If you’ve been reading my blog or my books for very long, you know I have concerns about both the past and the future of the romance genre. I don’t like where romance is now. I think in today’s world we as romance authors need to be promoting more positive themes than are all too often featured in many of today’s romances. We need to move away from tropes that can be harmful to women, refuse to romanticize what shouldn’t be glorified. Today’s woman grows ever stronger and more independent. Our literature should reflect that.
With that in mind, and with a thank you to fellow writer Jennifer Macaire for inspiring this column with a Facebook discussion, I want to address the heroes of our romances. We insist on calling them alpha or beta. But is that really fair, either? Have you ever really met a truly alpha male? I imagine he’d be built like 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger, have the grooming habits of Bradley Cooper (uh-huh, sounding good, right?)…and the attitude of Donald Trump (that went bad real fast). He’d fool around without care for your feelings. He’d take what he wanted (or what he could get) and figure you liked it. The entire world would center around him.
Now tell me you wouldn’t punch that guy in the face rather than look at him.
So alphas are out. They suck. Other than their confidence and good looks, anyway. Which leaves us with betas. Now beta males, they’re something special. They are sweet and kind and considerate. They commit wholeheartedly to their relationships. They bring you flowers and write you poetry. They can be good-looking and nicely groomed, too, but they’re not as concerned about appearances. They have a great sense of humor. A full-on beta male would be a total dreamboat, right? Except maybe a little too attached to his mom. And his sister. Because beta males usually have very strong women in their lives, and they might not be able to do anything without the approval of those females.
Add that to the protective attitudes mom and sis have for their boy and you might not want to stick it out. Even if the poetry is good.
My point is, a full alpha or a full beta male is not going to be super attractive, at least not in the long run. And romance is about happily-ever-after, right? So a really good romance hero tends to be a mix of the two. Alpha confidence and looks, beta manners and kindness. And looks. This is fantasy, after all. You might as well have the whole package.