We’ve been swooning in private apparently (if Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging can be considered “private”), because it has been ages since we shared a Literary Crush, and the fictional boyfriend list is getting embarrassingly long. I was all set to pay tribute to Four from “Divergent” and “Insurgent,” but after meeting Maggie Stiefvater at Hooray For Books last week, I realized I just hadto write about Sean Kendrick from “The Scorpio Races.” He’s quiet and broody and ridiculously intense, but when Puck enters his life, it’s obvious just how gentle and loving he can be with people, not just his beloved horses.
Name: Sean Kendrick
What Does He Look Like? “Made of all corners,” Sean is dark haired and sharp featured with a lean muscular build. He is incredibly intense.
Dream Casting: Maggie herself said she pictured Freddie Highmore, who in my mind is still 12 in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” but is actually 20 this year.
But I pictured Sean more like Jeremy Irvine, probably because I had seen so many trailers for “War Horse” and figure he already knows how to ride. And lately I’ve been thinking Sean might also look a bit like Kit Harrington, because my husband I love his emotional range on “Game of Thrones” (but sadly he’s 26 and probably too old for the part).
What Does He Do? He’s the most experienced Scorpio Races rider on the island, having won a remarkable four times. When he’s not training for the Nov. 1st race, he’s the head stable hand for the island’s richest landowner, Benjamin Malvern. But he’s no ordinary stable boy — his magical ability as a horse whisperer is internationally renowned.
Who Does He Love? Sean loves two things above all others in the book: his beloved water horse Corr, and Kate “Puck” Connolly — his lovely, brave and plucky partner in the Scorpio Races. His heart belongs to them and them alone.
Why Him? I talk a lot. I’ve had to learn (and still need reminders of this) that pauses in conversation and companionable silence are good, calming, important parts of a relationship. Although Puck can definitely talk — especially if she has something on her mind (which is often) — Sean is a quiet, introspective thing of beauty. He speaks ever so cautiously, but what he says is always the truth. He thinks like a poet, and he understands that Puck is a kindred spirit whom he treats with gentle care and respect. Puck and Sean are both orphans, but they love Thisby and would never leave the island, no matter how heartbreaking a place it can be every fall. And though there is not nearly enough kissing, the tender moments between Sean and Puck are swoon-worthy just the same.
I say, “I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.”
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, “It’s late for that, Puck.”
Salt coats my lips, crusts my eyelashes. I feel the cold press against my body. The sand shifts and sucks out from under my feet in the tide. I’m perfectly still. The sun is red behind my eyelids. The ocean will not shift me and the cold will not take me.
I whisper like the sea in the horse’s ear.
Puck’s thoughts on Sean:
I think every now and then about Sean’s thumb pressed against my wrist and daydream about him touching me again. But mostly I think about the way he looks at me – with respect – and I think that’s probably worth more than anything.
All I know is that Sean Kendrick rode that bay mare and waited until he was nearly over the cliff edge before saving himself, and that the dead speak more than he does.
Sean reaches between us and slides a thin bracelet of red ribbons over my free hand. Lifting my arm, he presses his lips against the inside of my wrist. I’m utterly still; I feel my pulse tap several times against his lips, and then he releases my hand.
“For luck,” he says. He takes Dove’s lead from me.
“Sean,” I say, and he turns. I take his chin and kiss his lips, hard. I’m reminded, all of a sudden, of that first day on the beach, when I pulled his head from the water.
“For luck,” I say to his startled face.