With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s only natural that we gals are getting in the mood to be swept off our feet. And while upon that occasion all attention and credit should be to the bf/hubby, in the days before it a bookish girl is only expected to spare a minute or two acknowledging the literary men who set the bar so high.
And she’d better swoon!
I tried to collect a decent top 10, but it turned out the men in my favorite books are rarely very impressive. This was a surprise and I should definitely tell my boyfriend, who is convinced I am reading exclusively for romantic gratification.
So, there we go, bottom to top.
#6. Jamie Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire)
Westeros is swarming with admirable men, but admit it, there is no one you love to hate more than Jamie Lannister – a lost soul, seeking redemption. His faults result mostly from being in love with a very very wrong person; and his sins – from trying to be the better man in an altogether shitty situation. Yes, he is spoiled, but who would not be with a dad who allegedly gets his gold from the chamber pot. Details set aside, he is just a man in love with a sense of humor and a golden touch, who happens to have survived longer than the average Westerosi. Also, his relationship with Tyrion gives him huge credit.
Quote: “I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.”
#5. Vix (Empress of the Seven Hills)
It’s hard not to love this obstinate Roman soldier with complicated past and even more complicated relationship. He is definitely tall, dark and handsome, a bit brutish and ox-headed, but I think being witty and at times very vulnerable makes him the soldier of choice for this list.
Quote: “Empresses, they’re always trouble, the tricky bitches. Emperors might forgive you if you cross them, but never empresses.”
#4. Gilberth Blythe (Anne of Green Gables Series)
Ah – the book high-school sweetheart. Gilberth dwells in the background but is always there, down-to-earth, stable and level-headed as a balancing act to Anne’s dreamy head-in-the-clouds self. From a hateful teaser to best friend to loving husband, he was swoon-worthy all through the 7 books.
For a much more thorough argument of why no man will ever live up to Gilbert Blythe, go here.
Quote: “We were born to be the best of friends, Anne. You’ve thwarted destiny long enough.”
#3. Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
Maybe I am wrong to let no other but the one and only Mr. Darcy drop to mere third place, but I have my reasons. Honorable, private, and in his true heart the essence of compassion and care, Mr. Darcy is quite on the sidelines for most of Pride and Prejudice. He makes an appearance to inadvertently cause havoc or excitement for Lizzy. I loved them together, but I always felt him too distant from the reader. That said, he is the embodiment of gentle manners, snarky remarks and quiet power. Three, two, one… swoon!
Quote: “I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding—certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of other so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost forever.”
#2. Jamie Fraser (Outlander)
Jamie comes second, because I thought it would be unfair to compare a fresh impression to characters I’ve had years to get over. I am a loyal girl, ye ken. But no book love interest is more swoon-worthy than this dashing Scot – honorable, compassionate and stubborn. He is also a great laugh, good with big words and not cheesy at all… the list does not end. After all they do call him the king of men.
Quote: “When I asked my da how ye knew which was the right woman, he told me when the time came, I’d have no doubt. And I didn’t. When I woke in the dark under that tree on the road to Leoch, with you sitting on my chest, cursing me for bleeding to death, I said to myself ‘Jamie Fraser, for all ye canna see what she looks like, and for all she weights as much as a good draft horse, this is the woman.”
And before the big no. 1 some…
Mungo St. John (The Ballantyne novels) – I hardly remember anything from A Falcon Flies, but this evil slave-trading captain was the more entertaining suitor to the heroine and did save her towards the end.
Bruce Carlton (Forever Amber) – It took me a few years of adolescence to realize that Bruce was a huge douche bag, and then a few more of adulthood to come to terms with the fact that Amber was quite the stupid cow to waste her life on planning around a man, who never intended to stick around. But he was dashing.
Yuri Zhivago (Doctor Zhivago) – A romantic intellectual swept in the tragedies of war and revolution, fighting for his one true love. Ah.
Vinicius (Quo Vadis) – Another Roman soldier – this time a patrician and a military tribune, a bit more romantic than Vix, but just as faulty and in need of redemption. Had I read Quo Vadis more recently, I might have favored him, but as is, the more memorable character from the book is Petronius. I hardly ever remember Vinicius (or Ligia for that matter).
… aand (drum roll)
#1. Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind)
He does not give a damn, until he does and then it’s epic. The ultimate Movember man, Rhett is always classy and always in control, with a devil-may-care attitude and flair for scandal. He repeatedly saves the day and Scarlett, even though she rejects him time and again. Rhett can be relied upon, does not take himself too seriously; sarcastic and shrewd, he is more than a match for that nuisance of a woman.
Quote: “No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how”
Some dishonorable mentions: I know there are some popular picks for such a list that people might be expecting to see here, but I have left them out on purpose; the purpose being they are a complete turn off for me: Ralph (The Thorn Birds), Edward Cullen (Twilight), Christian Grey (50 Shades), Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights). Of course this is just my personal taste, no harsh judgements.
Don’t forget to share your own top book boyfriends picks in the comments! Do we have any matches?
And to wrap up – HABB is a thing (at least in T-shirts’ world). This is quite funny and cute.
Have a great Valentine’s Day with your flesh-and-blood actual from-reality man! He is the most swoon-worthy of them all!
images: Giphy/ Goodreads