|Let's talk about alpha heroes, shall we?|
The tough-as-nails, dominant male who can kick ass and make the heroine fall hard for him all in one romance novel. Sure, the guy can be arrogant, but hey, he’s an alpha, so that pretty much goes with the package.As a romance author, I love my male characters to possess characteristics commonly identified with alpha heroes. They’re strong, physically and emotionally, and they’re not unknown to some measure of swagger and derring-do in their actions. Dominance in the bedroom is pretty common. And they always keep cool heads in a crisis, allowing them to kick major ass when necessary.
That said, my heroes’ vulnerabilities become evident really early in my stories because I like to write from both the male and female protagonists’ POV. And while many authors have the skill to create Alphas with lots of depth who are still undeniably and irresistibly ALPHA, I tend to load my characters with too many quirks and vulnerabilities to keep them firmly in the alpha category. Let’s take a look!
Case study: Let’s start with Caleb. He’s the hero in Cowboy Valentine, my erotic romance novella that will be released by Samhain this August. A lot of things about Caleb mark him as a traditional romance novel Alpha. He’s sexually experienced, strong and good-looking, and a dirty-talker in the bedroom. He’s calculating and in control of his external emotions. However, from what I understand about jaded Alphas, he’s just too green. Everything about this love affair is new, and his sense of wonder and enthusiasm make him more charming than gruff. In my opinion, Caleb is too young to be an Alpha—he’s 22 and surrounded by older brothers who are constantly busting his balls. He can hold his own, and one day he will be an Alpha, but right now, he’s just a kid with his Alpha training wheels still on.
Alpha rating (1-5): 2 smoldering glares
Case study: Caleb’s molten-hot eldest brother, Dean, appears in my short story Cowboy Overload as the guest star in a sexy, slightly unhinged mfm tryst. He also is the star of my latest work-in-progress, a sequel to Cowboy Valentine wherein he gets a much deserved happily-ever-after of his own. As a professional bullfighter, Dean’s job is to protect bull riders from bucking bulls in the arena, so he possesses an almost superhuman fearlessness. But bashed around by fate and bad fortune, Dean inhabits the classic tortured hero trope: he’s quiet, withdrawn, and waiting for the right lady to help draw him back out of his shell. Far more guarded than arrogant, Dean is a Byronic hero, not an Alpha.
Alpha rating (1-5): 3 smoldering glares
Case study: Do Alpha heroes have to be arrogant? The hero of my short story Cowboy Cocktail, Tom has every right to be arrogant. A small town boy, he grew up, left for the big city, and absolutely dominated his field. The CEO of a nightlife conglomerate, Tom owns three popular bars in Downtown Los Angeles and was instrumental in the revitalization of Skid Row. But now he’s back in his hometown, trying to get the one who got away. Tom is jacked and tatted and has a slithery, deep voice that makes women follow him like lemmings jumping off a cliff. But years of secretly pining after one unattainable woman have left him too vulnerable to be a classically arrogant Alpha.
Alpha rating (1-5): 4 smoldering glares