Whenever I start reading a new romance novel, one of my absolute favorite things to do is picture a hunk of a celebrity in the male leading role. Admit it, you do it too! Don’t you? Please say yes so that I don’t feel like a complete and total weirdo. I feel it’s easier to visualize the actions of the characters when I picture celebrities, so that it almost plays out like a movie in my mind. Sure, there are times when I’ll picture someone completely fictitious, or the male model on the cover will be so delicious that I’ll just picture him instead. But 9 times out of 10 I can’t help but picture a celebrity, and below are some of my favorite go-to choices.
My Current Crush
My go-to actor of choice has changed dramatically throughout the years. Hell, when I was in middle school it used to be Ben Affleck for crying out loud. For the past couple of years though, the actor I always seem to picture as my romantic leading hunkenstein is…drum roll please…Paul Wesley. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, he plays Stefan on one of my favorite guilty pleasure TV shows, The Vampire Diaries. For the rest of you who still don’t have a freakin’ clue who I’m talking about, just look to the photo!
Yup, this is the gorgeous man I have the tendency to picture whenever I start a new book. When I read Fifty Shades of Grey, this was my Christian. Luke Williams in Come Away With Me, Drew Evans in Tangled, Colton Donavan in Driven, the list goes on and on. Now, I think there are a few legitimate reasons why Mr. Wesley is an ideal go-to celebrity for my romance novel reading.
1. By God his hair. Not too short, not too long, just perfect for running your fingers through. Also, depending on the lighting it can fluctuate between brown and blonde. This means that he can fit into a broader range of author descriptions.
2. His Age. I still find it hard to believe, but Mr. Wesley is 32 years old. Considering he plays a lifelong teenager on The Vampire Diaries, I like to think he can be pictured as any romantic lead between the ages of 20-35.
3. The Body. I don’t think any explanation is needed here.
4. The Range. Yeah, I know, The Vampire Diaries isn’t exactly Emmy worthy, but because I’ve seen him portray his character of Stefan from the late 1800s to today, I have no difficulty picturing Mr. Wesley as a brooding billionaire in a contemporary romance, or a ship’s captain in a historical one.
The Battle of the Scotsmen
Sadly, Mr. Wesley can’t be pictured every time. I always have to find someone different whenever a lead is featured with an accent. It seems that more and more authors are choosing to depict a good ‘ole Scottish lad as their hero (not that I blame them), and this brings me to perhaps one of the most famous Scots of romance novel history: Jamie Fraser in Outlander.
I first read Outlander in 2007. How do I remember the year? Because that’s when the movie Atonement first came out. In the film, we have the dashing James McAvoy (a real-life Scot) fall in love with Keira Knightley (a real-life Brit), and when I first read Outlander they quickly became my Jamie and Claire. In this instance it had less to do with their physical appearance, and more to do with their accents. I was having trouble hearing Jamie’s voice in my head with a Scottish accent, so as a compromise I would watch a few online interviews of James McAvoy to hear the lilt of his brogue and voila, I have pictured him as Jamie Fraser ever since.
But alas, we have a new Scotsman on the block, and that would be Mr. Sam Heughan. He actually plays Jamie in the Starz Outlander series, and has come to replace my go-to Scottish actor of choice, not just for when I read Outlander, but for practically every book which features a male lead from the Highlands. He just wears that kilt so damn well.
Picturing a celebrity when reading a romance novel can be delightful, especially when you get to the raunchier scenes. However, there are times when things don’t work out so perfectly, and you’re sort of forced to ignore some of the character’s traits or mannerisms. Prime example: in Outlander, Jamie is a very tall red-head, standing at over 6 feet tall. In real life, James McAvoy has short brown hair, and is about 5’7”, which means I’m taller than him! I remember whenever I read the first few books, and Claire would describe how his long red hair was in a plait, I would just sort of skip over it and pretend it didn’t happen. Not very conducive to losing yourself in the story.
I have a feeling that at this point about half of you out there are thinking back on all of the different celebrities you may have pictured throughout the years in your reading, romance or otherwise, and the other half of you probably think I’m a border-line schizo who needs to have her head examined. If you’re the former, feel free to share who you picture in the comment section! If you’re the latter, you probably aren’t completely out of line.