  So much about Damon isn’t explained that it’s difficult to say a lot about him.  Let me say this though:  No matter what game we’re playing, if it’s important I want Damon on my side.  He plays to win.

Ash Redfern:  The Teenager with Fangs

Ash, like Damon, appears to us as overconfident and full of himself.  He loves to be in the spotlight.  He likes to appear as dangerous and though I’m sure he’s acted on it in the past (like with Poppy in Secret Vampire) he’s not inherently evil. Ash is basically your average teenage boy but with fangs and more power.  He struts his stuff and shows off.  He can’t stand to show insecurities.  And he whines if he doesn’t get his way, maybe not out loud but I get the feeling that after they put him in his place in Secret Vampire that he went off and sulked somewhere.  When he meets Mary-Lynette in Daughters of Darkness, he’s meeting the one person who’s not afraid to put him in his place, to tell him when he’s being a jerk.  At first, like any guy, his pride is hurt.  He realizes though that sometimes it’s all right to be insecure.  In my mind, it wasn’t a huge change for him in Daughters of Darkness.  He’s always wanted to please people.  The people he’d been trying to please just happened to like the dangerous persona.  When he falls in love with Mary-Lynnette, her opinion becomes more important than those people and he begins the process of working to please her, and I believe at the same time being truer to himself. 
There’s nothing all that mysterious about Ash.  He’s the regular guy learning what it means to grow up.


Julian:  The Spoiled, Pampered Prince


Julian hardly needs an explanation here since his character is so well explained in The Forbidden Game trilogy, but I didn’t want to exclude him so here goes.  Julian lives in the shadow world where he can manipulate things, basically having whatever it is that he wants.  He’s intrigued by Jenny and I believe in the end truly in love with her.  He doesn’t know how to deal with situations like this though.  Julian is used to getting his way.  Jenny’s love might very well be the one thing in his life that he couldn’t have simply because he wanted it.  Julian’s also not been taught better.  In his world what he’s doing to Jenny and her friends is perfectly normal.  He hasn’t been taught to see it as wrong.  He’s sheltered and spoiled and seems to be the most childlike of the guys I’ve talked about here.  While the other guys had some understanding of reality,
Julian literally lives in his own world.  He’s not trying to be tough like the others.  He just doesn’t know any other way.


     Well, now you have my amateur psychological analysis of each of the L.J. Smith “bad boys”  All of which I wish I could just grab up off the page, or jump into the book with them, to praise, help, or straighten out as needed.  Nick, Gabriel, Damon, Ash, and Julian.  What would I do without them?
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