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Nice Guys

You knew it was coming. After the much-debated Bad Boys post, I felt it was only fair to follow in Persnickety Snark's footsteps and do a Nice Guys one as well. After all, I did publicly admit to falling for one every now and then, and doing so instilled in me the undeniable urge to explain just what's involved in the complex equation that determines whether or not I fall for a Nice Guy. As you can see from the above image, and as some friends have already stated, Gilbert Blythe pretty much takes the cake as far as Nice Guys go in my book. He encompasses all the essential qualities necessary to make him an irresistible Nice Guy and there's no doubt in your mind that you wouldn't want Anne to be with anyone else.
So let's break it down. Gilbert's the best friend. Now, I know, Diana is without a doubt the best friend. But so is Gilbert. I'll tell you why. They grow up together, for all intents and purposes. They know each other's strengths, weaknesses, quirks, flaws. They compete, they tease, they are there for and challenge each other. And so, bearing that model in mind, my personal list of important ingredients that make up the perfect Nice Guy:

Best Friends/Boy Next Door--This isn't a deal-breaker but I will say that when done right it's the opposite of boring. Rather it feels like home. And it has the added advantage of putting me instantly on his side if he's put in the time and/or recognized a long time ago just how cool she is.
Capable of a little wickedness--Just ask Anne Shirley. As an old friend of mine used to say, "Sometimes you just need to know your man's capable of swinging from a chandelier should the situation require it." I like to think of this quality as being nice in a lethal way.
Sense of humor--This one's non-negotiable, I'm afraid.
A guy who Does Something--And by "something" I'm not referring to some grand gesture. He has to Do Something, as in have interests and passions of his own beyond our girl. This, too, is utterly non-negotiable.
Loves her but doesn't put up with her crap--Instead he calls her on it. A lot.
A certain insecurity/vulnerability--As someone who's drawn to the tortured Bad Boys, if I'm gonna fall for a Nice Guy he's gonna have to have some complexity to him, some flaws, something that makes him imperfect. For the record, I have the same requirement for my heroines. See Kristin Cashore's awesome lead characters from Graceling and Fire.
For the love of all that is holy, he doesn't cling--This may be the only-child-hello-you're-in-my-personal-space in me, but I start to get twitchy when they start to get clingy.

It's a delicate balance, my friends. Omit a couple or three of these ingredients and you end up with this:
Ashley Wilkes of Gone with the Wind, also known as The Most Annoying Nice Guy in the History of Nice Guys. I spent the majority of the 1000+ page book praying someone would shoot the poor guy and put us both out of our misery. Gah.

On the other hand, mix in five or more of these ingredients together and voila! You get this:
The all kinds of awesome Jim Halpert. Card carrying Nice Guy member but in no way boring, annoying, or cavity-inducingly sweet. He's the ultimate prankster and yet he's emotionally mature and he Does the Right Thing.

Last of all, the triangle issue. This is key. When there is a love triangle involved I will almost always go for the guy with the darker edge. Plenty of documented data to show for that one. In seems as though there are so few triangles in which both boys are drawn equally well. And it's invariably the Nice Guy who suffers (for me) when it all shakes out. Take out the triangle and I'll follow the Nice Guy to the ends of the earth if he can swing from that chandelier with gusto. Leave it in and I lean sadder, but wiser nine times out of ten.

Once more, some favorite Gilbertesque Nice Guys from the vault. Each one of these nice guys makes me swoon. Every single time. But then they've all got pretty much all of the qualities listed above.

Michael Jennings, The Road Home
Brigan, Fire
Jeff Greene, the Tillerman Cycle
Colonel Brandon, Sense And Sensibility

So there you have it. Am I missing any essential qualities? What are some of your favorites? And can you think of some good love triangles in which all three characters involved are equally dynamic?

Comments

  1. Gilbert is a keeper, that's for sure.
    I kind of like Barney in The Blue Castle. A bit of a 'bad boy', but not really.

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  2. Gilbert Blythe is a winner hands down. I love Red from Daughter of the Forest--the ultimate nice guy. I was always a little sad for Colin though. If we start making a list of nice guys in books I'd fall for, it would be endless. Both George and Johnathan from the Lioness series would qualify. If we're thinking about bad boys who straddle the line: Roiben from Tithe.

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  3. I have to add in Stephen from I Capture the Castle.

    He's a hot babe. He WORSHIPS Cassandra and works his ass off wihout complaint so her family can continue in their genteel delusions. Yet Cassie goes for the guy who kisses her while he's engaged to her sister!

    I'm sort of hoping Cassie never wakes up and comes to her senses because she may not actually be good enough for Stephen.

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  4. Oh, I love Gilbert Blythe! He is your quintessential nice guy. Jim too ;)

    I wouldn't have classified Adam (from Mercy) as a nice guy until I read it here..but you are right...he is one of my fav characters ;)

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  5. Great list and I agree with a lot of your ingredients. :)
    Oh, and Ashley is "The Most Annoying Nice Guy in the History of Nice Guys", lol!

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  6. Perfect outline for essential nice boy romantic lead qualities! I may have to steal from you for a conference talk someday!

    And now I have books to add to the TBR list, since I need to check out the boys on your list whom I don't know yet.

    I have a couple you'll need to add come next spring, too. *evil grin*

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  7. I was going to mention Stephen, but susiej beat me to it.

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  8. Great post! You put it perfectly... ;)

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  9. I've said it once and I'll say it again--Mel is de-lic-US.

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  10. Anonymous2:04 PM

    This is a GREAT post! I love love love the Nice Guys. Gilbert Blythe=biggest book crush ever! =)...now I want to go read Anne of Green Gables again.

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  11. Raspberry, I have simply got to get a hold of THE BLUE CASTLE. I somehow never read it and I'd like to meet Barney, particularly if he's got a slight bad boy slant. :)

    Lan, yep. I've yet to meet anyone who didn't fall for Red. He is definitely an ultimate Nice Guy. He's got every quality on the list in spades. And good call on Roiben. I love him. Though I'd probably stick him on the bad boy side, what with the curses and violence and dark knight vibe he's got going on.

    susiej, I was wondering if I CAPTURE THE CASTLE would come up. I've got a serious love/hate relationship with that book. Let's just say I ended the whole thing Less Than Pleased. And I'm with you about Cassie. Doesn't deserve him is right.

    Mandi, I didn't either initially. And then I'd just finished a mini re-read of the Mercy books before writing this post and I realized Adam's sort of a kick-a** Nice Guy. Talk about chivalry in a dangerous package...

    Samantha, he still gives me the willies. *shudder* How anyone could look twice at him with Rhett lounging around is beyond me.

    Martha, *grin* I was hoping it would meet with your approval. Feel free to steal as necessary. :) One of these days you're going to listen to me and read DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST and then you will know. Also, you are evil and I am waiting with very little patience for the new additions to the list! *taps foot* :)

    La Coccinelle, I knew there were some Stephenites out there. He was a bit dreamy.

    Sara, thank you! Twas fun to write.

    Dannie, amen. Mel's got the whole package, just like Sunshine points out--he's got the whole bad boy aura without any of the obvious drawbacks. And he's sweet. In the best sense of the word.

    Becky, seems as though Gilbert was an unforgettable early book crush for a lot of us. What can we say? He's just that good.

    It's occurring to me I should probably add Colonel Brandon to the list. "The kindest and best of men."

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  12. Ha! Hilarious! My favourite nice guy is, and always will be sweet, absent minded but fiercely protective and clever Numair from the Immortals quartet, Tamora Pierce. *SWOON*

    Po's up there too :D

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  13. Oh, and I forgot, Angie, if you haven't read Sarah Dessen's TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER, you need to! Wes is one of my latest crush additions.

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  14. It doesn't get better than Gilbert Blythe. Must run right out and rent the movie. Swooooon.

    And yes, Wes from The Truth About Forever is such a nice guy.

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  15. Rhiannon, awww. That makes me smile to hear from a Numair fan. He really is a sweet guy and I don't hear him getting as much love as he deserves. I'm quite interested to see if she writes the Numair: the Early Years books she's been talking about. Though I would really miss Daine...

    Martha, that does it. I'm going and getting THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER tomorrow. I keep hearing it's her best and if you're crushing on Wes then I need to meet him!

    Janssen, you do not own Anne of Green Gables the movie? *jawdrop* You should get that hubby of yours to get it for you for Christmas...

    And another vote for Wes. I'm all jumpy now. ;)

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  16. *sigh* Oh Gilbert!

    You know, I saw Jonathan Crombie (Gilbert) playing Romeo at the Stratford Fest. We were halfway through the play when I leaned over & told my friend, "I'm pretty sure that's Gilbert." Her eyes got really wide and at intermission, we checked our programs and about melted through the floor. A woman sitting nearby thought we were pretty funny.

    Gracious, was that 12 years ago already?

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  17. Colonel Brandon IS the "nice guy" in a romantic triangle. Are you saying you were a Willoughby Girl?

    Gotcha. ;-)

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  18. Jena, that is one awesome story. :) I would have loved to have been there!

    Diana, nope. Colonel Brandon is clearly listed in my Nice Guys list. I know it's shocking, but I never was a Willoughby Girl. S&S is the 1 out of 10 time.

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  19. while i do enjoy nice guys, there is something about bad boys that keeps coming back for more. then you go and remind me of jim halpert and my heart goes all swoon-like. sigh. nice boys are wonderful....

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  20. I just got a copy of Enna Burning and seeing as how I have a cat named Finn, I will have to read it sooner rather than later :)

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  21. Alicia, *nods* Jim Halpert....:)

    Lenore, I thought of your cat when I added him to the list. Hale's Finn really is one of my favorite Nice Guys. A great example of attractive steadfastery.

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  22. Numair the early years? That I would definitely pick up. I'd miss Daine too though! I got all nostalgic last night and opened Wild Magic. It's time for a reread. A very slow, interrupted-by-other-books reread.

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  23. Rhiannon, yes! I checked her site and it's still listed on her schedule for 2013. lol.

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