Thank you, Charlotte Brontë! If you hadn't created Mr. Rochester to be not very handsome, but mysterious, with a dissolute past, a strange sense of humor, and a honking big secret (not to mention the consequences of his ultimate trip through the fire), we might not be reading books featuring the modern romance version of the tortured hero. This character may have often suffered physical or emotional abuse, complete with internal or external scarring; he probably seems like an outsider, mysterious and/or dangerous, and still carries some pain within. So, what's the appeal? Next to him, the well-adjusted boy next door seems, well, boring.
I finished Kresley Cole's latest book, Demon from the Dark , last weekend, which includes a very appealing tortured hero. Malkom Slaine endured being sold by his mother, extreme child abuse via vampire, betrayal from his only friend, and being forcibly turned into a vampire-demon hybrid. But, he still holds out hope that something good is finally happening for him. Sweet, for a seven foot tall feral vemon. I accidentally purchased two personal copies of Demon from the Dark, and I'll give a brand spanking new one away to a lucky commenter. Just leave the name of your favorite tortured hero in the comments by September 19th and I'll do a random drawing for the prize. Don't forget to include your email, so I can get the book to you.
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie  by Jennifer Ashley 
Dance with the Devil  by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Lover Awakened  by J.R. Ward 
The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale