1818dandRike’s post yesterday on plotlines that could use a break got me thinking.   I’ve got plenty of kvetches, believe me – many of them mentioned already by Rike – but, to put a Pollyanna spin on things (and, okay, so I am not often Pollyanna-ish, but let’s just run with it) there is at least one plot device that works for me always every time.  Put an uptight brainiac seriously in need of having some pins pricked in his or her pretentions together with a casual, laid back type who knows how to deliver a zinger and I’m done for.  Totally done for.

A friend of mine says I like “goofball” heroes and, to some degree, I think she’s right.  But humor takes fierce intelligence (Jon Stewart, anyone?) and I find it incredibly attractive when someone is confident enough in himself that he doesn’t need to hit others in the face with his brains. It’s fun (not to mention sexually exciting) to discover that someone you initially underestimated is w-a-a-a-a-y smarter than you thought, right?

So, forthwith and with no more verbal diarrhea, here are my fave brainiac/goofball romances:

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase:  Rupert and Daphne.  (Insert sigh here.)  The verbal fencing in this book is off the charts fabulous.  The reasons I love this one are legion and, hey, if you love it, too, you know why. It is a perfect confection composed of romance and laughter in equal parts. I’ve read others on the Internet say that they don’t think Rupert is as intelligent as Daphne.  I disagree.  Completely.  And, I’d venture to say, Daphne does, too.

Bridal Favors by Connie Brockway:  I think this one is a bit neglected in the pantheon of greatness that is the author’s backlist and, though I loved Bridal Season and My Dearest Enemy and All Through the Night is my favorite historical romance of all time, this is the book I’ve sighed over in multiple rereads.  Not only is it laugh out loud funny with both verbal sparring and situational humor, it’s also incredibly romantic. Funny people feel and the author makes you believe it.

Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Hero Bobby Tom Denton is an ex-professional football player, but I think his primary talent really lies in being a professional goofball.  Bobby Tom is always underestimated.  Bobby Tom always pays.  And Bobby Tom is always affable when he’s working his way through numerous accommodating groupies.  Gracie is uptight.  Make that way, way, way uptight.  Not to mention the sexual omega to Bobby Tom’s alpha. They are true opposites in almost every sense and their chemistry is combustible.  Heaven, Texas is deliciously funny and…well, just plain flat out completely delicious.

Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh:  Of my four favorites, this is the only one in which the roles are reversed, with heroine Christine the prick-er and Wulf the prick-ee.  The book (which incredibly and tragically does not seem to be currently available at Amazon) is not especially funny and strikes an altogether different tone than my other three favorites, but it is heartbreakingly romantic and emotionally real.  As the author’s homage to Pride and Prejudice (the original brainiac/goofball romance?), it is my favorite of all books by this prolific – and incredible – author.  Unlike P&P, the author allows us inside Wulf’s head as he stumbles into love and those are the passages that I’ve reread many, many times.  They feel special in a way I don’t really think I can articulate.

So, what do you think?  Is the brainiac/goofball a favorite plot device of yours?  Is there another plot for which you are always a sucker?

-Sandy AAR

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