The worst part of crushing on fictional characters is the realisation that THEY'RE NOT REAL and never will be (if I'm wrong and there's a John Thornton somewhere out there then watch out, I'm coming for you). The other pretty rubbish part of all this is, as the title suggests, the unrealistic expectations these fictional cheeky chappies give you. The proposals for one, are always so emotionally wrought and heartfelt, full of sexual tension and unguarded looks. If someone doesn't propose to me like that then I'm going to feel like life has failed me.
Then there is the dark side to our fictional encounters. It almost makes you think it's ok to be insulted by someone who isn't man enough to admit to his feelings (*cough* Darcy *cough*), or thought of as a bit of a loose woman because your fella doesn't care to ask whether you might have a secret brother on the run from the police (*cough* John *cough*). I mean, COME ON.
I may never get my Henry or John or Frederick but for me, falling for fictional characters is part of the joy of reading. These men may not exist in any form, their passions and attributes are completely imagined, but the ride is definitely worth it. Yes, my romantic notions may be a little far-fetched (don't worry, I won't go jumping in front of rioting crowds and get knocked down by a rock for my man) but they are my notions and they remind me of the books I've read and the reading journey I've been on. Figuratively speaking, all those characters have become notches on my bedpost reminding me of where I've been, what I've read and who I've loved (albeit unrequitedly).
I have unrealistic expectations and I blame:
1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (and the BBC mini series with Richard Armitage)
Oh, John! You were such a meany and a bit of a douche at times but so in love with Margaret (who I secretly wished was me), and so emotionally stunted that you didn't know how to deal with that love (I blame the mother). Foolish Margaret for turning down the first proposal, I'd marry you in an instant.
2. Persuasion by Jane Austen (and the BBC series with Ciaran Hinds)
Oh, Captain Wentworth! You with your stiff upper lip, your pride and your delightful naval uniform - oh, how I wish you'd pine for me like you did for Anne. I'd never let any silly girls jumping of the Cobb in Lyme get in my way, or ridiculously snobby relatives, or slightly dodgy cousins. And yes, you could write me love letters any day.
3. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Oh, Henry! A librarian who is so often naked - what's a girl to do?! It's probably masochistic to love you but screw it, I like peace and quiet every so often anyway.
In a very roundabout way, this is me sharing my top 3 'romantic' reads. My choices are not earth-shattering, far from it, but all the women in the world who adore these books can't be wrong.