North West? Blue Ivy? Bronx Mowgli? Amazing names to be sure, but celebrity babies don’t have a thing on romance novel characters. Seasoned romance readers know what I’m talking about—we’re no strangers to oddly, even hilariously named heroes and heroines. Here are some of my favorites:
Everyone in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Ward’s long-running vampire series is well known for its, er, unconventional use of the letters H, Z, and X. Names like Qhuinn, Zsadist, Rhage, Tohrment, Vishous, and Rehvenge not only blaze new trails in nomenclature, but they also give insight to their owners’ character struggles. And heroine Xhex just dares us to come up with alternative pronunciations while reading.
Cerynise Kendall, in Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Elusive Flame. As if Cerynise weren’t enough, check out the name of her love interest, sea captain Beauregard Birmingham—who sounds more like a respected senator from Alabama than a dashing swashbuckler. Perhaps it goes without saying that there’s a villain named Alistair.
Raven St. James, heroine of Maggie Shayne’s Eternity. Romance heroine or Dynasty guest star? You’ll be forgiven for your confusion when it comes to this heroine, who, yes, happens to be a witch. “Raven” seems like exactly the kind of name that gets you sent to the gallows in Salem—which, incidentally, is kind of what happens. (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler.)
Too many paranormal characters to name. But I’m going to try: there’s Saber Wynter in Christine Feehan’s Predatory Games, vampire Mencheres in Jeaniene Frost’s Eternal Kiss of Darkness, the Dickensian circus master Criminy in Delilah S. Dawson’s Wicked as They Come, and “soul reaper” brothers Dagan, Alastor, Malthus, and Lokan in Eve Silver’s Sins series. And that’s just the beginning.
Oh, so many dukes and dandies. Many of my favorite historical romances have heroes whose names are straight ridiculous, from Dark Ages warriors Leof and Fenrir (Harper Fox’s Brothers of the Wild North Sea), to Highland lairds Niall (Melanie Jackson’s Iona) and Sidheach (Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the Highland Mist), to Regency dandies Ponsonby Thorn and Augustine Aubourn (Claudia Dain’s How to Dazzle a Duke and The Courtesan’s Daughter, respectively).
Not that I’m complaining! If I had a nickel for every romance heroine named Mackenzie, Maggie, or Claire, I’d never run out of change. And for every paranormal hero whose name includes extra consonants or dreaded apostrophes, there’s a cowboy named Caleb, a firefighter named Jake, or a cop named Jack. Not that there’s anything wrong with common names—because every once in a while, you come across a heroine or hero with your name.
What’s the craziest character name you’ve ever read?