When I say “absent-minded professor,” do you think of Jerry Lewis, the buck-toothed wonder, sporting a Three Stooges Moe 'do while screeching, “Hey laaaaai-dy!”
Or does your mind wander to Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones, cute as can be in his horn-rimmed glasses, little bow tie, and tweed suit? If the latter, then welcome to the Romance sub-genre group of “Girls Who Make Passes at Hunky Guys in Glasses.”
Don't you love a good geeky hero? These guys spend all their time in laboratories, or on archeological digs, or writing treatises on newly discovered flora. Their concentration and absorption is all-encompassing. Their field of study rules their lives. They have no time for interruptions, for the mundane workings of the world, and they resent heartily being forced to deal with the real world. When the real world includes a woman—egad!—it is even worse. Oh, how they rail! How they whine! If only they could be left alone with their beakers to—wait . . . is that an ankle? A shapely bosom? Maybe further study is called for.
In Laura Lee Guhrke's Guilty Pleasures, Daphne Wade works for Anthony, Duke of Tremore, restoring and cataloging the artifacts from the Roman Villa he unearthed on his property. Daphne was smitten with Anthony at first sight, but Anthony sees nothing but his project. He doesn't even recognize Daphne as a person; she is part of the well-run machinery he has put into place. When forced by his sister to look at Daphne as a woman, he declares that she has “no feminine appeal. . . . The girl's as noticeable as a stick insect on a twig.” Ouch. Well, Daphne, heartbroken, makes herself seen by giving her notice, by standing up to him and calling him out on his loutish behavior. Anthony must take notice. She “lifted her face to look up at him. The moment she did, he forgot whatever he had been about to say. She had beautiful eyes. This was the first time he could recall seeing her . . .” Yes, indeedy, Mr. Duke. Wake up! There are more interesting things on your property than mosaics.
Baxter St. Ives, in Amanda Quick's Affair, is mightily miffed that he has to leave his experiments in order to find a murderer, especially as he will have to consort with Charlotte Arkendale in order to do so. Everyone he knows agrees with him when he says, “I not only look dull, I am dull.” Charlotte sees the dangerous man lurking beneath his spectacles—his inner Indiana underneath his Dr. Jones—and she drives him crazy. “Good God, he was moving about the laboratory. He was pacing. He never paced. . . . And he was seething. He never seethed. Seething, like pacing, was a sign of a lack of self-mastery. It was a signal that emotion, rather than reason, ruled one's brain. It was too much for a serious-minded, methodical, logical sort.” Baxter St. Ives is a doomed man.
But this is what attracts me to the Geek Hero. He thinks that his calling is his entire life. Nothing could be as important as the next discovery. Then his whole world gets all discombobulated by a woman, by something as illogical and unpredictable as love. He has been figuratively dope-slapped. He is forced by—qu'elle horreur!—emotions to reassess his priorities. Watching that transformation from preoccupied geek to loving, if still nerdy, lover is pure fun. And, oh, to be the woman that steams up Dr. Jones's glasses!
Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com.