Anyone who hangs around me for any length of time - online or in "real" life - learns pretty quickly that I'm an avid collector of book boyfriends. My husband has resigned himself to this collection, goodnaturedly tolerating my swoons over fictitious heroes and pretending not to notice that most of them are based on Henry Cavill or Chris Hemsworth.
(Now, before anyone starts clutching their pearls... He's not threatened because he knows I know they're fictional. After all, my husband is my very own Mr. Knightley and that's the best kind of hero anyway.)
Since I first met Prince Charming on the pages of Cinderella (a book I had memorized before I could technically read), I have been adding to my book boyfriend collection. And while Prince Charming joins Frank Hardy, Gilbert Blythe and Thane Andrews (Roses for Mama by Janette Oke) in my book boyfriends hall of fame (another way to say 'book boyfriends I've loved since middle school"), more recently I have amassed quite a swoonilicous collection of new book boyfriends. And don't tell Charming, Frank, Gilbert and Thane, but this new crop is even more swoonilicious!
Of my reads from the past three years or so, there are five heroes that I have quite a crush on. See, I fall in love with book boyfriends while I'm reading their particular story but more often than not when I move on to a new book, I move on to a new book boyfriend as well. (It's not cheating if they're fictional! The internet says so!) However, these five guys made such an impression on me that a) I can't quit talking about them and b) I put them on a shirt.
In case you haven't met them yet, let me introduce you! Meet James MacDonald (aka #myJames) from Carla Laureano's Five Days in Skye, Ty Porter from Becky Wade's Meant to be Mine, Charlie Lionheart from Joanne Bischof's The Lady and the Lionheart, Vance Everstone from Dawn Crandall's The Cautious Maiden, and Wes Harrison from Pepper Basham's Just the Way You Are. Ironically enough, three of these swoonlicious fellas look like Henry Cavill. For those of you taking notes, that's not a MUST but it certainly helps ;)
Since I debuted my book boyfriends shirt, I've been asked this question more times than I can count:
How do my heroes get on your shirt???
Now, aside from the potential awkwardness beget (begotten?) from a question such as this one, I have been mulling over a list of characteristics that make these five book boyfriends (and your future heroes) shirt-worthy.
- Falling in love hits HIM in all the feels. Obviously, it needs to hit me in the feels too (I still have not recovered from Vance's redemption or Charlie's sacrifice) but when it makes the hero's voice go husky, his throat tight, his control fray... these things are sure to have me swooning right off my fainting couch (also known as my trusty recliner). For example, watching tough, cocky, bullrider Ty Porter or smoldering, flirty James MacDonald fall hard in love is truly a swoonilicious pleasure.
- He's not afraid to share those feels, when appropriate. I'm all for macho heroes but there's something particularly yummy about a guy who isn't afraid to tell a girl how he feels. To tell her he's scared, too. To tell her that he's trying to rein in his desires because he respects her, but also to tell her that he has those intense desires to rein in. To let his voice get all raspy and his jaw tight. I'm all a'swoon just thinking about it! (But please, for the love of all things swoony, don't make him smarmy!! If a guy's every thought is some sort of innuendo, nope. He can express desire but right on its heels must be respect. Vance Everstone & Wes Harrison are great examples of this desire/respect balance.)
- He is a man of integrity and character...Eventually. He can be a bad boy at the start but the process of redemption must be a key element to his story. I'm telling you right now, there is nearly nothing as sexy (am I allowed to use that word??? Where's Julie Lessman when you need her? LOL) ... anyway, there is nothing quite so swoonilicious as a redeemed rogue. If you look at each of these 5 heroes, you'll find a bit (or more) of redeemed bad boy in each one of them.
- He is a protector at heart. A shirt-worthy book boyfriend doesn't have to be a Navy SEAL or an FBI agent or a First Responder (though, now I'm swooning at the thought) but he has to have some sort of protective instincts. If someone tells him to stay put when his woman is in danger, he better not stay put. And if he's forced to stay put because he's stuck in a hospital bed with a possibly-mortal injury of his own... well... then he at least needs to be growly about not being able to come to her rescue. Even if your book is not a suspense novel, this protective side can come out around kids, dogs, and the heroine in other ways that are just as meaningful. Worthy of note is that none of my 5 shirt-worthy book boyfriends are in a suspense novel. But if you've met Charlie Lionheart, you can't say he doesn't have protective instincts!
- He's a goooooood kisser! Ok, this last one isn't essential but y'all there is something to be said for a kiss that has you using your book as a swooning fan. (Please be cautious of using your kindle in the same manner... it doesn't have quite the same cool-air effect and a miscalculated swoosh could leave you a bit bruised. Don't ask me how I know this.) We'll talk more about what makes a gooooood kiss the next time I'm on Seekerville! (July 13th, if I did my math right.)
Dear readers, the stuff of fairy-tale romance and happily-ever-after is in our soul's DNA. God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and I believe this is one reason we crave the Prince Charming who comes riding in on a white horse to defeat evil and whisk away as his bride. Sound familiar? Yes, that's basically the plot of every fairy-tale and nearly every romance ever written. But it's also THE plot. It's the story God has been telling from the beginning!
One day Jesus WILL come riding in on a white horse as our Prince of Peace to defeat evil and whisk us away as His bride (Rev 19) to the ultimate happily-ever-after (Rev 21). As we wait for it play out in reality, we read little reflections of it in the meantime. This is why we collect book boyfriends... and this is why certain heroes make it onto my shirt. Because in their stories, I see The Story. They remind me that THIS is love, that someday my Prince will come... in a tale as old as time.
Until then, I'll keep collecting book boyfriends and adding them to my shirts. I've already got a list going for the next one ;)
Authors: What do you find most difficult about writing a swoony hero?
Readers: Who are some of your fave book boyfriends?
Readers: Who are some of your fave book boyfriends?
Let me know in the comments & you'll be entered to win ONE BOOK of your choice from ONE of my book boyfriend lists found here:
(I told you I talk them about them alot LOL)
Giveaway is open internationally, provided Book Depository has the book of your choice and ships to your location. Void where prohibited by law.