This weekend, I was doing laundry after my vacation and cleaning out piles of old magazines, flipping through them before I put them in the recycle bin. (I like to tear out pics of pretty dresses, lipsticks to try, useful location/character images, etc). Anyway, I came across last summer’s In Style “what’s sexy now?” issue. As usual, some of the photos were gorgeous; some did nothing for me. Just like some actors or books others love and go crazy for leave me cold, and vice versa. And yet “sexy” is a vital concern, for romance novels as well as fashion mags. And in real life, too. (I had a long talk with some girlfriends at dinner Sunday night as I was thinking about this post, and after a couple glasses of wine there was much contention. One of my friends loves Simon Baker, who I think is boring as can be, while she mocks my fascination with Rob Pattinson’s angular beauty. Yet we are still friends–I think).

So–what is Sexy now? As romance authors, I guess we have to think about this quite a bit (tough job, I know, but it’s for our Art, of course….) How do we make our characters irresistible to each other, and thus to readers, when sexy is such a subjective thing? (For instance, it’s not enough to simply make them beautiful. Good looks are no guarantee of sexiness, nor is the lack thereof a deterrent. Was Mr. Rochester any less sexy after the fire?)

But what then makes romance novel characters, movie characters, real-life couples,
drawn to each other, combustible? How do we convey that attraction to readers and make them invested in it, too? It’s tough, to say the least. In real-life, and in characters, I do know that I love two qualities that may seem incompatible with each other–intensity and humor. A man who is focused and passionate about what he does, and is funny? Solid gold, people. I like to see that in the heroes I read and write about, too. (And there is such a fine line between “sexy bad-ass intense hero” and “complete jerk you would avoid at all costs”!)

So, now it’s your turn. What do you think is sexy? Who are some of your favorite characters, the ones you think of when you think “sexy”? What makes them so for you? Any movies/books that you love and others don’t, or vice versa?