Monday, May 18, 2009

Alpha or Asshole?

One of the most popular heros in romance novels today seems to be the Alpha male. Whether it's the literal alpha of a werewolf pack or the laird of a Scottish clan, this particular hero crosses all genres. I'm willing to admit that I love them. There's something about a take charge, confident, warrior hero that makes my inner damsel in distress swoon.

Now I'm not pointing fingers or overanalyzing here but I've started to notice a disturbing trend. Some of these heros aren't so much alphas as they are assholes. Even worse the heroine seems to just go along with it and responds as if his attitude is sexy instead of insulting. I'm not sure what annoys me more, the hero being a butthead or the heroine not putting him in his place. Then I started to wonder - What if it's just me? Maybe no one else sees this as irritating and you're just reading too much into it?

So where do we draw the line? When does confidence turn into arrogance? How far can a guy go before dominant becomes domineering?




Debra Kayn said...

I've thought about this before, and for me personally...I love the alpha males in books. I think it's because in real life we are at an age where women have learned they can be assertive, powerful, and lead an independent life that when we meet a alpha male it is like butting heads. I know I don't want to back down. I'm a little stubborn that way.

Yet, in a book, I can sit back and let a man take control. I don't have to worry about making a house payment, if I am safe in the city after dark, or if something happens that alpha man is going to come up fighting. Fantasy? Yep, but in a book, I want to be the little feminine sexy thing who gets put up on a pedestal and pampered without losing part of myself.

Does that make sense? lol

Francesca Hawley said...

I love the alpha male - reading them and writing them. My heroes are warrior alphas - the male who would die for me (or my heroine) and says so, right out loud. Dang, but that's hot.

I agree that he shouldn't be an asshole and it's a very fine line. The important thing is to write a strong heroine. If she's strong - she counters him when he acts like a jerk.

Debra, I do get the fantasy of letting the man "take charge." Sometimes it's really nice to feel taken care of.

Great column Minx!

Katie Reus said...

I love alphas but it's a very fine line authors tread. If the guy refuses to listen to a word the heroine says or refuses to compromise, he's not an alpha, he's just another asshole. A strong heroine needs to call her man out when he's acting like a jerk and if he never listens to her, it's time to kick him to the curb ;)

Minx Malone said...

I think that's the defining difference for me as well, the heroine's response.

There's nothing sexier than reading the witty repartee between the characters. That usually accounts for a lot of the sexual tension as well, when the heroine stands up to him.

Plus what woman doesn't fantasize about being the one to tame the big strong man!

*sigh* It's such a guilty pleasure. Dang I want to go buy a new book right now!

Leigh Royals said...

It seems to be a common thread. I've wanted to write a romance with an average joe getting the average girl. But I'm not sure. I even wrote the first line of the work while feeling particularly maudlin and feeling like any Jane Doe's life while unremarkable in the grand scheme of things is probably quite important to someone else.

Minx Malone said...

That's a good point Leigh. Have we gotten to the point where the average guy has no chance?

Maybe that's a market trend waiting to happen - Average Joe Romance!

I'm laughing about it but if this becomes the next big thing I want the credit :)

Anonymous said...

Of course you want romance with that asshole. Deep in your cavewoman brain you want someone so strong that he is above most rules of society.

You want a man who will protect you and your family should some jealous female opponent turn the rest of society against you.

It is actually uncommon for most women to see themselves as a social queen who can never be overthrown or experience opposition.

Thus "bad boy" behavior really is long as you can at some point ensure his loyalty and support of your well-being.