A warm welcome to author Liv Olteano joining us today here at Love Bytes
Welcome Liv 🙂
Is the villain a good gal in disguise?
by Liv Olteano
Now that A King and a Pawn is out, and with it the Leader Murders series reached its conclusion, I feel we can talk about a character that plenty of readers felt sympathy (end empathy) for: Amanda Weiss, a villain in the series. I’m not calling her THE villain because she’s not alone in that corner, hehe. Is she an actual villain at all?
Since I tend to love villains in stories, when I wrote about Amanda I couldn’t help but show that love via making her somewhat easier to understand and feel for. Presenting her motivation in A Tooth for a Fang, and then reinforcing it in A Counselor among Wolves, I did my best to make readers see where she was coming from – even if her actions are never condoned. Is she, in fact, a sort of good gal in disguise? Because due to her actions, the issue of rights in the community led by the Council is not only discussed, but steps are taken to address and try to resolve it. So we could say that Amanda’s plots and schemes actually lead to positive change, though at the expense of her victims, and those of her allies as well.
In A King and a Pawn, I tried to nuance some of her motivations, while presenting a view on her from someone close to her ex-mate Herman Weiss. Weiss himself only sees in her betrayal and ruthlessness. Bert Cooper, main character of A King and a Pawn and Weiss’s beta, wouldn’t see Amanda as anything other than a traitorous psycho and deals with her accordingly – especially since Amanda made Bert’s sister betray her brother and the pack in favor of her. While facts aren’t uncovered, it’s hinted that Amanda and Bert’s sister had a thing for each other – they might have been deeply in love, in fact, and unable to ever be together due to Weiss’s refusal to end his mating with Amanda.
As members of a community that didn’t see the imbalance of power between leaders and non-leaders in couples as an issue, extreme actions resulting from or influenced by precisely that imbalance seem rather unjustified and insane. Yet at the same time, Rick Barton, main character of A Tooth for a Fang, feels a lot of sympathy for Amanda and resents Weiss for his behavior toward her – because to Rick, someone who starts out as human being then joins this paranormal community, equal rights (in our case, between leaders and non-leaders) equal must-have signs of a rational and civilized community. The lack of them brings out the worst on all sides, nuanced or extreme. One might wonder in fact if Amanda is a villain at all, considering her circumstances? Isn’t she more of a victim who loses her patience and decides to take matters into her own hands when no other course of action is available to her?
In A King and a Pawn, I also wanted to explore how other interested parties – the fey – take advantage of Amanda and her followers, ending up in stealing the show and using the opportunity to their own gain and to the detriment of Amanda in particular.
In the end, the conspirators are caught, the (semi)good guys win the day, and things are changed for the better. (Also, for those of you who love Naty Stein, her merits are recognized in a way I hope you’ll appreciate :D)
Amanda is the tornado of change when the breeze of change is stubbornly rejected. I was tempted, sorely tempted, to leave her at large; just like punishing an actual tornado is impossible, and all we can do is deal with what it leaves behind.
When it’s all said and done, do you think Amanda is THE/a villain? What sort of ending do you wish her story would have?
A King and a Pawn (Leader Murders #3)
by Liv Olteano
MxM Adult Paranormal Mystery/Suspense Romance
234 pages; app. 82k words
Cover by AngstyG
Pub date: June 17 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….
When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.
Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.
He walked toward me slowly, his hands still at his back. For a moment I contemplated stepping out of his way, though I could see no outward sign of aggression or violence in his demeanor. But I was a beta in my pack, even if it was the beta of a ballsy alpha like Weiss. My natural instinct was to bow to someone’s intense vibe of authority. And without a doubt right now Will exuded shitloads of those vibes. My heart was pounding in earnest, the plug inside my ass making me tingly all over and lusty.
“Say you needed a friend at Court,” he whispered when he was but a breath away from me. “Say you needed one desperately. What would you be willing to do to gain such a friend?”
I swallowed hard. “Depends.”
“Loads of things. How much I liked that person, how badly I needed their friendship, to what end.”
He chuckled. “I like your thinking, Bert. I find I like you, all in all. And you know what?”
He leaned in even closer, rubbing his lips against the shell of my ear. “I think you like me too. Do you?”
I nodded because I couldn’t help myself. And I was hard at this point, so there was no use in denying it.
“Good. I’m glad to hear that,” he said, stepping away. His hands had never left the small of his back. “Now a lot depends upon what’s written in that file. And upon my direct testimony. Should the file say there are traces of the drugs from last night in your blood, it would prove you’d been a victim of the attempt just like everyone else. My testimony would show just to what degree you were affected.”
“And why would that be relevant?”
“Events took place last night. Unfortunate events. Decidedly unfortunate.”
“You mean aside from the guests being drugged?”
He nodded. “Let’s say your life hung in the balance. And let’s assume how much of a friend I decide to be to you could either make or break your case.”
A cold chill went down my spine. “What the fuck are you saying?”
He smiled. “I think you know. Don’t you, Bert?”
“No, I fucking don’t!” I shouted and just made a go at him.
I’m not sure what I was thinking. I don’t think I was thinking. Rage just exploded inside me and then outward, controlling my body. I wanted to slap that smug look off his face. I wanted to mess up his hair, at least; I was almost convinced it would annoy him more than a slap to the face.
But I didn’t. He easily spun me around and planted me face-first against a wall, my arm twisted to keep me in place. I growled, the loud sound booming against the walls of his office.
“Yes,” he said directly against my ear. “This is the temper I expected of you. This is the intensity you were supposed to display. Yet I can’t read it in your emotional grid. So tell me, growling beauty, what is it that’s messing with my reading?”
I kept growling for a moment so I wouldn’t seem shocked silent by the question. I’d screwed up in two fucking days. In two fucking days I’d given away the fact I had some sort of antireading thing going on, which would mean I had something to hide. And this was most definitely not the right time to be discovered as a liar.
“What’s going on? What do you want?” I asked, trying to tone down the rising panic.
“I’m sad to say the Fey King is dead. He was assassinated sometime between last night and the early hours of this morning. Until matters are cleared up, everyone with opportunity is a suspect. Newcomers, and outsiders to boot, are at the top of everyone’s list, as you might imagine.”
The blood froze in my veins. “You’re shitting me. The King is dead?”
“Very much so.”
“Maybe it was natural causes,” I said halfheartedly.
“It wasn’t. Are you calm enough to discuss this like adults now?”
I nodded and he let go of me, stepping back. He walked over to the edge of his desk and perched on it.
“You’re telling me I’m a suspect in the Fey King’s assassination?” I asked in a faint voice.
“Exactly. So as I was saying earlier, you do need a friend right now. You need me as your friend. What are you willing to do in order to get that?”
My stomach tightened painfully. “What would you have in mind?”
Voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional. Lover of diversity and quirky character, spamificating the world.
Be afraid, be very afraid. 😀
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