Jackson Reynard: An Anti-Hero?

“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich, Testimony

Warning: Spoilers below if you haven’t read Love Left Behind.

It’s been fascinating to see all the different responses to Jackson Reynard. They run the spectrum – from swoonworthy to certifiable, and it made me want to do a little character study on him. Everyone comes to the table with their own experiences, beliefs and background that color their view of a character, and this is how I see Jackson with my filters.

Jackson in the first part of the book is pretty much a woman’s ideal. I mean, who doesn’t want a hot, sexy guy to have eyes for you, and you only? Jackson’s led a pretty normal life up to this point – he comes from a loving family, he’s dated and had a few relationships (although nothing too serious), and has a good group of friends (well, with one notable exception, if you know what I mean!). He has a healthy sense of self and will undoubtedly be a good boyfriend/husband/mate for the right woman. So when the right woman comes along, i.e. Emma, he dives right in with no inhibitions. Jackson isn’t afraid to admit what he wants because he doesn’t know how to function any other way. When he’s in, he’s in all the way.

Now, this is where things get a little screwy! Jackson five years later is the Jackson of the past, but with a layer of anger, bitterness and betrayal that he’s never been able to swallow. Just as fiercely as he loves, he feels pain and anger. His motivation is no longer building a life with the person he loves; it’s trying to forget the person who betrayed him, knowing all the while that for him, that may be next to impossible.

Jackson has always been assertive, but now that assertiveness has been paired with pain, which morphs into something much more troubling. Jackson feels he’s been robbed of the life he was supposed to have and doesn’t know how to let go of the “what could have beens” and the “if onlys.” He can’t get past losing Emma, so he copes in the only way he knows how to allow him to continue his superficial life; he recreates a world where he can pretend that all hope isn’t lost. That he’s just holding her place for her; that Emma will return to him someday and they can continue their life together. His apartment represents the life he was supposed to have, the life he’s enraged to have lost.

But he’s not thinking of trying to win back Emma and start anew at this point. He’s holding on to what they used to be together because he can’t think in terms of the future. He believes that any real future doesn’t include Emma. I mean, if he really wanted to win her back, he could look her up and rip her away from Sean (since he believes they’re together). But he thinks that’s impossible, so he creates a fictional world where the impossible can still happen. But there’s always a seed of hope inside Jackson, that maybe the impossible doesn’t have to mean never.

So when Jackson finally meets up with Emma again, he can’t keep away from her even though he’s pissed. Not only is he angry about her betrayal, but he’s angry because the present day Emma makes him face the fact that the Emma of the past isn’t going to magically appear and love him again. Rationally, he knows that was never going to happen, but in his desolation the only thing he can hold onto is an irrational belief that makes it a little easier to breathe. He acts out in ways with Emma that are at times inexcusable and would make most people run for the hills. Except for Emma, because she’s been struggling as well, and to her the inexcusable is forgivable because she believes that Jackson is worth saving.

Last Thoughts:
If you got to this point, thanks for wading through my long-winded ramblings! Everyone has their own opinion of Jackson, and personally I love him (I would hope so since he was my creation!). Would I want Jackson Reynard barging through my door in real life? Probably not. At least not without some therapy! (Plus I think my husband might have something to say on the matter). But a fictional Jackson Reynard is right up my alley: devoted, possessive, hot and a little unhinged when it comes to the person he loves. I think the best thing about Jackson is he does everything fiercely. He loves fiercely, he feels pain fiercely, he fights fiercely, and he embraces redemption fiercely.

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69 Responses to Jackson Reynard: An Anti-Hero?

  1. ellie says:

    Do you have a photo of what you envision him looking like?

    • SHKolee says:

      Maybe David Gandy? He’s a British model whose photo I came across the other day, and boy is he hot.

      This could be Jackson for the first half of the book (he looks so nice and happy!):

      And then Jackson for the second half of the book (intense much?):

  2. Mara says:

    Where did Emma decide that she wanted them to move to? Will there be a second book?

    • SHKolee says:

      I didn’t want to explicitly say either way, because I wanted to convey the message that it didn’t matter what she chose – all that mattered was that they were together. So far there are no plans for a second book, although it’s not totally out of the question.

      • Rhonda B. says:

        Oh!!! Please, please, please do a second book!!! Emma and Jackson are perfect!

      • thuckabee says:

        I just finished the book today… There has to be a second book… Please :-) … What about Jackson and Emma’s wedding… Kids?? This book really moved me.. and actually left me in tears…. The love that those two have for each other is amazing… my heart broke for Sean… But was glad to see that he and Trisha ended up together.

        • SHKolee says:

          I’m so happy to hear that you connected with the characters! Is it evil that I love hearing that readers cried or got choked up while reading the book? ;) Thanks so much for reading! I promise I’m taking everyone’s request for a sequel into consideration!

  3. Patricia says:

    As much as I want more of Jackson and Emma, I think it’s nice to leave the book the way it had ended, with them happy together. I think it’s clear that their relationship is strong, indestructible and full of passion but an account solely on their amazing sex or Jackson’s infatuation with Emma can’t honestly make for the most or best follow up to the first. On the other hand, if the sequel isn’t an account of how happy and in love they are, and something or someone would be the cause of their demise, it would just be as difficult to believe considering all that Jackson and Emma have already been through.

  4. Jamie says:

    I really enjoyed this book. I couldn’t get enough of it. I can only hope that a second book will come into the future. The first book ended nicely but I think Jackson and Emma have more to tell!

    • SHKolee says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Jamie! A second book isn’t totally out of the question. I’ll post an update once I know more. Thanks for reading!

  5. Jcosta1968@comcast.net says:

    Just read your book! Loved it….I laughed…I cried a lot! Not many books give me a lot of emotion but this one did…thank you! I cannot lie when I say I want more of Emma and Jackson. Please tell me there is a book2?

    • SHKolee says:

      I love hearing when readers really connected with the book on an emotional level! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. There aren’t immediate plans for a second book, although it’s a consideration in the future. Thanks for reading!

  6. Nancy says:

    OH PLEASE have a second book!! I read Love Left Behind in a day and LOVED it!!! I feel there is so much more to their story! :) Great book!!!

  7. Ana. says:

    Just finished reading Love Left Behind today. I felt so empty after finishing it because I felt so close to the characters. Sort of like I knew them in real life. Emma is simply an angel and she didn’t anger me once. (A lot of the female protagonists tend to do so,) Jackson was also a dream. His anger issues and possessiveness did admittedly, make me question his sanity, but it was all for the better, yes? Would definitely recommend this book to someone looking for an intense read with your average sweet and lovable moments. I admit I am a bit too young to be indulging myself in erotic romances, but it’s nice to break the rules; especially when you come across jewels such as this.

  8. Stacey says:

    Loved it, was very sad for the book to end!! This would be a great movie I agree

  9. Jamie says:

    I finished reading this book overnight (did I mention that I have an 11-month old who likes to wake up in the crack of dawn? Lol)! I loved it!! I enjoyed reading Jackson’s transition from pre-breakup to post-breakup. I love how possessive he is :) Please, please write, if not a second book, another book around the same genre! I promise I will read it ;)

    • SHKolee says:

      Wow, now that’s dedication! I’m so happy you enjoyed the book! Thanks so much for your kind words! I’m in the midst of writing another adult contemporary romance, so I’m definitely going to keep a hand in that genre. Thanks again! I hope you’re able to get some sleep! Congrats on the baby! :)

    • Crystal says:

      Oh I did the same thing and my 18 month old is such an early bird too:) just couldn’t put it down I loved it!! Would love a second book, can’t get enough of them. A movie would be amazing too!! You did a wonderful job!

  10. Ashli says:

    I must say that not only did I love the story you told and how you developed it, but I also loved the length of it! I’m not a big fan of short stories; I read too fast and left wanting more, but your story left me filling full, even though I did read it just under 6 hours. Instead of writing a continuing story of the first it would be great if you rewrote the story in Jackson’s point of view, to see firsthand the transition that he goes through just like we did with Emma. I think how you ended the book was perfect and personally a second not necessary, even though I defiantly would read it! My only question is do you think it will ever be available by print or only for readers, i.e. nook, iBook? Again thank you for a wonderful book it was a joy to read!

    • SHKolee says:

      Wow, you’re a fast reader! And I’m the same way about books – I love being engrossed In a long book and getting lost in it. Great idea on Jackson’s perspective. Currently there are no plans for a paperbook but I’ll post an update if this changes. Thanks so much for reading and your kind words!

  11. melanie says:

    I loved this book as well. I didnt want to see the book end but glad it ended like it did. I agree with a previous post about Emma for once her character wasnt annoying,she stood up for herself but didnt deny herself.I would like to hear this from Jackson’s perspective as well.He’s so emotional.Definately would be a great movie!! Please write more books just like this.

  12. Donna says:

    Amazing love story. Please do a second book.. and a third!!!

    • SHKolee says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, Donna! I’m definitely giving some thought to writing either a sequel or continuing a peripheral character’s story with a glimpse of Jackson and Emma’s life, but I probably won’t make that decision for a few months because I’m in the midst of a couple of other projects. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm!

  13. Tamsin_Maree says:

    I’ve gotten so hooked on this book, but can only read a few chapters online and since I live in Australia, the novel isn’t even out in bookshops! :(
    Is there anyway to read it on your webasite maybe?
    I’ve gotta know what happens!!! :D

    • SHKolee says:

      Hi Tamsin,
      Unfortunately Love Left Behind is not currently available as a paperback, and can only be purchased through Amazon in Australia. If you have a smartphone, you can download the Kindle app for free and then download the book. Sorry!

  14. Andrea Sheets says:

    Couldn’t put the book down. Loved Jackson and Emma!! Second book on Mia and Nathan with a little Jackson and Emma sprinkled in would be nice. Either way love makes us crazy….a reat life Jackson would be heaven….what girl wouldn’t want someone that beautiful and crazy in love with them?

  15. Tonya Jones says:

    I loved the book…I really hope for a second book. I have passed the title on to several of my co workers. They will downloading from Kindle as well. Thanks for the awesome book.

  16. Andrea Sheets says:

    Loved Jackson so much…think I will be reading it again!!

  17. Donna Ruocco says:

    Just finished Love Left Behind….WOW it was an AMAZEBALLS read..LOVED IT!! I too would love a second book with Jackson and Emma or maybe a book about Sean as I was so interested in that character too! Thank you so much for a great book xx

  18. Elaine says:

    So I just finished reading about Jackson and Emma. And OMG am I just in a state of pure bliss! This book has made my weekend. I loved every bit of their story. But if I ever see Claire, she better watch out. Lol. Seriously, I felt their pain and their joy so deeply. It’s really good to read a book and feel so connected. Thanks for an amazing journey. You’ve just earned yourself a new FAN Missy ;-)

    • SHKolee says:

      I’m so happy to hear that, Elaine! I love hearing that you connected with the characters, even if it’s wanting to smack Claire around. ;) Thanks so much for reading and your kind words!

  19. Kolsie says:

    I loved the book and couldn’t put it down! I wanted to chuck it across the room bc I knew the second that Claire went to take a nap that she was messing with her work and they didn’t put it together!!!! It kept me on the edge of my seat! Would love to read it from Jackson’s mind!!!!!! Thank you!!!

    • SHKolee says:

      I know, right? Claire…that biatch. ;) I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! And Jackson…I think the inside of his mind might frighten some readers. :P Thanks for your kind words!

  20. Deanna says:

    I loved your book!!! I loved that is was a long story and that I was able to get so involved with the characters. I loved your ending because you know that no matter what, they will always be together!!!! No need for a second book but would read one if available. I loved your style of writing and would love another love story. I am not into paranormal or vampires or any of theses types. I love contemporary stories and yours was one of the best that I have read recently!!!!! Congrats on all your sucess and to much more in the future!!!!

    • SHKolee says:

      I’m so happy that you enjoyed the book, Deanna! I love hearing that you got involved with the characters. I’m currently working on another contemporary romance and anticipate releasing it in early January 2013. Thanks so much for your kind words!

  21. SHKolee says:

    Talisa – Thanks so much! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the book!

  22. Terra says:

    I started this book yesterday and I have 4 kids.. 14, 13, 11, and 10. I became so engrossed in this story. My chest literally ached at parts. I finished this afternoon after I got nothing done around the house today. I’m still sitting here even after it ended, I’m with Jackson and the sadness of the time that was taken from them! It hurts so much that they lost all of that time feeling hurt and betrayed. That what they had wasn’t real. I get so fixated on these characters that I laugh at myself. It will take me a few days to get over it and move on to another read that will take my mind off of Jackson and Emma but it was good!!! Really Really good! I will check out your other books for sure! And YES! I’d slurp Jackson right up! LOVE that he’s fierce in everything he does! I knew Claire had sabotaged her work and I KNEW she was lying but even knowing that my chest was constricted the entire time!

  23. SHKolee says:

    Terra – I love that you felt so affected by the book! I went through the same emotions, even though I was the one writing it! I went through separation anxiety from the characters after I was done writing. Thanks so much for reading and your kind words!

  24. Winnie says:

    You my dear, are amazing! I looove Emma and Jackson’s story. You made it so that I was sooooo connected with the main characters. The way you told it, justified every thought and actions of the characters. To be in love and throwing cautions to the wind. It was so deep! The best part? I really didn’t know if they we’re going to get a happy ever after at the end. Especially since the mention of the movie “the way we were” was mentioned a few times. I thought that was giving us a foreshadowing to the ending. Well done!

    I miss them already!

  25. SHKolee says:

    Thanks so much, Winnie! I’m so happy you enjoyed the book and were really able to connect with the characters! I love hearing that you were able to get inside their heads and really understand what they were feeling!

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