Best Romantic Beta Heroes

This list is for those really sweet, super nice romance heroes.

I'm starting to see some heroes on this list who are questionable as beta heroes and are probably more aptly categorized as gammas (the alpha/beta hybrid). I realize this a subjective thing though, but I've decided to expand my description to include a couple of romance author's definitions of the beta hero to help guide voters in determining whether their favorite heroes are indeed betas.

Ruthie Knox says: "...my idea of a stereotypical “beta male” is someone who’s more of a follower, who nurtures instinctively. ...beta males are less likely to impose their will on others, and particularly on the heroine."

Cynthia Eden says: " The beta, well, he’s the guy you hope to marry in real life. Dependable. Steady. You know, a Nice Guy. (The kind you looked for after you were done playing with the bad boy.)"

Other qualities of the beta male: shy, sweet, reliable, trustworthy, easygoing but not a pushover, quick to offer comfort, feels deeply, avoids confrontation.
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705 books · 599 voters · list created July 18th, 2008 by Julianna (votes) .
136 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


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Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Priyanka (new)

Priyanka Vaswani Rahul Kapoor of Truly Madly Deeply by Faraaz Kazi.


message 2: by Evelyne (new)

Evelyne nice list !


message 3: by willaful (new)

willaful What the heck are all those Lisa Kleypas Alphas doing on the list?


message 4: by Julianna (new)

Julianna That's exactly what I was thinking when I saw the LK books on here, willaful. As the list creator I could delete them, but I'm reluctant to do so since voting on these lists is purely subjective. However, this is the reason why I added the extra definitions in the list description in hopes that voters would think twice before adding/voting for heroes who, in my estimation, are clearly alphas.


message 5: by Lady Wesley (new)

Lady Wesley Yes, when I think "beta," St. Vincent and Derek Craven don't leap into my mind.


message 6: by Julianna (new)

Julianna I haven't read Derek's book yet, but I definitely agree with you on St. Vincent, Lady Wesley. No beta would do the things he did.:-)


message 7: by Elizen (new)

Elizen St. Vincent is an ultimate Alpha.


message 8: by Julianna (last edited Jun 29, 2013 01:40PM) (new)

Julianna Totally agree with you, Elizen!

Considering the comments I'm receiving here, I'm starting to think more seriously about deleting some of the books that clearly don't have beta heroes. I take this sort of thing seriously though and don't want to ruffle any feathers. However, I also created this list for the lovers of betas who want to read more books with this type of hero. I don't want readers who are unfamiliar with the books and their heroes to get the wrong idea and then be disappointed when reading the books. If anyone wants to weigh in on what you think I should do, please feel free. Thanks!


message 9: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart Hi Julie, I totally think that books with alpha male heroes should be taken off. The list is pretty useless as a guide for people if they can't trust that the books on it actually contain a beta hero.


message 10: by Julianna (new)

Julianna Thanks for weighing in, Rainbowheart. I've been meaning to clean up this listopia for a while now, but never seem to have the time. It looks like one of my fellow librarians and romance fans removed some of the more egregious titles from the list a couple of weeks ago. It's definitely looking more reasonable now, but if you or anyone else sees a title on the list that clearly doesn't belong, feel free to bring it to my attention, and I'll consider it for deletion.


message 11: by Rainbowheart (new)

Rainbowheart Thanks Julie! I'm not familiar with most of the books on this list, but if I see something, I'll let ya know.


message 12: by Rainbowheart (last edited Mar 21, 2014 04:17PM) (new)

Rainbowheart Any recommendations for erotic romance with beta heroes? I've asked in two different places but haven't managed to find anything yet. That genre seems to be all alpha male bad boys. I'd love a book with a beta hero where the sex was actually hot, by which I mean more on the sizzling side, no euphemisms or flowery descriptions.

By the way, does Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy really have a beta hero? I'm almost done reading another book in that series called Hard and Fast and was really put off by the hero, who is dominant and vaginally penetrates the heroine while she's asleep and anally penetrates her without asking permission, after she has explicitly told him she's not going to have anal sex with him. If this is how she writes all her heroes I can't imagine one being beta!


message 13: by Julianna (last edited Mar 21, 2014 06:18PM) (new)

Julianna Funny you should ask this question, Rainbowheart. I just finished an erotic romance with a hero I'd definitely classify as beta. It's Charlotte Featherstone's Addicted. I absolutely love this book and can't recommend it highly enough. It's an emotional, tear-jerker of a read. Lindsay is a sweet, gentle, loving and passionate man whose emotions run deep. I will warn though that he's an opium addict, and there are some graphic scenes of his drug use, just in case that might be bothersome.

As to the Erin McCarthy book. I haven't read it yet, although I do seem to recall several of my GR friends saying the hero is beta. I've read some of her other books and while the heroes were alpha, I don't recall them being as dominant as you described. One of her novellas I read had a beta hero too, so I know she can write sweeter guys.

I thought of one more erotic romance I've read that had a beta-leaning hero. It's Zayed's Gift by Ann Jacobs.

You're right about it being hard to find betas in erotic romance. You might want to check out these books though (my reviews are linked under each one to give you an idea of what they're like):

Jane and the Sneaky Dom by Hannah Murray
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Friends With Benefits by Lena Matthews and Maggie Casper
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Truth or Dare by Lori Foster
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The guys in these books aren't beta, but they're what I'd call sweet alphas, who are more seductive and less uber-dominating. I'm not big on chest-beating alphas either (which is why I started this list;-)), but all the above books were keepers for me.


message 14: by Rainbowheart (last edited Mar 23, 2014 04:52PM) (new)

Rainbowheart Thanks Julie! I admit I was hoping to find contemporary but since I'm not having any luck there, I'd be willing to try historical. The Charlotte Featherstone book sounds good.

I read through the reviews for Flat-Out Sexy and a lot of people do mention that the hero is beta, so I will give that one a try. If there's any non-con stuff in that book though, I'm writing off Erin McCarthy. Hard and Fast was just too creepy for me.

Thanks also for the links to those other books. I'm afraid I'm pretty vanilla, so those aren't really my style. I don't even like regular alphas that much, let alone alphas who are involved in BDSM type activities. That's just kind of a personal squick for me. I don't enjoy reading about violence (even pretend violence) in my sex scenes. The Lori Foster book sounds closer to the kind of thing I might read.


message 15: by Julianna (last edited Mar 23, 2014 05:13PM) (new)

Julianna You're welcome, Rainbowheart! I hope you enjoy Addicted and Truth or Dare. Now that I know what you're looking for, I thought of a few more books that I'm crazy about and that might work for you too. Unfortunately though, they aren't contemporaries. If I run across any more of those I'll be sure to post them here.

On the historical side there's Emma Holly's Beyond Seduction. The hero is similar to the hero from Addicted except that instead of being an addict, he's a brooding artist with depression issues. You also might consider Elizabeth Hoyt. Her stories are always very steamy and some of them like Thief of Shadows and Lord of Darkness have beta heroes.

If you like Paranormal you might try J.R. Ward's The Story of Son (from Dead After Dark). It's a stand-alone novella in her Black Dagger Brotherhood world that is very sweet and steamy.


message 16: by Rainbowheart (last edited Mar 27, 2014 04:45PM) (new)

Rainbowheart Thanks Julie! I can't get into paranormal, but I'll see if I can find the Emma Holly book. It sounds interesting to me.

I did just read a good contemporary romance with a hero that might fit the list, Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis. I guess these things are subjective. Some people have it shelved as alpha-hero, but some others as beta-hero. I'm not sure I'm totally clear on the difference, but since I think of alpha males as controlling, dominant, demanding, and jealous, any hero who doesn't fit those qualities seems more beta to me. Haven't got to the third book yet, but the second book in the series, Instant Gratification, has a hero who's even more beta than the first one. Definitely a good choice for people looking for sweeter guys.


message 17: by Julianna (last edited Mar 27, 2014 05:46PM) (new)

Julianna You're welcome, Rainbowheart! Hope you enjoy it. I have the Jill Shalvis books you mentioned on my TBR list and seem to recall hearing that one or both have beta heroes.

As to the differences between alphas and betas. I view true alphas as pretty much what you described, while betas are the super sweet guys who are more in touch with their emotions. They may also be on the shy, vulnerable side, and embody most of the characteristics in my list description. Then there are gammas who are a mixture of both. They may have the more confident swagger of a alpha but can still be sweet and caring. It can be kind of confusing, I know, but I think it's usually pretty obvious when a hero is clearly one or the other. If not, I chalk them up to being gamma.:-)


message 18: by Anna (new)

Anna thats interesting i always thought a Gamma is Anti-hero a hero with questionanle behaviur who could be a rapis murderer and treat heroin less than good


message 19: by Julianna (last edited Dec 05, 2014 09:54AM) (new)

Julianna I've heard that definition of gammas too, Lian, but so far, only from readers. I'm not sure where they came up with that one though, because romance author sites and more authoritative romance websites (like All About Romance) have the gamma defined just like I did, the alpha/beta hybrid.

Here are a few links to articles that define the gamma hero:
All About Romance - http://www.likesbooks.com/21.html

GR Discussion (scroll down to message 6 for gamma def.) - https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Cynthia Eden - http://www.cynthiaeden.com/romance/he...

Heroes and Heartbreakers - http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com...


message 20: by Anna (new)

Anna thank you for the links


message 21: by Julianna (new)

Julianna You're welcome!:-)


message 22: by Dalia (new)

Dalia Dossetti What about Mr Darcy?


message 23: by Julianna (new)

Julianna Dalia, I haven't personally read, Pride and Prejudice, but if you feel he meets the qualifications in the list description, you're more than welcome to add the book.

Would anyone else like to weigh in on whether Mr. Darcy is a good fit for this list?


~☆~Autumn♥♥ Well, I think Mr. Darcy is an alpha but then I am sure not the best on defining him as I don't care for him much. Would a beta ever cheat?
I was thinking of adding This Glittering World but he does cheat and I don't think is ever really faithful in his mind! He does marry his fiancee when it turns out she is pregnant.


message 25: by Julianna (last edited Jul 26, 2017 04:55PM) (new)

Julianna Hmmm... interesting question, Autumn. In my mind, the beta male is usually pretty loyal, dependable, and trustworthy, so I would probably say no on the cheating. However, others may disagree with me.

I took a look at the book you mentioned. Even if the main male character does have beta qualities, I'd hesitate to approve of the book for the list, because it doesn't sound like a straight-up romance to me. It looks more like general or literary type fiction with a romantic subplot, so unless the romance is the main focus of the book, it doesn't really qualify for the list.


message 26: by Sophie (last edited Jan 25, 2018 03:10PM) (new)

Sophie Edward Cullen? Really?

Peeta is absolutely a beta though and I love him


message 27: by Julianna (new)

Julianna I suppose it's a matter of perception, but I've always considered Edward to be more beta-leaning, especially when compared to Jacob, who's definitely an alpha.

And yes, I agree that Peeta is unquestionably a beta.:-)


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