Top Ten Tuesday: Romantic Heroes

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week’s top ten is all about favourite romantic heroes. For me, this means indulging myself in some of those wonderful romantic leads of classic literature, many of whom have graced our television screens in modern times, capturing our attention and making many of us swoon! However, in amongst the Regency and Victorian stalwarts, the breeches and wet shirts, there is some diversity, including a Viking, a Jacobite, a chef, an architect and a journalist. There is even one romantic hero of my own creation! Ready? Let’s go!

William Braithwaite in A Woman Named Sellers (Sarah L King).

I know plugging my own book in a top ten list is pretty shameless but honestly, you have to meet William. He is kind, honest, outward-looking and refreshing. And above all he loves Jennet, who is more than deserving of a little love in her difficult, traumatic life. A Woman Named Sellers is a historical novel and as such most of the characters are based on people who really existed. Unfortunately William is one of the exceptions to this and is completely my creation. However, that hasn’t stopped readers contacting me to request a sequel all about him. It is lovely to have created a character who is so well-liked.

Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen).

Made infamous by Colin Firth in THAT lake scene, Darcy is the epitome of a regency gentleman; intelligent, refined and intense. Yet Elizabeth Bennett finds him ‘most disagreeable’ and, prejudiced by the tales of others, initially dislikes him. However, the twists and turns of the novel’s story ensure that eventually Elizabeth sees him in a far more favourable light and, inevitably, so does the reader.

John Thornton in North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell).

A story about another pair of characters who get off on the wrong foot, initially Hampshire-born Margaret Hale cannot warm to Thornton’s rough northern ways. In time, however, she learns that there is more to Thornton than meets the eye. Thornton’s character was played wonderfully by Richard Armitage in the 2004 television adaptation, proving to me once and for all that I am a sucker for brooding Victorian men.

Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte).

As historical male leads go, Rochester is a tricky one. After all, he locked his insane wife in the attic and pretended she didn’t exist. But…but…but he and Jane are very good together, and by the end of this novel I was rooting for their Happily Ever After. Rochester is also another example of a complex male lead in period costume – I see a pattern of obsession developing here. The television adaptation starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens captures the novel perfectly.

Allan Woodcourt in Bleak House (Charles Dickens).

Woodcourt is an all-round good guy –  a surgeon by profession who is utterly devoted to Esther. He is one of those guys who the female protagonist doesn’t seem to notice half as early as the reader does. Dickens isn’t famous for writing romances and admittedly there is far, far more to Bleak House than a simple ‘will they, won’t they?’ with Esther and Allan. Nonetheless, as creating romantic heroes goes, he did a fine job with Woodcourt.  Woodcourt was also portrayed fabulously by Richard Harrington in the 2005 BBC adaptation.

Sawyer in Click Date Repeat Again (K J Farnham).

The Click Date Repeat novels are funny, romantic stories about online dating and as such, there are a good number of male characters to choose from. However, the one who stood out for me was Sawyer, the sardonic chef who Jess meets in the bar where they work. In my mind he was slightly broody, slightly grungy and just the right amount of fun. I warmed to him from the first encounter. A modern favourite of mine.

Julien Duplessi in The Witch of Painted Sorrows (M J Rose).


Julien and Sandrine’s intense, passionate relationship captivated me in this novel. This book was more erotic than my usual reading choices; however, in this case it seemed right. Architect Julien is a charismatic , creative delight and against the backdrop of Paris during the Belle Epoque he is, well, irresistible.

Alrik the Bloodaxe in Avelynn (Marissa Campbell).

A hunky Viking with just the right amount of sexy. He makes Avelynn crazy and it’s easy to see why.

Jamie Fraser in Outlander (Diana Gabaldon).

Another character made infamous by TV adaptation, Jamie Fraser is the kind-hearted Highlander who sweeps accidental time-traveller Claire off her feet. What can I say? I can’t resist a man in a kilt.

Reeve Wilder in Tiffany Girl (Deeanne Gist).

Reeve is an interesting choice and to be honest, I agonised over whether to include him. Tiffany Girl is a story about Flossie Jayne, an art student in 1890s Chicago who is hand-picked with other female students to work on the stained-glass mosaic chapel after the glass-workers go on strike. There is a definite feminist strand running through the story, with Flossie striking out on her own as an independent woman in a world which frankly isn’t quite ready for her. Reeve is very much a man of his time and, in this sense, initially I wasn’t keen on him. But as in all good books his character develops, the love he has for Flossie softening some of his more traditional views. He is a little odd and a bit repressed but in the end I really liked him. I suppose the Reeves of the literary world are there to remind us that not all romantic heroes wear wet shirts or have warrior muscles!

Okay, okay…I’m going to be bad here and include an 11th choice because I couldn’t decide who to eliminate and because, well, it’s my list 🙂

Ross Poldark from Ross Poldark (Winston Graham).

Ross is the irrepressible, bombastic, stubborn and slightly revolutionary hero of the Poldark novels. Revived recently by Aiden Turner in the BBC adaptation, Ross is a more than a little bit sexy, too. In Ross’s case, no shirt rather than wet shirt is the order of the day.

So who are your favourite romantic characters? Please feel free to share in the comments or via social media.

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Romantic Heroes

  1. sarahlking says:

    Thanks Katie! If you have a kindle or e-reader it’s a good time to check out both my books as they’re currently half price on ebook 🙂 Have a fab week too!

    Oh – and I love your choice of Raymond from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Such a lovely guy. I adored that book, it gave me a book hangover for days afterwards.

    • sarahlking says:

      Rochester is great – complex and brooding, just the way I like ’em! I love that you have Eric Northman on your list – he’s so bad, but kind of good too.

    • sarahlking says:

      I just love North and South! I’m from the north of England originally so Thornton’s accent in the TV show just gets me every time.

    • sarahlking says:

      I have such a crush on Colin Firth. I like your crush categories – I’m definitely all about the good guys and the rude millionaires!

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