Bookish Heartthrobs I Don’t Love- Inspired Fran Laniado

As much as I enjoy hate to love romances, there are just some love interests I LOVE TO HATE. I was completely inspired by Fran’s fantastic post on non-crushes and decided to share some bookish heartthrobs I’d rather not engage with!

Angel from Tess of the D’Urbervilles– yes, I love this book, and yes, I think it’s awfully romantic… but there’s an emphasis on the awful part. As much as I don’t agree with the criticism saying Angel’s worse than Alec, I *do* think there’s some credence to the idea that Angel’s not so angelic in his treatment of Tess. And (spoiler alert) it doesn’t make it better that he ends up with her sister. It kind of makes him seem more self-serving and selfish. But I don’t really have a problem with this, cos Hardy’s romances are supposed to be tragic. 

Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre– again, this doesn’t stop me loving the book- but would any woman really want to end up with a guy who already has a wife in the attic? I don’t care how nuts you claim she was- that’s some seriously dodgy shit and all that gaslighting doesn’t make it better mate.

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights– obvs. Although to be fair, I don’t see him as someone who is supposed to be a romantic heartthrob. He’s more like the warning tale of what a bad boy really looks like.

Jacob Black from Twilight– it’s amazing that Meyer created two love interests so terrible that decades later we’re still quibbling over which one is worse. And yet, for me, it’s got to be Jacob. I know there are still Jacob defenders who say that he was a good character, but was ruined in later books… However that doesn’t stop him being the pushy douchbag perve of the later books. Taking him as a whole, he’s just a weirdly possessive and stalky… only he’s doing that to a minor. Great.

Travis Maddock from Beautiful Disaster– this guy is a shitshow not a heartthrob. RUN (don’t walk) in the other direction if you come across anyone like Travis.

Chaol from Throne of Glass– I will stand by the fact that he’s an awful character. He’s mildly abusive, bullying people for being who they are, constantly critical and borderline controlling. But hey, he’s fit, so that’s all that matters, right?

Prince Rhen from Curse So Dark and Lonely– he’s too aggressive and volatile for me. And I only really liked the book that he was barely in (Grey’s great by contrast!) so yeah, not a fan.

Patch from Hush Hush– all I remember from this series is how much I wanted to punch Patch. He’s the quintessential bad-boy-dirtbag- and I hate him.

Daisy Buchanan from Great Gatsby– I decided it was a little unfair to only talk about male love interest, so can we talk about how awful Daisy really is? Not only did she choose to marry (and stay with) Tom, but her other love choice of man isn’t all that to write home about. Plus, she’s also a superficial narc who doesn’t care about her own kid and treats other people like accessories.

Alaska from Looking for Alaska– I’m not really one to label female characters as manic pixie dream girls… but boy if there was ever an example of a manic pixie dream girl, it’d be her. Plus, she’s only really there to help our main character grow (from her death I might add) so she’s basically as rubbish a love interest as you can get.

So, do you agree with any of these? And what are the bookish heartthrobs you don’t vibe with? Let me know in the comments!

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19 thoughts on “Bookish Heartthrobs I Don’t Love- Inspired Fran Laniado

  1. I think you should rethink loving Jane Eyre. The entire point of the book is to dehumanize the mentally ill. A mentally ill BIPOC woman is used as a metaphor for the shadow self of an abled white woman.
    Furthermore, there is a pro-imperialist message throughout the book and this terrible “savage” versus “civilized European” dichotomy displayed again and again.
    Bertha is black and mentally ill and does not control her emotions. Jane learns to control her emotions and therefore doesn’t become the worst version of herself, her shadow self that Bertha represents.
    That is…gross. The idea that mental illness is a moral failing is gross.
    Also, all of the characters that repeat the idea that “Heathens and savages” don’t learn to control their emotions. This is something we hear from a character who is framed as the voice of reason: Helen Burns.
    Also, the book deadass ends with a civilizing mission. An actual civilizing mission. And it’s framed in a very positive way.
    I find it very upsetting that people like Jane Eyre. You like a book that has as its main message “Blackness is weakness, mental illness is a moral failing, and imperialism is benevolent.” I just don’t understand how anyone can enjoy this book.
    Even if the message of Jane Eyre wasn’t despicable, it is dehumanizing to use a mentally ill person to represent the shadow self. I am a woman with psychosis. I have severe mental illness. I am not anyone’s shadow self.

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    1. You have valid points in regards to some aspects of the characters of Jane Eyre and how they (do or don’t) contribute to the story. Unless we exhume Charlotte Brontë from the grave and do some shady dealings with the devil to communicate with her spirit, I think people will continue to be drawn to their own thoughts of the characters and story arcs. That is one of the beauties of fiction in that the reader has the power to choose which aspects to hold near and dear to their hearts and which details are rejected and quite nonsense. But I digress. When I made my acquaintance with Jane Eyre, I was in a similar mood and of self doubt and want for identity and purpose and took great strength and inspiration from Jane’s own discovery of self and the power to choose her own life’s path. (Though this narrative is sounding quite bleak and cheesy in comparison for my admiration for and of Jane’s character development.) As far as the story of Rochester and Berthe, Brontë doesn’t really give us much explanation to the history of those two. Other authors have tried to step in and fill those gaps, such as Jean Rhys’ “Wide Sargasso Sea” and unfortunately, the time period of Brontë, herself, influences the humanity written into her characters. And all this to say, neither the author nor the reader is at fault; the novel is as it is—wonderful and flawed and biased and whatever else. I, personally, love the novel but my experience in life and where I was in those experiences sway my feelings towards the novel and characters as a whole, just as your experiences and distaste are valid in your interpretation of plot, scene, characters, all.
      I never saw Mr Rochester as a lover for Jane and can only see them as companions to sit by the fire and drink tea or whatever. The whole “love of my life” thing goes over my head in those character pairings. Even St. John Rivers as a lover is an out of the blue moment for me. I see Mr Rochester as more a father figure to Jane and St. John as a brother, as he is introduced. The whole idea of love interests in these men confuse me; Jane can be and is a *whatever expletive here* independent woman with independent thoughts that run against the grain of societal thought and or expectations of her time; she’s got a head on her own two shoulders and isn’t tied to husband to determine her lot in life. She gets to say who she is and be who she is and marry for love instead of family convenience or expectation. I am in love with her free spirit and really want to exude that freedom and confidence in self in my own thoughts and life. I spend too much time in isolation and fear in using my voice, standing up for myself/values or limiting my experiences in life because I am afraid of being bold, loud, of taking up space and being noticed. Like that one scene with Mr Brocklehurst in Mrs Reed’s house and he is questioning Jane as to her character (according to Mrs Reed’s accounts), Jane does not tolerate the intimidation and bullying of Mr Brocklehurst’s questions: “Do you know where the wicked go after death? … And what must you do to avoid it [hell]?” Jane’s reply: “I must keep in good health and not die.” brava, Jane, brava (just my thoughts and I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes, but truly sorry if I did tread upon your soles. ‘‘Twas not my intention. )

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  2. Glad to serve as your inspiration here! I definitely agree with you about most of these: Angel, Rochester, Heathcliff, Jacob and Daisy. I think I probably would dislike the others too, but I haven’t read those books.

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  3. I don’t know if it’s sad or brilliant how many of those bookish love interests I loved to hate as well while reading. I never vibed with Alaska, Daisy, Jacob or Mr Rochester. I remember actively being annoyed with all of them while reading haha

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  4. Heathcliff for sure–even beyond ‘romantic’ interest, I didn’t think much of him as a person either; Rochester fares better with me–he mightn’t be a great romantic hero and some of his doings were questionable too, but still I liked him far better than I did Heathcliff. I’d have to agree on Daisy as well

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  5. Howard Roark from The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Also that horrible narcissist from Anthem, also by Ayn Rand. I guess Rand isn’t very good at creating likeable characters. And ironically, she’s … kinda sexist?

    On the other end of the spectrum, we have Jondalar from Clan of the Cave Bear. His main job is to worship Ayla and be a porn star.

    It might be just a tad difficult to create good romantic leads. And I might get more and more hard to please as I get older. Bad character is bad in a romantic lead. But you don’t want a (male or female) Mary Sue either. So how do we thread that needle?

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    1. Hehe I can see that! Weird!

      Oof yikes!

      I completely get what you mean! I’ve realised more and more I’m just not that affected by them cos so many of them are just bland. That’s a great question. I think the best love interests (in my opinion) are just great characters in their own right!

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  6. Of the ones here I’ve read, I definitely agree! It’s been too many years since I’ve read Tess, so can’t offer an opinion on that one (other than I should reread the book!). I dislike Wuthering Heights as a whole and Heathcliff specifically — he’s a terrible love interest. And while I love Jane Eyre, I agree that the dude with a wife in the attic who tries to rush a girl into wedding vows before the truth comes out is maybe not the best choice of a husband. 🙂 I was never a fan of Jacob Black (and not just because I”m Team Edward, lol). I agree, he’s pushy and overbearing and then of course the whole Renesmee thing (shudder).

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  7. LOL yes I agree on the ones that I know here 🙂 With Tess of the D’Urbervilles the author is demonstrating the double standards, Angel is not a bad guy really but his upbringing and the society are at fault. But yes the marrying her sister at the end is kind of unpleasant… still he is trying to make it up to her family out of guilt.

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  8. I can’t stand Jane Eyre specifically because of Rochester. He spends the entire book putting Jane down, lying to her, and manipulating her because he seems to have some weird idea that her innocence can save him. It’s like he’s just using her. There is nothing romantic about that at all!

    I have a friend who loves this book because Rochester repents at the end. But, um. Jane agreed to marry him way before he expressed any sort of repentance. The final three pages of the book can’t redeem Rochester in my eyes. Jane has no idea whether this guy has changed or not when she agrees to marry him yet again!

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