He Had Me at “Stephens!”

You could say I have Thornton on the brain today. It’s a welcome relief. Ever since London, I have had a massive John Proctor problem. I was so affected by The Crucible experience that until just a couple of weeks ago, I was unable to concentrate on any works of fiction, whether audiobook or written, no matter how much I wanted to. Some audible releases I’d been waiting months for came out, but I just couldn’t pay attention long enough to get into them. I had several unfinished novels on my Kindle, abandoned so I could read and re-read The Crucible, hearing each distinct character voice so clearly in my head. It wasn’t until The Armitage Authors Network came online, and Kelbel75 posted about her FanFic Gateway that I decided enough was enough, so I searched my Kindle cloud and found A Heart For Milton by Trudy Brasure, which I purchased months ago in the midst of my North and South preoccupation, but hadn’t read yet. (Does anyone else have a hopelessly long list of audiobook and digital book files in the cloud? I can’t imagine myself ever getting through my own library. Especially now that I’m so preoccupied all the time…)

So I’ve started A Heart For Milton and I’m only about 15% into the story, but I’ve been transported back to the beloved setting. I love how Trudy Brasure has captured the essence of John Thornton’s ways of speech, because my brain just fills in Richard’s gorgeous voice in every dialogue. This has really gotten me off the John Proctor fixation track, for which I am profoundly grateful. Much as I love him, I needed a break from Salem and from Proctor’s passionately hopeless heroics.


The curious lovablility of this sequence! [Screencaps borrowed from Flixchatter and from Servetus]

Yesterday, Servetus posted a pic of the moment I like to think of as “my moment”- the moment when Richard Armitage first not only came onto my radar, but overwhelmed me with his singular combination of freakishly gorgeous appearance and magnetically compelling performance… that magical moment when he roared “Stephens! Put that pipe out!” It’s a bit of an odd moment to fall in love at first sight, but that’s pretty much exactly what occurred. Funny how I’m quite sure that had I been in Margaret Hale’s shoes at the moment, I would have been shocked and repelled by the violent outburst that follows. The men in my life, thank heavens, just don’t behave that way, and no matter how well he looked… all tall, dark and cravated… I would have been leery of becoming involved with him. Nonetheless, it was this very outburst of physicality, this shouting, chasing and pummeling, that captured my fascination with the character, and by association, the actor behind the performance. The moment he threw the horrified and indignant Margaret out of the mill, I knew it would be a love story to remember.

What would be the appeal of conquering Mr. Darcy without his initial hatefully rude condescension? Likewise, Mr. Thornton without his raw and unrefined brutality would not have been as riveting without this moment. Had the 2004 BBC production followed the Elizabeth Gaskell novel, with Margaret never once entering Marlborough Mills, thereby never setting Miss Hale and Mr. Thornton at such dramatic odds, I wonder if I would have fallen quite so hard, or become quite so fascinated, with Mr. Thornton… and later Richard.

Probably. After all, I just adore smoldering, angst, betrayal, hot male brooding and sexual tension in film and in fiction, so what followed as the plot unfolded was an inevitably escalating fascination with the character and storyline. I was amazed to discover a character, in Thornton, capable of out-Darcying Mr. Darcy himself.

What was your “moment”?


  1. Helen · October 20, 2014

    Looking back, it was the same moment but just before he erupts in anger… When he came into view looking down that lovely nose, looking very tall and very arrogant. At the time though I just thought ‘he’s quite handsome, this will be enjoyable’. And I swear I didn’t think anything more right until the train scene, when I thought ‘oh, I think something just melted in me…’ And I was never the same again. ;-). Oh for a man looking like that and looking at me like that 😀


    • jholland · October 20, 2014

      He did look deliciously proud and arrogant in that first moment on screen. Which only makes his vulnerabilities, (“But, Mother, I daren’t believe such a woman could care for me.”) all the more touching. And yes, the train station… first that incredibly tender look, and kiss… then how he emotes with his entire posture when she walks away toward Henry. RA is brilliant. =)

      Liked by 1 person

      • SH · October 21, 2014

        That was it for me- “Mother, I daren’t believe…..” The marshmallow inside the man of steel, sigh.


        • jholland · October 21, 2014

          Oh, I know! Didn’t you just want to gather him up in a big hug and kiss all the doubt from his face? Gah.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. sparkhouse1 · October 20, 2014

    My moment was when Thorin first walked through Bilbo’s door…I was riveted. And then when he spoke his first line….I was intrigued. So of course I googled Richard Armitage and North and South was apparantly a must-see….when Mr. Thornton walked through his mill in profile with the music playing and the cotton ‘snow’ like a snowglobe all around…I was forever hooked.


    • jholland · October 20, 2014

      The Hobbit was my first time to see RA, and I distinctly remember him walking through the door and me thinking that wow, several of the dwarves this time around (as compared to Gimli in LOTR) are not at all hard on the eyes! I didn’t know who he was, and while I’m pretty sure I checked IMDB to see who played Thorin later, and was really surprised to see a comparatively tall, slender actor rather than a more burly actor, I didn’t try to glom his other works like I did after I stumbled into JT. I also remember wondering if RA was a musician-turned-actor after the Misty Mountains song in the first Hobbit film. So his voice did impress me, but I didn’t get the full effect until N&S. And yes, that combination of the beautiful music and Thornton moving with that graceful yet masculine stride through the mill… breathtaking moment. =)


  3. Sue · October 20, 2014

    My first Richard moment wasn’t N&S but TH. A coworker and I had seen it on the same weekend and were discussing Monday morning, we both asked; “who’s the guy who plays Thorin?” Naturally to google we went, and got Richard Armitage, US politician!!! NOT HIM!!
    Once we’d found the RIGHT Richard we started looking for other things he’d done. I watched N&S that night, up way past midnight!!, and was forever hooked!!


    • jholland · October 20, 2014

      I wish I’d found N&S at the same time as TH… to think how much RA I missed out on until stumbling across N&S 2 years later! I guess I must have an ingrained dwarf-prejudice, because while I think Thorin is the most handsome dwarf, he’s still a dwarf, and I prefer men. Lol =)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen · October 20, 2014

        I know what you mean… While I think RA does a fine job with Thorin, he still doesn’t appeal to me as much as Thornton, Guy or Lucas. Not sure it’s even the height issue – more the prostheses. I like to see the Armitage nose pure and unsullied 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • jholland · October 20, 2014

          I know exactly what you mean! There is a rugged handsomeness to Thorin, brow and nose included. But there’s no nose like Richard’s nose. I should make a meme of that. Lol


  4. Servetus · October 23, 2014

    Thanks for the link love!

    Liked by 1 person

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