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Casting the AAR Top Ten Romance Novels

ioanIn 2010 readers voted on their Top 100 favorite romance novels. Some of these have been made and remade into films, but many of the top 10 haven’t. Isn’t it time to give Hollywood a nudge and help the powers that be to cast the crucial roles in our favorites?

That’s today’s game: Cast the Top Ten.  Let’s start from number ten and work our way to the top. I’ll explain my picks, but the real question is whom you would cast in your favorite book.  In case you’ve forgotten who’s who in the books, there’s a link to the AAR reviews to jog your memory. And the actors’ names are linked to their IMDB pages.

#10 – The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley:  Obviously Lord Ian is crucial. After seeing Ioan Gruffudd in the movie Amazing Grace I’ve thought he was one of the most underused and under-challenged actor in the business. He would be perfect for Lord Ian. Beth, Lord Ian’s love interest, is a little more difficult since she must be understanding enough to take on Lord Ian and still show the weariness of being a widow. How I remembered Leslie Coutterand is beyond me. But she exudes the two traits I think are essential in Beth.

#9 – The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt: Edward is a challenge, so gruff and pock marked, but not too pock marked. My choice is Josh Brolin, especially after seeing him in the movie True Grit where I realized he could act so well I couldn’t recognize him. Edward would be a piece of cake for him. Anna needs to look small and wren-like, so my choice is Julie Delpy, who would not let him overpower her.

#8 – The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Okay, sue me. I have to put Matt Damon somewhere, and here seems to fit best. I think he could easily bring out Anthony’s devil-may-care yet vulnerable demeanor perfectly. Kate, however, needs to be strong enough that he doesn’t take over. So why not Eloise Mumford who has a kind of perky hardness to her?

#7 – Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh: This book is in my personal Top Ten, so I’ve thought a lot about who I would cast. Hands down my favorite for Wulfric (and the actor I see in my mind’s eye when I read the book) is Richard Armitage. Who else has nearly the nose? But whom to pair with him? My choice is Anna Paquin with the spunky self-confidence to peel away Wulf’s reserve and find his humanity.

#6 – Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale: This one’s difficult because Christian needs to retain his upperclass demeanor while being able to portray the struggle of a stroke victim. My nomination, Rufus Sewell, is another under-used actor who has played madmen and kings. Maddie, also, is a challenge to cast since she needs to be someone who can deliver the lines in Quaker speech without sounding so quaint and unreal that it becomes unbelievable that these two actually love each other. After seeing her in Temple Grandin and other excellent movies, I think Claire Danes would be up for the challenge.

#5 – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Jamie and Claire. Icons of romance. How can they be cast? Well, I’d like to see Jim Parrack tackle Jamie with Leighton Meester as Claire. They aren’t big box office names, but I think both of them would be brilliant.

#4 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Okay, this has been made and remade and then for good measure remade again and again. Hasn’t it been done to death? And who could possibly play Darcy and Elizabeth better than Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle? I’d like to see Alexander Skarsgard and Julia Stiles take a crack at the roles. Skarsgard’s reserve mixed with Stiles’ sassiness would enliven this classic.

#3 – Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas: Who could play someone dangerously handsome  better than Hugh Jackman? He looks aristocratic, but he can play someone with a dark side beautifully. Keri Russell as Evie has the innocent yet tough look that would balance the story and keep Jackman’s Sebastian from stealing the show.

#2 – Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas: Really, there’s no reason to like Derek Craven except for the fact that Kleypas makes him more than his background and street smarts. To play him calls for someone as strong and driven. My choice, Karl Urban, is another good, under-used actor who would be perfect for the part. To tame his alpha maleness, Sara needs to be someone who exudes serious intentness, whom audiences would believe carries and uses a gun during a time when women shouldn’t even know guns existed: in other words, Sophia Myles, another under-used but excellent actress.

#1 – Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase: I own this book. I’ve tried to read it several times, mostly when it appears in lists like this. But I’ve never been able to get past the second chapter. So while I’ve read and enjoyed the rest of the books on this Top Ten list, I have no casting for this book. Others will have to cast Sebastian and Jessica. I can’t.

Now it’s your turn. Whom would you cast for the lovers in your favorite romance? Inquiring minds would like to know.

-Pat Henshaw

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