Jul 2 2014 4:30pm

Fixer Upper: Manly Makeovers from Fox, Heyer, James, and More!

Sometimes, it is the duty of women to let a man know when his look is just not working. Sometimes, that opinion is even asked for. You would think that “the makeover” would be a device reserved specifically for the ladies, but for every Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady there’s a Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid Love.

In Sabrina York's Making Over Maris, Jack is a nerd, a slob, a bit overweight, and a submissive (the last makes for a very fun time with the dominant Sara). Jack turns to his friend and co-worker, Sara for help and she almost declines as he seems like such a lost cause, but Jack wants this so bad that Sara can't decline.

But this? Impossible!

But it wasn’t just the physical aspect of things. It wasn’t that he was dumpy and doughy and extraordinarily…be-furred. Seriously. A Wookie would be jealous.

No. It wasn’t all that scruffy hair or the beer belly or the fact that he always looked vaguely unkempt.

Okay, maybe not vaguely.

The real challenge was the simple fact that Jack was utterly clueless about women.

Making Over Maris by Sabrina YorkBut Sara soon gives Jack a clue, or five, and finds the tables are turned once he’s cleaned up a bit.

But she didn’t like like him. Like that.

At least she hadn’t. Now she wasn’t so sure.

Now when she noticed his lips she didn’t think about two fat worms writhing in a nest of twigs. Now they seemed…full, lush. Tempting. The trimmed beard—that mouthwatering Van Dyke—brought them wickedly to the fore. And with his hair out of his face, she could see the lines of his cheekbones, the muscles on his neck and…

Oh dear God.

She did.

She did like like him.

Also taking on the manly makeover is marketing  guru Georgia “George” Malone in Savanna Fox’s Dirty Girls Book Club. This makeover is more a two-way street as George has as much to learn about softening her look, as Woody (our hero) has to learn about cleaning up his. Woody is the spokesperson for sportswear company and George has been tasked with cleaning up his image, along with his wardrobe. Fox handles all the books in this series with humor and sexiness, which makes it such a fun read:

She stepped inside to see a good six and a half feet of naked male back.

Back, and backside. Naked backside. Naked, extraordinarily well-muscled back. And a tight, taut, amazing butt.

Well, alright, not entirely naked. She noted a thin “T” of black fabric. What self-respecting heterosexual man wears a thong?

No, wait. Shouldn’t the question be, Why am I gaping at a near-naked man when I’ve obviously entered the wrong room?

Transformations aren’t limited to making a man seem more attractive, but sometimes a make under is what’s called for. Vicki Lewis Thompson taught us to embrace our inner geek, even if that means a make-under in her Nerd series. Nerd Gone Wild features Mitchell, a PI who is protecting Ally as she goes to the wilds of Alaska to pursue a career in wildlife photography. Mitchell must disguise himself as a nerd in order to gain Ally’s trust and save her from her conniving uncle (and maybe a few wild animals too). This book, in particular, is one of the hotter additions to the Nerd series as it features a manipulative dominatrix villain, and a sexy game of strip poker.

The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa JamesThe makeover is not a modern concept, however. Eloisa James takes on the makeover when Imogen helps the drunk and lazy Rafe, Duke of Holbrook, slim down and clean up in The Taming of the Duke (my personal favorite in the Essex Sisters series). But the credit can’t go fully to Imogen for Rafe’s change—after all, if Rafe didn’t want to change, he wouldn’t. Credit might also be given to the presence of Rafe’s brother, who reminds him of what he could have been.

“It’s not every day that one gains a brother,” Rafe added. “You can remind me daily what I would look like if I were slimmer and more jovial and altogether a better person.”

The end of Rafe’s drinking, and the beginning of daily rides might also have had something to do with it.

An even more classic take on the manly makeover can be found in Georgette Heyer’s Powder and Patch, when the plain Phillip Jettan is willing to don lace and a powdered wig to garner the attention of his lovely neighbor.

For her, he would do anything…

Plainspoken country gentleman Philip Jettan won't bother with a powdered wig, high heels, and fashionable lace cuffs, until he discovers that his lovely neighbor is enamored with a sophisticated man-about-town…

But what is it that she really wants?

Cleone Charteris sends her suitor Philip away to get some town polish, and he comes back with powder, patches, and all the manners of a seasoned rake. Does Cleone now have exactly the kind of man she's always wanted, or was her insistence on Philip's remarkable transformation a terrible mistake?

Have you read any of these books or series? Do you see any differences between how a makeover with a woman is handled versus when a man is transformed? What are some of your favorites?


Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Scarlettleigh
I have read Powder and Patch by Heyer, and the Eloisa James' book (also my favorite in the series) but I haven't read the others. The Sabrina York book sounds really interesting.

In one of SEP's book, What I Did for Love, a secondary character, Bram's housekeeper makes over Georgie's assistant. I thought it was really cute how they both changed for the better and found each other.
2. Lucy D
I liked Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst. Nate's a true geek from his glasses and stained lab coat to his lack of social skills. Kennedy is working to clean him up to put him on the dating circuit so he can find Mrs. Right. He is adorable in his geekiness and hot as sin after a makeover.
3. Janga
I've read the Heyer, the James, and the Thompson. I love Powder and Patch, but while I adore Rafe, Imogen is one of the few EJ characters that I dislike. Miranda Neville's The Dangerous Viscount is one of my favorite male makeover books.
4. HelenaJ
I've always intensely disliked Powder and Patch, even though I'm a huge fan of Heyer's Regencies. I haven't read the others, but a couple look interesting!
Jennifer Proffitt
5. JenniferProffitt
Oh my gosh, @Lucy D, I specifically bumped up Searching for Perfect on my TBR pile because I wanted to include it here and then I forgot! I'm glad that you didn't! I loved Nate's transformation from geeky Nathanial (weren't his initials NERD?) to the more attractive/sophisticated Nate! Both very lovable, and I loved how Kennedy transformed too so that in the end they were more of an even match.
Jennifer Proffitt
6. JenniferProffitt
@Janga, I have often mentioned this to coworkers, but I didn't read the Essex sisters books in order and so Taming was my first introduction. I went back and read the others and I know that if I had read them in order I would have skipped Imogen's book because I so intensely disliked her in every other appearance. And I LOVE Miranda Neville and I'm looking for more historicals, so I'll have to add that one to my list!
7. Sabrina York
:) Thank you so much for featuring Making Over Maris! It's one of my favorite stories--because I totally dig a makeover meme...especially when turned on its ear!
Becky Hillenburg
8. Pansypetal
I didn't know I was such a fan of the makeover stories. I have read three of the four on your list. Liked them all, but I have to say, Maris is HOT! Loved that one the best.
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