The Dashing Gents: Rogues and Heroes

The Dashing Gents

As Bonnie Tyler once said, “I need a hero; I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night.” Well, Patrick Malahide has played more than few hero roles, but, he’s also played some equally dashing rogues. Heroes and rogues balance each other perfectly well, so we’ll take look at some of those dashing gents from both sides of the romantic coin that we all enjoy watching so very much.

Admin: My choices are…

Guy de Glastonbury
(“The Black Adder: The Black Seal“, 1983)

What Type of Rogue is He?

'Did I say your money or your life?'

The effortlessly polite Guy de Glastonbury.

A terribly polite but homicidal highway man. He’s also one of the Six Most Evil Men in the Land. His manners are absolutely impeccable, but he can’t commit a simple robbery without having to kill someone. It starts out optimistically enough, “Your money or your life,” he says. But, then we find out that unlike the rest of him, his memory isn’t that hot. “Damn. Always doing that. Sorry, slip of the tongue. Your money and your life.” Ooops!

What Makes Him Better Than the Other Men?

Awaiting the arrival of a blurry messenger pigeon

Doing a spot of glam posing.

As mentioned above, his manners are beyond reproach. He is well spoken, charming and effortlessly polite. He is also an absolutely stunning fashion plate. His gorgeous russet outfit, which matches his horse, is absurdly gorgeous. He wears a very cool leather belt with his deadly sword. His chaperon headgear decorated with a romantic hint of the woodland suits him to a tee.  Edmund, Baldrick, and the other Most Evil Men have absolutely nothing on him.  Everything he does is with a style and panache that must have been rare in the days of rat-on-a-stick.

Does He Have Any Heroic Traits?

He’s like a romance novel come to life.

Well, he looks like a hero, that’s for sure, and his manners are very nice indeed. But, all that is merely window dressing, isn’t it? At the end of the day, I don’t think you can really say that one of the Six Most Evil Men in the Land has any heroic traits aside from some superficial ones. I doubt a rogue like him even pays his Assassins’ Guild dues on time.

What Sort of Romance Novel Could He Grace the Cover of?

Phwoar! Only a right proper bodice ripper would be right for Guy de Glastonbury. You know one of those incredibly thick, unbelievably ribald novels written by women (or possibly men – who knows) with names like Désirée Flambeau.

Would He Write a Sonnet?

You know, I think he would. He wouldn’t give it to a lady, of course. His sonnets would be purely for his entertainment only. “The Devilish Handsome King Killer,” “The Courteous Highway Man,” and “An Ode to My Horse” would be some of his favorites.

What Does He Do in His Spare Time?

He also trains messenger pigeons…eeeevil messenger pigeons.

He writes sonnets, apparently.   I expect he composes them in his mind while posing picturesquely in front of the woods.  And of course in order to be as cultured and charming as he is, which is very cultured indeed,  he absolutely must spend a lot of time studying.  He probably lifts quite a few illuminated manuscripts and vellum papers which he studies thoroughly before selling to local necromancers for a tidy profit.

 

Robert Blair
(“The Franchise Affair“, 1988)

What Type of Hero is He?

Telling the Sharpes they have little recourse against the tabloid.

Robert Blair, charming local solicitor.

A charmingly provincial solicitor who is practically dying of boredom in his post-war life. Once, presumably a daring bomber pilot, he now mostly deals in uninteresting bureaucratic legal briefs concerning things like property agreements, etc.   Boring!

But, his life suddenly gets a lot more interesting when he is called on to help a mother and daughter team of distressed damsels who have been accused of kidnap and false imprisonment. It doesn’t hurt that the daughter, Marion Sharpe, is a very attractive and very single woman.

What Makes Him Better Than the Other Men?

Lethal combination of trenchcoat and fedora

Of course he’s better than the other men.

On the surface, “provincial lawyer” doesn’t sound especially exciting, but there is so much more to him than that. He is incredibly handsome, though he doesn’t seem to know it. If he does know it, he hasn’t let it go to his head. Before meeting Miss Sharpe, it seems the most important woman in his life would be his auntie whom he lives with.

We know that he misses the excitement and adrenaline rushes he experienced during the war as a  pilot, so there is certainly something extra special under that cozy, tweedy exterior. It all comes to light when he finally takes on the case. We quickly learn that Blair is a stubborn and determined man who absolutely refuses to see two innocent women be persecuted by a whole village just because of the scheming lies from a minx of a schoolgirl!

Does He Have Any Roguish Traits?

Being described as the most eligible bachelor in Milford.

He can be sly.

Well, there was that time he knocked his orderly plated biscuits about and sloshed his tea, but usually he’s incredibly nice. However, no matter how good and kind you are, you can’t be an effective advocate and investigator if you aren’t willing to get your hands a little dirty. Robert isn’t naturally roguish, but he has to poke and pry into schoolgirl Betty Kane’s private life in order to prove the Sharpes’ innocence. It gets a little unpleasant when he has to bring forth proof that Betty has been lying about her age and picking up married men at a hotel. That isn’t exactly heroic, but he does it all for the right heroic reasons.

What Sort of Romance Novel Could He Grace the Cover Of?

Bingo!

A nice genteel Mills & Boon romance novel which features a beautiful but shy spinster who requires the help of a kind, decent, and principled hero. Pretty much “The Franchise Affair” (which he has already appeared on the cover of) itself. Granted it is actually a mystery, but the story line is there and it ends on a lovely romantic note.

Blair could equally be the hero in one of those gothic romances that were very popular in the 1960s. He would be the nice, and initially unassuming, local gentleman who does the research into the deep dark secrets of whatever family history our poor heroine had fallen afoul of, showing up at the last second to save her from the psychotic axe-wielding nanny who can’t get over the fact her services are no longer required.

Weirdest cover ever.

By the way, slightly off topic, but I’d like to point out that there is a somewhat infamous, and utterly horrendous, pulp cover for Josephine Tey’s “The Franchise Affair” featuring a very young and very decapitated Debbie Harry sporting a black eye.  Oh it is bad!  The box of chocolates don’t make it any better, either.

I’m not sure what this cover has to do with the original story since neither the novel nor the series feature lone heads stuck in boxes of chocolates.  I think I’d much rather see Patrick Malahide (all in one piece) on the cover any day.

Would He Write a Sonnet?

Having a lovely, relaxing evening at home with his pipe and music on the wireless.

Not a natural sonnet writer.

No. Not because he thinks they are mushy or anything, but because he would barely know what a sonnet is. The only poems he’d have time for are those by Rudyard Kipling, and even then he’d be more interested in non-fiction.

I would guess the only writing he does outside of the legal profession would be the occasional piece on some local history that he writes to help the nice lady editor at the newspaper. He’s such a gent.

What Does He Do in His Spare Time?

He lounges about all cozy-like doing old-timey masculine things like smoking his pipe and playing the odd round of golf. He probably also reads books and magazines on military history, travelogues by daring explorers, and anything that reminds him of his time in the military.  He might start taking on more interesting cases also after his success with the Franchise Affair.  He had a lot of fun with that one and proved he would be more than up for the task.

RF:  And my choices are…

Alfred Jingle
(“The Pickwick Papers“, 1985)

What Type of Rogue is He?

Alfred Jingle: Con man, charlatan, and roguish charmer

Alfred Jingle: Con man, charlatan, and roguish charmer

The complete and total charlatan and con man kind, with some “strolling actor” thrown in.   I realize I refer to Mr. Jingle a lot in our posts, but when the word “rogue” was mentioned, his was one of the first names to pop into my head.  He really is the epitome of rogue-dom (rogue-hood? maybe “roguishness”) in many ways.  And not only is he a rogue, but he’s a charming one.  He’ll have you charmed out of your socks and whatever money you have on you before you’ve even realized what’s happening.  He’s extremely good at reading his audience and knowing just how to appeal to them in such a way as to get what he wants.  He also has a roguish sense of humour, so he doesn’t care if they end up looking foolish as a result.  In fact, that’s frequently the whole point.

What Makes Him Better than the Other Men?

Jingle holding the Pickwick Club spellbound while he allows them to buy him a drink.

Jingle holding the Pickwick Club spellbound
while he allows them to buy him a drink.

I think it’s mostly that he doesn’t care if he is better.   He’s just so incredibly good at being a con man that everything else pales in comparison.  As mentioned, he has  a definite knack for understanding and charming his audience, then taking advantage of their good natures.  However, they almost don’t mind because they’ve enjoyed the experience of being with him so much.  It’s sort of a “Fool me once, shame on me…  fool me twenty more times, shame on you” situation – except that as mentioned, Jingle feels no shame whatsoever for what he does.  Well, until the end of the story, but that’s another thing.

Does He Have Any Heroic Traits?

Stepping in to save the Pickwickians from an irate coachman, and about to shove an urchin out of his way.

Stepping in to save the Pickwickians from an irate
coachman, and about to shove an urchin out of his way.

We-ellll, sort of.  When Jingle first meets the Pickwickians, they’re embroiled in an argument with an angry coachman who thinks Mr. Pickwick’s copious note-taking (for the purpose of recording their travel adventures – Mr. Pickwick is one of the original bloggers) is to get him (the coachman) into trouble with his employers.  The Pickwickians have no idea how to successfully argue with a coachman, so Mr. Pickwick is extremely grateful when Jingle steps in to settle things.  I think one could also argue that Jingle was being quite heroic by saving the Widow Budger from being bored to death by Dr. Slammer at a dance, too, although the Doctor would likely disagree.  So, Jingle can be heroic at times, even though there’s usually some benefit in it for him, too.

What Sort of Romance Novel Could He Grace the Cover of?

Convincing Miss Rachel Wardle of her role in this romance.

Convincing Miss Rachel Wardle of her role in this romance.

It would be one of those glossy-covered ones for sure, with the embossed printing and a suitably wind-tossed heroic pose for Jingle.  He’d be a charming but misunderstood Rogue with a Heart of Gold in the storyline, who’s been deprived of his rightful inheritance and driven out into the cold world,  but nonetheless rescues the heroine from her oppressive parents and elopes with her.  She marries him despite knowing that he doesn’t have a cent in the world and believing that he’s lying to her about several dozen things – or alternately, believing everything he says because her parents are so unfair about him.   It being a glossy-covered romance, it would turn out at the end that some obscure, long-lost uncle of Jingle’s dies and leaves him a fortune.  Unfortunately, the real Jingle doesn’t seem to have any rich, long-lost uncles.

Would He Write a Sonnet?

What a sonnet recitation could look like.

What a sonnet recitation could look like.

Oh yes, an extremely florid one, and he’d recite it in full *AHC*-tor mode.  Actually, he’d be more likely to plagiarize one and say he wrote it, just for whatever lady he was trying to charm at the moment.  If it works, great!  If she recognizes it, then he’d say that his own words were completely inadequate to describe her charms, so he had to borrow the words of another.  Mind you, with Jingle’s odd, epigrammatic form of speech, his own sonnets would be rather distinctive.

What Does He Do in His Spare Time?

Exit, stage right

Exit, stage right

Mostly he runs away from whoever has discovered what he’s up to  Jingle has a knack for staying one step ahead of his pursuers; that and his roguish sense of humour really do make him a lot like Bugs Bunny.  But his lifestyle means that he has to put a lot of labour into coming up with new identities and stories, singling out and charming his latest mark(s), or having an escape plan ready when they realize what he’s done.  Being a successful con man is a full-time job!

Sir Myles
(“The Abduction Club“, 2002)

What Type of a Hero is He?

Sir Myles: the total heroic package

Sir Myles: the total heroic package

An incredibly resourceful, witty, stylish, charming, dashing, romantic, and successful one.  All heroes should aspire to be as heroic as Sir Myles, and to look as good doing it.  He’s just the total package.  And not only is he heroic, but he has a huge (and very attractive) dollop of “rogue” thrown in.  Sir Myles is not a complete straight arrow – after all, abducting maidens is one of his lines of business – but somehow that only adds to his considerable charms.  If you have to get abducted by somebody, you’d certainly hope it was Sir Myles.  Oh, and his fetching abduction outfit of a mask, tricorn, and Inverness coat doesn’t hurt, either.

What Makes Him Better than the Other Men?

Offering payment to the lady of the house for damages.

Offering payment to the lady of the house for damages.

Just about everything!  😉  As already mentioned, he’s dashing, romantic, and heroic, and while he’s in the business of educating his gang of Second Sons and Ne’er-do-wells about the process of abducting and marrying heiresses, he’s always very mindful that the proprieties must be observed.  So, the brides must be wooed and wooed well, and if they refuse, they’re to be taken back to their families unharmed.  However, Sir Myles is pretty choosy about who gets to stay in his club, so most of the brides are only too willing to be married to their prospective suitors.    Sir Myles also insists that his Second Sons must pay for any and all damages incurred in the process of the abductions, although he’d far prefer that no property damage happens at all.  Yes, he’s a dashing rogue, but he’s a highly principled one.

Does He Have Any Roguish Traits?

Coaching the young ideas on proper wooing

Coaching the young ideas on proper wooing.

Loads!  He’s basically perfected the art of wooing and abducting heiresses, so he’ knows what he’s doing.  He’s a longtime member of the Abduction Club himself, since that’s how he wooed and won his own wife, Lady Margaret.  He encourages his gang to find out what their prospective ladies are interested in and actually talk to them, getting to know them first so the ladies are already half-won (if not more so) by the time they’re abducted.  But Sir Myles knows the advantages of a dramatic and romantic entrance, and the appeal of literally sweeping a lady off her feet (“Oh, good man, very stylish”, he compliments one of his pupils for carrying his lady off over his shoulder), so he well understands how rogues appeal to the ladies.  So while Sir Myles definitely has some roguish traits, he’s more of an idealistic rogue than anything else.

What Sort of Romance Novel Could He Grace the Cover of?

Sir Myles and Lady Margaret, living the romance.

Sir Myles and Lady Margaret, living the romance.

A really good one – one that would be a best-seller and have all the ladies swooning.  😉  Then they’d recommend it to all their friends and their friends would swoon in turn.  In fact, the story of how Sir Myles met Lady Margaret and wooed her away from Lord Femoy would make a great romance novel in itself.  It has a dashing but impoverished hero, a lovely heroine who’s also an heiress, an unattractive older suitor, and an abduction and elopement.  It even has a happy ending.  Sir Myles doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.  One gets the impression that he’s incredibly romantic with Lady Margaret even to this day.  No wonder she was “delighted” to be abducted by him.

Would He Write a Sonnet?

Turning on the charm: no mortal woman can resist

Turning on the charm: no mortal woman can resist

Yes, and unlike Jingle, he wouldn’t resort to plagiarism.  It would be all his own work, it would be evocative, romantic, and sensitive with maybe just a touch of self-deprecating humour thrown in, and it would slay Lady Margaret dead (figuratively).   She’d go *THUNK* on the floor, after which Sir Myles would gently pick her up, put her on a couch, chafe her wrists, and get her a restorative sherry.  Sir Myles’ sonnets would probably need to be classified as deadly weapons in the wrong hands, just like his Lethal Dimples.

What Does He Do in His Spare Time?

He just can't help how charming he is.

He just can’t help how charming he is.

He probably reads a lot of romantic poetry – not because he needs to crib anything, but because he likes it.  And when he’s not trying to teach his Second Sons or planning more daring and stylish abductions, he’s managing his and Lady Margaret’s estate in the best and most efficient way.  He’s probably extremely kind to their servants, too, so they’re all devoted to them.  He and Lady Margaret probably throw wonderful dinner parties as well that are the envy of all the surrounding land-owners.   I have the feeling that when the ladies go home after one of the soirées, they probably say to their husbands, “Why can’t you be more like Sir Myles?”  So in other words, all of his (male) neighbours probably hate him.  😉

Admin:  And there you have it, some equally dashing rogues and heroes.  I expect this is a topic we’ll be revisiting as there are still loads of potential romance covers to discuss. 😉

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