Despite the huge amount of of young adult fiction books we read, all three of us do read across most genres and enjoy adult men, in life and in fiction. This week's topic for Three Heads Are Better Than One (or Two) is our favorite heroes and hunks. There are so many to choose from, but we've each narrowed it down to our favorite two. (Ahem, one or two of us might've cheated a little bit...)
Well, of course the first fictional man that comes to mind for me is Terrible – the “ugly”, violent, and emotionally brave hero of Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts
series. After reading two wonderful interviews this week from Ms. Kane – both here at The Readventurer
and over at Badass Book Reviews
, he is cemented into my heart forever. I love that his feelings for Chess are so visibly strong, but that he has enough self-respect to demand that she treat him fairly. He accepts her, but he also challenges her to be better.
But, since I’ve been going on and on about him for the past few weeks, I thought I’d highlight two of my other favorite adult heroes in this post (see what I did there? I snuck in a third guy! Mwa hahaha).
So, my “first” (shhh) pick of the day will be: Peter Grant from Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant
series (of course it would be named after him – he’s amazing), which begins with Midnight Riot
and continues with Moon Over Soho
and Whispers Under Ground
(releasing May 29th 2012). What’s not to love in a fit young police constable who has a dry/silly sense of humor and uses his burgeoning magic skills to solve crimes? AND is a science nerd? That’s right – one thing that I adore about this series is that Peter uses scientific reasoning to analyze and quantify his own magical abilities, which is pretty unique. He’s also refreshingly young – as his ancient mentor is teaching him Latin and arcane magic, he’s finding ways to introduce technology into the magical world. And of course, he’s susceptible to the wiles of skanky femme fatales (*growls at my competition*) but he also has a very sweet crush on his former partner Leslie (*growls slightly less menacingly at Leslie*). These books make me laugh primarily, but Peter has some depth – as the child of a traditional Sierra Leonean mum and a recovering addict/jazz musician dad, his home life is pretty complicated.
Favorite Quote: ”I’d like to say that I remembered the practice of exchanging hostages from school history classes or from stories of precolonial life in Sierra Leone, but the truth was that it came up while playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was thirteen.”
Rupert Penry Jones as Wentworth
For my second pick, I am going to select a slightly older
gentleman. This guy made his debut in 1818, in the posthumous publication of my favorite novel from the brilliantly clever Jane Austen. Jane Austen gave us some of the greatest fictional super-hunks of all time: Mr. Darcy, John Willoughby, Mr. Knightly…but since I first read this book in college, my heart has belonged to Captain Wentworth. I’m speaking of course, about Persuasion
What I love the most about Captain Wentworth is that he's a mystery for about 95% of the book. In the beginning of Persuasion
, a very young Anne Elliot takes the advice of her snooty relatives and refuses the proposal of Captain Wentworth, who is without fortune. Flash forward to eight years
later and Anne is still unmarried and still living with her obnoxious, frivolous father and older sister. And now Captain Wentworth is back – having made his fortune in the Navy – and seems to be looking for a wife. Anne, who is thoughtful and quiet, suffers as he gives attention to Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove – two young eligible girls in the neighborhood.
Every time I read this book, I feel so much pain and heartbreak on Anne’s behalf. Wentworth is open and friendly with the Musgrove girls, but there’s always that sense that his true feelings
are simmering underneath the surface. He doesn’t give anything away though; he stays hidden almost completely – as Anne goes from frustrated to heartbroken to resigned. And that’s what makes the ending so intense.
When Wentworth finally reveals his true feelings, in one of the greatest love letters of all time and you realize that he must have suffered right along with her for those eight years – it’s powerful. I still get chills when I read the first few lines of his letter:
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant
My favorite male character in a book is Conor Larkin from Trinity
by Leon Uris. He has the unfortunate honor of being part of one of the worst cover regressions in history. Most Irish families in America (or at least Pittsburgh, where I grew up) seem to own a copy of the book from the seventies, when it was first published. It was published as a hardback with a regular-looking cover. I have no problem harassing my friends into reading this version of the book, however, the copies that are most often found in used bookstores are the second two reprint covers. Just shoot me. The first one has a man made of clouds. It is possible,
though still a hard sell,
to ignore him and continue reading. The newest (2006) rerelease has made it impossible for me to get anyone to read this. Now Conor is on the front, looking like some hero from a Wild West novel or a bodice ripper. Whyyyy? All I ever want to do when I look at it is pretend I'm walking into a saloon and then asking the bar patrons, in my horrible imitation of an Irish accent, what time the shootout is.
A Normal Cover.
Trinity is historical fiction and follows two best friends and their families through three generations of Irish turmoil. (I actually know two people who were named for the two friends!) It isn't a happy book--it's just people being beaten down, losing their spirit, retaining their patriotism and the characters are mostly either purely good or totally evil. I think, though, that that is what I loved about Conor Larkin. He's like Mary Poppins--practically perfect in every way. Imagine a ripped farmer. Now imagine that he's well-read, well-spoken, a die-hard patriot, loyal to his friends and family, tough, and romantic. If you like your heroes flawed, he's probably not your man. But if you feel like learning a ton about Irish history and getting lost in 600+ pages of epic drama, then I hope you'll read this and learn why I love Conor Larkin so much. After seeing that the first two reviews on Goodreads are negative, I'll be rereading it this year so I can claim that first review spot and hopefully persuade more people to pick it up. As a bonus, I will get to read about Conor being an amazing specimen of Irish hotness all over again. Caveat: You might need a few tissues at the end of this one.
A recent favorite hero of mine is Hetwith from Taming the Forest King
. Wendy at The Midnight Garden
did a Valentine's themed week and had authors share their favorite romantic scenes from books. Gail Carriger
, author of the Parasol Protectorate
series, named a scene from this book by Claudia Edwards. Edwards packed so much action, romance, and fantasy into what ended up being about 200 pages. Tevra, a fierce military captain, comes to a forest province as viceroy to the King. Her mission is to sort out all the problems in the district. The tension between many of the people and the new military presence is palpable but there is always someone completely supporting Tevra--her second in command, Hetwith. He is unfailingly loyal and it was painful at times seeing Hetwith through Tevra's eyes. Romances where one person only sees the other as their position are often hard to read; the women in love with their brother's best friend, the coworker, the friend from childhood, the subordinate. Taming the Forest King
presents a love triangle that is palatable, which is an absolute rarity. I usually find them repulsive in books. It is humorous to see Hetwith competing against a man who is his complete opposite and to see the two of them, each aware of the other's feelings for Tevra, try to outwit each other for her affection. I read the entire book waiting to get to the sexy scene Carriger referenced as her favorite and it did not let me down. Both Tevra and Hetwith are scarred by battle and by the time they finally get to it, I was about ready to jump into the book and help things along. Plus, I am going to take any chance I might get to potentially wear a chain mail minidress, even if it is an imaginary chance.
I would love to write about positive male role models, real heroes and nice guys in this post, but the reality is, nice guys do not leave lasting impressions on me. (Bad, bad T!) What can I say? In the world of fiction I am drawn to men who are exactly the opposite of what I appreciate in real life. The men I am about to write about are aggressive and violent and head-strong and oh so... memorable.
Barrons Books and Baubles
My first inclination is to write about Mr. Darcy, but as I have already done so just last week
, I am going to move on to the other two list toppers.
The person who hooked me up with this favorite hunky is Kat of Cuddlebuggery
. I will be forever grateful to her for introducing me to Fever
books and Jericho Barrons. Do not get me wrong, I understand perfectly well how problematic Barrons' character is.
Misogyny and violence are not foreign concepts to me. But then, he must be the sexiest man I have ever come across in fiction (forget real life, such men do not exist in reality!) I love how ruthless, unapologetic, charismatic, mysterious, smart and loyal he is. Plus, he owns A BOOK STORE! What can be better than spending the day roaming around Barrons Books and Baubles
, reading rare books by the fire. And then after the closing hours... (I obviously mean flying the Hunters and saving the world from evil fae ;o)Now, to the most important part of this post.
How does Jericho look? Quoting Karen Marie Moning (via Mac' thoughts): He studies me with his predator's gaze, assessing me from head to toe. I studied him back. He didn't just occupy space; he saturated it. The room had been full of books before, now it was full of him. About thirty, six foot two or three, he had dark hair, golden skin, and dark eyes. His features were strong, chiseled. I couldn’t pinpoint his nationality any more than I could his accent; some kind of European crossed with Old World Mediterranean or maybe an ancestor with dark Gypsy blood. He wore an elegant , dark gray Italian suit, a crisp white shirt, and a muted patterned tie. He wasn't handsome. That was too calm a word. He was intensely masculine. He was sexual. He attracted. There was an omnipresent carnality about him, in his dark eyes, in his full mouth, in the way he stood. He was the kind of man I wouldn't flirt with in a million years.Rawr! According to Moning, this translates into this real man.
Well, I disagree and thus will not be sullying this page with his image. This, on the other hand, I am feeling:
Jericho Barrons. Um, I can work with that
The second man I have invested in A LOT of time, statistically and emotionally, over the years is Rhett Butler of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind
I personally have never liked Glark Gable as Rhett, he has funny ears. Oh well...
While I like Rhett for his sly wit, frankness, sex appeal and sharp mind, I would say my strongest affiliation to him is through his pain.
You know how we keep reading stories about bad boys being "reformed" by good women? Well, Gone with the Wind is kind of the opposite of that. What happens when a bad man (even with all his good qualities, it is clear that Rhett is not a gentleman and has his own demons to battle) falls for an equally bad woman? How about, they fight with each other for the upper hand, try to pull one over on each other, try to manipulate one another, mistrust and are blinded by misconceptions.
Reading Gone with the Wind has always been (since I was probably 13) and still is a very emotional experience for me, because witnessing a disintegration of someone's marriage, even of people who are not, strictly speaking, deserving of happiness, is heartbreaking. And Rhett... it pains me just to remember him, this one time a fine, self-assured, proud man, be crashed and ruined by his relationship with Scarlett and his own mistakes.
There is something very tragic, in my eyes, about stories of missed opportunities and lost chances. Chances at love, happiness, fulfilling lives. Gone with the Wind is one of those stories. Even though I realize how controversial in many ways this novel is considered to be these days, it is still one of the most influential books in my life. And, by extension, Rhett is one the most influential fictional characters.
Perhaps we should've named this post "Our Favorite Heroes & Hunks: Part One" because I am certain that the moment we hit 'publish' we'll think of a few more we could've/should've included. Ah well, I suppose it might just be part one of a series. Who are your favorite literary heroes? What criteria do you value most?