Guest Post: Historical Book Boyfriends by Joanna Courtney

Today I am delighted to welcome Joanna Courtney to my blog. Joanna is the author of historical novel The Chosen Queen and she has written a fantastic guest post for us. She is going to talk about book boyfriends (who doesn't love book boyfriends?) but with a twist, they are all from historical fiction! Joanna, all yours:

Eddie Redmayne – not a bit historical 
but very gorgeous!

It was lovely to read Alba’s Q&A with Kerry Fisher, author of The Island Escape, and her pick of a ‘book boyfriend’ really got me thinking. I’m a happily married woman but although I’ve long know that everyone is allowed a crush on actors (Eddie Redmayne – gorgeous!) the thought that I’m also allowed to fancy book heroes is a fantastic one and something I should have acknowledged and embraced ages ago. There are a host of wonderful romantic heroes in literature but what I want to focus on in particular is who are the best hunks in historical fiction as all those kings and dukes, warriors and warlords are rich pickings for readers. 

It’s been very interesting talking to my own readers about which men they fancy in my novel, The Chosen Queen. It’s set in the run up to 1066 and follows the story of Edyth of Mercia who is married, first to King Griffin of Wales, a sparkling but dangerous red-headed warrior, and then to Harold of Wessex, also very much a warrior but of the blonde, Saxon variety and – in my book at least – a softer character. It emerges from feedback, that on the whole readers, although they love Harold, fancy Griffin more. It seems bad boys always capture the eye, even when the eye is trained nearly 1000 years back!

King Griffin – in my dreams!

So, who are the hottest historical heros?

I’d have to plump instantly for Mr Darcy but I’m going to ban him from my list as he wasn’t a ‘historical’ hero but very much totty of his time. Jane Austen was writing contemporary fiction when she created him, so he’s out. I’m looking for men created by contemporary authors but set in past times and, as I love my history really historical, I’m looking for those set in long past times.

Marshall from the cover of 
The Greatest Knight

William Marshall. William is the hero of two of the brilliant Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels, The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. I know Elizabeth professes herself a little bit in love with him and no wonder. He’s a twelfth-century self-made man, who clawed his way out of relative poverty to become the greatest knight of his age. He’s also, in the wonderful books at least, a loving and exciting husband and a real family man. He’s handsome, determined, powerful and charming – what’s not to like?!

Gratuitous picture of handsome priest

Matthew Bartholomew. This man is not, in any way, your average hero, but there’s something utterly gorgeous about Susanna Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew. He’s a physician and teacher in Michaelhouse College Cambridge in the 1300s who seems to end up forever investigating mysterious murders. He’s intelligent, witty, kind, and quietly daring, ahead of his time in medical thinking, and a commanding man with a shy eye for the ladies. He comes across as being both fun company and rather sexy – definite book-boyfriend material.

Aneurin Barnard as Richard III
Richard III. I’ve had something of a soft spot for Richard III ever since my first history lesson at secondary school where we studied a portrait of him in which his legendary hunchback was clearly painted on after his death to blacken his reputation. A troubled younger son, he seems to me to have always had a bad press and I loved the way the hugely talented Phillipa Gregory looked at history from his side in The Kingmaker’s Daughter. It didn’t hurt, either, that Aneurin Barnard, the actor who played Richard in the TV version of The White Queen (which included The Kingmaker’s Daughter and The Red Queen) was ethereally hot. If you’re looking for a dark, handsome, sensitive king, Richard’s your man.

Geoffrey Chaucer. Perhaps not an obvious pick but Chaucer, as portrayed in Vanora Bennet’s fascinating book The People’s Queen, is – as you might imagine from such a literary great – a warm, intelligent, irreverent and humorous character that you can’t help, despite yourself, falling a little bit in love with. The novel is about the rise and fall of Alice Perrers, mistress of Edward III, and features Chaucer as her friend and protector. Theirs is an unusual and fascinating relationship and really drew me in. Perhaps, as a fan of medieval literature from my A-level days on, I was always going to fall for this key figure, but he’s definitely got ancient geek-appeal!
         Portrait of Chaucer – not sexy but cute?    Paul Bettany as Chaucer – sexy and cute!
Bradley James as Arthur 
in BBC’s Merlin

King Arthur. I specialised in Arthurian literature in my third year at college and have always been fascinated by the elusive king, too often relegated to a back seat in his own stories. Strictly speaking, he’s more mythical than historical, created by year upon year of layered storytelling, but what’s wonderful about the legends of Arthur is that, long before Game of Thrones came along, authors were creating a pseudo-historical character who was everything anyone wanted of a hero, so I think he deserves to be in this list. Besides – I fancy him! Which book? There are many, but in terms of near-contemporary writers, it’s still hard to beat the great T H White’s The Once and Future King.

Thank you so much Joanna for this fantastic guest post! You had me swooning with all these amazing book boyfriends! Also, I need to start reading more historical fiction, right now!

Joanna Courtney is the author of The Chosen Queen, the first in the Queens of the Conquest trilogy which follows the stories of the women vying to be Queen of England in 1066. Published by Pan Macmillan, it’s available now in hardback and to pre-order in paperback for September 2015.

Blurb: 1066: A date that changed the course of history; a date that changed her life forever
Love should be free - that is what Edyth Alfgarsdottir has always believed. As a young girl she witnessed Earl Harold standing barefoot in his handfast marriage to the beautiful Lady Svana and has yearned for her own love match ever since.

Amongst England's royal court, marriages are not often chosen for love and political matches are rife while King Edward is still without an heir. When her family are exiled to the wild Welsh court, Edyth unexpectedly finds herself falling for the charismatic Griffin - first King of all of Wales. Becoming his Queen catapults Edyth onto the opposing side of a bitter feud between England and Wales. She has to grow up fast but has the support and encouragement of her closest friend, Lady Svana.

Years later, Edyth is in line to take the crown of England. This time the lines of love and duty are far more blurred. As 1066 dawns, Edyth and Svana will be asked to make an even greater sacrifice, perhaps the greatest of all. In the midst of war, can love - and freedom - survive?

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2 comentaris

  1. Can't beat a man in armour!!! Hope The Chosen Queen turns you on to historical fiction too Alba. xx

    1. So true! With the image of Harold of Wessex and King Griffin in my head, I'm sure it will! Can't wait to read it!

      Thanks Joanna for writing such a fantastic post! :) xx