Creepy, or Romantic?

“He doesn’t blame you for ruining a potentially romantic moment? This may be a boy to hold on to.”

“Okay, who says the moment was romantic? Does “tell me what to do, I’ll do anything for you” sound romantic? OR CREEPY?”

“Creepy,” admitted Dad.

“Romantic,” said Mom.

“Seriously, Mom?”

“Look, for tens of thousands of years women have been trying to wrest control from men,” said Mom. “Ever since men figured out the connection between sex and babies, they have tried to control women’s choices. We’ve had to fight for every right we have, from being counted as human beings to working in any job we choose to perform. When a man hands you the power rather than trying to control you? That’s romantic in my book.”

“Is that why Dad’s home cooking dinner while you’re out working your dream job?”

“Hey, I have an interview for Monday,” said Dad in an injured tone of voice.

“No, but I doubt I would have married him if he wasn’t the kind of man who would do that for me,” said Mom coolly.

When I was a teenager, I was in love with Rochester from Jane Eyre. I still am, a little bit. I loved how forceful and passionate he was, and I admired Jane for her ability to stand up to him. I still love Jane for that, but I can’t see Rochester quite the same way any more. He’s a liar, he treats Jane like a possession, and he toys with her emotions for his own ends.  Yes, she teaches him a lesson, and so I still love the book, but I don’t think it’s a good model for romance. I have come to prefer Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

The Byronic hero is still popular today, especially in Young Adult fiction. Edward Cullen, Christian Grey… People even go nuts for Severus Snape!  I guess girls love the passionate man, the one who is desperate to get the girl at any cost. We want to be adored, and pursued, and to feel confident in his affections. Luke-warm “yeah, I guess you’re all right” love doesn’t get our motors running in the same way.

But seriously, that doesn’t mean that the guy has to be a jerk. 

Rochester tries to marry Jane under false pretenses, knowing she would refuse if she knew how things really stood. Edward Cullen constantly ignores Bella’s demands. He tries to stop her from seeing her best friend. Christian Grey… well… I don’t think I even need to say any more. Can’t we have more heroes who adore passionately, but respect boundaries? More love interests who listen to the word “no”? Can’t we have a romance where the man passively allows the woman to make a choice, while worshipping from afar? We need more men like Fitzwilliam Darcy, who makes a proposal, accepts it, and then backs off and gives the girl some space.

I wanted to make a book like that.

Enter Howard Mullins.

Howard, or Howie as he prefers to be called, is a zombie. He isn’t like those vampire lovers, who want to hunt and capture and penetrate. Howie is more of the patiently-waiting type of heroes. Howie just really, really likes Stella’s mind. He wants to be with her, but he backs off when he is told. He worships her, but he respects her decisions. He cooks. He cleans. He wants to make her happy by serving her.

The decision, ultimately, is up to Stella.