I have a confession to make, Dear Readers. It is this: I am a serial cheat.
I have a boyfriend, it is true. A real-life, living and breathing boyfriend whom I love very deeply. He is all I could ever ask for — and more. He makes me very happy indeed.
But there are Others.
Yes, Mark, my dear, the truth is, I’ve been having it off with ten other people behind your back. Some of them I was even seeing before I started dating you. Unfortunately for me — but very fortunately for you — none of them actually exist. They are not real. They are fictional.
They are my Book Boyfriends.
So, in the spirit of my writing partner K.F. Goodacre’s Top Ten Tuesdays, I have compiled a list of 10 men (mostly) from the world of literature who have captured my heart in various ways. Here they are in no particular order:
Rhysand from A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
If you’d have told me back in July/August 2017 when I was still reading A Court Of Thorns and Roses (Book One in the eponymous trilogy by Sarah J. Maas) that Rhysand — feared and reviled High Lord of the Night Court — would feature on my list of Book Boyfriends, I’d have laughed in your face. He who sent severed heads to the Spring Court as a mere taunt. He who plied the protagonist with faerie wine, dressed her in cobwebs and forced her to dance upon his lap. He who forced her lover to kneel before him and beg him to spare her life. Who forced the protagonist into a bargain marked upon her flesh that would require her to spend one week of every month with him for the rest of her life, like some twisted bat-winged Hades.
“I don’t get why everyone loves Rhysand,” I remember texting K.F. Goodacre as I was nearing the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses. “Literally do not get it. He’s not just awful. He’s vile.”
Au contraire! Along comes Book Two: A Court Of Mist and Fury, and it turns out there’s a second-meaning behind literally everything Rhysand does. He: respects women; encourages independent thought; is not controlling or abusive (seriously, I can say this with full sincerity even after the reprehensible actions I describe above); does not withhold information; really cares about his people; campaigns for equality; lives by what he preaches; takes responsibility for his mistakes; doesn’t stick his head in the sand about matters of life threatening importance; utterly self-sacrificing in every respect; super intelligent; really quite sarcastic and funny; good looking; sexy as hell; filthy in bed.
He is literally perfect. He has no flaws. None. And that is why he has catapulted himself to the top of my list of Book Boyfriends and why bat wings are a huge turn-on for me now.
“Rhysand is the most handsome High Lord.
Rhysand is the most delightful High Lord.
Rhysand is the most cunning High Lord…”
Jamie Fraser from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Jamie Fraser’s inclusion on this list will come as a surprise to precisely no one who has read Diana Gabaldon’s time-travelling epic historical romance novel, Outlander (published under its original title of Cross Stitch in the UK and Australia). A Scottish warrior from 1743, Jamie Fraser is the husband of the book’s protagonist, Claire Randall (née Beauchamp) — a combat nurse from 1945. I know it sounds mad, but trust me, it works.
Essentially written to be the perfect man, Jamie is passionate, headstrong and incredibly brave. He will not hesitate to put himself in mortal peril to protect his family and the woman he loves, and can take more punishment than a Nokia 3310. Wickedly funny and hilariously stubborn, reading Jamie bash heads with the comparatively modern sensibilities of his wife is so much fun to read. To top it all off, he swears like a sailor, looks good naked and is extremely generous between the sheets. What’s not to love?
If you cannot be bothered to read the book, I strongly recommend Starz excellent TV adaption of Outlander where Jamie is played to absolute perfection by the very talented Sam Heughan (pictured above).
Captain Kennit from The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb
Oh, Kennit. Ours has been a… rocky relationship to say the least. You are by far the most controversial character to feature on this list, and considering it also includes two skeletons — literally — that is really saying something.
From the very first chapter of Ship of Magic — the first book in Robin Hobb’s stunning The Liveship Traders trilogy — I fell in love with her beloved pirate captain. Charismatic, handsome and impressive to all who meet him, Kennit’s only ambition is to possess a liveship and become King of the Pirate Isles and woe betide anyone who stands in his way. Though Kennit’s actions are outwardly benevolent and his knack for cultivating the affections of others unrivalled, his manner is relentlessly cold and utterly devoid of empathy. With a horrifying past that is only revealed to the reader in gradual snippets, he is driven to commit an act so repulsively abhorrent that anyone ‘in the know’ is likely screaming at me right now, demanding to know why I put him on this list.
The truth is, I cannot help it. I loved being inside Kennit’s head. I loved reading about him, loved wondering what the hell he was going to do next, how he was going to get out of this scrape or that, how he was going to keep up his web of lies. I fell in love with him for the same reasons Etta, Wintrow and the rest of his crew did; I was manipulated to do so. Damn you, Robin Hobb…
As a side-note, Kennit is by far the most compelling and complex villain I have ever, ever read. Not only that, but he remains to this day my favourite ever fictional character.
Kell Maresh from Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Everyone’s favourite Black-Eyed Prince, Kell is the most recent addition to my list of Book Boyfriends. In fact, at the time of writing, I still haven’t read the final book in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy (A Conjuring Of Light), but nevertheless, Kell still features because he’s just that attractive. I absolutely adore him.
Kell is what is known as an Antari, or Traveller; a two-of-a-kind magician with a rare ability to travel between parallel worlds connected by the city of London. Magic surges so strongly in an Antari that they are marked with one completely black eye devoid of iris or sclera. Disliking the admiring looks he gets from some and the fearful reactions he gets from others, Kell chooses to hide his mark behind a fringe of red hair. Raised as a prince in his home world of Red London, he also serves as an interdimensional messenger between the monarchs and practises a bit of smuggling on the side. It is this latter practise that lands him in trouble with potentially world-breaking consequences.
Kell’s appeal lies in his overwhelming desire to do the Right Thing, regardless of the enormous personal cost. He is fiercely protective of his little brother, the Crown Prince Rhy, as well as highly intelligent, endearingly strong-willed and an exceptionally snappy dresser. He also has a serious knack for triggering ‘Florence Nightingale’ syndrome in me by being unfairly treated by his step-father King Maxim on a regular basis and routinely taking a few life-threatening knocks. Come here, Kell. I’ll turn that perpetual frown of yours upside down…
Aragorn from Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
Confession time: Aragorn probably wouldn’t feature on this list if it wasn’t for Viggo Mortensen’s jaw-dropping (and rather attractive) performance in Peter Jackson’s cinematic adaption of Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003). I have tried to read Tolkein’s book no less than three times and it was only on the third attempt that I finally managed to struggle through to the end. The character of Aragorn — or “Strider” as he is more commonly referred to by the hobbit protagonists — was one of the highlights of my reading.
Aragorn’s appeal comes from the contrast between his outwardly scruffy appearance and his high birth (“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost…”). He is a fearsome warrior who protects the hobbits to the very best of his ability, as Frodo-and-Friends’ mission to cast the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom conveniently coincides with his own mission to a) take his place as the rightful King of Gondor and b) win the hand of his elf love Arwen, whose father has refused permission for him to marry unless he fulfils the latter. Tolkein wrote Aragorn to be a hero in the truest sense. As such, he is essentially flawless.
Here is an extract from my reviewof The Fellowship of the Ring, which tells you all you need to know about my feelings for Aragorn:
But then Strider happened at the Prancing Pony. And there were Ring Wraiths. And daring escapes and near-death experiences. And Rivendell. And Strider. Did I mention Strider? Seriously. Strider. Strider, Strider, Strider.
Fun fact! Aragorn and I share a personality type: INFJ. Clearly we were meant to be…
Skulduggery Pleasant from Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Here he is; the first skeleton on my list. And you thought I was joking…
Skulduggery Pleasant is the “skeleton detective” dual-protagonist of Derek Landy’s nine-book series, Skulduggery Pleasant. Skulduggery became a skeleton when the evil sorcerer Nefarian Serpine killed his wife and child in front of him, tortured then killed him… only he didn’t do it properly. Somehow Skulduggery was able to pull himself back together and has been terrorising bad guys in Ireland ever since.
In his own words — for I am sure that is how he would most like to be described — Skulduggery is “sophisticated, suave and debonair” as well as a wise-cracking element-wielding sorcerer and flamboyant egotist. Though he has no body, is borderline insane and y’know… dead… Skulduggery’s dogged determination, strategic brilliance and laugh-out-loud one-liners make my heart soar. Plus if you can’t sleep for fear of being shunted into an alternate dimension where everyone wants to kill you, he’ll stay by your bedside and sing you to sleep with that lovely velvet voice of his. Be still my heart ♥
Mark Blackthorn from The Dark Artifaces by Cassandra Clare
The only non-straight character appearing on my list (unless you count the dangerously-repressed Captain Kennit which I absolutely do), Mark Blackthorn is half faerie, half Shadowhunter — a secret race of humans descended from angels who hunt demons. Following events in City of Heavenly Fire (Book 6 in The Mortal Instruments series), Mark is stolen away from his Shadowhunting family, the Blackthorns, and given over to the Fair Folk to become a prisoner of the Wild Hunt*. In Lady Midnight (Book 1 of The Dark Artifaces) the Fair Folk spit Mark back out again in exchange for the Blackthorns’ help in defeating a common enemy. Although perhaps Mark has been with the Wild Hunt for too long…
Mark is a prime example of a great character in a bad book. Lady Midnight was so poorly written that reading it made my head hurt, but Mark’s presence — in addition to all the Edgar Allan Poe references — was what made me grin and bear it. Pretty and puckish with a sarcasm detector that could rival that of Drax the Destroyer for ineffectiveness, Mark “[speaks] like a poem and [walks] like a dance”. Torn between his love for his family and that of the faerie prince Kieran of the Unseelie Court, Mark’s struggle to find his place in the Shadow world is palpable and just makes me want to give him a cuddle (yep, ‘Florence Nightingale Syndrome’ again, I’m a sucker for it). Plus, the delivery of one particular line of dialogue — the infamous “Why lie?” — made me positively squirm with sordid glee. I am looking forward to seeing how that panned out when the sequel Lord of Shadows is released later this month.
*K.F. Goodacre has a series surrounding the Wild Hunt called The Wild Hunt Chronicles. I’d tell you to check them out but she hasn’t written them yet, so instead I will tell you to watch this space…
Death from Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Here we are then at skeleton no. 2, and not just any skeleton but the Grim Reaper himself. Death is one of the main characters in Terry Pratchett’s fantabulous Discworld series and appears in pretty much every single Discworld book with the exception of The Wee Free Men and Snuff. This is unsurprising given his job, which is of course to usher souls from one world into the next. There is quite a bit of death on the Discworld, so for the most part he’s kept pretty busy.
Death has an irrepressible fascination with humans that often lands him in trouble, usually with the Auditors of Reality — spectral beings that like to mess with The Rules, such as stopping time so that they can catch up with their paperwork. In attempting to understand human behaviour, Death often tries to emulate it — something else the Auditors can’t stand– but almost always misses the mark to endearingly hilarious effect. Despite being largely devoid of any emotion, Death is very passionate about certain things with a deeply ingrained sense of morality and duty. He has had to save the day multiple times just to keep the Discworld ticking along, making do with little to no thanks for the trouble. A true hero.
I’m also a big fan of Death’s aesthetic; as well as tapping into my fondness for morbidness and skulls, he wears a black cowl, carries a scythe, SPEAKS LIKE THIS, enjoys curries and absolutely adores cats. See? We’d get along splendidly.
Valkyrie Cain from Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Look, Top 10 Book Partners doesn’t have the same ring to it as Top 10 Book Boyfriends, all right? And Valkyrie is most definitely in my Top 10, so on the list she goes. Deal.
Valkyrie Cain (real name Stephanie Edgely), like Skulduggery, is the dual-protagonist in Derek Landy’s aforementioned Skulduggery Pleasant series. Although she is just twelve years old in the first book (bear with me), she blossoms across nine books into a 21-year-old fireball throwing, shadow-wielding, lightning-charged badass. With a wit to rival Skulduggery’s and a fiery temper to boot, I fell in love with Valkyrie’s headstrong personality and no-nonsense attitude. Though she doesn’t suffer fools gladly and has a tendency to get bored with her romances very quickly, she is supremely loyal to her friends and family and there’s nothing she won’t do to help them.
You might get a wild, passionate fling with Valkyrie if you can bring yourself to see past the aloof gothic ice-queen she presents herself as. Sadly however it’s Skulduggery who holds her heart in all the ways that matter, so you’ll probably just be left out in the cold.
We can but dream.
Knightshade Valerian from The Seelie Court by K.F. Goodacre
The last Book Boyfriend I have to tell you about is a bit different from the others. He doesn’t exist yet!
His name is Knightshade Valerian and he is a character in my writing partner’s upcoming middle grade fantasy novel, The Elder Throne, the first book in The Equinox Trilogy and The Seelie Court series.
Being born to both a Seelie and an Unseelie parent — the latter of whom betrayed her army by defecting to the other side — Knightshade has suffered prejudice all his life. He has had to work ten times as hard to earn his position as Commander of the Seelie army (what with his mother being a known traitor and all) and despite all the bullying and routine humiliation he suffers even as an adult, he is nothing short of brave, honest, kind and good. Though a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield, he never raises his voice or starts a fight. He also has an hilariously misplaced sense of morality when it comes to women, mostly because he doesn’t know how to talk to them. I find his fusty awkwardness incredibly endearing.
Like I said, Knightshade technically doesn’t exist because K.F. Goodacre is currently in the final editing stages of her book, but I am very confident you will meet him soon and I sincerely hope you love him as much as I do. He’s very much the type of man you want to take home to meet your mother, although to be honest, you probably don’t want to meet his…
Dumped Book Boyfriends:
No relationship is set in stone. Here are some Book Boyfriends that I’ve mentioned in the past, but have since moved on from to make way for new ones. Alas, alack etc.
Andevai Diarisso Haranwy from Spiritwalker by Kate Elliott
I can barely remember anything that happened in Kate Elliott’s historical-fantasy steampunk mash-up beyond the fact that I loved Mr Dar– sorry, I mean Andevai. From what I remember, the protagonist Cat Barahal is forced to marry Andevai in order to uphold some kind of bargain between her family and his. How romantic…
Except that it is, because what follows is a truly wonderful “hatemance” filled with catty remarks, fierce rebuttals and witty repartees. Initially cold and exceedingly arrogant, Andevai eventually softens as his love for Cat grows, if a little too quickly for my liking. The chemistry he and Cat have when they fight is nothing short of spectacular and my heart skipped a beat every time he appeared on the scene. Plus he built her a bed to take her virginity on. A bed, People. He built her a frikkin’ bed.
My writing partner read the first book in the trilogy, Cold Magic, and absolutely hated it. But she does remember really liking Andevai, so there you go. Such is the level of his sex appeal.
He built her a bed…
And that’s everyone! I hope you enjoyed reading about my Book Boyfriends. Who knows, perhaps we unwittingly share a few? Do please tell. I love a bit of gossip…
Be sure to check out all the authors mentioned above by visiting the following websites:
None of the images contained in this post are mine. Where possible, I have provided a source (click the image to view). If you own any of these images and are not comfortable with me sharing them here, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will endeavour to find a substitute!