The “Not-Sexy” Best Friend

By Micah Persell, author of Of Eternal LifeOf the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Emma: The Wild and Wanton Edition

Emma: The Wild and Wanton EditionAs a book nerd, a music nerd, a video game nerd, a you-name-it nerd, I grew up being one of those socially awkward teenage girls who fit in better with the guys. I couldn’t talk clothes or boys to save my life, but I could discuss the various locations of hidden treasure chests in Mario Bros. or the surprise twist in Ender’s Game.

Not surprisingly, this put me solidly in the “friend” category with anything carrying a Y-chromosome. And while I loved all of the same things guys typically loved, I had a hidden cache of romance novels under my bed. What I truly wanted was to make those boys breathless. Being the not-sexy best friend was…not awesome.

Imagine my surprise when I grew up, started writing romance novels, and discovered the not-sexy best friend was a two-way gender street. In a writer’s workshop on hero archetypes, a best-selling group of authors discussed the various types of hero—the warrior (rawr), the professor (rawr), the bad boy (double rawr), etc. They explained that when they began a new project, they put all of the archetypes in a bag, drew one, and made that particular archetype their hero. Except, here is where it got interesting: if they drew “the best friend,” they always put him back because, “He’s really, really hard to make sexy.”


These amazing authors did not mean to make that statement a challenge, I’m sure, but I definitely took it as one. With visions of my teenaged self with frizzy hair, braces, glasses, and purple E.T. t-shirt dancing in my head, I set out to make the gosh-darn sexiest best friend in existence. I owed it to humanity! My mission felt downright patriotic.

But someone had already beaten me to it: Miss Jane Austen.

Mr. KnightleyEmma had long been one of my favorite books, and when I re-read it with this “not-sexy best friend” nonsense in my head, I realized Mr. Knightley is pretty much Exhibit A-Z when it comes to ways a best friend can be very, very sexy.

And then my publisher announced their Wild and Wanton line—hot twists on beloved classics. I jumped on board. When it came to the book’s hero, I didn’t have to work too hard to bring out his sexy. It was just there. Miss Austen knows her men.

So, former “not-sexy” best friends, the time has come for us to unite! Let us end this gibberish once and for all. Pick up Emma: The Wild and Wanton Edition, and see what everyone misses out on when they dismiss the best friend.

23 thoughts on “The “Not-Sexy” Best Friend

  1. elleyarden

    Micah, congrats on the release! I love Emma. As far as non-sexy best friends go, I was put into that category a time or two. Like you, I found it easier to relate to guys, and I could talk sports with the best of them. It just took finding a guy who found THAT sexy. 🙂


  2. terriponce

    Sigh. I had a thing for Mr. Knightley, too, for a while. In particular, as played by Jeremy Northam (in your photo). Funny, I never had an issue with the best friend/boyfriend thing. I think they often make the HOTTEST male leads because they know the heroine so well. And they can tug at that heroine’s heart and passion like no other male can. Probably why I write one myself. 🙂

  3. Christine S. Feldman

    I agree with you, Terri. I think it’s very appealing when the leads start out as friends and then later see each other in a new light because the connection they already have makes the romance all the richer, and for me, all the more meaningful. Also doesn’t hurt if it involves someone like Jeremy Northam!

  4. LivRancourt

    The most interesting thing about your post is thinking that these romance-writing pros draw character types out of a hat. How random is that?
    I’m not a big Jane Austen fan (having read “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” before the original), but I think there’s a pretty solid precedent for the best-friend-turned-sexy thing. I mean, I know I’m not the only one worried that Charlaine Harris has taken 13 books to fix Sookie up with Sam, right?

  5. Becky Lower

    What a fun post, Micah. I’ve heard the archetype theory before, too, but always thought it was better to let the characters speak for themselves. I can’t wait to spend a rainy Saturday getting all hot and bothered by your book!

  6. NanyCWeeks

    Great post, Micah,
    I met this guy who became one of best friends— until one day he told me he loved me. That followed with a “and if you would stop saying you want to be just friends, you would realize you love me too.” Well, we are celebrating 32 years of marriage this year. Thank God for best friends!

  7. Leslie Garcia

    Thoroughly enjoyed the post. Haven’t written a best friend romance yet, but think it’s a wonderful relationship to build a story–or a life!–around.

  8. Brenna Chase

    Micah, congratulations on the release! Enjoyable post too. I love best friend stories, especially that “a-ha” moment when they realize their feelings are deeper.