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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Discussion: Alpha, Beta, Gamma: Who's Your Hero?

Anyone who's read more than one romance novel knows that heroes come in an endless array of varieties. Hot cops, rugged cowboys and soldiers from the ancient past to far future share shelf space with cultured aristocrats, suave billionaires, and brooding antiheroes, and that's only the introductory sampler pack. Sorting these gents can get tricky, but thankfully, we have a  pretty decent classification in place.

Alpha: Leaders of the pack, alpha males are in charge, and everybody knows it. Women want them, men want to be them. The alpha male favors action over words, is confident, maybe cocky, but never abusive or a jerk. He's well aware of his own appeal. He's used to getting what he wants, and when he gets the heroine of his choice in his sights, there's no stopping him until she feels the same way. If she leads him a merry chase, he's more than up to it, and she'll never doubt he's her man. Alphas are on the front lines of romance, and they (and we)  wouldn't have it any other way.

Beta: The beta male prefers brains over brawn. He's the nice guy, dependable, nurturing, but never wimpy or ineffective. He's solid, there for his heroine and patient enough to wait for her, no matter how long it takes. He probably doesn't think about  his own appearance much, as long as he doesn't scare small children and his heroine has no strong objections. The beta male is content to let the alphas take the first hit, and are always there to lend support however it's needed. Often found in friends to lovers stories, this guy may strike heroines and readers as nonthreatening, but don't be fooled, he's all man where and when it counts.

Gamma: The gamma male can be seen as the best of both worlds. Tough and tender by turns, this guy adapts to the needs of the moment. He may tote a weapon by day, and walk the floor with a sick baby by night. Whether the love of his life needs a strong defender or a listening ear, he's there for her, and expects the same treatment in return. He's a tricky one to pin down, strategic and clever, but able to charge into the fray when that's the most expedient thing to do. The lucky heroine who captures the gamma's heart will never be bored, always up for something new.

So, dear readers, which one of these fine fellows floats your reading boat? Introduce us to your favorite types and feel free to give examples. We can always use a few good fictional men to add to our TBR mountains.


  1. I love them all! At different points in my readings~ LOL

    But I'll say I'm mostly a Beta hero lover. Some betas in my readings are: Sebastian, Viscount Iverley in A Dangerous Viscount; Ian Mackenzie in The Maddness of Lord Ian Mackenzie; Oliver Marshall in The Heiress Effect; Oliver Merrick in Let it be Me; Marcus Holroyd in Just Like Heaven; Simeon Jermyn, Duke of Cosway in When the Duke Returns.

    Gemma heroes also floats my boats but they are harder to pin point as you say. I see many of these heroes as the the solider, spy, and secret agents in HR. Here are some that I see has the gemma hero gene: Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson in How to Dance With a Duke; Lord Adrian Smythe in Lord and Lady Spy, Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge in What I Did For a Duke; Samuel Thorne in A Lady By Midnight.

    And Alphas, lets just say the ones I didn't name holds alpha heroes in them. Too many to name!

  2. I love these heroes too, Ki~ I feel like Falconbridge is an alpha hero though...

  3. Great question, Anna! I'm definitely a fan for the Gamma and Beta heroes. One of my recent favorite heroes, Michael in Theresa Romain's How to Charm a Naughty Countess, is a mix between Beta and Gamma, I feel. He prefers intelligence over brawn, yet he is also very confused about more tender emotions like love and simply doesn't know how to deal with his growing attraction to the heroine - so he runs away from it. Yet, he also has some arrogant ducal behaviors and mannerisms...a hard one to peg!

    Yet, some Alpha heroes make me swoon - like Sebastian in Lisa Kleypas's Devil in Winter. Or the self-admitted scoundrel type. Not a rake, but a scoundrel through and through. :)

  4. Hey, that's why he's a Gamma! The best of both world~ Plus Anna said that he can be~ "tough and tender by turns, this guy adapts to the needs of the moment. He may tote a weapon by day, and walk the floor with a sick baby by night." And for my evidence, he listens to Genevieve and actually has great friendly conversations with her. Plus he's smart and likes art, and he wasn't pushy or controlling towards Genevieve, which many alphas does. So Falconbridge is a gamma!

  5. I like them all. My favorite Beta is Carter from Vision in White. Love him! Also, Don from the Rosie Project. Alphas are more numerous. I love Brady from Animal Magnetism. Also, Daine from Lord of Scoundrels, and the Earle of Glencrae. A couple of Gamma's would be Rupert from Mr Impossible and Marcus from Just Like Heaven.

  6. Ki Pha, they each have their place, that's for sure, so it's great that we have so many of them. Gamma guys are much harder to pinpoint, but they do work beautifully as soldiers/spies and the like. Crafty and adaptable.

    Wonderful examples, all.

  7. Mary, I haven't read How to Charm a Naughty Countess, but Michael certainly sounds like an intriguing mix. I may need to make his acquaintance.

  8. Sharlene, I like them all, too. A man for every mood in this genre keeps readers happy.



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