By Jenna Sutton
I’ve been tossing and turning, so my husband and I have decided it’s time to replace our mattress. During our extensive discussions about the merits of various brands and features, I’ve started to think that mattresses are very much like romance heroes.
Please, just hear me out…
You don’t want to buy a mattress that’s too soft because it won’t give you the support you need. But you don’t want to buy one that’s too hard either, because it won’t have the flexibility and cushion you need.
When it comes to romance heroes, authors are tasked with creating heroes who are neither too soft nor too hard. If they’re too hard—too alpha—readers think they’re jerks. But if they’re too soft—too beta—readers don’t like that, either. No one wants a wimpy hero (now that I think about it, wimpy hero is an oxymoron).
Finding that right balance of soft and hard—alpha and beta—is critical for both mattresses and romance heroes. Think about it this way: you might be able to lie on a soft mattress for a while, but eventually, you’d be uncomfortable. The same goes for a hard mattress; you could handle it for a while, but eventually, you would need painkillers.
As an author, when I think about writing a hero, I want to maximize the best alpha characteristics and minimize the not-so-attractive ones. For example, I want a hero who’s protective of the people he loves. I want a hero who’s courageous and willing to make sacrifices. But taken to the extreme, the alpha male is dominating, possessive, and controlling, and I’m not a fan of that, and neither are my heroines.
A great romance hero, like a mattress, has to have a little softness too. I want my heroes to be comfortable with their emotions and able to communicate them like an adult rather than a toddler. I want them to be supportive and sensitive to the needs of their partners and to care about their feelings.
In my newest release, Hanging by a Thread, the hero, Cal O’Brien is a perfect mix of alpha and beta (or at least I think he is!) He’s confident, strong, and protective, yet he doesn’t feel the need to dominate or control, although he is a little bossy and a bit of neat freak. He feels comfortable giving and receiving love, and he’s a nurturer, as well.
The heroine of Hanging by a Thread, Bebe Banerjee, doesn’t think of Cal in terms of alpha and beta. She just sees a guy who is “a fascinating mix of bad boy and family man.” She thinks to herself: “He was hotter than the earth’s inner core, yet he loved his family and made no secret of the fact that he eventually wanted a wife and children.”
Now, I could take my mattress/romance hero analogy to the next level… I could talk about the fact that you have to roll around and try out a few mattresses before you make a decision, but I won’t.
Or we could talk about size. Do you want a mattress (or a romance hero) that’s big or small? But I will save that discussion for another time. I promise you we’ll have that discussion in the future.
The next time you slide into bed and settle in for the night, I want you to think about your mattress and your favorite romance heroes. Do they have anything in common?
HANGING BY A THREAD
True love never wears out…
Thirty-year-old Bebe Banerjee is desperate to get rid of two things: her fiancé and her virginity. Escaping her arranged marriage might be impossible, but she refuses to give her firsts to an entitled jerk who lives on another continent. Instead, she devises a plan that guarantees another man will get her momentous firsts. But she never imagined that man would be Cal O’Brien, the gorgeous heir to the Riley O’Brien & Co. denim empire…
Although Cal has always been fascinated by Bebe’s brilliant mind and beautiful eyes, he’s never pursued her. She can’t stand the sight of him, and every time they’re in the same room, they end up trading insults. Yet when he finds out about Bebe’s bold plan, he makes his move, unaware of her upcoming nuptials. He promises to make her firsts unforgettable, but he doesn’t know how hard it will be to forget her when their arrangement ends.