I was so close to writing ‘broody men’ as the title before I realized that broody and brooding have entirely different meanings. Let me just make one thing clear—the men I am going to be talking about are not obsessed with babies, at least not at the moment.
I have always loved a brooding man. There is just something so darn irresistible about a man who has a dark past he does not wish to speak of and a brooding intensity whenever the woman he will inevitably fall in love with is near.
As much as I would love to say that the gorgeous, brooding man who wants nothing more than to protect and love his heroine is completely true to life, I must be realistic and admit that no man is that perfect. However, this brooding man who has become the stereotype recently in both books and films, must have sprung from someone’s imagination. And what is imagination fueled by? Real life.
Men are not as vocal when it comes to their feelings as women are, and I believe it is from this natural propensity for suffering in silence that the brooding hero has emerged. Let me give you two examples of a hero and then you can guess which one I like more:
Alec smiled at the coffee barista, thanked her, and moved over to wait for his drink. He took his coffee from the counter and selected a table by the window. Sliding onto the vinyl seat, he sipped the steaming coffee before removing his coat and scraping the hair back from his eyes. He pulled his phone from his pocket and checked the messages, chuckling when he read a message from his best mate before turning to watch the door. He was waiting for her.
Alec dropped the coins on the counter carelessly and grabbed the coffee. He headed straight for a dark corner and slumped into a chair, slinging his feet onto a nearby stall and raking a hand through his messy hair. His dark eyes roved about the coffee shop from his vantage point. He burnt his mouth on the coffee and cursed under his breath before returning his surveillance to the door. He was waiting for her.
Let’s be honest—who are you more intrigued by? I gave them the same name, but the first was an ordinary bloke, whilst the second was brooding. Maybe I am the only one, but there is just something about the second guy….
Brooding men are usually carrying burdens from their past, possibly emotional or physical pain. They are masculine and yet protective. They are almost always downright gorgeous.
John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South is a perfect example of a brooding man. He is an ambitious mill owner during the industrial revolution, and to Margaret Hale, a newcomer to the north, he seems like a heartless employer. Little does she realize the past that drives him forward and, most importantly, makes him the brooding man he is.
Then there is the classic Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a character who appears to be a proud and rude gentleman. Yet, he is a man who has a past—a past involving a gentleman who took advantage of his sister’s naivety, and a past in which he lost his father. That casts him in a new light, does it not?
Finally, there is Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. He is not only brooding but quite troubled, shackled to an insane wife whom he was tricked into marrying. Yet, although his flawed human side tries to persuade Jane to be his mistress, his honor shines through when he attempts to save his wife from the house fire.
I would categorize all the characters above as brooding men, not as bad boys. You see, the first difference between the bad boy and the brooding man is the latter is exactly that—a man and not a teenage boy. Second, whilst a bad boy can maintain his charm for a while, he is usually either bad through and through, or his badness stems from selfishness. A brooding man, on the other hand, can be bad, but he has an honorable character, even if the world has bashed him about a bit and spun his moral compass around a few times.
Seeing as I love brooding men, it is no surprise that the hero of my debut novel, The Widow’s Redeemer, is another of that kind. What made the Viscount Beauford the irresistibly brooding Regency hero that he is? If you would like to find out, look for my novel in both paperback and e-book.