I asked some popular Romance authors to help me explain why Alpha Heroes have become such perennial favorites among readers – including moi!
Since I consider myself a thoroughly modern, independent female, I often wonder why my heart still goes pitter-pat every time I read about a devil with swoon-worthy dimples. I mean, seriously: if the real-life me had to share a house with an incorrigible, Alpha Male for more than 24 hours, I’d probably kill him. (Excluding my cat, of course.)
Fortunately, I have gobs of author friends who are far wiser than I. They volunteered to help me understand my addiction – er, I mean, the sprawling library that now threatens to buckle and crush said cat (who wisely stopped pouncing on my bookshelves.)
New York Times bestseller, Sabrina York is the award-winning author of the Erotic Romance, Dark Duke. She helped to put my mind at ease when she said, “Everybody loves a bad boy: that hard, hot stubborn hero. The gruff cowboy. The arrogant billionaire. The biker dude with the rough and tumble demeanor and gritty voice. You know he’s going to zig when you expect him to zag. You know he’s going to buck the system, and you know he’s going to stand up for what he believes in no matter what society demands—and that makes him mysterious and interesting and mouthwateringly appealing.”
(Oh, yeah. That zigging thing gets me every time . . . )
Sabrina went on to say, “Why do we crave the beast? One reason only. Because every woman secretly dreams of bringing him to his knees. That is half the fun of writing such dark and sexy heroes. We know, in the end, they’re going to fall, and fall hard.”
“For me, the appeal of a rake hero is watching the process of redemption,” said Barbara Ankrum, bestselling author of the Western Historical Romance, Chase the Fire. “The love of a good woman transforms him. The character arcs in these types of books are deep, relatable and satisfying. Even today’s readers can find hope in the idea that love can redeem the most lost soul. Reality or not, it’s pure escape reading and a trope that many, many readers (including me!) love.”
“Personally, I tend to like them all, probably because I find it hard to separate (a Rebel from a Rake, and a Rake from a Rogue,)” “I mean a Rebel is a person who’s unorthodox… a maverick who follows his own path and couldn’t care less if he has the approval of anyone else. That’s pretty attractive to many women, especially those with opposite personalities.
“The Rake can be the perfect bad boy that most females love to believe they alone have the power to get him to settle down.
“And the Rogue is the scoundrel who can twist most women around his little finger and have them panting for more.
“Let’s face it, powerful men, who are attractive and charismatic, and hard-to-pin-down because they’re wild and fancy-free, make most women’s hearts beat just a little bit faster,” said Mimi Barbour, bestselling author of the Mystery, Special Agent Francesca. “They’re the material of fantasies, daydreams and make-believe . . . The funny thing is,” Mimi continued, “as much as these fellows make interesting characters, I personally tend to write my heroes with a bit more sensitivity. Somehow, in today’s world, it seems more likely that most men just wouldn’t get away with such behavior. Or is it that the modern ladies wouldn’t put up with it?”
Award-winning author of The Last Vhalgenn, a Fantasy novel, Kayelle Allen said, “I think they’re favorites because readers enjoy watching them squirm when things don’t go their way. But (readers) also like it when (the rogue) comes back and figures out how to win after all. Nothing could be better than a cowboy rogue, unless it happens to be two of them.”
(So true, Kayelle!)
”I think Rebels, Rakes, and Rogues are favorites for Romance novels,” said Lynda Bailey, author of Erotic Escapades of a Married Couple,“because of the thrill the readers can get from seeing all that manly rebellion tamed by the love of a good/loving woman — or man, depending.”
“I see rebels, rakes and rogues as all cut from the same cloth,” said Shirl Henke, bestselling author of the Regency Romance, Wicked Angel. “They are all outsiders. Society, whether it’s the Regency Ton in 1812 or Miles City Montana, in 1880, does not consider them acceptable or trustworthy. Such outsiders are not worthy to approach their daughters. I’ve always favored creating educated half-breed heroes in my Westerns because they epitomize the “man without a country,” belonging to neither red nor white worlds. Such a hero, smart, attractive, exotic and forbidden, acts like a magnet for the heroine. . . A man who will do what is honorable even when he exists in a society that has treated him badly (is the trait) that plucks the Romance reader’s heartstrings. What worthy heroine could resist such a man?”
USA Today Bestseller Author Donna Fasano, author of Reclaim My Heart, summarized the answers best when she said, “Every woman wants to tame a bad boy at least once in her life.”
Favorite Rebels, Rakes, and Rogues
Top Picks from the Authors:
- Jack Colton from Romancing The Stone, the movie version (submitted by Donna Fasano)
- Jon Snow from Game of Thrones, the TV version (submitted by Sabrina York)
- Christian Langland from Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm (submitted by Barbara Ankrum)
- Willam Cuyler Thorne from Raven Hart’s The Vampire’s Seduction (submitted by Kayelle Allen)
- Rhys Rhodes from Lorraine Heath’s Love with a Scandalous Lord (submitted by Lynda Bailey)
- Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (submitted by Mimi Barbour and the ol’ deWolfe Gal)