Are you lovesick? Dr. Lovinkind has your romance affliction diagnosed!
Greetings, and welcome to the second edition of Dr. Lovinkind’s Guide to Common Romance Medicine. I studied for seven years (four of them while wearing a false eyepatch!) at Woodiwiss University’s Romantic Medical School and earned my residency at New York’s famous St. Kinsale’s Secret Baby Research Hospital.
I’ve since opened my own practice to offer exemplary medical care to world-weary courtesans, plot moppets with lisps, and many, many, many cases of amnesia. While I wish to remain anonymous in order to protect the identity of my own patients, I am more than willing to share my expertise on the unique nature of Romance Medicine.
I apologize for the delay between entries in my column. I’ve spent the intervening time working for Doctors without Watches, a time-travel initiative where romance doctors are sent back in time to educate historical romance protagonists about appropriate sexual health–teaching them about birth control, warning about STIs, and dispelling the myth that cunnilingus will give you face-leprosy.
Every time you encounter a disease-free historical romance hero who is unusually wise in the ways of French Letters, Dutch Caps, Swedish Post-It Notes, and other forms of prophylactic European stationary – that’s the work of Doctors Without Watches.
Maintaining a healthy body is an important goal for all human beings, but for romance protagonists, fitness is as much a matter of the mind as it is of the body.
The romance hero’s brain is uniquely designed to process angst, guilt, and self-loathing at an extremely high rate. Brooding repetitively over lost loves, past slights, neglectful parents, and sad childhoods consumes such a large amount of energy that the body has to draw more deeply from the hero’s supply of fat and muscle to keep the brain from boiling itself like an egg inside the hero’s skull.
To keep up with the drain, the hero’s body builds and repairs muscle mass at a faster rate–a phenomenon known as the Kleypas Effect. Even heroes with predominantly sedentary lifestyles that leave little time for physical fitness (such as ruthless lawyers, swamped CEOs, and aristocrats born before the advent of CrossFit) develop six packs from an early age. They might spend most of their day sitting behind a desk, but their brain is pumping iron. Angsty angsty iron.
As most romance heroines eventually discover, romance heroes are secretly quite sensitive. While most of this sensitivity is emotional, there is also a physical component.
The skin of a romance hero is extraordinarily reactive–not only to the touch of the heroine, but to UV rays and physical trauma. Romance heroes tan five times as easily as regular human males–a 19th century duke can develop a healthy golden-brown complexion in mere days, despite spending all of his time haunting his crumbling manor in England, a country that receives approximately fourteen hours of sunlight a year. Tragically, because of this, redheaded romance heroes rarely survive to adulthood.
This dermatological sensitivity also expresses itself in a tendency to scar easily, particularly about the face. Anything from a careless paper cut to a popped zit can produce a dramatic, jagged scar down the side of a hero’s face that will haunt his future, cause crowds of people to withdraw in disgust, and forever destroy all chances at love. Sydnam Butler from Mary Balogh’s Simply Love may tell people he received his disfigurement from French torturers, but in reality he simply cut himself shaving.
Life for a romance heroine is not all wine and roses. I mean, it’s mostly wine and roses, but when it’s not, I’m there to help.
Approximately 1 in 4 romance heroines suffer from radiating neck pain, headaches, and posture problems caused by a condition known as the Quinn Pinch. Whenever a typical romance heroine wants to express antagonism, defiance, or an inner strength belied by her curvy-yet-somehow-waifish appearance, she will jut out her chin.
While an effective display of naturally feminine power, overusing the gesture can pinch a particularly painful nerve at the base of the neck. While the causes and symptoms of the Quinn Pinch are well known, heroines continually to fall prey to this condition. Worse, many heroines pair the jutting chin with a set of Flashing Eyes, an ocular manoeuver that doubles the gesture’s potency, but at the risk of permanent retinal damage.
I’ve tried dissuading my romance heroine patients from performing this gesture–in some cases, I’ve outright forbidden them to do it – but for some strange reason this only makes them do it more. Thus, the Quinn Pinch remains the silent killer of the romance heroine population.
Have any burning questions for Dr. Lovinkind? Wish to contribute your own findings on similar romantic ailments? Please share in the comments!
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Elizabeth Vail hails from Alberta, Canada. A book reviewer and aspiring YA writer, she currently runs the review blog Gossamer Obsessions under the screenname AnimeJune.