......and, really, there are only a few things better to think about!
I happen to have been reading the perfect book to focus my thoughts on the issue: Georgette Heyer's Beauvallet. I have, in fact, just finished reading my first two Heyer books ever.
I had heard them recommended by a diverse group of people. I almost fell prey to my extreme vanity and skipped them, because in our library they are filed in the (oh no!) romance section. Honestly, I've never even walked down the shelf line in that section. It is so far beneath me, you know. HA!
Anyway, I overcame my prejudice and took out the only two Heyer books on the shelves: the aformentioned Beauvallet and another complete gem, The Unknown Ajax.
Well, be still my beating heart. I am a convert to Georgette Heyer's romances, even if I might not be converted to anyone elses.
And reading a description of the dashing Beauvallet, an English pirate riding into France to steal away the Spanish girl he has fallen in love with, made me open my eyes to what is appealling in manly men:
Beauvallet did not doubt that he could brave out the imposture, but he knew that he carried his life in his hand. One evil chance, one Frenchman in Madrid to whom the Chevalier was known, and he might expect to find himself sped.The knowledge made him set his horse caracolling on the road, never so keenly enjoying life as when he stood in danger of losing it. He tossed his sword up in the air, and caught it deftly as it fell. The sunlight glinted all along the shimmering blade. Between eight crowns the name Andrea Ferrara was inscribed, and beneath it a pungent motto:--My bite is sure. "A sword and my wits against all Spain!" sang out Beauvallet, and whistled a catch between his teeth. Then he fell to thinking of her whom he went to seek, and the leagues passed uncounted.
Spectacular, huh? That's what I like. A man with a mission. A man who enjoys life. A man who is risking it all for the love of his life. A man who takes his chances without whining or worrying overmuch. A man who knows that trying and failing is not the worst thing that can happen, though he doesn't really consider that failure option much. And a man who loves his woman.
Oh, and on a slightly different topic, here is Heyer's take on one of the evil characters:
Dona Beatrice was like a snail, she thought, trailing a sticky poison in her wake. What she touched she soiled; all virtue was made to seem a little foolish; all vice was merely smiled upon.
That might be the most perfect description of evil today that I've ever read.