I’ve been in a romance mood lately for some reason, so I thought I’d revisit some of my favorite literary crushes over the years!
Elementary & Middle School
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Char – I reread Ella over and over again in elementary and middle school and it was my first “real” princess story after all the Disney movies. A Cinderella retelling, Char (short for Charming) is a curious and insightful young man who figures out that the something different about Ella is something he can learn to live with and eventually helps her realize that she can break her own curse.
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jed – I’ve got a thing for smart guys. Another Cinderella retelling, Jed is Ella’s tutor after the ball, after Ella’s accepted the prince’s proposal, but before she really gets to know the guy she’s promised to marry. Who she does get to know, is Jed. He’s sweet, brave, supportive, and helps Ella realize that she shouldn’t give up on herself just to marry a prince.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Eric – Bridget was my favorite of the girls in the Sisterhood and her summer at soccer camp was something I always thought would be super fun. Eric, her coach at camp, is a dream boat. He doesn’t get a ton of page-time, so he’s hard to get to know, but he’s around for the whole series and by the end of Sisterhood Everlasting, he’s shown what a great and supportive person he is.
Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech
Alex – Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech – Alex was probably my first school girl book crush. I related so much to Mary Lou – she was just your average kid and she had a crush on the cute boy in her class, the adorable Alex. Absolutely Normal Chaos is about so much more than Mary Lou’s crush, but it’s a sweet elementary school romance.
High School & College
Jessica Darling quintet by Megan McCafferty
Marcus – I’m so excited the Jessica Darling series is getting a makeover and a reboot in July 2021! Marcus is such a bad boy, but of course, with a heart. He’s definitely screwed up in his life and made some pretty serious mistakes, but once he opens his eyes to what’s in front of him, he’s fiercely loyal and still a witty smart ass.
The Ex-Debutante by Linda Francis Lee
Jack – The Ex-Debutante was my first “adult” book, and Jack the first “adult” romantic interest I read about in college. Barring the fact that he’s a Texan (I’m such a New Englander it’s not even funny), he was the perfect verbal sparring partner for protagonist Carlisle, and their relationship had a Sweet Home Alabama feel to it.
Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund
Poe (Jamie) – Rites of Spring (Break) by Diana Peterfreund – It breaks my heart that the Secret Society Girl books aren’t available anywhere anymore. I loved them for their witty heroine, Amy, and the classic hate-to-love romance with Poe. He’s such a brooding douchebag in the first book, but by the time spring break rolls around, he’s charmed the socks off just about every reader (and of course Amy!)
All-American Girl by Meg Cabot
David – David is the son of the president, the president that protagonist Sam saves from an assassination attempt. They meet while in art classes and suddenly have to spend a lot more time together as the president honors Sam for her life-saving. David is sweet and kind, but not afraid to stick up for himself when Sam treats him like an idiot. Definitely a teen heartthrob with a heart and brain of his own.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Marco – I read The Night Circus while in Ecuador for a family wedding and so the combination of reading an escapist fantasy in a locale very different than my home made it feel all the more magical. Marco is a perfect foil to Celia and I love their love story.
City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
Max – There are few love interests better than a sure-of-himself suave prince and Max is one of the best! He’s witty and funny, and bonus, lives in a legit palace in Prague.
The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman
Quentin – I have such a strong love/hate relationship with Quentin and frequently get into loud discussions about him with friends and coworkers. Quentin is far from perfect and often flat out idiotic, but he’s the one good character translation from book to show and I love him in both iterations.
A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
Rhysand – I have a thing for bookish bad boys. I was never a fan of Tamlin and preferred Lucien until Rhys showed up. And then, well, if you haven’t read ACOTAR yet, I certainly won’t spoil anything, but he is the most supportive dude in the world and I’m pretty certain is modeled off of Sarah’s husband, Josh.
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
Sam – Of course both SJM series would be on this list. I loved Sam from the moment we were introduced to him memory in Throne of Glass and so to go back and read the prequels and get the full details of what happened to him broke my heart.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Marko – Marko the character is made all the better by Fiona Staples magnificent drawings of him. The hopeless romantic, loving father, ultimate guy goals dude that he is, if you haven’t read up to the hiatus point, save yourself the agony of the cliffhanger at the end of the last volume and wait to read it until Saga resumes, assuming it one day will.
Giant Days by John Allison, et al.
McGraw – Another graphic novel crush, McGraw is one of the most solid, and stoic, characters I’ve ever had the delight to read. He’s very much a Nick Offerman type, but generally quieter. He has a calming grace about him and often is seen soothing dear Susan.
Royally Matched by Emma Chase
Henry – Henry, Henry, Henry. Very much inspired by another Prince Henry, dear Harry (really Henry) Mountbatten-Windsor. He’s a troublemaker with a big heart and while he doesn’t always get things right the first time, he never gives up.
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Tric – Tric was always happy to ride along with Mia, letting her steer the way, always supporting her, always making sure she was happy, but never to the point of silencing himself to focus solely on her (at least while fully alive). He’s a great character and I loved seeing him change and evolve throughout the series.