What a TREAT I have for all you romance fans!
Emily Royal, author of HOT historical romances and RNA member has written me one hell of a guest post on the alpha male character and the 5 things he needs.
Sit back, grab your handheld electric fan and let’s welcome the wonderful Emily Royal.
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the Alpha Male in romance. Like the dodo, the dinosaur and the British coal miner, he’s often considered to be something of an extinct breed.
Traditional romances, particularly those written in the 1980’s and 1990’s, featured uncompromising Alpha Males, who slept around, treated the heroines poorly and as for consent – it was dubious at best. Too often the reconciliation happened in the final chapter, or even on the last page. The poor heroine spent almost the entire book following him round like a faithful hound, always coming back for more abuse, and when the curtains close, there’s no real apology from the hero, no grovelling, and no conviction that he’s learned anything. Quite rightly, this sort of behaviour isn’t, and shouldn’t, be considered heroic today.
Before I continue, let me qualify everything I say here by admitting that I am a huge fan of the alpha hero in a romantic novel. I love dark romances, too. The first proper “dark romance” I read was the Consequences series by Aleatha Romig. Tony Rawlings is THE ultimate bad-boy alpha hero! But be warned, he’s an extreme example of “love-him-or-hate-him”. If you don’t believe me, check the reviews.
So, should the Alpha Hero be relegated to the archives and forgotten forever? Or does he still have a place among modern readers? Five things every Alpha Hero needs are:
Raw male power
Ok, let’s get this out of the way first! An Alpha Male must have alpha qualities in order to fall into that category. Yes, this might be shallow, but I’m talking about a manly physique, raw sexuality and a desire to take control of things. A hero billed as an alpha male must excite the kind of attraction which sets the pulses racing. A bit of raw male power means that the tension crackles between the hero and a strong-minded heroine! Tip: Don’t shy away from sex appeal.
Bad behaviour, not bad person.
I tweeted the living daylights out of #metoo when the story broke. I’ve experienced such behaviour for years, from misogynistic comments in male-dominated offices, to more sinister behaviour culminating in a formal hearing. I’d be the first to call out sexist behaviour in real life, but I’d also be the first to say there’s no sin in wanting a bad-boy book boyfriend. It is fiction, after all, and bad behaviour doesn’t automatically mean bad person. A hero can do bad things, but a reader needs to understand he’s a sympathetic character. Having the hero’s point of view in a story can help, but I must admit I like stories from just the heroine’s viewpoint where the reader might understand the hero before the heroine does. My forthcoming novel Her Dark Seduction does just that. Told in first person from the heroine’s point of view, it’s not immediately clear what the hero’s thinking. Tip: Show he’s a good person at heart, even if he’s not always behaving well.
There’s nothing worse than a hero who behaves like a tool, and he either doesn’t recognise this, or he believes this behaviour is perfectly reasonable. Aside from the really dark romances, where anything goes, a well-balanced Alpha male needs an element of self-awareness.
This pretty much sums up the majority of the heroes I write. Henry, from my novel Henry’s Bride, is Alpha through and through. Experienced in the bedroom, he often seems unkind towards his heroine. One reviewer described him as “a horse’s ass”. But as the story unfolds, much of his behaviour is driven by a need to protect the woman he loves. He’s fully aware of the effect his behaviour has on his heroine, and he suffers for it just as much as she does. Tip: Make sure he’s aware of the consequences of his actions.
He must learn something
Character development is all about overcoming internal conflicts or undergoing a learning process. To me, there’s nothing sexier than a full-on alpha male who questions his core beliefs that the world, and women, revolve around him. To see him go through that learning process, particularly at the hands of a strong female lead, is one of my favourite themes. I don’t want him to end up a doormat, but I do want him to become a more rounded character and, of course, utterly in love with his heroine. Tip: Show how he learns throughout the story.
He doesn’t have to do all the rescuing.
Raw masculine power doesn’t necessarily mean the alpha male has to take control while the heroine waits passively for him to do all the rescuing. There is an appeal in a hero who goes all chest-beaty if his heroine is threatened by external factors, but it’s equally fine if it’s the heroine who does the saving. Rescuing another character doesn’t always mean beating down doors or fighting battles. Any selfless act which puts the heroine’s interests before his own is the mark of a quality hero. Tip: Don’t be afraid to have the heroine rescue him.
I’ll always be an advocate for the Alpha Male. His prevalence in the world of romantic fiction has decreased since the 1990’s, but I don’t believe he’ll become an endangered species. He may be less en vogue, but he still floats the boat for thousands of readers.
I will add that I love reading about beta males as well as the alphas, and I’d never discredit anyone who prefers to write a man who’s more sensitive and in touch with his feelings than a muscled chest-beater. The beta male can be sexy too. I just struggle to write him!
I think Emily is a fabulous romance author and I’ve still not recovered from reading her book; The Sins of the Sire. Dark Highlands Passions.
Emily Royal is the author of dark, sexy historical romances with alpha heroes and the heroines who stand up to them. Medieval knights, Saxon Warriors, Regency Rogues and Hot Highlanders are her passion.
Find out more about Emily:
Author website. Please click here.
Amazon Author page. Please click here.
Don’t miss my blog on Thursday when debut novelist Rebecca Duval is here with a very brave and heartfelt guest blog post.