Looking for Mister Darcy…

Vincent ran his fingers lightly along the spines of the worn and weathered books on the shelf in front of him. An eclectic mixture, to be sure, many obvious first editions and old. Quite old. Nietzsche, Aquinas, Darwin, More… The hint of a smile played at the corner of Vincent’s mouth as he noticed a title that didn’t really belong with all the science, history and anthropology tomes around it.

He pulled out the copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, its faded cover worn at the corners from years of fingering. It wasn’t really that difficult to figure women out… You just had to understand where they were coming from, what they were looking for. And, for the most part, every woman, in one way or another, was looking for Mr. Darcy.

excerpt from “BLOODLINE” by Gabriella Messina

Perhaps you fell in love with him as Colin Firth, his shirt dripping wet from an impromptu swim in his Pemberley pool. Or maybe it was Matthew McFadyen striding across the fields in his long coat, who claims he “couldn’t sleep”. Or perhaps it was simply the original literary version, carefully crafter by Jane Austen, flaws and failings as painstakingly rendered as his good qualities. Whatever the stimulus of the attraction, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Fitzwilliam Darcy is viewed by a majority of romantic womanhood as the ideal man.

It isn’t simply the specific character of Austen’s Darcy, however, that attracts, allures, and captivates us. It is something more than that… And that something can be found in a variety of male romantic leads across literature genres. Cowboys, corporate executives, vampires… Many of these male characters, along with other, take the romantic lead in fiction, and our attraction to them is more often than not connected to the qualities they share with Mr. Darcy.

What makes a “Mr. Darcy?

He is attractive, but not necessarily to everyone. Tall, with the kind of male beauty that will age slowly and well, Darcy is noticed more for his rumored wealth than the figure he cuts. In some ways, Darcy is a handsome man out of his time. What popular culture regarded as handsome 50 years ago wouldn’t make the cut today, and our standards for beauty wouldn’t stand a chance in any era but this.

Okay, so he looks good to the female lead. Check. Another important attribute… is his sense of justice. Darcy is a proud man, in part because of his upbringing, and he has decided views on class and how things are done, how society should run. But when it comes to standing with and for those he loves, he will literally do anything and everything. Money, time, reputation, even life and limb are nothing for this man… and he expects nothing in return, except the opportunity to continue to admire and love his lady. Aw!!!

Darcy is more traditional than his contemporaries. He may be slow to romance his love interest, tentative in his gestures of affection, and downright Victorian in his sense of sexual propriety. Often the heroine is amused by his behavior, teases him, and this teasing is a part of their mating dance, as it were. Rankling though it is to Darcy, he finds himself more and more attracted to the woman who dares him, leading him to dare on occasion and leading readers/ viewers to some breathtakingly romantic moments.

My latest book “boyfriend” is very much a Mr. Darcy type. I recently discovered April White’s “The Immortal Descendants” series, and a certain Victorian student-slash- Vampire named Archer Devereaux. The second son of a British lord, Archer is a theology student at King’s College London in 1888 when he meets a feisty time-traveling American girl named Saira. His own knowledge of the Immortal Descendants draws him to help her, and their time together grows very quickly into attraction and love on his part. Even as we meet Archer 125 years later as a vampire, he is very different in many ways. At his heart, however, Archer is still the same character… attractive and charming, loyal and just, courageous and compassionate, and with the kind of love for the heroine that makes you go weak in the knees even when you are lying flat reading.

So whether you are partial to the original version, or like a little variation, Mr. Darcy still manages to bring the romance in bushels. He’s not perfect by any means, but I’ll tell you something… in my book, you can keep your Mr. Grey… I’m looking for Mr. Darcy. 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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