posted on September 15, 2016 by alicegaines

Alpha versus Beta

by Alice Gaines

justoneweekWe all love an alpha hero.  He’s silverback—the man in charge.  Top dog.  CEO.  Reclusive billionaire who is as relentless in his pursuit of women as he is ruthless in his business dealings.  James Bond.  The man who lives for danger and is too big for the real world as most of us experience it.

He’s a difficult character.  Ultra-dominant.  He may be moody.  He’s definitely hard to get close to.  And yet this very aloofness makes him a challenge.  What sort of treasure would a woman find if she were to crack the shell that surrounds his heart?

Taming that beast is the heart of some of our most beloved romance novels.  Mr. Darcy isn’t a savage by any means, but he’s arrogant and aloof—the pride in Pride and Prejudice.  Jane Eyre stands up to Mr. Rochester and wins him because of her goodness.  Though not really a romance because of the ending, we never can forget Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff.  More recently, Jervaulx in Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, fits the alpha to a tee.  He’s a powerful duke made to appear savage because of his inability to speak.  Another is her damaged Sheridan Drake in Seize the Fire.  Oh, how sweet when one of these men devotes himself completely to the woman he loves.

Whenever I try to write one of these heroes, I start disliking his unpleasantness.  After all, I identify with my heroine.  Because I’m the author, the heroine always has a great deal of me inside her.  I can’t really tolerate a man appearing rude or insensitive toward me.  I inevitably end up softening him into what one reviewer called a “bad boy wannabee.”

I admit I have a soft spot for beta men.  The basic good guy who’ll do the right thing because it’s…well…right.  That’s not to say a beta doesn’t have his own internal struggles and complexities.  Nor does it suggest he and the heroine won’t be in conflict.  He can also be at the top of his field—the CEO, the quarterback, the sheriff.  It’s possible to be decent and not be a cream puff.  In fact, a true beta will fight like mad for what he believes in.  He’s also likely to take charge when strays need adopting, be they animals, children, or women who’ve lost their way in the world.  The beta man doesn’t need to be tamed.  He may be the person doing the taming.

I love both kinds of heroes for my fantasy life.  For reality, I prefer betas.  They’re the men you can depend on.  They nurture as well as protect.  No matter how romantic your relationship starts, if it lasts for any amount of time, it’ll end up with car repairs and medical emergencies.  I want a beta beside me for those.

To paraphrase Elwood P. Dowd, “In this world you must be oh, so clever or oh, so pleasant.  I tried clever.  I recommend pleasant.”

Alice Gaines loves to hear from readers at  Her blog is  You can join her mailing list and enter to win one of her hand-knitted projects.

Just One Week by Alice Gaines
Release Date: September 12, 2016

“Alice Gaines will tantalize your romance taste buds with a book you can’t put down until the very last page.” NYT bestselling author Jasmine Haynes

Her brother’s best friend is not only the hottest man Michelle Dennis has ever seen, he’s the one man she hopes to avoid after leaving town eight years ago. Of course he’s the one waiting at the airport. Worse, he made sure they’re staying in the same house.

Pro football player Alex Stafford is expecting to pick up his friend’s kid sister, not a full-fledged bombshell. He was planning to apologize for their past, but the feelings he had years ago come roaring back…and this time, there’s no denying them.

Keeping his hands off is a test he’s bound to fail—especially when they’re stuck in close quarters. But falling in love with Michelle, living in her world, isn’t an option for a guy like him. And remembering that will save them both a lot of heartache…

Available at: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Goodreads

Alice Gaines

Alice Gaines

Alice Gaines loves her romance hot. She's been writing since forever and has no plans to give it up. Alice lives in the San Francisco Bay Area in a fixer-upper she never fixed up. When she's not writing, you'll find her knitting, crocheting, cooking, or vegetable gardening. Her main companions are her pet corn snake, Casper, and a collection of neglected orchids. She loves to hear from readers at You can join her newsletter at She periodically gives out her handmade items to people on her mailing list.

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