During the trip over on the DIK jet I was pondering about a topic near and dear to many a red blooded female's heart. Men. Specifically the "Alpha" male and how we identify him in today's romance?
But first I'll define him according to a reference source:
Definition from Dictionary.com
A domineering man; the dominant member in a group of males, esp. animals
Etymology: from first letter of the Greek alphabet, often used as an adjective to describe males and females of species who rank first in a group
EH On Books And More, where she quoted Author Sondrae Bennett's thought regarding "A Gentler Alpha".
"I’ve been reading romance novels practically my whole life. I got sucked into the world of charming heroes and heroines from the very beginning. Every time I picked up a book, I fell in love. I still today remember some of my favorite heroes I read about years and years ago.
It wasn’t until much later that I started hearing terms like “Alpha Male” and “Beta Male”. It took me awhile to spot the difference as I never felt the need to categorize the heroes I read about. I certainly fell in love with heroes from both sides of the coin. But I didn’t always like what I saw. Heroes were classified as alpha for being (pardon my language) complete dicks. I didn’t understand it. That wasn’t my idea of a perfect guy. I like to think I would never fall for that guy in life, so why would I fall for him in fiction? But the idea of the “alpha male” was something that appealed to me. Someone who could protect unequivocally. So when I started writing Arctic Winds, I thought about all the things I liked and wanted in a man and created Jason, my version of the alpha male."
© Sondrae Bennett
I agree with Sondrae, the Alpha males that appeal to me are written as "gentler" in that he (they) are:
- dominant - not not a controlling jerk
- have good manners
- are respectful
- are redeemable
- they will protect and defend their female/male love interest, but not smother him/her
When I think of an Alpha in movies, Daniel Day Lewis', 'Hawkeye' in "Last of the Mohicans", comes to mind. He was the uber strong, dominant, love interest of Madeline Stowe's, 'Cora'. The rescue scene during the massacre, and certainly the kissing scene were examples of his determination to protect her, and his powerful sensual aura - his possession of her. Make no mistake, Cora was no weak minded prissy female. She was strong of mind and spirit, and made her presence and opinions known.
Katie Reus was kind enough to share some time with me recently over at Book Lovers Inc. to talk about her recent publication "Dangerous Secrets". IMHO Katie characterizes extremely appealing Alpha heroes for her novels and Adam from Dangerous Secrets is certainly a prime example of a hot Alpha. This is what Katie said about her Alpha heroes:
I love alpha heroes and I hate that stereotype that alphas have to be jerks so my guys might be domineering and stubborn, but they always put their lady first.
Book Lovers Inc. © Katie Reus
So, there is a common thread here, basically these guys are decent and I as mentioned above redeemable, because I don't think Alpha's always start out being likable, especially when there is a history of conflict between him and his love interest. Or he is "tortured, angry guy". However, over the course of the narrative, his true nature is revealed, he remains potent and powerful, but gradually shows compassion and caring for his lover making him redeemable in her/his eyes as well as ours.
Beth Kery is certainly one of them. Marc Kavanaugh, the hero of Beth's most recent contemporary romance publication, "The Hometown Hero Returns", demonstrates strong Alpha qualities, and certainly IMHO you can find prime examples of Alpha males in the heroes characterized in any of her novels. I asked Beth to describe an Alpha male in her own words, and here is what she said:
"The alpha male is the leader of the pack. He's smart, decisive and forceful. He's maleness distilled. Everything about him makes a woman feel gloriously feminine by sheer contrast."
© Beth Kery
Right on! "The leader of the pack." And while he certainly is a must in say a shapeshifter story when we are talking paranormal romance, I think that we see and expect Alphas across the romantic spectrum. "Makes a woman feel gloriously feminine by sheer contrast," a feeling I certainly enjoy when reading a well written Alpha characterized in a book. How about you?
Other traits or colloquialisms that I often associate with Alphas for whatever reason are:
- a deep voice
- an accent or drawl
- a manly man
- confident but not arrogant
- a sensual 'aura'
Then of course there is the Alpha female competing with the Alpha male for dominance, however that is a whole other post. lol I think it is important to mention that whatever the dynamic a strong minded intelligent partner is the key to making the relationship work in a good romance.
So, can it be argued that the term "Alpha" is a misnomer in today's romance? It would be nice to think the more sophisticated reader of today's literature has lost appreciation for the neanderthal, "Alpha male" of yesteryear who dragged the screaming virgin by the hair off into his cave and proceeded to initiate her to the pleasures of the flesh without so much as a, by your leave (or something like that). LOL
Tori and I will be back tomorrow chatting about the wide appeal of contemporary and category romances, but for now, one of my cool Alpha males here on the Island has just brought me a nice cold drink with one of those little umbrellas in it. ;)
"It's fun to be here on the Island isn't it Tori?"