May 16 2011 10:30am

The Better to See You With, My Dear: Glasses-Wearing Romance Heroines

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob MayerDespite Dorothy Parker’s protestations otherwise, men certainly do make passes at girls who wear glasses. Plenty of us can testify from personal experience, but there’s also romance novel after romance novel to strengthen our case. Here are ten of our favorite four-eyed heroines:

Agnes, Agnes and the Hitman (Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer)

Food writer Cranky Agnes has a massive wedding to plan, and it has to go well or she’s in serious financial trouble. It’s one disaster after another, and she seems to have trouble with some criminal elements. Luckily, Agnes is more suited to face the troubles: Her crazy cat-eyed glasses match perfectly with her hot head and cork-screw curls. Fortunately, in walks Shane, her one-named hitman/protector.

Sara Fielding, Dreaming of You (Lisa Kleypas)

Sara is a prim and proper spinster who’s never put a foot out of line. But she’s also a popular writer who writes about crime and passion and villainy. She has the abysmal eyesight of someone who spends her nights reading my candlelight. While exploring crime-ridden London she meets—and rescues —Derek Craven, who runs a popular gambling club. It’s immediately obvious to the reader they’re meant for each other, but it takes a little more time for them to realize it. But one of the first clues is Derek’s pilfering of a pair of Sara’s glasses and carrying them around in his pocket.

Nobody’s Baby but Mine by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsJane Darlington, Nobody’s Baby But Mine (Susan Elizabeth Phillips)

Jane doesn’t just wear glasses. She is a full-on, no-joke, for-reals quantum physicist. She scrawls equations on everything that’s not nailed down. She is also bound and determined that her child be normal and only moderately smart, and she’ll do anything to achieve that goal—including getting herself knocked up by a dumb-as-dirt football player. (Creative, yes. Ethical? Probably not.) Sadly, for all her brilliance, Jane picks a quarterback who’s sharp as a tack and refuses to let her raise their kid all by herself. She might not be his type, but Cal quickly realizes that this bespectacled, nerd-core professor is perfect for him.

Annelise Kempton, Devil’s Waltz (Anne Stuart)

Annelise doesn’t just wear glasses. They’re a prop, pushed up or down to signal her disapproval or disappointment or disgruntlement. As a starchy, steel-spined spinster, she takes on the task of chaperoning the lovely, innocent Miss Hetty Whipple. Christian Montcalm is penniless and determined to marry Annalise’s young charge for her fortune. An unstoppable force meets and immovable object and, naturally, sparks fly.

Edie Parrish, Fade to Midnight (Shannon McKenna)

McKenna’s fans waited ages for the long-lost McCloud twin to show back up, and when he did, his heroine did not disappoint. Edie is a hipster nerd who wears high-tops and draws graphic novels for a living and—oh yes—tops off her look with a pair of aggressively fashionable horn-rimmed glasses. Horn-rimmed glasses! Her snobby parents hate them. Kev, of course, does not.

The River Knows by Amanda QuickLouisa Bryce, The River Knows (Amanda Quick)

Plenty of Amanda Quick heroines seem like they ought to wear spectacles, and plenty actually do, but Miss Louisa Bryce stands out. She’s under the impression her round, gold-rimmed glasses and somewhat frumpy clothing renders her less than appealing, but that doesn’t stop Anthony Stalbridge from kissing her breathless. Granted, it’s a ruse to enable their mutual spying on Mr. Elwin Hastings. As they spend more time working together, however, it becomes abundantly clear that Anthony isn’t at all blind to her charms.

Imogen Wilson, Hard and Fast (Erin McCarthy)

Imogen is a clean-cut, conscientious graduate student who wants to finish her sociology degree with a thesis on the love lives of race car drivers. In terms of taxonomy, she’s not a bespectacled geek so much as an earnest intellectual. (She’s described as appearing to have been born wearing Ann Taylor ensembles.) That makes her an unconventional match for Ty McCordle, a womanizing, daredevil stockcar driver. Opposites, as always, attract.

Clarissa Crambray, Love is Blind (Lynsay Sands)

Clarissa Crambray should wear glasses everywhere, all the time. But it’s Regency England, and they aren’t exactly stylish accessories. Her unpleasant, mean-spirited stepmother has therefore banned the wearing of spectacles, and Clarissa blunders around London, running into things. Adrian Montfort, the Earl of Mowbray, doesn’t mind a whit. He enjoys her company and thanks heaven she can’t see his battle scars. When she finally gets out from under her stepmother’s thumb and acquires a pair of decent corrective lenses, Adrian isn’t happy—but it’s because he worries she won’t like what she sees.

See Jane Score by Rachel GibsonJane Alcott, See Jane Score (Rachel Gibson)

Prototypical journalist Jane knows jack about sports. She’s right out of central casting, complete with sedate clothing and dark glasses. But as a struggling writer at the Seattle Times, she does need the money from a full-time gig covering the Chinooks hockey team. Naturally, goalie Luc is incredibly sexy, and naturally, one thing leads to another.

Evelyn Whyte, Bridal Favors (Connie Brockway)

As the less attractive younger sister, Evelyn doesn’t have high hopes for her marriage prospects. Her dress selections are tragic, and she’s convinced she’s no great beauty, anyway. Compounding her problems are a truly hideous pair of glasses. More than once, characters remark on the spectacular ugliness of her spectacles. But she’s also quick and bright and charmingly insolent, all qualities that impress super-secret spy Justin Powell.


By day, Kelly Faircloth covers innovation and technology. She spends the rest of her time reading and writing about books. Her work has appeared at io9, Inc and The Big Money, and she blogs intermittently at Follow her on Twitter @KellyFaircloth

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Love the books you mention (See Jane Score is a favorite).

Also, Derek pocketing a pair of Sara's glasses is ridiculously adorable. Aww!
Donna Cummings
2. Donna Cummings
What a fun post! I adore the Erin McCarthy series, and Imogen and Ty are one of my favorite couples. I'm also a fan of the Rachel Gibson and SEP series. Now I've just got to add a few more books to the TBR room. LOL
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
As a since-third-grade glasses wearer, I am all about the heroines with poor eyesight. Thanks for the list--there were a lot of titles here I'm not familiar with.
Kelly Faircloth
4. KellyFaircloth
Thanks, you guys! Glad you enjoyed the list.

And Derek with Sara's glasses--adorbs, indeed.
Louise Partain
5. Louise321
Another of Ms Kleypas's characters, Catherine Marks, in Married by Morning, wears glasses. When hers are ruined as she helps Lord Leo Ramsey escape ruins they are exploring, he not only engineers a new set of frames, but also gets her eyes examined showing a great deal more care and sensitivity than Catherine expected. Lovely moment!

And yes, I like the Derek Craven moment as well. What can I say: I'm a Kleypas junkie!
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