May 31 2011 1:00pm

Top 10 Greatest Musically Inclined Romance Heroes

Lucien’s Fall by Barbara SamuelFrom classical composers to rock stars, there’s something extra romantic about a musician. All our preconceptions about genius and brooding and muses are fertile ground for the novelist, and it’s long been a popular career choice for protagonists. Here are 10 of our favorite melodically inclined romantic heroes.

Lucien Harrow, Lucien’s Fall by Barbara Samuel

Lucian’s genius and love of music is the only thing that redeems him from utter horribleness. He’s a devoted rake pursuing the virginal, virtuous Madeline with nothing but impure intentions. But the poor man also suffers from severe migraines and tortures himself by trying to bury his considerable musical talents. Thanks to a youthful slight, he simply writes the melodies down and then burns them.

Quinn Parker, Through the Fire by Donna Hill

Through the Fire is actually Hill’s third book chronicling the rough life of Quinn Parker, jazz musician and novelist. After a string of devastating personal tragedies, he doesn’t want to sing or play the piano or do anything much at all. Fortunately he meets songwriter Rae Lindsay, the two bond over music, and he finally gets a well-deserved happy ending.

Sheridan Drake, Seize the Fire by Laura Kinsale

Sheridan Drake’s musical inclinations are heart-breaking, because he never got the chance to pursue them seriously. In one of the novel’s many tear-jerking moments, he confesses that he thought his father was sending him to Salzburg to study—when in fact he was being bundled off into the military. He goes onto a distinguished career as a war hero but remains miserable the entire time. When he and his charge, the hapless princess Olympia, are stranded on a near-Antarctic island, he lulls her to sleep by picturing them together, in Vienna, eating strudel and waltzing.

Dayan, Dark Melody by Christine Feehan

Several of Feehan’s Carpathian novels revolve around the Dark Troubadours. Dayan is the vampire troupe’s lead guitarist, producing madly seductive melodies despite his lack of emotion. Then he meets delicate Corinne Wentworth, who’s pregnant, in trouble, and suffering from a heart ailment. Luckily, Dayan’s music is particular soothing.

Acheron Parthenopaeus, Various Dark Hunter Novels by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Acheron is another musically inclined vampire. Rock is a recurring feature of Kenyon’s series, and the Dark Hunter’s leader is especially enthusiastic. It’s mostly a hobby (managing an unruly pack of immortals leaves little time for artistic pursuits), but he’s been known to appear on the stage at Sanctuary as a guitarist. When his own story rolls around, he even uses his talent to woo Tory.

Alec Aarronson, Rhapsody in Time by Judith O’Brien

Liz is conked on the head. Liz wakes up in the Roaring Twenties. Liz falls in love with Alec Aarronson, a brilliant jazz composer destined to die in a plane crash in 1935. What to do?!

Giancarlo Mancini, She’s on Top by Susan Lyons

The hero and heroine of this steamy contemporary romance met as teenagers at music school. Years later, Rinna is a professional musician, teaching and trying out for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Giancarlo, on the other hand, directs music videos for pop stars. He’s largely given up the piano, until he and Rinna reunite and he remembers how much he enjoyed playing. A big part of his character development is learning that even if he doesn’t make a living on the concert circuit, he can still get pleasure from the instrument.

Dylan Moore, His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Gurhke

Dylan is a talented composer and pianist, until an accident destroys his ability and sends his life into a tailspin. He’s ready to end it all, when an unknown woman talks some sense into him and then disappears. It takes years to track his beautiful savior down. Upon finding her, Grace Cheval wants nothing to do with him. She’s an artist’s widow who sees in Dylan another self-obsessed genius in the mold of her deceased husband. But she can’t afford to turn down his offer of a job as his young daughter’s governess.

Eddie Berlin, Cool Shade by Theresa Weir

Eddie Berlin takes artistic brooding to the next level. He’s agoraphobic and can’t leave his own property for any reason. (He even has prostitutes meet him at a nearby barn.) He once was a songwriter and manager for an up-and-coming rocker and now blames himself for the man’s untimely death. Then Maddie Smith—who has her own issues, including a chronic inability to hold a job in her chosen field of disc jockeying—shows up on his doorstep, looking to investigate her sister’s disappearance.

Ash Farrell, The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch by Marsha Moyer

When we meet Ash, he does double-duty in Mooney, TX, as both talented carpenter and honky-tonk hunk. Lucy Hatch Breward knows she should steer clear of him. She’s busy trying to get her life together in the wake of her husband’s untimely passing in a gruesome farm accident. But she gradually realizes she gave up a decade and a half of her life to a passionless marriage, and that makes her extra vulnerable to Ash’s abundant charm. Cue the sexytimes and the local gossip.

Have you read any of these? Do you like musically-inclined heroes? Who are your favorites?


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 atwww.NoKindaLady.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyFaircloth

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Louise Partain
1. Louise321
Loved Seize the Fire. I just wanted to add Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James featuring that excellent pianist and composer, Helene, Countess of Godwin and her composer husband, Rees, Earl of Godwin. You want to hit them in the head most of the way through the Duchess series, and Rees is as thickheaded as they come, but the pain of composing with no inspiration is documented well.
2. Janga
I've read and enjoyed the books by Samuel, Kinsale, Guhrke, and Moyer. The Lucy Hatch books are particular favorites. I'll second Louise's rec of EJ's Rees and add Quinn Hunter, hero of Till the Stars Fall by Kathleen Gilles Seidel. Much of the book focuses on Quinn's years as a songwriter and one half of an enormously successful folk rock duo, Dodd Hall. TTSF is one of my top ten romances ever.
Louise Partain
3. Louise321
Sounds great, Janga! I will have to do some bookstore crawls.
Sandi Logsted
5. sandlog
Lauren Dane's Brown siblings series. The parents are killed off before the first book starts, in that book Laid Bare, we meet Erin Brown, singer/songwriter/musician and founding member of Mud Bay with her brother, Adrian. Because of her fame, she suffers a catastrophic loss, and has retreated to her home town. She still writes music, and even records tracks and backing vocals in her brother's home studio, but she has not been onstage in years. Only after reuniting with her ex, Todd, and adding the loving care of their husband, Ben, is she able to rejoin her brother onstage. Adrian's story, Never Enough is due in September, and I can't wait!
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
6. tnh
Here's a major one: Francis Crawford of Lymond, hero of Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles.

The Game of Kings (1961)
Queens' Play (1964)
The Disorderly Knights (1966)
Pawn in Frankincense (1969)
The Ringed Castle (1971)
Checkmate (1975)

For Francis Crawford, music is only incidentally an occasion for angst. It's central to his nature, like a first language that supersedes all others, and it makes him happy. It's also a bond he shares, and an extra channel of communication, with various other characters who are also musical.

The Lymond Chronicles are a tremendous historical series, by the way -- witty, complex, intensely researched, and fast-moving, with a large cast of memorable characters, and a vast sweep of events and settings. Furthermore, they're all still in print.

Next: Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, protagonists of Patrick O'Brian's twenty-volume series of sea stories. They certainly qualify as heroes of romance, though that aspect is sometimes rendered a trifle obscure by all the other things going on. They meet -- in fact, meet cute -- at a musical performance, sail away together, and thereafter while away quiet evenings aboard ship by playing duets on the violin and cello.

For me, all three of those characters make believable musicians. The ability to make music isn't an all-consuming crisis for them. It's not even a question. Life is a busy affair that makes constant demands, but music is also part of life, and they enjoy it whenever they can. It's part of who they are.
Louise Partain
7. Louise321
Wow, how com I never heard of the Lymond Chronicles? Thanks @tnh!
Kelly Faircloth
8. KellyFaircloth
I love that whenever I write a post, I walk away with lots of new book recommendations from H&H readers! Adding all your suggestions to my Amazon wishlist right this minute...
Post a comment