Okay, I admit it—I love a strong, take-charge guy as much as the next girl. Especially when he’s fictional. Alpha males, fictional or not, fulfill that evolutionary desire for a mate that will protect and provide. You know, that desire modern women aren’t supposed to admit to having. Shhh…it’s our little secret and one reason that type of man is so popular in romance novels.
I mean, when they aren’t our men, they’re sexy as hell. They swoop in to rescue the girl. They’re crazy good in bed. More often than not, they’re rich (or at least have a decent job). They probably even want kids (you know to keep those amazing genes of theirs going into the next generation). Who cares if they’re gruff, sometimes violent without cause, and likely to have periods where they try to brush off the heroine because it wouldn’t be manly to want her as much as she wants him.
Now, like I said, this isn’t really a dissing of alpha heroes because I do love them. I use them in some of my work. However, not every world needs an alpha hero, and certainly not every heroine wants one.
A recent review of Badlands commented on the fact that Spencer isn’t an alpha hero and that the reviewer found it refreshing. I mean, poor Spencer starts out in debt and struggling to just get by. But he’s a good guy and a great leader…just not a physical one. He’s the type who doesn’t go looking for a fight, but he knows how to use weapons if he’s forced to.
In short, he’s the only kind of man who could win the heart of an alpha heroine. Badlands is a lot about role reversal. Ever is a warrior woman with no time or tolerance for love. Sex sure, but love? Uh uh. She comes from a land ruled by women where a good portion of the men are criminals (or rehabilitated criminals). She’d rather fight than talk, and doesn’t put a lot of stock in girly things.
Put an alpha male with her and sure, sparks might fly, but they aren’t going to start a fire. It’d be like banging two rocks together with nothing to hold the flame. So, for that story in that world…an alpha hero would have been all fighting and sex with no room for romance.
That isn’t to say there will never be alpha heroes for any of the women in the Badlands, just not for Ever. And to me, that’s a better reflection of reality. Strong women and strong men are well suited for each other, but they don’t need to be strong in the same ways. Considering the next heroine in line uses her brain more than her brawn, she’s in for one hell of a time when she meets her man.
I’m curious, what do you think? Is the alpha hero the only way to go? Is he becoming a genre cliché? Or is there room in romance for all kinds of heroes?
Seleste deLaney is a writer of speculative romance. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.