I had a fantastic time recently talking about Princess Avenger with Melissa Matos from Scrolls and Screens. We talked about the themes behind Princess Avenger, what writing has revealed to me and geeked out on Doctor Who.
As authors, it’s common for us to write our heroes as alpha males but can a beta hero be just as compelling? Let’s examine the differences and this question might be answered.
The alpha male is most women’s idea of the hero. He is masterful, confident, a man of influence and a man of action rather than words. This hero is protective of his woman but often not interested in being tied down. He will be sexy and sensual, fully aware of his effect on the opposite sex and willing to use it to get what he wants. What makes our alpha hero even more intriguing are his vulnerabilities. These will be hidden from the world, masked by aloofness, and only our heroine will be able to expose his softer side. She will heal his wounds.
The alpha hero will likely be first born and a leader in everything he does. He has climbed the tree of success to the very top. He won’t suffer fools and won’t be slow to confront a problem head on. He moulds the world to suit his needs, he makes things happen and will never die wondering. Sensitivity is not his forte and he will put people offside with his confidence and brashness.
These are all wonderful characteristics for our romance hero but can a beta hero work just as well when it comes to stoking the fires of love in our heroine?
Beta guys are more popular now than they once were. This could be due to the advent of a more sensitive society where the particular traits of the beta are valued. He is often a younger sibling, perhaps a middle child. As such, he is a people person, good at getting along with others and is someone who will put the needs of others first. He would be a great hero for a heroine in need of a little TLC.
Our beta hero is a diplomat whose confidence will be boosted when he can master a problem. When he rescues his heroine he shines. He is a practical person, a quiet achiever, more likely to walk away from confrontation but that doesn’t mean he can be pushed around. Family is important to him unlike our alpha who is often a loner. The beta hero is prone to hide his feelings behind humour, especially if he has been hurt by a situation. He could appear weak at times, influenced by the desires of others and unable to make quick decisions. His self-sacrificing nature could grate if carried to extreme.
So, can a beta hero work in a romance novel? I think he could be the right choice if he has qualities that the heroine needs. A heroine with tragedy in her past, especially relating to a man, will need someone she can count on who will place her needs first. She will appreciate his consideration and his chivalry because he makes her feel like she is his princess. A feisty heroine could also compliment a beta hero- opposites attract. In this situation, the writer would need to be careful not to create a hero who can be pushed around by his woman. She might be able to get her way in most situations but when it matters, his word will be law.
Have I changed your mind about writing a beta hero? Do you now want to read a story where the beta is the hero and not a secondary character? Have you written or read a story based around a beta hero? What were his endearing characteristics and what sort of woman was he set against?
Why do I ask? My book The Lady’s Choice has a beta hero and I’ve been reflecting on him this week as I create a ‘behind the scenes’ for him. He is gorgeous, takes his duty very seriously and will do anything for the woman he loves. I wanted to get his character right from the start. He must care without being weak; be a man of action but not confrontational. He must be a thinker and have deep emotions. He isn’t wounded but he does have flaws that are consistent with the beta male – possessive and a little obsessive, makes judgement mistakes when he allows his emotions to take over and is too self-sacrificing. I’ve walked a fine line with Ramon Zorba, but I find him an enduring and endearing leading man.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on the beta hero and his place in the romance novel.
I’m so happy to announce the release of book 8 in the Queenmakers Saga, Elf Princess Warrior! One day, after I started writing this series, my imagination/muse revealed to me an elven princess, perched high on a mountain. At that stage, I didn’t know who this princess was. I now know she was Gwaethe Arenil, the courageous heroine of Elf Princess Warrior.
Gwaethe was a secondary character in The Elf King’s Lady, book 5 in this series. It was in this story that she met Captain Jacques Vorasava, though his role in the Queenmakers Saga goes right back to The Lady’s Choice.
There was instant chemistry between Gwaethe and Jacques but I wasn’t sure their relationship would flourish beyond attraction. I started writing Elf Princess Warrior as book 7 in the series but took a break about a third of the way in because The Master and the Sorceress called to me with urgency to write Katrine’s love story.
I’ve learned to trust my muse. When I returned to Elf Princess, the words came easier and I’ve been gratified that early readers have enjoyed the steps that Gwaethe and Jacques have made together.
Here’s the blurb…
An Elven Princess
Caught up in a vicious civil war, Gwaethe Arenil is desperate to save her peace-loving faction and reunite her people.
A Human Commander
Dashing army captain Jacques Vorasava has fought on the same side as Gwaethe in the past, but will he help her this time? And will his support come with more dangers than Gwaethe can accept, both for her people and her heart?
As the threat from the enemy elven faction forces them to work together, conflicts between their cultures push them apart. In a land of polarized opinion and intolerance, can Jacques and Gwaethe forge a new reality where their love can be accepted?
This story continues themes and characters from The Elf King’s Lady, book 5in the Queenmakers Saga.
I hope you can support this latest installment in the series and I’ve priced it at a special of only 99 cents U.S. for the next week.