Last week was Valentine's Day, people. How did you spend it? A starlit cruise around the lake on a private yacht? Rock climbing a monument that your Significant Other carved into a cliff a la Mount Rushmore? Romantic candlelit dinner or a night of zombie movie mayhem? Well if you're like me, you spent it curled up in an armchair under a lovely afghan with a very nice glass of sauvignon blanc and Gilbert Blythe. That's right, I spent February 14th alone with wine and a book and I loved it. I have always loved books more than people--it's one of the main reasons I became a librarian in the first place--and all of my childhood crushes lived exclusively on the page. Now, a good therapist would have a field day with that revelation but I choose to focus on the positive: I never have to break up with my great loves and I don't have to limit myself to just one. And now, without further ado, I present to you the great loves of my life--for now.1. Rhett Butler of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I have never made secret my love of scoundrels and Rhett is the best kind of scoundrel. He's a scoundrel with a good heart and devilish charm. I blame the delicious Mr. Butler for my ongoing weakness for bad boys. Because I know they're bad but maybe they're also sweet deep down and will buy my huffy nanny red crinoline for a petticoat so stiff it could stand up on its own. But probably not.2. Gilbert Blythe of Anne of Green Gable and subsequent books by L. M. Montgomery. Oh Gilbert. Gilbert, you delightful scamp. Gilbert is the perfect example of the "He Teases Me Because He Secretly Loves Me" mentality. He calls Anne "Carrots" and it's love. Of course, he's also very good to Anne, steadily waiting for her to notice him in the wings. Gilbert is that all-American (okay, Canadian) boy-next-door that we all imagined our own neighbors to be when we were twelve. Mostly, though, they just wanted to play stickball.3. Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Another one of those delightful boy-next-door types (although his love for Jo is sadly unrequited), Laurie is always down for whatever shenanigans Jo has in mind. Bonus: he's a talented musician who explores his passion. What girl doesn't have a big old weak spot for a musician?4. The little boy from Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak. This one is a little obscure but that little illustration was maybe my first actual love. Of course, I was about four and it was also my imaginary friend (there were actually two of them) so it was all very innocent but I loved those little line drawings (Didi and Deed, to me). It was my first experience of literature coming quite literally off the page.5. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Bear with me here. Yes, Holden is whiny. No, he doesn't actually do anything. Yes, he's obsessed with profanity and sex and never letting anything go. But you know what? So was I when I was fourteen, which is when I fell hard for Holden. Thankfully I grew out of that phase and out of my habit of dating moody, unambitious artist-types. Still, Holden will always hold a little piece of my heart, if only for nostalgia's sake.6. Mr. Knightley from Emma by Jane Austen. I know you Austen-ites will think me insane for keeping Darcy off this list but Colin Firth adaptations aside, I don't actually care all that much for Fitzwilliam. He's moody and proud and he insults Lizzy during his first proposal. So. Not. Okay. Yes, he evolves throughout the story and Lizzy makes some mistakes, too, but today that whole "I'm Rich So I'm Allowed To Be Kind Of A Jerk" thing just wouldn't fly. (Bronte sisters, you're no better.) Enter Mr. Knightley. Emma is much more flawed than Lizzy. She's meddlesome and silly and stubborn but she's also fiercely loyal and well-intentioned and kind. Knightley recognizes Emma's faults and loves her anyway because she wouldn't be the same without them. When she does something stupid, he tells her but he doesn't insult her. He's just a guy that wants the woman he loves to be all that she can be. Swoon. (Incidentally, if you're going to watch a film adaptation, I highly recommend this one.)7. The Little Prince from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. That wistful, sad little alien had me from the first strange word out of his mouth. He may not exist at all, even within the pages of the very book written about him, but it doesn't matter. He, or the part of the narrator's mind that created him, understands something beautiful and tragic about the fleeting nature of life. Okay, so I didn't really get it entirely at the time but I don't think you need to understand something intellectually to really get it. And besides, it's just all so French.8. Adam Eddington from A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle. I had an entire shelf of L'Engle books when I was growing up and I read them over and over. Most of the philosophy went right over my head until I reread them as an adult the characters she created stuck with me, even when I didn't know what they were talking about. My absolute favorite was Adam, the young scientist working with dolphins while trying to keep from falling in love with Vicky. A smart man who's good with animals? Yes please.9. Sergeant Mike Flannigan from Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Mars Freedman. I read this one over and over and over again when I was in the ninth grade. Mike is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (perhaps I have a secret thing for Canadians?) and a rugged outdoorsman with a strong sense of honor. He protects Katherine Mary but he doesn't coddle her. Rather than shielding her from the brutality of life in the upper forty, he helps her become strong enough to face it herself. Plus, there's the uniform.10. Dr. Neil MacNeill from Christy by Catherine Marhsall. So, I may have developed a little bit of a soft spot for the good doctor after watching the TV miniseries but I watched and read them at about the same time in my life so I can't really distinguish them in my mind anymore. MacNeill is a man with a tragic past and we've established that no lovelorn reader can resist a hero with a pathetic backstory. But MacNeill also dedicates his life to helping the backward people of Cutter Gap. He's like the original Peace Corps and the hippie in me just loves that.There are at least a dozen other literary men I could have put on this list but I'll spare you my rhapsodies on Royal Wilder and Rochester, my love for Lestat and Lancelot alike. This list is just to prove that you never forget your first dozen loves.