We all remember our first fictional love. For me, it was Stone Cold Steve Austin of the WWF variety. When he came down into the ring and shot-gunned a beer while wearing his tiny little shorts, my nine-year-old heart went pitter-patter. As a result, many years later, grumpy dudes are my catnip. I just want to cuddle up and read books featuring snarly characters—shot-gunning beer not required.
Right around the same time I fell for Steve Austin, I found The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith. We could get into a bickerment about whether the books or the show are superior, but the truth is that Damon Salvatore is one of the best things to come out of that world. And he’s a straight up villain, angst about his murderous tendencies or no. Damon is the sole reason why I fall in love with every charming bad guy I’ve ever read. I love me some sexy sociopath.
Those years with early crushes are so instrumental in influencing the kind of thing we’re attracted to, and while that doesn’t always pan out in real life (take it from me—dating sociopaths will only end in disaster), it’s a great way to find books you are guaranteed to enjoy!
Most of said crushes can be boiled down to four categories – Icy Jerk With a Heart of Gold, Boy/Girl Next Door, Grumpy McCrankypants and Villain/Sociopath.
And I have book recommendations for all!
Icy Jerk With a Heart of Gold
Fictional examples of this character include: Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), Cordelia Chase (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Phoebus (The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
You know this guy/girl. They can cut your confidence to pieces with a few choice words, and they move through the world with total arrogance… but they have a soft ooey-gooey center once you break through that outer crust of jerk-ness. You just have to be more stubborn than they are to get to it!
Books you will love:
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Boy/Girl Next Door
Fictional examples of this character include: Seth Cohen (The O.C.), Topanga (Boy Meets World), and Prince Derek (The Swan Princess)
This is the guy/girl that is just an all-around good person. They’re probably kind of funny, definitely have a dash of sweetness, and…damn, they’re looking good to you lately. Maybe they were the friend you literally grew up next door to, or maybe they’re just a really cool person you’ve stumbled across in a new setting (college, new town, summer vacation), but no matter the origin, this character is made up of feel-good feeling for everyone involved.
Books you will love:
Wait for You by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Getaway Girl by Tessa Bailey
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Fictional examples of this character include: Luke Danes (Gilmore Girls), Miranda Hobbes (Sex and the City) The Beast (Beauty and the Beast)
This guy/girl is likely to growl at you for looking at them, talking to them…being in the same room as them. They’re cranky with a capital C, but it’s weirdly endearing, and you definitely dig the way they huff and take care of you without missing a beat. Their grumpy attitude might be a barrier they erect to keep people at bay—or it just might be them down to the core. Either way, once you’re theirs, they’ll stand between you and the rest of the world and growl down anyone who looks at you wrong.
Books you’ll love:
Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
Beast Behaving Badly by Shelly Laurenston
Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean
Fictional examples of this character include: Damon (The Vampire Diaries), Irene Adler (Sherlock) and Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z)
This guy/girl will most definitely be totally capable of killing everyone around them (or at least bringing them all to ruin), and you might just be the only leash capable of holding them back. Because, let’s face it, they might exhibit some truly worrisome sociopathic tendencies, but they’ve got a soft spot in their cold, cold heart for you and you alone. And that’s just the way you like it.
Books you’ll love:
The Professional by Kresley Cole
Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
There you have it! I think you’ll find, if you look back to your first crush(es), that your favorite books often have heroes and heroines who are very, very similar to that character type. Once you know that about yourself, it’s much easier to intentionally pick books that are your catnip, and that’s one thing I think we can all agree is a good thing!