For this week’s Things I Love Tuesday, I turn my attention to the hotties of the literary world. You see, this is another vice of mine: falling in love with fictional characters. Over the years, I’ve fallen for countless characters, like Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Laurie from Little Women, all of Georgette Heyer’s heroes, Austen’s men… the list goes on and on. However, these lucky guys are the top five who managed to make the cut:
In Mills and Boon’s recent survey of the 100 most romantic heroes of all time, Edward Fairfax Rochester topped the list. I must admit, I also love him with a passion. There’s something about a mercurial, sardonic, arrogant guy that never fails to make my pulse beat a bit faster, especially when his vulnerabilities are exposed.
Rochester, however, is a man plagued by demons, many of his own creation. He’s self-destructive, he can be a bit cruel, and while I always feel sorry for all the hardships he endured, I can’t excuse a man who resorts to locking his wife in the attic, regardless of how psychotic she may have been. If it wasn’t for this character flaw, he would rank higher on my list.
However, I will grant him many brownie points for the transformation that he undergoes by the end of the novel. He is humbled in body, soul, and mind, and becomes the sort of man who is deserving of someone as strong and staunch in her convictions as Jane. (I am always so impressed that Jane had the mental and moral fortitude to withstand all of Rochester’s advances, despite how much she loved him, but that is a topic for a future post.)
No list of literary hotties would be complete without an appearance by a Scottish highlander, and my list has two. The first, Adam Black, isn’t a highlander, per se. Rather, he’s one of the immortal Fae who has the misfortune to anger the queen of the Seelie Court. As punishment, he is stripped of his otherworldly powers, sent to the mortal world, and rendered invisible. However, he meets a young lawyer, Gabrielle O’Callaghan, who was born with the gift to see his kind. Together, they work to stop a plot that threatens both Fae and humankind.
Adam Black is the ultimate bad boy: he broods, he smolders, he oozes sensuality. He sports black leather pants like a rock star, is uber-muscled and chiseled, and yet harbors a heart of gold (and feelings!) beneath all of his male bravado.
Finally, I feel that I have a duty to inform you all that Adam Black has his own official twitter account. My mind, it is boggled.
A.S. Byatt’s Possession is quite possibly my favorite book ever (and this is saying quite a lot). One of these days I’ll get around to writing a full-scale gushing review of the book, but for the moment I’ll focus on the novel’s protagonist, Roland Michell.
Unlike the travesty of a film adaptation that came out a few years ago, where Roland was played by the blond, studly Aaron Eckhart, the original character is a far cry from “hottie” material. Byatt describes him as “a small man, with very soft, startling black hair and small regular features. Val called him Mole, which he disliked. He had never told her so.”
Roland isn’t ambitious. He’s a starving academic, living off of a low-paying post-doctoral research position. He does his work well, but he’s the sort of man who fades into the background and, as a result, is looked over. Despite this, he doesn’t harbor any sort of jealousy or spite for his more successful colleagues (well, not too much, at any rate). Roland is a genuinely good and sweet man, one who is driven by his pursuit of knowledge, who veers towards obsession when it comes to the object of his research, the fictional Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash. It’s this dedication to his work that launches him into an adventure that changes the course of his career and his life.
Okay, so I can’t talk about Thornton without first admitting my absolute obsession with the 2004 BBC-produced miniseries, North and South. I watched it on my advisor’s recommendation last November, and fell so hard for the entire production that I watched it every day for roughly 2 months.
I read the book after seeing the miniseries, and it was a wonderful experience, noting what had been tweaked and left out of the film, and realizing how well the production team managed to translate imagery from the book into the film. In both versions, however, Mr. Thornton, the arrogant cotton mill owner, is sublime. He clashes with main character Margaret Hale in a Pride and Prejudice-esque storyline, though one that is considerably more weighty, as it is ultimately a clash over ideology and social justice.
Thornton is cut from the same cloth as Rochester and Mr. Darcy, and yet somehow he strikes me as a bit different from the two. It is perhaps the style of Gaskell’s work; she writes from both Margaret Hale and Thornton’s perspectives, allowing us to see the inner workings of his mind.
We are privy to his internal struggles against his passion for Margaret, and how he continues to love her, even after she spurns his proposal. We’re given a glimpse into his psyche, and we learn about his feelings of inadequacy, his belief that he’s too rough, coarse, and unrefined, too far out of Margaret’s league. Such a view makes Thornton a much more sympathetic character.
I… I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I discovered Outlander last summer, entirely by accident. I was browsing the shelves at my local Books, Inc., looking for a good book to pass the time. Outlander was displayed on the “staff picks” shelf, along with a note that it involved (1) Scotland, (2) highlanders, and (3) time-travel. It was also very thick, and I have a weakness for thick books. I bought it. I read it in 2 days, raced back to the bookstore, and bought the 2nd book. And then the 3rd. And then the 4th. Suffice it to say, I am hooked on the world of Outlander.
There are many reasons why this series is amazing, including Gabaldon’s wonderful prose and her kick-ass protagonist, Claire Randall Fraser. However, I can’t say enough about Jamie Fraser, the man that Claire meets and falls in love with when she falls 200 years back in time to the 18th century. When the novel begins, Jamie is the son of a Scottish laird and fugitive who is on the run from British soldiers. His marriage to Claire begins as one of convenience, a way to keep her safe from the soldiers who suspect her of being a potential spy. However, during their adventures and many brushes with death, imprisonment, and various forms of violence, Jamie and Claire fall in love with each other. “Blood of my blood, and bone of my bone,” they declare to one another in their marriage vows, and Jamie never fails to keep up his end of the bargain.
Like any well-balanced character, he’s not without his flaws. Jamie is stubborn, has a pretty fierce temper, not to mention the tendency to go rushing headlong into danger with little thought of his own mortality. Still, I could gush about him forever: his sense of honor, his ability to carry out his duties and responsibilities, even when he’s terrified, his all-abiding love for his family. He also fulfills almost every requirement on the “Man Card,” which is a huge plus. :p
So ‘fess up, folks: Which literary characters make your heart beat faster?