What’s Up With These Alpha Males?
Alpha Males are the ten percent of males who engage in ninety percent of the total love-making in romance novels. These guys are large and in charge and the leaders of the pack. Strong, usually rich, handsome and powerful, they stride through the pages of romance books, flexing their muscles and kicking ass.
Most women love them and have read about their exploits for centuries. From Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice to today’s romantic heroes in one popular romance after another, we like our males as alpha as possible. Why do we relate to these unpleasant, rude, overbearing, sometimes even abusive (think Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights) men? Are they our fantasy rather than our reality?
In the greater scheme of things in romance novels, the alphas often glow in comparison to the other characters in play. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Angel. Tortured, suffering, and lest we forget, absolutely gorgeous, he was mild, indeed, in comparison to all the demonic, savage, immortal horrors in that show. He was an alpha we could get behind and ignore all those skeletons in his closet.
In my best-selling paranormal series, Dark Hollow Wolf Pack, I can get away with quite a bit because, after all, my wolves have a biological imperative. They have to be as alpha-y as possible, since they are, quite literally, the leaders of their packs. Marco, Casey, Ian and Zack can be over-protective, demanding, take-charge and totally hot, and (mostly) get away with it, because they’re Alphas, and in comparison to the evil, violent Hunters roaming the woods, they’re very much the lesser of two evils. Their dominating behavior can be excused as well, since it’s their inner wolves that make them do it.
Of course, in real life, we’d be positively horrified if our significant other started bossing us around and growling “Mine,” in our ears while laying down the law. No one wants to advocate abusive or even controlling behavior. Rape and abuse of the beta characters are forbidden by all the respected romance publishers, and writers of some alternative romance have to be very careful to obtain their beta character’s enthusiastic consent before submitting them to anything more extreme than torrid kisses. Behavior like this would be hard to stomach in a real life relationship, which is why it always surprises me to have a few readers who comment on how domineering and controlling these alphas are. Well, duh!
These guys represent many women’s fantasies, and like almost all fantasies, they’re not necessarily what we want for our real lives. Alphas are best left to our imaginations and our dreams, and yes, our sexual fantasies.
There they can stride across the screens of our minds, large, handsome, kick-ass and hot as hell. Only there and in the pages of a romance novel can we have our alpha cake and eat it too.
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