Top 5 Most Unexpected Romantic Characters by Deborah Nam-Krane (@dnkboston) #romance


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Deborah Nam-Krane's 
 Top Five Most Unexpected Romantic Characters

Don’t ask me why, but the handsomest, most dashing and most in charge… has made me sneer since I was seven years old. (Something to do with being bullied at school? Maybe!) So not surprisingly, few of my crushes are tall, blonde and beautiful. I don’t need tormented and broody, but maybe someone a little more thoughtful than most.

1. Hades

Let’s just get this out of the way. Hades is the alpha of the obsessive male/weird stalker relationships we see so much of right now. And for Persephone, the niece (!) he kidnaps and rapes, there is no real rescue, only a brief respite. She would love to have the choices any of the vampire paramours of today’s literature have now.

So why would this guy make my list at all? Because there is the understanding that for all of the beauty and glory you see in Olympians like Zeus, Apollo and Hermes, Hades is the darkness they necessitate, and most of the tales of Hades are conscious of this. Being imprisoned in the darkness of the underworld while knowing what his brothers and nephews have twists him. He isn’t the evil devil we meet in the Bible, but he is jealous, greedy, perverse… and lonely. The guy you want to spend a night with? Probably not. But you can’t help but be fascinated by him and want to trace his journey from disgruntled to over-the-edge.

2. Merlin

Even before I read Mary Stewart’s wonderful Crystal Cave series, I loved the character of Merlin. (My favorite song from Camelot? Follow Me, sung by Nimue as she’d leading Merlin away from reality.) If Hades is the archetype for obsessive, Merlin is the one for the character that straddles the human and supernatural worlds. His ostracism and the danger that surrounded him when he was younger is what drives him to harness the power he was born with and use it to help what will become Arthur’s kingdom. A noble choice- and not one that’s frequently made in history, where we see that many times dangerous conditions in one’s childhood can lead to ruthlessness. Behind the austerity and isolation of Merlin, there is something intrinsically noble about him that makes you want to sit at his feet as much as Nimue did… but maybe not lock him up in a tree.

3. Mister Spock from Star Trek

Skinny. Funny looking eyebrows and even funnier looking ears. Green blood. An inability to smile. Exactly the guy you want to bring on a date, right?

Well, actually, yeah.

Mister Spock is another “half-breed” (as he was frequently referred to on the show). Too human to be approved of by his father and too Vulcan-looking to be accepted by humans, he hides his loneliness behind intellectual superiority. However, ever since the classic episode The Naked Time, we’ve known how deeply Spock really feels, particularly for his friends. He is loyal to Jim Kirk- he dies for him in The Wrath of Khan- and it’s pretty easy to tell that he even enjoys his sniping repartee with Doctor McCoy. Watch This Side of Paradise just once and you might find yourself wishing that you could have the same effect on him that, well, alien spores do.

And then of course there was the Mirror, Mirror episode in which we got to see how scary Vulcans really were, but that’s another story.

4. Kostya Levin from Anna Karenina

Poor Lev. He was not Kitty’s first choice by a long shot. She loved Vronsky, but he wanted Anna and humiliated her at her party. She reluctantly submitted to Lev’s wooing and married him. Lev was painfully aware that he was the second choice, but he got to twist the final knife in Kitty’s back while he was out carousing at Anna’s house- right before Kitty went into labor with their son. 

Lev never forgave Kitty for wanting more passion and excitement than he could provide, but in a twisted way you admire him for wanting to assert his value. The sad part is that he had already proven it before: he was thoughtful about politics and his family’s place in history, and he was compassionate even when logic told him that he shouldn’t have been. But he wasn’t a doormat for Kitty, and she made it clear that she didn’t want one. Just as he had been willing to fight for her, he was willing to fight with her in a way that showed he thought she was a real person, not a fantasy. That right there might be the definition of true romance.

5. Michael McCann from The Thomas Crown Affair

And now for something completely different!

Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) is a high class bounty hunter hot in pursuit of billionaire Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) who stole a priceless painting out of boredom. The sparks are immediately evident, but throughout the entire film I found myself wishing that Catherine would take a good, hard look at Michael McCann (Denis Leary), the NYPD detective that first picked up the case. Even though he thinks Catherine’s methods are unorthodox at best, he’s fascinated by her worldliness and respects her intelligence. He doesn’t want to “play chess” with her, as Crown does, and constantly try to see who can take the other down; he respects that she is savvier and in many ways more intelligent than he is. And even though she only has eyes for Crown, she takes solace from their friendship as her relationship with Crown becomes even more complicated.

McCann wouldn’t have worked for Catherine because she wanted someone who could keep up with her, but even she admitted at one point that she was “checkmated out” to Crown. While he was exciting and the chemistry between the two was undeniable, the movie only highlighted how appealing it is to be able to be with someone you can trust.

I soooo agree with Hades! The more I study Greek myth, the more I'm starting to think Hades might just be the best of them all, lol. Yeah, how he ended up with Persephone is about as psycho-ward as it gets, but once you get past that, a really beautiful love story emerges. Great choice!

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