In my November Harlequin, Bodine's Bounty, - the man with one name- is just that kind of alpha hero. He's a self-made, successful bounty hunter on a mission to find his brother's killer, yet first he's duty-bound to protect the runaway heroine as she ventures on a wild-goose chase to find her outlaw father. Bodine is hard as nails. He's led a difficult life. He wants nothing to do with Emma as his future is all laid out before him and she doesn't fit into his plans. But Emma, a small slip of a girl with a wonderful gift slowly breaks him down, not so much by showing him her vulnerabilites but, her strength.
On the other hand, the BETA male might have all the same appealing physical characteristics as the alpha male, but he's not J.R. Ewing in the oil business or Dr. McSteamy in the hospital setting. Often he's the boy next door, or the heroine's friend, or a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. He's not afraid of his emotions. He doesn't always hide them away. He can be Joe Average, an ordinary man struggling for success or a man happy with his lot in life. The Beta hero may have a tender side. He's the father trying to raise his teen-age daughter, or the mechanic who loves what he does for a living. Maybe he's not James Bond, but he definitely has qualities that appeal to the heroine and for the reader -- he's a man you can fall in love with.
I usually write Alpha hero stories, but I've read some really great romances where the hero is Beta. The one that comes to mind right now is Erin McCarthy's, Heiress for Hire. There are some really poignant and touching scenes between the hero and heroine and between the hero and his young daughter which earned that book a place on my keeper shelf.
I've come up with a list of traits for the Alpha and Beta hero. See if you agree.
The Alpha Male is always:
In control of his emotions
Shows his vulnerable side rarely
The man every woman wants
The Beta Male is often:
Vulnerable at times
Boy next-door type
Shows his emotions
A man worth knowing and loving
Traits they share:
Comfortable in their own skin
So what traits do you most admire in a hero? And here's the hard question - if you had to choose one and you couldn't combine the "between" traits, whom do you prefer to read about, alpha or beta and why?
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