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Reader, I married him.

Law has worked out her bulletproof kink. And mine is horribly similar. I want UST, the angstier the better. I don't care if it is het or slash, just give me the long smouldering looks and the "FFS! Just kiss!" reaction and that pairing is my newest pash.

Spike/Buffy? Yep.
Mulder/Scully? Yep.
Hawkeye/Hotlips? Yep.
Han/Leia. Yep. The scoundrel.
Mal/Inara? Yep. Although curiously without any desire to read fanfic of it.
David/Maddie? Yep. although likewise without the fanfic urge.
Bodie/Doyle? OK, I know I'm on my own there but yep.

But why? There has to be a reason these tortured romances appeal. I blame the classics: early exposure to Eliz./Darcy and Jane/Rochester have left their mark as strongly as Cinderella leaves hers (I was never a Cinderella fan). The other thing about that list is that it contains mostly Gamma males.

This article outlines the types of male romantic leads:

  • Alpha. Domineering and arrogant, a loner, broad chested with a muscular physique
  • Beta. Sweetly seductive, kind, gentle, have a good sense of humor, tend to be of average to slender build.
  • Gamma. Falls in between these two poles: he, like the Beta, tends to be more of average build although more likely to be an athletic type. He has a sense of humor, although usually it's a sarcastic one. Similar to the Alpha he's likely to be a fighter of some sort. He is more dominant than the Beta - but only in a seductive sense. Otherwise, like the Beta, he appreciates female strength and tends to be a loyal partner to a woman, and respects all strong women.

Darcy and Rochester are proto-Gammas. Reread P&P or Jane Eyre once you're in your thirties and you recognise that Darcy's pride is at least in part due to crippling social shyness (wonderfully brought out in the Firth Darcy - the real one, not the Bridget Jones's Firth Darcy) and it was Rochester's trusting nature that saddled him with Bertha. Rochester, especially, only gains Jane once he has been crippled and blinded: once he is reduced from an Alpha to a Gamma, he is worthy of her. I just read North and South (must get the DVD just to stare at Richard Armitage as he broods manfully) which owes more than a little to Pride and Prejudice. I wasn't overwhemled by it as a work of literature. It has dubious use of dialectical speech and the heroine is frankly annoying in her pure goodness, although some of the playing between the rural and the urban in both Manchester Milton and London is rather nicely done. What dragged me though at high speed, though, was the UST. When will t'mill owner and the posh southern maid realise they are right for each other? It's the same romantic narrative which, at its crudest, is a Mills & Boon novel. Yet the lit. versions - and the tv versions - are somehow acceptable to enjoy whilst M&B is, obviously, rubbish pandering to false notions of relationships and selling a damaging lie.

Can anyone recommend some well-written small-r literary romance which doesn't follow the "girl meets boy, boy likes girl, girl rejects boy, girl realises she does like boy but thinks boy no longer interested, boy risks it again and is accepted" template? Preferably something sexy, with that wow pull which makes you stay up reading until 3am? Or is it impossible to break free of the pashes of gamma-male angsty romances?

Posted @ 5:25 pm on Monday, April 25, 2005
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