My movie star crushes star in my romance novels, and why not?





After all, we fantasize about them, idolize them and “follow” them. (I’m only referring to internet stalking, of course). We would still have posters of them shellacking our bedroom walls if dignity didn’t demand otherwise. I mean, what would the house guests say?

Screw dignity and the houseguests. 

Some of us, (at present), have slipped a glossy picture here or pinned a torn-magazine photo there. Our favorite fantasy guy may be a model, movie star, rock star or sports star. My 50 plus friend has a life-size cardboard cutout of ultimate bad boy Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy. He started out in the bedroom, where he belongs. Sadly, her husband made her put him in the garage. These pinups keep our blood hot in our veins and make us remember how fun it was to be a silly girl. I for one have my fridge plastered with portraits of Spanish tennis megastar and real-life gladiator, Rafael Nadal. Did I mention he’s wearing only his undies in these shots? His chiseled, sunbaked form greets me each and every time I reach for a snack or a cold bottle of sparkling water. And oh my, what a refreshing reach that is.

Fantasy crushes are a thing of beauty, especially when they serve a purpose. Many of my male characters have been partly inspired by my celebrity infatuations. But none more than Trevor Barrington in The Devil Duke. The character first sprang to mind when I saw Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. I nearly swooned at his depiction of the stuffy yet honorable Mr. Darcy. The world swooned as well. We all know the character was used again in Bridget Jones’s Diary. My mind set to work creating my own Mr. Darcy. I wanted more pizazz in my hero, and frankly, he needed to be a lot more fun. So I planned on making him a rake, a womanizer of the highest order, dashing and delectably wicked. Very soon, I realized my imagining only marginally resembled Mr. Darcy, but it didn’t matter. The original seed for the character was planted the day I formed my crush on Colin Firth, so I had a good base to work from. I would maintain a goodly amount of the pompous aristocrat, adding to the overall charm of the character.


When I got around to writing The Devil Duke however, Colin Firth (or Firthykins), as the women in my family refer to him, had become a bit too long in the tooth to offer the proper inspiration. (Sometimes I use the image of one of my fantasy-crushes to help me give the character life, it makes it easier to write the man if I can see him living, talking and breathing in my mind.) I often use actual men I have known (sometimes a combination) in the crafting of my male characters (wouldn’t those dudes like to know, wink wink). Each time I sat at my computer writing the dialogue for Trevor Barrington (with Colin Firth reading his lines) it just didn’t quite work. Not only was Firthykins too mature, he was just too damned stodgy. I wanted this guy to be sexy in spite of his dry wit and formal manner .I needed to recast the part.

I scanned my brain for other movie star crushes of the British variety and came up with a new favorite, a hottie of unparalleled magnetism.

Two words.

Ginger Fever aka Michael Fassbender—he did a great turn as Rochester in Jane Eyre. 



Those piercing blue eyes, that twinkle of mischief, the wolfish grin, the auburn hair, the impossibly lean physique…I could go on and on. And I did—for almost 67,000 words. See how useful fantasy crushes can be? Now Michael Fassbender is too rough around the edges to play the Duke, so again, here is where the combining comes in. Sort of like sour needs sweet in cooking or a black cocktail dress needs red lipstick, Firth needs a little Fassbender. Let’s put it this way, if Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender had a son, he’d be Trevor Barrington—a naughty redhead in a perfectly tailored suit.

So thanks Col and Fassy, Trev was a blast. I couldn’t have dreamt him up without you two.


Tessa Bowen