Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Quintessential Alpha Hero

Women love a hot, alpha male in their fantasy stories (me included), am I right? So I've been thinking...what defines an alpha hero?

Common qualities I've seen in romance novels are; arrogant, dominating, overbearing, overprotective, and possessive.

Some good things, some not-so-good, right?

My first two book heroes fit this stereotypical "alpha male" to a T (whatever that means. Seriously, is it tee, or T, or "t" or what?). Especially my most recent book, Destiny United. Marcelo is alpha to the core, complete with giant ego and giant...well...other things.

But with my third book, I'm shaking things up a bit.

Cristian is an alpha - literally, the alpha of a werewolf pack. And he's got that strong, masculine vibe but....

it's just a little different from most heroes. Or at least my from last two. He's not arrogant, he's confident. He recognizes his weaknesses and wishes others would too. He doesn't like being put on a pedestal, even though it comes with the job.

He isn't controlling. He isn't overbearing or bossy. He can take control if he needs to - handy around groups of sometimes unruly werewolves. But he governs with fairness and compassion even when he has to be harsh.

But the biggest difference is that he trusts the heroine, Natalia, to make her own decisions. He is willing to share the leading role and recognizes when she might know more than him about a particular topic. And she recognizes the same in him. They are truly a partnership. And all fantasy aside, that's what a good marriage is built on.

Okay, so I won't try to play therapist any longer.

So what ultimately makes an alpha?

Self-confidence is important. Knowing who he is, strengths and weaknesses, and having a healthy view of them. And it comes down to leadership. A good leader uplifts those around him. He earns their respect and trust instead of demanding it. He rallies supporters, he doesn't bully them. He takes care of those under his care, putting their welfare above his own. He can mete out judgement and swift punishment ruthlessly as well as gentle kisses to those he loves.

So what part of original alpha list did I keep in Cristian?

The possessiveness and protectiveness of course! That's the good part of an alpha, right ladies? You want your man to want you, and only you! You want him to stand up for you at any cost. And even if you're capable of kicking some ass on your own (yeah, I had a green belt in Tae Kwon Do, I get it), you still want your man to want to kick some ass for you!

It's been interesting writing this different brand of alpha hero, but I'm starting to really like it.

Anyway, just for fun, here's my list of favorite PNR heroes. (I only picked the big names so you'd be more likely to know them.)

1. Jericho Barrons (though he pushes the boundaries a little for me)
2. Bones
3. Curran (Cristian is a little like him)
4. Any Lychan from Kresley Cole's IAD - especially Bowen!
5. And I have to mention my all-time favorite even though it's technically not a PNR - Jamie Fraser from The Outlander series

Now your turn. What makes a good alpha hero for you? Would you like to see some qualities redefined? Are there any alpha traits you truly hate? I want the whole scoop.


  1. Hmmm... This is soooo difficult. I think the Alpha depends on the heroine. If the guy is an ass, but his lady is also one, if not stronger - then I love him. His "alphaness" works.

    However, if the ladies are a bit nicer - which is what I usually like - then yes, I like the Alpha arrogant, but also a softie inside. Hence Bones and Curran.

    Rafael from the Guild Hunters by Nalini Singh is a bit pushier, but he has Elena to bounce off of.

    I actually don't like some of the alpha heroes from the late nineties.The older 99c novels that I read I don't think quite got the idea of an alpha yet.

    But oh Leia - I love Cristian. I didn't think I could like anyone in your world more than Marcello, but you proved me wrong.

  2. I like my alpha hero to be strong, protective and compassionate. Also think possessive and arrogance are good traits as long as they don't overpower the heroine's personiality.

    Great post!

  3. Most of my alphas have been at least a little arrogant--I think it comes with the terratory. Several have been very possessive/jealous to a fault. Of course all have been willing to protect (even when the heroine doesn't want that protection). And all of them have had a soft spot somewhere, specifically brought out by the heroine. The one I'm working on now seems to be the least physically combative, and the one most people have seemed to like best.

    I think I write the heroes I personally want to read--not so much paranormal (sorry)--and my absolute fave hero is Beowulf Malloren, the Marquess of Rothgar. An alpha's alpha. *sigh*

    Loved your post (and your alphas from what I've read).

  4. Jenna, you've intrigued me with this Beowulf. I have to check that out. Lia and Carrie...this just proves there's more than one way to do an alpha!

  5. I love my hero to be self assured, but know he has flaws and weaknesses. I like him to be smart, strong, protective, even arrogant. Also, he needs to have a healthy dose of compassion.
    I've noticed a huge trend in making the heroines of romance novels as alpha females. I like the shift, but have also noticed that some of these heroines are so kick-ass strong, they don't even need the hero, LOL.
    I like a smart, funny, self assured heroine as well. And even if she doesn't have the physical strength, I need her to have great strength of character.

  6. I want a man to be a man, look like a man, act like one, and love like one. And when I say man, I don't mean human - lol. Perhaps I should have said male. I like strong willed women, but making the female be Herculean isn't believable, unless she comes from some type of Amazonian world, I suppose. Brenda prosed it perfectly above.

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  8. To me, an alpha will always protect what's his, whether it's his people, his family, or his woman. Many times he'll have an arrogant or cold side that he presents to the world, but underneath that, he's a softie to those he loves.

  9. Jericho Barons! Love him. Just got the last book in the series and can't wait to read it! Love alphas—definitely the reason I write military romance :) Love the strong, tough, kick ass men with a soft spot for the woman who changes their life. Great post!