Sexiness Is More than Looks
I recently read a series where every couple is drop-dead gorgeous. The women are not merely pretty, but stunning and “achingly beautiful.” The men are hybrids of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Will Smith. The only characters who lost out in the genetic lottery are the villains and minor characters who serve as contrasts to the main characters so the readers can truly appreciate how physically perfect these specimens are. (I always wonder why these physically perfect specimens didn’t try their hand at modelling or acting instead of toiling away as low-paying cubicle dwellers or government employees.)
Back in my early teens, I don’t think this imbalance would’ve bothered me. Now, it strikes me as quite shallow. Physical perfection=good; physical imperfection=evil. I’m sure the author doesn’t mean to send that message, but that was my interpretation after reading four of her books. I don’t want the main characters to look like trolls, but angelic beauties and Hollywood-handsome men get tiresome after a while, especially since the heroines usually aren’t aware of their beauty or lament it because no one notices their superior intellect or their kindness to dogs and children. The author did attempt to mix things up, but variety is more than just changing an angelic beauty from being a blond to a brunette. Seriously, throw in a Hellboy or a Goliath (from Disney’s Gargoyles) or a Sean Bean once in a while.
JAK is the first writer I encountered where the heroines weren’t Incomparables and the heroes weren’t the richest, handsomest men in England. At first, I was taken aback. Was JAK violating a romance genre rule? Weren’t heroes and heroines supposed to be physically perfect so they could inspire lust and envy in the hearts of all those who meet them? No? Gasp!
After I got over the initial shock, however, I found myself enjoying JAK and her more realistic protagonists. She even wrote a hero who dressed in Hawaiian shirts for the entire story and I absolutely loved it. To this day, I snatch up JAK on the release date because it’s nice to know people other than beauty queens and men whose profiles can grace Roman coins deserve HEAs, too.
Will I continue reading the author whose series sparked this entry? Probably not since there are so many authors out there who don’t feel the need to feature only people who would probably crowd a Hollywood casting office in real life, authors who know sexiness is more from inner character than physical appearance. And I know I can’t be the only reader who feels this way because who hasn’t swooned over the Beast?
(But I will admit I’m shallow enough to want my heroes to be fit. I don’t want overblown muscles, but I do so enjoy a little definition. I definitely didn’t watch 300 for the plot.)