In the romance novels of my formative years, all the heroes had coal-black eyes (impossible, of course…dark, dark brown, sure. Black…no.). Heroines, on the other hand, had only jewel-tones: sapphire, emerald, topaz, the occasional turquoise. This matched their ruby lips quite nicely, as well as their pearl-like teeth.
When I was a youth, I dated a guy who had really pretty eyes…blue. Or green. Or bluish-green? Anyway, what I remember more than his actual eye color was the number of times women exclaimed, “Oh, my gosh, you have the most amazing eyes!” I found this quite irritating. My own eyes are brown. I consider them to be my best feature. I have pretty good lashes (thanks, Dad!). My family is Hungarian—to me, a quintessential Hungarian feature is big, expressive eyes. When I’m sad, as I was recently due to the death of my beloved dog, I can’t stand to look in the mirror, because I look so dang tragic. My son and one of my nieces, on the other hand, have what I call “smiley eyes.” They always look mischievous, these kids. If they’re up to something, we can always tell. Heath Ledger had smiley eyes. Usher does, too. So does my own sainted husband.
When I think back on my hero and heroine’s eye color, I come up with this: Sam & Millie: hazel/brown. Malone & Maggie: blue/gray. Trevor & Chastity: brown/blue. Callahan & Grace: blue/I forget. Ethan and Lucy: brown/brown. Ian & Callie: blue/brown. Nick & Harper: brown/green. Malone and Ian both had very pretty blue eyes, and their womenfolk fixated on the color appropriately.
More important to me, though, is the mood of the eyes—I’m doing line edits for My One & Only, and I keep coming across the phrase “gypsy eyes” for Nick. That’s because when I was first writing this book, I dreamed about the characters, and Nick looked an awful lot like Robert Downey Jr. (sigh!). And come one…RDJ has beautiful gypsy eyes, don’t you think?
Sad eyes get to me, too…Callahan and Sam both had those downturning, lovely eyes. I’m a sucker for this type. Russell Crowe, Kyle Chandler…purr! I find myself stifling urges to make them smile, because the transformation is so deeply satisfying. (Does anyone have their phone numbers, by the way?)
Contrary to many romance novels, eyes can’t change color. No one’s turquoise eyes, for example, can actually darken to sapphire. But irises do expand with attraction, so it might look that way. And it’s amazing, I think, how much emotion can be conveyed in a gaze—I mean, can’t we all tell when our significant others are bored or amorous or stifling laughter, even when their poker faces are on?
Do you have a preference for eye color or shape? Are eyes the first thing you notice? Post a comment, and I’ll give away a copy of Just One of the Guys, which I hear is in short supply (but which Harlequin is kindly reprinting at this very moment!). Trevor had hot fudge eyes in that one…perfect for Chastity, who loves dessert.