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Wednesday, May 09, 2007:
MaryKate muses about Alphas
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Defining the Alpha Male

In a recent online conversation with a well known author, I mused that I loved "old school" romance, and offered up Judith McNaught as someone who writes terrific alpha males. She came back to me and said that she didn’t think of McNaught’s heroes as alpha. That got me to thinking, what is an alpha male? I think of them as a leader of men, as one who is decisive, and driven and single minded in his pursuit of what he wants.

To me, Royce Westmoreland, from McNaught’s A KINGDOM OF DREAMS, is a prime example of an alpha: he is a leader of men, his moniker is the "Black Wolf of England." He is entrusted by the King to protect his interests. He gives no quarter on the battlefield, and, until he meets Jennifer Merrick, the daughter of his enemy, in his personal life. When he meets Jenny, she turns his life upside down. He takes her as his captive, and she hides a knife in order to kill him. He punishes her by setting her to work sewing his mens’ garments; she sews the arms closed and slices holes in thier blankets. She inadvertently kills his horse in an escape attempt. He has no idea what to make of her.

So of course, he has to marry her.

Not really, he’s ordered to marry her, and he does -- by kidnapping her, stealing a priest and forcing him at knife point to conduct that marriage. He gives no quarter. But as their relationship grows, he finds himself making small concessions to make her happy. In the end, he practically sacrifices his life to keep a promise to her. To me, he is the very definition of an alpha male.

What’s your definition of an alpha male in romance?
Who are some of the best examples of alpha males in romance?

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  1. Gosh--I really hate these questions :)

    To me, an alpha male is... commanding. Has a set of internal principles that he won't bend, because if he does he sees this as a weakness and he doesn't believe in weakness. There are other things, but for me that is the core.

    Best examples...

    Sam and Max from Suzanne Brockmann's novels are very alpha.

    Gray from Linda Howard's After the Night

    John Medina Linda Howard's All the Queens Men.

    Keir, Elizabeth Vaughan's Warprize books.

    J.T. Lisa Gardner's The Perfect Husband.

    Why...more importantly, why aren't I cleaning the house like I'm supposed to be?

    Why? Because--once they're onside--you feel like they would give their very soul to protect the heroine.

    PS. I also beliefe none are 100% alpha. You need a bit of growth in the characters and for me that means making the alpha a little bit more flexible and willing to compromise.

  2. Toni - I TOTALLY agree about Keir of the Cat. He's one of my favorite alpha males. He's tough because he he has to be.

    I also LOVE John Medina, he's alpha because circumstances have required it. But Niema is his soft spot. Oh! I've got to reread that book. The love scene between them on the sofa is SO. FREAKIN'. HOT.

    you feel like they would give their very soul to protect the heroine.

    This totally encapsulates why I love alphas. Perfect!

  3. MK-- That is really not a fair question to ask. How are you suppose to define true hero perfection?

    Examples off the top of my head:

    any vamps - I think their alpha-ness comes with age.

    any military men - They know how to take orders but they are built to command.

    Lucas Hunter (Slave to Sensation)- I think his comes from his feline half.

    Cam Quinn (Sea Swept) - I would say his alpha-ness comes from being the head of the family. Also being a racer is just plain old sexy and he knows how to use it.

  4. To me an alpha male is the man that is commanding (of men and women, lol) strong, all man. I don't know, I guess it's hard to explain.

    James Diaz from Cry No More by LH. That's a good example. But so is Royce, I'm with you there.

  5. This is one of my all time favorite books. I adore Judith McNaught.

    Okay, def of an alpha male - has his own code of honor - a line he won't cross. Doesn't take crap from anyone, but will die for the ones he loves.

    Ugh. I could never work for!

  6. I'm going to have to think about this one because there are so many alpha heroes that come to mind. I'll probably blog my thoughts on this...thanks for making me think sweetie!

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