Christmas my 4th grade year, my parents got me the entire Little House on the Prarie book collection. Right after opening the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, I had my first ever binge-reading experience. By the time I worked my way through the series (which I read before the new year) I also had my first ever “book crush”. I was completely captivated by the character of Almanzo Wilder and his very apparent love and affection for Laura Ingalls.
Granted, I was’t quite 10; however, I felt the pull even if I couldn’t identify it properly. I re-read that series dozens of times over the years. As I entered adulthood, I’d find myself reading These Happy Golden Years regularly — any time I wanted to just read something quick I knew would make me happy. That book is the book where their romance blooms, Almanzo actively courts Laura, and by the end of the book they are married.
One day, when I was about 30-years-old, I was able to really examine why their love story appealed to me so much:
- Almanzo was intelligent, morally courageous, and strong. He wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done.
- , In true romance-novel-hero-style, he was actually a hero, traveling 40 miles round-trip in arctic temperatures to bring wheat to his starving town.
- When he realized how bad the living conditions were for Laura when she was teaching 12 miles from home, he would make the 24-mile round trip twice every weekend to bring her home — once even during a blizzard.
- He built her a house that just oozed with the love he had for her. “‘Like your pantry?’ he asked her, and she thought how many hours he must have worked, to put all those shelves and to make and fit those many drawers.” Hours, I’ll add, that he worked on top of his farming work.
- He completely respected Laura as an individual. He let her help break horses even though she was very petite and not as physically strong as she wished she could be. And, he never even flinched when she asked him to strike the word obey from their wedding vows.
- When she was pregnant and so very sick, he insisted she stay in bed then did the best thing ever — brought her a feed bag full of books so that she could lose herself in the stories and forget how sick being pregnant made her.
- I’ll add he was also really good looking.
- The Farmer Boy is one of my favorite novels of all time, and made me wish I lived on a self-sustaining farm. I always think about it when I’m canning apples or making homemade ice cream. I love that my own husband loves food and my cooking as much as young Almanzo loved food and his mother’s cooking.
The story of Almanzo and Laura Wilder was what I label “sigh worthy” and I have never grown tired of it in the 36 years I’ve been reading it. I blossomed in my heart to love romances, and eventually write them. I love that it’s a true (fictionalized) story and that they were real people who loved Jesus and each other.
Do you have a favorite romance hero crush?
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