What’s not to love about the South? Rich culture, warm weather, deep-fried everything. Speaking of love—we’d be remiss not to mention the gentlemen.
Good, ole boys are often the leading men in some of our favorite Southern romance novels—and the reason we can distinguish if that handsome charmer at the end of bar, sipping bourbon neat, hails from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Read on for six traits (and novels) that’ll help you spot one quicker than he can say, “Pardon me, ma’am, may I buy you a drank?”
1. He’s charming and polite.
Your Romance Reference: They Call Her Dana, by Jennifer Wilde
Dana flees a life of poverty in the Louisiana bayou to pursue her dream of becoming an actress, meeting more than one alluring Southerner on her journey.
“He was as polite as could be, so suave, so witty, so handsome.”
2. He drives a truck.
Your Romance Reference: A Tradition of Pride, by Janet Dailey
After her divorce, Lara vows never to love again, but when she meets the rugged manager of her father’s Mississippi plantation, she might need to reconsider.
“Smooth, effortless strides carried him down the steps to the pickup truck parked next to the cottage. ”
3. You’re as likely to find him wearing jeans and a plaid shirt as a crisp button-down.
Your Romance Reference: Blue-Jeaned Prince, by ArLynn Leiber Presser
Jewell and Clay come from different class backgrounds, but the physical attraction between them threatens to overpower any obstacle that might prevent their relationship.
“Clay would rather marry quietly, very quietly. Probably in jeans and a work shirt if left to his own devices.”
4. He’s a cowboy at heart.
Your Romance Reference: The Longest Ride, by Nicholas Sparks
Set in North Carolina, The Longest Ride traces the entwined storylines of an elderly man in a car crash and a college senior who falls for a bull-riding cowboy.
“Maybe I’ll show you one day. Take you horseback riding and everything.”
5. He knows his way around a dance floor.
Your Romance Reference: More Than Conquerors, by Kay Cornelius
The outbreak of the Civil War sends an Alabama debutante’s fiancé into battle and a soldier into her arms.
“He asked her to dance and waltzed her to the mistletoe, kissing her cheek and laughing when she blushed.”
6. He’s respectful.
Your Romance Reference: Smooth Talking Stranger, by Lisa Kleypas
Even though his actions infuriate her, Ella can’t deny that Jake Travis, a billionaire and a charming Texas playboy, is attractive.
“I respect you,” he murmured. “And your views. I think of you as an equal.”