…or There’s No Accounting for Taste
I’m an avid reader of the M/M romance novels. There are many paranormal, urban fantasy, dystopian and military-themed books amongst my favorites. The biggest allure of the genre stems from the fact that it delivers a vast array of fascinating and lavishly written fictional male characters. Not only are they often incredibly physically attractive but also – and more importantly – lusciously psychologically complex and multi-dimensional. Naturally, there are certain characters types that I, as a reader with a psychology training, feel more drawn to than others. As I tend to cruise within the darker, edgier and grittier spectrum of the genre, my personal preference often leans towards the heroes with flaws, emotional scars and issues or even downright antiheros.
I’ve compiled a list of my Top Five M/M Character Types, solely based on the men I enjoy reading about, taking into consideration the qualities and personality traits I find most appealing. These are the characters, who capture my attention and make me burn the midnight oil while draining my Kindle’s battery. I set about this task with alacrity, mindful, however, of the fact that creating any synopsis requires categorizing and it may therefore stink of generalization and resemble a pathetic attempt of fitting square pegs into round holes. It is not my intention to fetishize in any way, either. Nevertheless, here it is.
- A HOT MESS WITH AN ADDICTION PROBLEM:
This character type is often portrayed as someone internally conflicted, confused and damaged. The driving force fueling his addition (be it alcohol, drugs, sex, pain or other substances) is usually twofold – a powerful feeling of guilt and a sense of failure, triggered by a traumatic event, which he witnessed, caused or was unable to prevent. The addiction becomes a coping mechanism, which enables him to function in reality and deal with the pain, tragic past or disturbing memories (visions.) Despite him being someone in an obvious state of prolonged emotional disarray and struggling with problems that eventually get way out of hand, he remains desirable and maintains undeniable attractiveness or beauty. What I most love about this kind of character is the fascinating internal struggle and enormous sensitivity. The right partner, who grounds and centers him, might become his anchor; however, the strength and motivation to prevail comes from within the character himself.
Examples: Michael Rodriguez (Sutphin Boulevard by S. Hassell), Zane Garrett (Cut & Run Series by A. Roux & M. Urban), Victor Bayne (PsyCop Series by J. Castillo Price), Belimai Sykes (Wicked Gentlemen by G. Hale), Paul Guy (Eden Series by K. Moon)
- A POSSESSIVE ALPHA MALE:
This kind of character is usually physically presented as big and strong with bulging muscles wrapped around his manly frame. He typically works for some type of law enforcement agency. Due to the nature of his work, he might be deeply closeted. He’s tough, resourceful and calm in crises. His (over) protective streak runs a mile wide. He often displays controlling and domineering tendencies towards his partner, who – otherwise an accomplished and independent individual in his own right – enjoys some degree of sexual submission.
The conflicts in his relationship are usually generated by two factors. Firstly, the long-term need for secrecy and concealment of the true nature of their relationship eventually puts a huge strain on his lover. Secondly, the Alpha’s urges to extend his possessiveness and controlling behavior outside the bedroom create serious trust issues and mess with the relationship’s dynamics and its balance. As a reader, I enjoy the powerful instantaneous attraction and the character’s attempts – doomed to failure, of course – to fight and deny it, the intensity of the feelings and explosiveness of the conflicts. And all the muscles in action. What’s not to like.
Examples: Tucker Lance (All’s Fair by J. Lanyon), Sam Kage (A Matter of Time by M. Calmes), Jake Riordan (Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon), Jared MacLean (Life Lessons Series by K. Harper)
- AN IRRESISTIBLE MANWHORE:
This character type finds it impossible to keep it in his pants, whether he’s in the committed relationship or not. Therefore, being a highly sensual individual, with an incredible sex drive, he simply “does” everything with a pulse. He can be best described as a slutty charmer, effortlessly oozing heaps of raw magnetism and confidence. Equipped with zero inhibitions, spectacular sexual prowess and seductive aura, he is able to cajole anyone into doing whatever he wants by flattery, artful talk or deception. As a selfish hedonist, he keeps on hurting his partner – who at the same time he’s undeniably in love with, and who, for whatever reasons, is willing to tolerate his unfaithfulness – with his relentless cheating, flirting and the seduction of others. This kind of character strongly subscribes to the “love is love, but cock is cock.” philosophy. Even though reading about his actions makes me wish numerous times for his appendage to shrivel up and fall off (due to some terrible case of STD preferably), ultimately I end up reluctantly liking the bastard. The sex is guaranteed to be steamy and dirty, which is an undisputable bonus for me. All of this makes for a deliciously angsty, draining and crippling read, paved with intermittent heartache, tears, flashed cheeks and mad fury.
Examples: Dan MacFayden (Special Forces Series by A. Voinvov), Val Toreth (Administration Series by F. Manna), Emilio Vega (ICoS by S. Hassell & A. Lin),
- AN ADORABLE NEUROTIC:
This character type could also be described as an “intelligent idiot”. Quintessentially, he’s a person of artistic or intellectual inclination. His personality is mildly troubled and plagued with anxiety. He displays countless minor insecurities and inhibitions regarding his own self-worth, health, family or background (and/or one hundred other things). His hang-ups, self-consciousness and self-doubting result in his spending the time overthinking, overanalysing and questioning every event and motivation in a somewhat neurotic manner. This is the reason why this type of character merely demands a substantial amount of internal monologue. I usually find his half-coherent, confused ramblings highly amusing and entertaining. Overall, this kind of character enlivens the dialogue with flashes of dry humor and an occasional hysterical witty remark. Otherwise, he’s charming, quirky and extremely lovable. I invariably end up rooting for him all the way.
Examples: Adrien English (Adrien English Series by J. Lanyon), Daniel Mulligan (In the Middle of Somewhere by R. Parish), Jory Harcourt (A Matter of Time Series by M. Celeste), Boyd Beaulieu (ICoS by S. Hassell & A. Lin)
- A GLOOMY ASSASSIN:
My winning character type is deadly, armed and dangerous. Physically, he’s usually depicted as an extremely attractive man with distinctive features. He’s prone to sullenness and defined by a somber, reserved personality and somewhat withdrawn demeanor. He’s usually curt, blunt and wonderfully sarcastic. One can expect a few killing (pun intended) ironic wisecracks, falling from his lips. He tends to be introverted and aloof, which – considering his grim occupation – is not entirely surprising. Professionally with no equals amongst his peers, he struggles in normal social situations, finding human interactions puzzling. He’s psychologically scarred or emotionally stunned due to personal tragedy or abuse/torture, often resulting in a mental disorder. In brief – he’s got complexity coming out of his ears.
At the same time, he’s loyal and dedicated to his lover, who generally constitutes the only certainty in his unpredictable existence, fraught with danger and enemies. However, the deep inability to communicate and openly share feelings mars his relationship, causes complications, raises barriers between him and his partner and therefore creates a splendid opportunity for a quality angst-ridden read, which is very appealing to me. What I also find very compelling is the fact that a reader must pay heed to hints and clues dropped by the author in order understand the character’s actions and the motivation behind them, as internal monologue accompanying this kind of personality is rather limited.
Examples: Hsin Liu-Vega (ICoS by S. Hassell & A. Lin), Vadim Krasnorada (Special Forces Series by A. Voinov), Silvio Spadaro (Dark Soul Soul Series by A. Voinov), D (Zero at the Bone by J. Saville), Julian Cross (Cut & Run Series by A. Roux & M. Urban)
I’ve always wanted a crack at being a profiler. Writing this modest summary felt a little bit like that. Which was fun. However, it made me arrive to a disturbing realisation that as a reader (and possibly, more worryingly, also generally) I display some peculiar tastes, indeed. What if I were to play Doctor Frankenstein by choosing a key trait I find particularly attractive about each category and merging them into one hypothetical construct, thus generating my “ideal character”?
Hmmm. It appears he would be a possessive, promiscuous, highly-strung addict with strong murderous tendencies and possibly a serious mental disorder.
Well, damn. Isn’t he a keeper. A girl’s gotta have her standards after all.
A bilingual Londoner Kasia BB is a literary/medical translator and a proofreader. An avid reader, reviewer and book blogger, she’s currently working on her debut M/M fantasy novel, filled with the shenanigans of assassins and sexy elves. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction, coupled with a slight obsession of all things paranormal. She is a lover of MMA, nature and the great outdoors.
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