12 August 2011

The character crush...

I first began reading romance novels when I was about twelve/thirteen years old. I'd wander over to a little drugstore near our home and plunk down my month's allowance for every Harlequin Presents novel they had in stock. Ah, the thrill of those crisp, white covers still brings back a fluttery feeling. :)

Those were the days when falling in love seemed simple enough. A little attraction... a little conflict... always a big misunderstanding... followed by declarations of undying love. Believable? Um, probably not. But I devoured the stories as if they were true-to-life guide books to adulthood.

Recently, one of those stories -- a particular favorite of mine -- came to mind, along with the strong desire to read it again. Problem is it's been out of print for quite a while and my dog-eared copy had long ago disappeared on some cleaning spree or other.

Thank heaven's for the Internet and used book sellers everywhere. ;)

It wasn't the story itself, so much, but the characters that captured my imagination. Some heroes have the ability to stay with you over time, imprinted on your heart/mind like an old friend. I still think of Mr. Rochester... Mr. Darcy... Dr. Neil MacNeill (in the book, Christy)... among others. All of them strong, yet vulnerable, men who captured my heart.

Yes, I have periodically developed full-blown character crushes on very Alpha-type men. The kind I would likely smack or run from if I met any of them in real life... Okay, maybe not Mr. Darcy. ;) Books feel ever so much safer, after all. ;)

So, why do some fictional characters appeal to us despite their obvious flaws? Why can we accept actions -- particularly in a hero -- that would disgust us in reality? Yes, it's all subjective and have a lot to do with our own experiences in life, but in this case, I think it mostly has to do with that part of me which thrills at the 'bad boy' personality. At least, as he's portrayed in fiction. Like I said, in life, it probably wouldn't stay so appealing.

Really, how sexy is it when a woman can bring a tough guy like that to his knees?

Today, I do groan inwardly at the 'punishing kisses' of old Presents novels. My first instinct would be to firmly plant a knee to the man's groin. An action I do believe any of my heroines would mimic. So much for romance after that. And yet...

Yes, I've had a bit of a nostalgia trip this week as I skimmed through my 'new' book. I know the story well, so I don't have to read it from cover to cover to fresh my memory on the rather simplistic plot. While I did cringe at the bruising first kisses, I did wind up sighing with pleasure at the end. Yes, it's a guilty pleasure. So sue me.

However, I still wish we could 'see' the story through the hero's eyes as well as the heroines'. I wish I could have really seen him fall in love -- in his own mind -- instead of trying to interpret his feelings from the naive heroine's point of view. That would probably have sent my teen crush into overdrive.

Do you have any crushes you consider a guilty pleasure? A character you hate to love?

~~Meg Allison
Indulge your senses...

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