Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Things I Love Tuesday: Hot Men of Literature

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:

5. Mr. Rochester, from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke from the 1983 production of "Jane Eyre"

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.

Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska in "Jane Eyre," 2011

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.)

4. Adam Black, The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

Cover art for Karen Marie Moning's "The Immortal Highlander"

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.

3. Roland Michell, from Possession by A.S. Byatt

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.

2. Mr. John Thornton, from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in "North and South," 2004

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.

1. Jamie Fraser, from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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

The Man Card, via The Daily Beard

So ‘fess up, folks:  Which literary characters make your heart beat faster?

 

14 Comments

  1. As a kid, I loved most male characters from the books I read. These days, I’m more selective. I’m still deeply in love with Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” (the old version before he turns white) and with Crowley from Gaiman/Pratchet’s novel “Good Omens”. Also, I fondly remember Jonas from the online-comic Phoenix Requiem. Come to think of it — I haven’t changed all that much from when I was a kid. I still like most…

    • Ooooh, I LOVE Phoenix Requiem! I’ve been meaning to buy a hard copy of it — absolutely gorgeous artwork, and a wonderful storyline. Jonas was a great character, though I was I remember having a bit of a crush on Robyn.

      I’ve been meaning to read “Sandman,” as well as the Gaiman/Pratchet team-up. I’ll have to bump those up on my TBR list.

      Thanks for stopping by, Katharina!

  2. Some good choices here. I love Mr Rochester! And I’m really going to have to read the Outlander series, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

    • You MUST read Outlander. Seriously, it is the most magical and wonderful and adventurous series I’ve ever read. I also cry at least once during every book — I don’t know how Diana Gabaldon does it.

      And Rochester, sigh. That ending of Jane Eyre — “Reader, I married him” — always makes me so choked up.

  3. I haven’t read North and South but I’m right there with you on the mini-series!

    I love Karen Maria Moning 🙂 Have you read the Fever series yet? One word: Barrons!

    Yep, Jamie Fraser is definitely up there on the list. I love how Gabaldon’s series shows the relationship, the ups and downs, and the growth between Jamie and Claire, not just them falling in love.

    Joely Sue Burkhart’s heroes usually fit the heart-racing bill, but Gregar…le yum.

    But my favorite literary hero (anti-hero?) is Erik (Phantom of the Opera). He’s so tragic.

    • I haven’t read the Fever series, but I stumbled onto KMM’s author website last night, and found an extra sex scene she wrote from Barrons’ point of view, and wowwww. I am still fanning myself just thinking about it. Apparently Fever has been optioned for film production, so I will need to read the books before the movies come out.

      You’ve hit on yet another reason why I love the Outlander series. I was a little iffy when DG did the crazy 20 year time lapse, but I definitely had to eat my words. Maturing them has only added to the appeal, because there is so much more depth to their relationship now.

      I haven’t ready anything by Joely Sue Burkhart, but I will add her to the list. And yes — I totally agree about Erik. I always feel so sorry for him. Silly Christine — I would’ve stayed with him.

  4. When I was a young girl reading the Anne of Green Gables books, I had a crush on Gilbert.

    I have to give my adult crushes a little more thought. My current one is a character in my WIP 🙂

    • Ohhh, Gilbert is another favorite of mine. I especially love Jonathan Crombie’s portrayal in the Anne of Green Gables miniseries — something about the way he said “sorry” in that Canadian accent of his always made me giggle, and I thought he was just so cute (still do, as a matter of fact).

      I’m also glad to know that I’m not the only one who has a crush on my WIP characters. I’ve had a thing for Pierce, the poor character that I have dragged around and subjected to various indignities, for about 8 years now. I think I am going to have to publish something with him in it, just to (maybe) get him out of my system. 😀

  5. John Thornton in North and South – hands off he’s mine!!!! I LOVE him. Who else? Lord Damarel in Georgette Heyer’s Venetia: “I love you to the point of madness… But I’m not mad, not yet”. Allegreto in Laura Kinsale’s Shadowheart (I’m in love with all her heroes) – all darkly self sacrificing and tortured. And hot. Derek (despite his name) in Lisa Kleypas’ Dreaming of You and yes, I’d have the blind, bad Mr Rochester too. I’ll also confess to a soft spot for Gambit in the X Men but comics don’t count right? And let’s not forget Sharpe… (might be getting swayed by the TV adaptation here). Too many!!

    • Hahaha, we may have to duel for Thornton. 😉

      My first encounter with Venetia was as an audiobook — narrated, ironically, by Richard Armitage. Actually, the fact that he was narrating it was why I bought it in the first place. I had never heard of Georgette Heyer, but the idea of a Regency romance read by someone with a really hot voice sounded like a good plan, and so I downloaded it for a long drive I was about to make. And wowww… Whenever I read those words from Damarel, “I love you to the point of madness,” I hear them in RA’s low, gravelly, fierce growl, and it makes me squeal.

      I’ll have to pick up Kinsale and Kleypas’s books, so thanks for the recs. And Gambit is TOTALLY awesome, though I will admit to having a huge thing for Wolverine. And Cyclops. I may have to write a post on X-Men sometime soon…

  6. Anxiously awaiting the X-men post now, I’ve got thoughts there. Though I’m totally on board with Atticus Finch as you mentioned in the opening.
    For fictional characters I’ve developed crushes on… That’s going to be pretty much all video-games for me, and maybe one or two paper-&-pencil role-plays–which is the essence of it for me. I’m very much into role-playing, so if my character falls for someone I do too at least while I’m in character. Shana from Legend of Dragoon and a handful of the Legend of Zelda sidecast are among the few that’ve stuck with me after I finished playing.
    For WIP I’ve variously been in love with all of my characters at one point or another, but usually only for so long as such feelings help me write the story.

  7. Oooh, awesome choices!!! I see you’re really fond of the Victorian-type guys – no wonder you’re drawn to Steampunk!

    My fave fictional men… OK, one would be Rhage from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood books. He’s a vampire warrior with a smart mouth (why do I always keep falling for the wise-asses? Prolly coz they make me laugh so hard with their one-liners!!). He’s just so attentive and open and… yeah. *dreamy sigh*

    Another would be the character Simon Stein from In Her Shoes (movie version). The way he starts kissing Rose after reading a passage from one of her romance novels out loud??? OMG!!! (fans self with hand) Also, he’s just such a nice, grown-up, has-his-crap-together kinda guy. Soooooo refreshing.

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