Everyone loves an alpha hero–a tall, handsome, athletically built, powerful, wealthy, confident male who will fight dragons and other assorted threats for his woman and who will assert his will and take charge and make all right with the world. Oh, and did I forget to mention sexy?
But what about the beta male–the one who is not perfect in height or looks or physique, the one who is quiet and unassuming, not aggressive, not even necessarily very intelligent? And not obviously sexy either (not at first glance, anyway). Can’t he be a hero too? He doesn’t sound very promising material, does he? He seems far better suited to be a secondary character, maybe the heroine’s thoroughly nice friend.
Hang on a minute, though. I have created a number of beta male heroes, and invariably I fall headlong in love with them before I have finished with them. And all men–all people–can be heroic when the opportunity presents itself. There is a wonderful challenge about making a hero out of a beta male–the challenge of taking a very ordinary man, a very believable man, and making him into something extraordinary in the course of his love story.
Consider Paul Villiers, Duke of Mitford, in An Unlikely Duchess, for example. He is small, only pleasant looking, and unassuming in manner. He decides to have a little adventure by traveling incognito to meet his future bride. He ends up having a very big adventure as he chases all over England with the madcap heroine (whom he meets and rescues from a huge and fierce thug on his very first night out), protecting her from harm, recovering her stolen property at great risk to himself, facing down the villain, and–of course–winning both the girl and (I hope) the reader’s heart.
Then there is Hartley Wade, Marquess of Carew in Lord Carew’s Bride. He is not a big man, and he limps heavily and has one withered arm. He is quiet, sweet-natured, and reclusive. But when he loves, he does so selflessly and steadfastly. And when his lady is threatened by the very man who once crippled him, he challenges the man to a boxing duel, despite the derision of everyone who hears about it–and he devises a way of winning! Lord Carew is one of my most popular heroes with readers.
And there is Sir Gerald Stapleton in A Precious Jewel. Gerald is not particularly handsome or bright. He is quiet and has low self-esteem as a result of childhood and boyhood abuse. But when his “regular” at a brothel is hurt by another client, he takes her away to be his mistress and quietly cares for her and falls in love with her–until she leaves beause she is pregnant. Once he finds out, he moves heaven and earth to find her and convince her to marry him. He thumbs his nose at society in order to do what is right for the woman he loves.
Do you ever enjoy a romance with a beta hero? Do you have any favorites? To one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, June 18, I will send an audio copy (CD or MP3-CD–winner’s choice) of my long novella A MATTER OF CLASS, which does NOT have a beta hero but does have my all-time favorite cover! Last week’s winner of THE ARRANGEMENT was Lori Tuckett.