Find That Book!: Book Boyfriends

We have a new Find That Book request– and this is a super fun one!

Tiffany would like to find: “Best book boyfriends (not including Mr. Darcy, because that would be too easy :).”

What is it that makes a good book boyfriend?

There are the classics, of course.  Anne of Green Gables‘s Gilbert Blythe, Persuasion‘s Captain Wentworth (“I am half agony, half hope….”), the Scarlet Pimpernel (as played by Anthony Andrews), Fanny Burney’s Lord Orville in Evalina (just me on that one?)….

My guess is that when we compare our lists, once we get past the tried and true, we’ll find that those lists diverge a great deal, not just by genre and time period, but by our own individual underlying assumptions about what makes a good book boyfriend.  I know my book boyfriends have certainly changed over time and the list I have now may not be the list I have ten years from now.

Ten years ago, I wound undoubtedly have given you Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, Rory Frost from M.M. Kaye’s Trade Wind, Raoul de Valmy from Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting, at least one Julia Quinn hero– and Captain Wentworth.  Twenty years ago, it would have been a lot of Judith McNaught and Victoria Holt– and Lord Orville!

Okay, some of these guys may still be on the current list, too, now that I think about it.  Or maybe on the re-read in the near future list.

Here are some of my current favorite book boyfriends… and I can’t wait to hear yours!

— Lord Peter Wimsey (1920s and 30s England): no, I’m not just saying that because I’m re-reading Gaudy Night right now!  What I adore about Lord Peter is that he genuinely respects Harriet for her innate character, and the two of them wrestle together with the thorny question of how two independent souls can come together and yet still be themselves, neither one subsuming or changing the other.  Placetne, magistra?  Placet.

— Ash from Jo Beverly’s Winter Fire (Georgian England): why, yes, he is a Marquess, but that’s not what makes him so ragingly attractive.  He and the heroine, despite their differences, despite the odds, despite the gap in their social station, form a genuine friendship based on mutual respect that underlies their complicated romance.

— Mr. Beaumaris from Georgette Heyer’s Arabella (Regency England): whether it’s rescuing a dog or a chimney sweep, this much more amiable version of Mr. Darcy (he is very explicitly Darcy-based) has the vicarage-bred heroine’s back, never letting on that she’s not the heiress she pretends to be, and always helping to pick up the pieces when her generous spirit and firm moral convictions lead her into complications.

— Michael Jones from Jodi Taylor’s Elizabeth Cage series (modern England): many of you may know Jodi Taylor for her time traveling historians.  This series follows a seemingly ordinary woman whose life is upended when she discovers that she has supernatural powers and everything she thought she knew about herself is a lie.  In the midst of the chaos, the only secure point is secret agent Michael Jones, the sort of book boyfriend you want by your side in a fight, even if he might know too much….

— Kate Ross’s Julian Kestrel (Regency England): okay, this may be a weird choice for book boyfriend given that the books themselves have no romance component, but I’ve always found this Regency sleuth incredibly compelling and wish Kate Ross had lived long enough to write a love interest for him.  One of my favorite lines of all time is his advice to a young female of his acquaintance to “the one radiant Circe in a season of dreary Helens”.  (When you read Two Wars and a Wedding in March, you’ll find my homage to that line in there!)

I feel like I’m missing some pretty obvious ones– so I can’t wait to hear yours!  And if I remember the ones I’m forgetting, I’ll either add them in the comments or edit the post.

Who are your (current and/or past) favorite book boyfriends?

9 Comments

  1. Julie on November 22, 2022 at 9:36 pm

    Hard to narrow it down, but here are a few that came to mind in addition to several you already mentioned, Lauren (and these picks are kind of all over the place):

    I couldn’t help crushing on Daniel Deronda and the obvious chemistry he and and Gwendolen shared as well as the way he was somehow always around when she was in distress/needed help.

    He’d make a terrible boyfriend IRL most likely, but I also couldn’t help crushing on Howl of Howl’s Moving Castle.

    Loved Joe from the Maud Hart Lovelace books. One of my favorite romances! Especially because it’s such a slow build up (all 4 years of high school!!).

    • Lisa A. Derfler on November 30, 2022 at 5:04 am

      I love most of yours and some of the others. Most of my book boyfriends come from my younger, swoonier days, so may not fit today’s standards. They are Philip Brooks from Lightning That Lingers and Devon Crandall from The Windflower, both written by Laura London, who seems sadly to have stopped writing. I also love Phin Tucker from my favorite Jennifer Crusie work: Welcome to Temptation. He’s a tender dad and worthy match for feisty heroine Sophie. I like warm, patient, stalwart Jefferson Day, from Homing, the final volume in Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg Chronicles. And then there’s His Grace, the Duke of Salford from Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester. Sylvester is still grieving the loss of his twin brother, standing as guardian to his mischievous nephew, and being pushed into proposing to an awkward girl from the country. What follows from this setup is hilarious and touching. Finally, I love Francis Crawford of Lymond, brilliant hero of heroes, whose adventures take him from 16th century Scotland to France to the Ottoman Empire to Russia and back again. The six novels that comprise his story are Dorothy Dunnett’s masterwork.

  2. MDel on November 23, 2022 at 10:19 am

    I guess I like my heroes with inner turmoil because I like Four, from Divergent, Insurgent and Alliagiant and also Gale from Hunger Games 🙂

    For a future book request I have one from my daughter. She wants to read a cozy novel like the one I’m reading now Season of Last Chances, but without the sex scenes… she says “why are all the books for 13 year olds so dark?”

    • MDel on November 25, 2022 at 2:35 pm

      Sorry, Season for Second Chances

      • Lauren Willig on November 28, 2022 at 9:50 am

        That’s a great question!! I’ll post that later this week.

  3. Angie on November 23, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    I have a thing for the brooding types in historical fiction. I had a huge crush on this character called Gil in a novel called “The Flying Circus” by Susan Crandall. He was a former WWI reconnaissance pilot. And then (spoiler) she had to go and kill him off.

  4. Joan on November 25, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    I simply LOVE Lord Peter Wimsey! Gabriel from the Captain Lacey mystery series. Lord Worth from Regency Buck and Randall from Behold Here’s Poison. My daughter says Brishan from Radiance would be one of her choices.

  5. Alex on November 26, 2022 at 1:24 am

    Brishan – I had completely forgotten about him! Yes, he is good.
    Captain Wentworth (Persuasion), Ben Monroe (The Lake House), and Rob McMorran (The Firebird) – those three are my true book loves.
    Also, though he is not on my list, I do love his devotion: Ash in The Far Pavilions

    Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Samira on November 26, 2022 at 2:15 am

    Lord Peter, for sure. David in The Shadowy Horses and Graham in The Winter Sea. Teddy in the Emily of New Moon series. Mac in Rose in Bloom.

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