Apr 27 2011 6:00pm

Tokens of Affection: Romance Hero Keepsakes

Portable LoveIf the love of your life were to be taken from you, what would you keep, save, or do to have a piece of them with you…always?

We sappy ladies keep all kinds of things from the great loves of our lives; it’s just what we do. I have love letters, photos, and movie stubs from my early years with the hubby. And believe it or not, guys can be nostalgic too. My man keeps a photo of me in his wallet, one taken from high school, our first year together. His knee-jerking romantic side sweeps me off my feet and leaves me utterly speechless (and it takes a lot to shut me up).

Fiction allows us to remember those heady feelings of first love, new love, and everlasting love. There are moments while reading a great love story where I just have to sit back, press the book against my chest, and exhale a weighty sigh.

Naked in Death by J.D. RobbMen in literature give us many sigh-worthy moments. And some of those moments are what they choose to retain as tokens of their affection; in the face of utter heartbreak what have they done to make their mark on our hearts? Some of their gestures are grand, while others are private, subtle. Either way, these men, hard and broken men, saved something to remember her, to remember the love they have no longer…

Roark from J.D. Robb’s Naked In Death carries a simple grey button in his pocket. This button popped off of Eve Dallas’ suit jacket during their first meeting. Roark was so intrigued by her, captivated, in fact, that he picked up the button and kept it with him. Whenever he thought of her, he’d fumble with it, letting it move between his fingers. A small token that means so much more to the man who has it all. A wealthy man from simple means and this plastic button is worth more to him than any of his possessions. How gallant.

Bridges of Madison CountyRobert Kincaid from Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County wears a silver charm roped around his neck until his death. The circular charm bears the name Francesca, the woman who captured the nomadic photographer's heart. Four days they spent together on a small farm in Iowa; only four. He loved her, and only her, until his last breath. He wrote a song commemorating their time together. A local musician would play it for him in a jazz club. He’d sit and listen, wearing his charm and remembering those blessed four days together. His sole possessions, a camera, books, and the charm were left to Francesca when he passed thirty or so years later. An elderly woman herself, she is grief-stricken by his loss. When she too passes she asks for her ashes to be scattered by their bridge, where his ashes rest and wait for her.

Noah in The NotebookNoah Calhoun from Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook restored an old mansion for the girl who got away. No, it wasn’t something small to be hidden in a pocket or under a shirt, but it’s a testament to his devotion to Ally. He loved the home and had dreams of it being his one day. Ally told him he could do it and should. Here, they spent a summer together, within the old abandoned walls. Noah promised one day to restore it, for her. Years later, separated by circumstance, Noah fulfills his promise. The grand old home is a labor of love. The tireless days working, sanding, painting, all for a girl who never left his heart but left never to be heard from again. Years later, the work he completed on the home garnered a spot in the local paper. One that Ally sees, and she goes to him, to the house he rebuilt, their future home. There he shows her all he did, because he promised to. They grow old and gray together, and his memory of their love saves her from the depths of Alzheimer’s.

Beautiful Disaster by Laura SpinellaFlynn McDermott from Laura Spinella’s A Beautiful Disaster wears a sliver cross around his neck. It is the only personal possession found on his body as he lies comatose from a motorcycle accident. Mia is summoned to his bedside, twelve years after he walked out on her. She has a similar cross, and the fact he kept it, all these years, awakens the heart that was always his. As she keeps vigil, Mia recalls their passionate love affair, that and how he got to be here, after all this time. Answers only he can give, but cannot. When Mia finds out the truth, why he left and vanished for twelve long years, all she thought and believed in is turned upside down. Questions plague her, why did he keep the necklace, was she far from his thoughts, always in them, did he really love her as she him? (This is a debut novel from Spinella so I won’t ruin anything, but I re-read the ending three times already. Super weighty chest crushing sigh.)

What trinkets or gestures have your favorite men in literature bestowed upon the masses? Do tell.

Old letters and photos image courtesy of cynthiacloskey via Flickr.


Charli Mac, Aspiring Author, Mother, Wife & Part-Time Clown

Twitter @CharliMacs

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Jillian Stone
1. Jillian Stone
Uh-h-h-h, the only hero I can think of with a trinket (at the moment) is Frodo! But you've inspired me to create one for my next hero. So Charli, when A VERY PRIVATE DUEL WITH PHINEAS GUNN is released... ;)
Charli Mac
2. CharliMac
Oh, Jill... Do tell me as soon as Phineas gets a token. Glad to inspire...

If I were a hobbit I'd think Sam was hot. I mean he is Rudy and Mikey from the Goonies...
Carrie Strickler
3. DyslexicSquirrel
It's not from a book, it's from a tv show, but come on Gilmore Girls is awesome and Luke and Lorelai are my favorite couple ever. On their first date, Luke pulls out his wallet and takes out a newspaper clipping with a horiscope on it... that Lorelai gave him when they first met, before they were even friends. It always makes me sigh no matter how many times I watch that episode.
Jillian Stone
4. bungluna
In Loretta Chase's "The Last Hellion" Lydia finds a box the Vere uses to keep pencil stubs and other odds that he's pilfered from our heroine. When she finds out about them she's deeply touched that he has keepsakes.
Megan Frampton
5. MFrampton
Of course I can't remember WHICH books, but many of the historicals I've read have the hero snagging an errant glove from the heroine, and then she finds it in his things, and she wonders why he has it in the first place.
Alie V
6. ophelial
I love in Nora Roberts' Birthright that both hero and heroine keep their wedding rings even though they are divorced.
Louise Partain
7. Louise321
I can't remember which heroine in what book, but one of them kept a silver button that came off the hero's jacket in her sewing basket.

My grandmother kept a very small 1"x 1" picture of my grandfather in her high school album with a small note from him saying "Tonight we sail. Where will we land, querida?"
Jillian Stone
8. mama24boys
In the second installment of the 'Outlander' series, 'Dragonfly in Amber', Claire requests Jamie carve his initial in her palm so she could have tangible proof of him and their love -- she gave him the same reminder. I read an excerpt of the next 'Lord John' book and it features a scene where Jamie traces the 'C' on his hand while thinking of Claire. Not that I'm into bloodplay or anything like that -- but these two characters were so connected - "blood of my blood" -- that this gesture seemed so very fitting.

I also loved Derek Craven ("Dreaming of You") stealing Sara's spectacles and carry them around even after she'd returned home. *sigh*
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