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message 1: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (last edited Jul 08, 2009 03:04PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Here is a fairly long article from All About Romance that discusses the distinction. Mainly focused on beta heroes. I'll have to break this into parts.


Rambles on Beta Heroes (Anne Marble)

Mention Beta heroes, and many romance readers yawn. Not a few fans think of Betas as "boring" and even "wimps." At the same time, other fans want more Beta heroes. Yet when you start to dig into the question of Beta heroes, even more questions pop up, like snakes popping out of a can. "What is a Beta hero" is the obvious question, but there are many more.

Okay, so what is a Beta hero? This question is more complicated than it seems. Most descriptions go as follows. "The Beta hero is the kinder, gentler, more sensitive hero." ZZZ. Is it any wonder readers start to fall asleep when they read that definition? But are Beta heroes really like this at all?

AAR's Jennifer Keirans likes Beta heroes very much, even though she thinks "serious work needs to be done on a definition." Her definition of such a hero is a man who "genuinely likes women and likes the heroine - he doesn't just want to possess her, he respects her and wants to be friends with her." She points to Stephen Kenyon, hero of Mary Jo Putney's One Perfect Rose as an example, adding, "The nice thing about these heroes is that they're more likely to form equal partnerships with the heroines, and that's something I like."

Have you ever read a romance and later learned with a shock that the hero in that novel was considered to be a Beta hero? That happens to me all the time. I think one of the reasons for this is because we're not really sure what a Beta hero is. Or maybe, more accurately, we're not sure what he can be. There are nice, fluffy door-next-door Beta heroes, but there are also Beta heroes who are thinkers, dreamers, poets, and the like. And even Beta heroes who kick butt when they have to.

Which heroes are Beta heroes, anyway? On AARList earlier this year there was a discussion of Alpha heel heroes. One reader mentioned that she loved Alpha heels and that she went back to those books when she wanted something to fall back on. She explained, "Most of the first books I read were by Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, LaVyrle Spencer, and others. Mostly historicals, and definitely full of Alpha jerks. That's what drew me into romance, and what I like to fall back on when I need a good read." Hmmm. I dunno here. McNaught, sure. Lots of Alpha jerks, some plain old Alphas as well. Deveraux, yes, Alphas - although most of her Alphas were far less "jerky" than those in the historicals that came before her. (That's why I loved her books so much at the time.) But Garwood and Spencer? I don't really see their heroes as Alphas, and definitely not as heels. I'd consider Garwood's heroes to be "Gammas," if you accept that term. I can't think of a hero in a Garwood historical, Alpha or not, doing anything that could make him qualify as being a jerk. Also, almost all of Spencer's heroes are considered to be Beta or Gamma heroes.

What do you think? Are Garwood and Spencer heroes Alpha, Beta, or Gamma? Do you think of them as Alpha heels? Maybe it depends on what you really want in a hero. Maybe some readers think that any man who goes into battles and yells a lot is a jerk, even if he never hurts the heroine. That could be the result of living in PC times. Just as it is also possible that many of the readers who say they are bored by Beta heroes do not know which heroes are Betas. That could be likely, considering how dull the definitions usually make them sound.

message 2: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
AAR's Beta Heroes List is full of great heroes who are nice but still strong, even if they aren't Alphas. Anyone who thinks Beta heroes are automatically wimps should read Mary Balogh's Lord Carew's Bride. Even though Lord Carew's name is Hartley Wade, he still kicks butt - literally. Because of a point of honor, he agrees to a boxing match with the evil Lionel Kersey, even though Hartley is disabled. (I guess Lionel Kersey is the Alpha villain.)

Mick Tremore in Judith Ivory's The Proposition is another Beta hero. I can hear the protests now. But he can't be a Beta hero, he was too much fun! (In fact, he's not the only Judith Ivory's Beta; James from Sleeping Beauty fills the bill as well.)

LLB uses Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby as an example of a cinematic Beta hero, pointing out that many a screwball comedy's hero is a Beta. She adds, "This kind of hero is attractive for an entirely different reason than the Alpha hero attracts readers. Alpha heroes are bad boys while Beta heroes attract out of comfort factor. Yes, they may be comical, but the experience of loving this guy isn't going to be scary." She believes this is the reason we're more attracted to Beta men in real life than Alphas to the max, although that comfort factor is just a "hop, skip, and jump" from boredom in a novel.

AAR's Marguerite Kraft agrees with LLB in that Beta heroes can be too dull; an author who writes a Beta runs "the risk of being so nice there's no conflict." She mentioned to a traditional Regency she'd recently read - Susannah Carleton's A Twist of Fate: "I found [Carleton's book:] boring. I liked the hero... he was a nice guy, did the dishes, polished the silver, fed the heroine's animals in a snowstorm. I'd probably like to marry him, but reading about him made me yawn. Where you have a Beta hero, you need a serious conflict." To make her point, she compares Carleton's romance with Vicki Lewis Thompson's Nerd in Shining Armor, another romance featuring a Beta hero. "But he's got problems: the heroine doesn't know he exists, and then he's left to die on an airplane and has to figure out how to pilot it, and then he's stuck on a desert island with the heroine and not much food, and then.... You get the idea. If a hero is kind of boring, the plot has to make up for it, and IMHO, Beta heroes are kind of boring."

Blythe also sees the hero from Thompson's book as "a great example of a Beta hero that works, and part of what works is that he gets to step up to the plate. Land a plane when he's never tried it before? No problem...he's played computer games." Another "classic" Beta for Blythe is Jesse, from Carla Kelly's Wedding Journey. "He never set out to be anyone's hero, but he's stuck behind with his new wife (With whom he's been secretly in love for years) and a collection of hospital patients. I think he shows how 'dependable' can become 'heroic.'"

Over on AARList Linda says, "Betas tend to make me grind my teeth. The hero of Devlin's Light by Mariah Stewart was just sooooo damn nice that I was sure he was a serial killer! But, no he was just a reeeeeellly nice guy who constantly put the heroine first, even when she was being selfish and annoying!" On the other hand, Karen likes Beta heroes, but she often feels left out because so many readers prefer Alpha heroes. "Sob, sob, I'm all alone searching for Beta heroes among the crowds of Alphas... Mary Balogh writes a lot of Beta heroes. Some are 100% Beta (Gentle Conquest, A Gift of Daisies, Lord Carew's Bride), and some are more on the borderline, but most of her heroes are essentially good guys at heart, with no desire to dominate the heroine. (Which is sort of my definition of an Alpha, they want to dominate the heroine, although they may learn the error of their ways."

AAR's Sandy Coleman generally isn't crazy about Beta heroes: "To be honest, Beta heroes are sometimes problematic for me. I tend to be drawn - in fiction, anyway - to stronger, classic Alphas. I think it's all part of the sweep-me-away part of the fantasy, which is something I was looking for when I began reading romance a long time ago and what I'm still drawn to now. A true Beta, especially when they are done as the 'real' kind of guy, sometimes do seem boring and somewhat bland to me. I mean, I'd rather date George Clooney than the guy who lives next door. Again, romance is largely fantasy for me. I'm not always proud of being bored by nice guy heroes, but it certainly does happen. But, there are some magical Beta heroes and to me the ultimate is Blue Reynard from Ruth Wind's In the Midnight Rain. The perfection of this guy just slays me. He's a botanist who carefully tends his flowers, is incredibly solicitous of an ancient Siamese cat, and drives to the next town to buy condoms to avoid embarrassing the heroine. (What a guy!) But, again, a guy that perfect is a fantasy - albeit a Beta one."

Like Sandy, LLB only likes certain types of Beta heroes. "While I love bad boy heroes as much as anyone else in fiction, I'd never want to be involved with one in real life. And while I married a really nice guy, I'm not sure I'd want to read a romance featuring a hero like him - it would probably be boring." She continues, "I think it's difficult to feature a nice-guy hero in a romance because it's less dramatic, and because the author runs the risk of creating a hero who comes off as a wuss or as passive-aggressive, and neither attribute screams 'masculine.' But if a Beta is struggling within, like Grayson Thane from Nora Roberts' Born in Ice, or has struggled, like Avery from Connie Brockway's My Dearest Enemy, than I'm sold." Another sort of angle that succeeds for LLB also comes from real life experience. After acknowledging the strength of her own personality (some would say bossy), she adds, "Sometimes when my husband and I disagree, I realize I'm angry because he didn't give in. Then I realize that if he did, I wouldn't respect him as much as I do for standing his own ground, and yes, even at times convincing me he's right. So what I'm saying is that I like Betas who are "Beta plus."

message 3: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Betas as Secondaries?

Like Sandy and LLB, some fans want to read primarily about Alpha heroes (with some Gamma heroes thrown in for good measure). Indeed, for years, that's all readers had to choose from. It seemed the only Betas in romances were the boring men the heroines left behind when they fell in love with (or more likely, were abducted by) the Alpha hero. Luckily, for the most part, writers got away from that and started giving better roles to Betas, even when those roles were as secondary characters.

Sometimes a Beta is just nice to have around, as a secondary hero. One of my favorite early romances was the first book in Valerie Vayle's Lady of Fire series. The hero, Roque, was definitely an Alpha hero - a pirate in fact. And yes, he was exciting and passionate, and he managed to be Alpha without completely pissing me off. But the character who made that book for me was Count Leon, the older, kind, sickly noble who married the heroine, Garlanda, so that she would not give birth to the hero's child out of wedlock. So sometimes, in the midst of Alphas, a Beta can be a breath of fresh air. Yes, the hero and heroine really were called Roque and Garlanda. I think the author had fun writing this book, don't you? (By the way, "Valerie Vayle" was a pseudonym for a collaboration, and part of that writing team now writes mysteries as "Jill Churchill.")

Anne Stuart often writes contrasting heroes and heroines; witness the primary and secondary romances in both A Rose at Midnight and To Love a Dark Lord, which I think is one of the best secondary romances out there. In fact, the subplot about Lady Barbara and Nathanial is such a strong story that some people thought it detracted from the main romance.

A classic "Beta secondary hero" is Theo in Johanna Lindsey's Defy not the Heart. He is the young gay man who acts as the heroine's "lady's maid." He is a wonderful and funny contrast to the huge, domineering Ranulf. Theo was especially needed in this book because the relationship of Ranulf and Reina got off to such a rocky start. Even people who love Alpha heroes don't seem to mind having a Beta as a secondary character. A lot of people love Lindsey's Defy not the Heart, not just because of the Alpha hero (especially when he starts to show his playful side), but because of secondary characters such as Theo.

I wonder if Beta fans read some of these novels not for the Alpha heroes, but for the secondary characters. Do you think Beta secondaries allow the author to wipe away some excess testosterone and make them more enjoyable for everyone? Or do they simply comic relief or a foil for the hero?

message 4: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Are we Harder on Betas?

Even fans of Beta heroes seem very hard on Beta heroes who take a moral misstep. This led me to ask: Are we less forgiving of Beta heroes who do wrong? I've read romances where an Alpha hero did awful things, but I forgave him. But if a Beta hero does wrong, I am less likely to enjoy the book - at least less likely to forgive the Beta. I come down on them more strongly. And I don't think I'm the only one. On AAR's Reviews Message Board, someone accused Julia Quinn's Bridgerton men of being "passive-aggressive." Some people laughed, others said "Hmmm."

Many readers loved the Beta hero of Jane Ashford's The Bargain. LLB granted it DIK status, in part because she loved the scientist hero, Lord Alan, who reminded her of the absent-minded professor types Cary Grant played to such perfection. I couldn't disagree more. For the first half of the book I was dismayed by his behavior; I found him arrogant and condescending toward the heroine. He assumed that Ariel, the heroine, must be vapid and interested only in trivial things because she was a woman. Yet later, we meet his mother and learn that not only is she intelligent, but she was also a pioneer in the education of women. So where did Lord Alan pick up these ideas about women? Lord Alan also brought the logic of science to the rest of his life. There's a scene early in the novel where he can't enjoy a play because he keeps dissecting the illogical plot. He had also cut himself off from his feelings. I have encountered my share of scientists in my life, and they have feelings and enjoy the arts, just like everyone else. On the other hand, as much as I disliked the hero in the beginning of the book, like LLB, I loved his transformation. If I hadn't found him so obnoxious at first, this book would have been a DIK for me, too. Is this a case of different strokes? Or maybe I was less forgiving of Lord Alan because I was a biology major.

AARList's Donna Shelton posits that it's more difficult to forgive a Beta hero because "when they 'do wrong' they are betraying not just the heroine, but their own values." She adds that an Alpha hero behaving similarly is more consistent with his "Alpha nature, we expect it, and his redemption is all the sweeter." On the other hand, she writes: "When the Beta hero acts out he just disappoints us. We readers tend to find unacceptable [behavior:] that seems inconsistent with how [a character:] has been developed/portrayed. Making a Beta hero behave badly without it seeming inconsistent with the character is probably harder than portraying the same behavior convincingly in an Alpha hero."

I agree with Donna about inconsistencies in character. When I read The Bargain, I thought Lord Alan's character was inconsistent with what we learned about his upbringing. I was sure there was some tragic love story in his past that explained his behavior, but that never came up in the story. Another Beta hero who was inconsistent was Jared Austin in Emily Dalton's Dream Baby, a pediatrician who has many patients whose parents are in show business. Yet... he is disdainful of show business people. I found this combination jarring, to say the least. Naturally, the heroine was an actress. Let the conflicts ensue! Unfortunately, this meant that he spent the whole book being disdainful of her. At one point, he accused her of having "just about enough maternal instinct to fill a thimble." For a doctor, he apparently didn't know much about the importance of impartial observation.

message 5: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Former AAR Reviewer Deborah Barber noticed an inconsistency problem in the character of Geoffrey, the Beta hero in Deborah Simmons' The deBurgh Bride. As she wrote in her review, "Geoffrey's 'niceness' seemed at odds with his utter lack of interest in finding out why Elene was the way she was. Just why was she such a shrew? While medieval marriages were generally for political and/or economic reasons, I always feel the hero should be more concerned about his wife than he is about his holdings. The book failed a bit in this respect."

Still, I'm torn here. Just because a hero is a Beta, does that mean he has to be a nice guy all the time? Even nice guys have breaking points. Even nice guys can do wrong. Even nice guys can get cranky. But ... that doesn't mean we have to enjoy reading about it. Maybe we dislike bad behavior in a Beta hero because most of us are drawn to Betas in real life, and bad behavior from a Beta hits too close to home. We can read about an Alpha hero being a bad, bad boy (as long as he makes up for it) and still live the fantasy. But when a Beta hero goes bad, it reminds us a little too much of that nice boyfriend who suddenly went from Gary Goodbuy to John Jerk (or the husband who cheated on his wife, hid his assets, then asked for a divorce). Or maybe, as Donna suggests, we are angrier with Betas who go bad because there is a greater sense of betrayal.

As mentioned above, one of our readers shared that she found Julia Quinn's Bridgertons to be "passive-aggressive." Maggie wrote that when a heroine is equal to a challenging hero, there's no problem for her accepting a "diamond in the rough." She pointed to Cam from Nora Roberts' Sea Swept. She loved Cam "because Anna was such a match for him." She's also "fine" with "obviously campy" books, those books featuring prose, activities, and adventures "so obviously removed from reality that they are not meant as genuine representations of a real romance." A perfect example for Maggie would be My Fair Lady.

"Professor Higgins is actually pretty cruel to Eliza if you examine his behavior. But this movie captures both characters fabulously and humanly and wonderfully. Higgins is not meant to serve as a model for a great teacher. He is meant to be funny, and he is. And Eliza is, at the end, a match for him in terms of giving as good as she gets. A lot of early romances were written like this, not as genuine examples of love stories but as completely campy, sexy romps. Because they were so silly, I was never really offended by them. Quinn's books aren't campy. But they aren't filled, in my opinion, with compassionate, loving heroes either. What bothers me is that these characters are held up as being wonderful heroes, far better than those in other people's favorite romances, all because they stop their abuse before actually hitting a woman. I appreciate that but require something a bit more of a hero."

Jennifer is in the same camp; in the only Bridgerton book she's read - Offer from a Gentleman - she thought the hero was a "huge jerk," adding, "It started out great, and Benedict Bridgerton seemed like a wonderful nice guy, but then he pressured and manipulated the reluctant heroine to become his mistress - all for her own good, of course. Benedict acted all concerned for her welfare and insisted that she was too good to be a mere servant, but he totally ignored her protests and acted as though her moral qualms were foolish and irrelevant. This turned me off the whole series, and I haven't read another Quinn since."

Some readers do think this sort of feeling is far-fetched, but I'm not so sure. I feel the same as Maggie and Jennifer when I hear readers extol the virtues of the hero of The Bargain. There's nothing like feeling left out of the parade. (sniff sniff) I've read a lot of books where the Alpha hero does something completely nasty, and yet I still managed to love that book. Stuart's To Love a Dark Lord is a great example. He treats the heroine badly and wants to use her for his revenge, yet at the same time, he keeps rescuing her. But in general, I think of him as a cool hero, dark and tormented and nearly impossible to reform. I don't dwell on the bad things he did. Yet when a Beta hero screws up, I remember that more than I remember the "nice guy" quotient.

Sandy has a slightly different take on Julia Quinn's heroes, although she agrees that the hero of An Offer from a Gentleman was manipulative. "Quinn's heroes do strike me as Beta, but I think their ambivalence about themselves is more of the key to who they are. They're wealthy, come from a very loving family, and are the kind of people to whom things come easily and I think she does a good job of portraying them as attractive people who recognize that they've been allowed to coast through life. As for being overly manipulative, I did feel that in An Offer from a Gentleman, but can't say I've noticed it since."

But like me, Jennifer (who happens to enjoy the "magnificent bastard" hero in all his glory), is also less forgiving of Beta heroes. She speculates that an Alpha hero in a plot similar to An Offer from a Gentleman "would have just openly forced the heroine to become his mistress whether she liked it or not, and then afterwards would have repented," adding, "Benedict was more persuasive, pretending that it was for her welfare and not just his own selfish desires. He did repent in the end and married her, but up until that point he seemed hypocritical and sly. I guess that for me, honest upfront assholery seems a bit more likable than slick dishonest assholery, if that makes any sense."

Are some Beta heroes lacking in the behavior department? I have heard the same complaint about other Beta heroes, including the hero of The Bargain. So, do Beta heroes tend toward the passive-aggressive? Is this just a flaw some of them have? Or ... are we expecting too much of them again? What do you think? Are there a lot of Beta heroes exhibiting bad behavior? Or is this another sign of being less forgiving of them? Maybe above all, this is yet another case of "Different strokes for different folks."

message 6: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Gamma Rays

Some readers do ask for something more - the Gamma hero. The Gamma hero, for those who believe he exists, combines the best qualities of the Alpha and the Beta. They are leaders, but they aren't domineering. Some readers refer to Gamma heroes as "cuddly Alphas." For example, Linda says, "My favorites may be Gammas but I think of them as "cuddly Alphas" or 'educable Alphas' - Julie Garwood's Duncan or Gabriel fall into this category as does Max in JAK's Grand Passion."

All the way back in 1997 LLB wrote: "I love the idea of the Gamma male. Many readers, while loving a Beta male in real life, find them a bit too wimpy in a romance. And, often Alpha heroes are too bitter and mean for readers to fall in love with. Some of the listers tried to describe actors who fall into each category, including Tom Hanks as Beta, Bruce Willis as Alpha, and Mel Gibson as Gamma."

Yet there is controversy about what constitutes a Gamma. (Constitutes! I've made him sound like soup!)

Ashleigh mentions an exchange on AARList about the confusion surrounding the entire Gamma archetype. One group believes the Gamma is part Alpha, part Beta, someone who leads when necessary, but has "a soft gooey center." Another group believes that definition applies to the Alpha hero, who "can have a soft gooey center and still be Alpha [because:] Alphas don't have to posture, they just have to lead." In order to accept the Gamma archetype, Ashleigh wants "sharper edges and more consensus." Still, she believes the Gamma archetype has potential because "Alpha and Beta are somewhat limiting, only two types to describe all heroes isn't a lot."

Shelley, on the other hand, thinks the use of the term Gamma is confusing. She writes, "Some people switch the Beta and Gamma definitions.... Some people use Beta to mean part leader part nice (which is closer to the real definition) and some people use Gamma to mean that." She posted on AARList that this is "why no one really uses it except for one particular web site and their affiliate lists/boards. It's basically a useless term, so as I said, I never use it."

Hey, don't blame us, Deb Stover brought the term to us years ago. But to be fair, while many readers like the "Alpha, Beta, Gamma" characterizations, quite a few readers disagree with the whole idea of a Gamma hero while others think all of these characterizations are limiting. Is the Gamma really an Alpha in a different set of clothes? Does the Gamma hero exist, or is he a cute name made up to make readers feel less guilty about enjoying the Alpha hero?

In a Write Byte written by Suzanne Brockmann shortly after AAR's first look at the Gamma hero, the author shared the following: "I'm not sure I buy this whole Gamma thing. It seems to me that Gamma is just a re-labeling of the Alpha male - simply to ease the souls of the people who are so certain they dislike Alpha males!!! The lines between Alpha and Beta are not black and white. (But grey does not Gamma make. . .) IMO, a true leader (i.e. true Alpha) can fight the battle, nurse the wounded, cook dinner for the troops and wash up afterwards. He can negotiate peace treaties as well as go to war."

This isn't the first argument we've had in this column about the Gamma hero. In a 1988 column, Beverly Medos (who once wrote a column for AAR) takes the position that the Gamma archetype was suggested because of a lack of agreement on just what constitutes an Alpha hero, and why the Alpha hero has become synonymous for many readers with Alpha heel. She wrote, "I've finally figured out what it is that's so wrong about that concept to me - possibly all lead characters (hero and/or heroine) in romances are Alphas in some form or another. They have to be in order to begin their own 'pack' or family. Personally, I think we need a new set of distinctions if we really want to label our romance characters in some way because the term Alpha is getting pretty murky."

But then, there was plenty of confusion about what Beta heroes are, as well. And some people think that the term "Alpha" automatically means that the hero must be mean, while others, like Beverly, think that's a crock - and that a cuddly Alpha is just that, an Alpha who happens to be adorable. (After all, a good leader isn't likely to be an abusive jerk...) It is possible that some people use the term "Gamma hero" because they are scared to admit that they like Alpha heroes. In these PC times, maybe some people don't think it's "cool" to enjoy reading about an Alpha hero. They fear that if a hero has some bluster to him, they must turn away and say "Ewww. Get away. Alpha heel. Ewww."

This attitude is more prevalent than we think, especially outside the romance community. In a chat in the writing community I belong to, one of the members (not a regular romance fan) said that she had read a lot of JAKs in a row, but that she got sick of it because they had 'too many Alpha heroes.' And she was talking about recent JAK novels, not the early Jayne Castle or Stephanie James books! If I had been less polite, I might have responded with "Bwah hah hah! You think those are Alphas?! Go read some Rosemary Rogers and come back in the morning." I really couldn't imagine someone being threatened or annoyed or whatever by JAK heroes. They are too damned nice, even when they are strong. Even if they are Alpha heroes (and the jury is still out on that), they may be nice Alphas, a far cry from the domineering, arrogant Alpha heroes of the 1970s and 1980s.

Jennifer has another objection to the concept of Gamma heroes, arguing that "the more we start stuffing characters into categories, the less comfortable I get, because it implies that romance novels really are as formulaic as their critics say - and good romances aren't." She can buy into the Alpha and Beta archetypes because "they represent large trends into which a lot of heroes generally sort of it." It's those "in-between categories," though, that trouble Jennifer, "because a good hero isn't a cookie-cutter production who can be slotted into a type."

"For example, I think we can all agree that Warrick from Prisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey is Alpha, yet by the end he's taking advice from the heroine, begging for her hand in marriage, and generally treating her as his equal. The hero from Mary Jo Putney's Angel Rogue is Beta in the friendly and gentle way he treats the heroine, but he's a spy with a tortured past who can (and has) killed people with his bare hands. So did Warrick start out Alpha and get Beta? Is the hero (Lord Robert) from Angel Rogue a Beta with Alpha traits? Is Jamie Fraser from Outlander a Gamma? Who really cares? The things that make these characters defy categorization are exactly the things that make them good heroes. Jamie Fraser is an individual, and the reason that you enjoy spending several thousand pages with him is because he's too complex to be boxed this way."

On that aspect, I agree with Jennifer. The best heroes are complex, definitely more than a narrow set of characteristics. There are Betas who lead, and there are Alphas who stop to smell the roses, pet the dogs, whatever. Do the labels matter, or do they sometimes get in the way? If the hero's label is keeping you from reading a good book, then I'd say that label got in the way. Alpha or Beta, or Gamma for that matter, what matters to me is the hero, not the label. If he is a good guy, that's great. If he's a bad boy, the author had better give me good reasons for his behavior. Good boy or bad, if he screws up, that can be wonderful, too, as long as I can believe in the reasons for his behavior, and as long as he makes up for his behavior with the heroine. And as long as he and the heroine are a good match. Can we ask for anything more?

message 7: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Okay sorry that was so long. It's food for thought.

I have heard of a Gamma as being an ultimate, dangerous hero. This article says Gamma is a mix of alpha and beta.

message 8: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
My thoughts:

I absolutely love beta heroes. They are sweet and kind and thoughtful. They think and don't always rush into danger and act carelessly. They are capable of wonderful tenderness towards the heroine.

Having said that, I really really like possessive alphas who would do anything to get and keep their heroine.

Lastly I love dangerous heroes. Something about them really appeal to me.

It's all in the execution of the author.

What I don't like is a hero who thinks he's a man because he's stronger, better looking, has more money, slept with more women, or because he has male genitalia and that makes him better than a woman. Those heroes go on my I can't stand this hero list.

message 9: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Sadly there are romance novel heroes out there like that. I will not name names. Better to be forgotten in the did not like pile.

message 10: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (halfpint66) | 221 comments I prefer the Alpha hero.

message 11: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6620 comments Mod
Thanks for creating this thread Danielle.

I like heroes that are possesive too, in a good way that is.

message 12: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
NO worries, Arch. I love romance and it's fun reading about the foundations and the themes of romance. You can see by my shelves I love themes.

Debbie that does not surprise me that you like alphas at all. :)

More than anything I like the possessive natures of alphas.

message 13: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
I do like the quietly dangerous types. Yummy.

message 14: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6620 comments Mod
John Medina comes to me in regards to the dangerous type. He's a good bad boy though.

message 15: by new_user (last edited Jul 09, 2009 06:04PM) (new)

new_user When I'm reading I like alpha heroes with a firm hand. A lot of romance heroes that I've seen I wouldn't even consider alpha, but I haven't read a lot of the pre-90s historicals where they're supposed to be the most abundant.

However, from everything I've heard, I wouldn't consider some of them alpha heroes, mostly because they never show any kind of affection or positive emotion towards the heroine at all. I don't like those. Sometimes alpha heroes are written very one-dimensional for some reason too. Betas can be thoughtful, perceptive or intellectual, but alphas are often just shy of apes. I don't get that.

message 16: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6620 comments Mod
LOL, shy of apes!

message 17: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
new_user wrote: "When I'm reading I like alpha heroes with a firm hand. A lot of romance heroes that I've seen I wouldn't even consider alpha, but I haven't read a lot of the pre-90s historicals where they're suppo..."

I think some authors stereotype the alpha character and don't give them depth. I think Christine Feehan, Kresley Cole, and Christina Dodd write alphas well. They have the common traits of alphas, but also depth and a sensitivity to them. I would almost say that JR Ward writes betas disguised as alphas. They are all tough and scary but really they are very sensitive and caring inside.

message 18: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6620 comments Mod
That's a good question Eugenia.

To whomever answer, if you don't mind, can you add an example of a Beta and Gamma hero too?

message 19: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6620 comments Mod
Yes, Danielle would know. We have some books in common, so I hope she picks from the books where have in common to give examples.

message 20: by new_user (last edited Jul 10, 2009 10:55PM) (new)

new_user I agree about Christina Dodd and J.R. Ward. Christina Dodd -along with Lisa Kleypas- does write strong alpha men who have a very sweet side, while I've never considered J.R. Ward's men very alpha. They're too dependent and openly vulnerable.

What genres would you guys like? I might give some examples, except that I mostly read historical and paranormal. LOL.

For IR romance suspense, I think Wyatt from A Dangerous Woman is an example of a good beta hero. He's very confident and smart, but he admires the heroine enough to let her take the lead much of the time. (Although he's an alpha in the bedroom, I'll say it, LOL.)

For a gamma, the classic examples from romance suspense -and I think Danielle will agree :) - are Anne Stuart's heroes, specifically her ICE series. They are very ruthless, sometimes cold men and hard to love. The third book in the series, Ice Blue, is WWAM.

message 21: by new_user (last edited Jul 10, 2009 10:41PM) (new)

new_user Oh, yep, the ones I listed there are among the few contemporary I've read, LOL. I hope you enjoy them. I know not everyone is a fan of the gamma heroes.

message 22: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6620 comments Mod
I read a lot of contemporary. Every once in a while, I'll read a historical book. I've just started back reading Historical books last year.

message 23: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
new_user wrote: "I agree about Christina Dodd and J.R. Ward. Christina Dodd -along with Lisa Kleypas- does write strong alpha men who have a very sweet side, while I've never considered J.R. Ward's men very alpha. ..."

OMG don't get me started on Anne Stuart. My favorite writer ever. She does the dangerous hero (what some call gamma but not according to the article I posted) like no other. Christine Feehan has some gammas in her Ghostwalkers series.

message 24: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (last edited Jul 11, 2009 01:37PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Okay, lets see:

Sam Starrett is probably a gamma according to this article Mix of Beta and Alpha

Eugenia I don't know if I can give you examples because the only books we have in common are interracials. Interracials don't have a lot of pure alphas and pure betas and no gammas that I know of. Brenda Jackson's heroes are probably alphas (but not my favorite kinds. Hers are mostly playboy types. I don't care for playboys too much). I guess Michael from No Commitment Required is an alpha. Ben is probably an alpha/gamma (hard-edged gamma not the mix of beta and alpha. He's very confident and ruthless in some ways. But he has a little beta in him because he's a thinking and a planner. And the way he cares for his dad. He showed his alpha traits in how he moves in on Alayna and kind of takes charge of the obstacles in her life. His a very complex guy. Why I love him. Beta heroes in IRR. Definitely Scott from Fate by Pamela Leigh Starr.

Some authors think a hero being a ladies man alone makes him an alpha. Certainly not in my book.

message 25: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
new_user wrote: "I agree about Christina Dodd and J.R. Ward. Christina Dodd -along with Lisa Kleypas- does write strong alpha men who have a very sweet side, while I've never considered J.R. Ward's men very alpha. ..."

I agree with you about LK. She writes very loving, caring alphas. But then she writes strong betas. Ross Cannon from Lady Sophia's Lover is more of a very strong beta (very methodical, logical, but intense and passionate). When I say strong beta I don't mean to imply that betas are weak. They certainly are not.

message 26: by new_user (new)

new_user Ben from which novel, Danielle? :)

message 27: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
A Personal Matter by Karyn Langhorne. Ben aka 'Ice Man' Richards.

message 28: by new_user (last edited Jul 12, 2009 09:40AM) (new)

new_user Hm, I think I'm going to see which of Langhorne's books I can get a hold of. Looks like her fantasy-ish title is the only one right now. :/

Oh, also, Danielle is right. To publishers, Romantic Times, etc. gamma = beta + alpha, the ideal, I guess. Here on GR, however, we usually talk about them as the ruthless guys since they need their own classification, LOL. I hope I didn't cause any confusion.

message 29: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Yeah, it's confusing because a gamma is a dangerous hero to me. I hope you get to read A Personal Matter. I really, really liked it. I have Eugenia to take for pulling it out of my tbr pile and reading it right away.

message 30: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
Alayna's abrasive at first, but the layers get peeled away and you see it's armor to hide her vulnerability. I love Alayna and Ben see each other deeper and more real than anyone else. I felt they were kindred souls.

message 31: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod

message 32: by Nisha (new)

Nisha (parakisu) | 55 comments I seem to gravitate to Beta heroes. My favorite is Colin Bridgerton.

I think that most of us like alpha heroes so the heroines actions don't seem as selfish and annoying. How can it, when there is a man who is nearly primitive and decides with his libido?

message 33: by new_user (new)

new_user Whaaa, they're not cavemen! LOL. I hate those kinds. And the heroines often annoy me, unfortunately. xD

message 34: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
There are the uber types which really annoy me and I don't find sexy at all. A man who thinks with his little head is not sexy to me (excuse my language). A man who wants to dominate a woman and doesn't respect her and value her thoughts, needs, desires, and contribution, might as well get a blow up doll. Those are not heroes to me. They are not even worth my notice. Like Eugenia said, I call them jerks and they make me want to get out my shovel to hit them over the head. I like a hero who is crazy in love with one woman, the heroine. I don't like the manslut types at all.

Nisha I love beta heroes too. I am pretty biphasic in my hero love: The dangerous hero types and the sweetheart hero types are my two favorites.

message 35: by Davina (last edited Dec 06, 2009 04:42PM) (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments I defintely prefer an alpha hero in my romantic fiction as well as in real life, hands down.

Personally I think alphas make the best mates. I think as women alpha men force you out of certain comfort zones (speaking in modern terms here). Many people have described me as an alpha female and I guess I would agree. I could never be with a man who lets me have my way all the time just to avoid conflict or whatever; and I find that I like the same traits in my fictional heroes as well.

Oh I have read and enjoyed beta heroes, but I gain more satisfaction from a book that features a really good alpha male. Not to get all personal, but my husband and I have very passionate fights -- a real battle of wills. We agree from the onset that neither of us will never ever resort to violence or personal attacks but everything else is fair in love and war.

My husband is not always the easiest man to live with, but he's right for me when you consider my own nature. He's not always this deferrential gentleman who coddles or treats me like procelain. In fact he very rarely is. He doesn't put me on a pedestial. He expects me to be woman enough to take care of myself. For eg, instead of bearing the sole responsibility of taking care of "manly" duties around the house, he teaches me how to carry out these tasks myself. And why not? I expect him to participate in typical female chores. That's just how we live our lives and I find that that works for me because to me it shows that we are real equals and he respects my capabilities. Many of my female friends and perhaps even some of you here will not understand this mentality, but to us true equality goes both ways.

As a result I could never deal with a sweet, cuddly, (over) sensitive, touchy feely kind of man. That is not to say I don't have the same need for attentiveness as every other woman. I do, but I'm also pretty self-reliant, my well being doesn't rely too much on how a man treats me -- as long as he shows me basic human respect. There are certain elementary gestures that I expect. I absolutely will not tolerate violence or deliberate public embarrassment for eg.

The funny thing is that since I don't act entitled to preferential treatment because I'm female, my husband is (perhaps involuntarily) quite romantic. For eg he will forget my Bday and or our anniversary, he won't always take out the garbage etc but he's often inspired to random acts of kindness like surprising me with flowers or a weekend getaway.

So yeah, I tend to want my fictional heroes to have similar traits. I like men who are take charge and strong (both mentally & physically), but also confident enough to know when they're not best suited for something and step aside. I don't like uber alpha males who are governed solely by their egos. Not all alphas will have slept with a legion of women. Many authors seem to have a very limited, one-dimensional view of what makes a man alpha. It's really frustrating. I've read some books by authors who do really good fantasy alphas (eg LMR), but very few who do good real-to-life alphas. The closest real-to-life alphas I've read are perhaps some of Laura Kinsale's heroes (Jervaulx from FFTS, in particular).

Oh, and I also agree that many of Ward's heroes are betas, not alphas. Well, not many, more like all. Ah ... perhaps with the exception of Wrath?

message 36: by Davina (last edited Dec 06, 2009 04:33PM) (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments Don't think I've ever read a gamma hero (at least not in romance. One of my fav non-romance author is Daniel Silva. I believe his heroes would qualify as gammas). I still have a number of Anne Stuart's novels on my TBR, many of which have been there for months, if not years. I keep meaning to promote them to the top, but there are soooo many authors whose backlist I have to go through, there's never enough time in one year. Obviously, I'm not one of those readers who read books hot off the press. Wish I had that kind of time, to keep track of what's coming out, even from my favourite authors. I'm solely dependent on forums like this and Amazon to guide me through what I should read.

message 37: by Nisha (new)

Nisha (parakisu) | 55 comments I like tough girls who sacrifice their happiness for someone they love (family, lover, whatever). I like sarcastic heroines too, but that doesn't happen often.

The outrageously independent types are the ones that totally turn me off. Even the innocent ones are more manageable in comparison.

message 38: by Davina (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments I can tell what kind of heroines I don't like. I don't like shrews (who are often entitlement princesses). Butch, macho heroines are a no-go for me too.

I know I like wholesome heroines. Doesn't have to be sweet, girl next door types. Just women who are not too world-weary. While they may be experienced in love and life, there's still a certain innocence to them. JAK does okay, if a bit too quirky, heroines. Defintely LK who, to me, has a knack for creating really good real-to-life characters, male or female. And I like Beth from Ward's DL, though she didn't start growing on me until subsequent books.

message 39: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (last edited Dec 06, 2009 05:35PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
I don't like heroines who are walking stereotypes. What I mean is: okay, look at me be kickbutt, and I'm so cool, aren't I? I don't need a men, because men are just for sex, and nothing else. I can have sex with any man I want and not love him because I don't care about love. I just want to get my freak on. I love my shoes and my Prada bag more than anything else. I wouldn't be caught dead outside my house without my make up on. Oh, and I can't love a man because that would just compromise my freedom way too much.

Having said that: I can get behind most heroines who are well-written as long as they are not the above. I'm sorry but I don't like sleazy heroines. That is a big pet peeve of mine. I'm not saying all heroines have to be virgins, but I like a heroine who respects herself, and won't just give her body away to anybody just to scratch an itch. Some examples of characters that I think are sleazy are Samantha and Delinda on Las Vegas. If I think a heroine is like that in a book, I won't read it. I remember an episode where Samantha slept with this guy she just met, and got out bed, put her pants on and just went back to work. I was completely repulsed by that.

I don't like pretentious, snobby people, so I definitely don't like that in a heroine (or a hero for that matter).

My favorite kinds of heroines are thoughtful, intelligent, self-controlled, loving, and open to change. I don't mind if she's made mistakes in the past, but I don't want to see her doing the same thing over and over again. I don't mind if she starts the book with some emotional issues and weakness, but I like to see her grow over the course of the book. I actually like sweet heroines, who are kind and loving, and aren't always trying to throw their weight around and prove how tough they are.

I also like genuine badass heroines like Xhex. She's not talking about being badass. When action is needed, she does it. She's fiercely loyal. I wish she had handled things better with JM, but I'm hoping she will in Lover Mine.

Like Eugenia, I do like a heroine who can be snarky, but not down-right bitchy. I don't care for bitchiness in real life. I want the heroine of a book I love to be like a person I want to be around. If I can't stand a heroine enough to read about her, I certainly don't want to be around her.

I actually have found that many heroines who are not get a bad rap as being doormats because they don't throw tantrums and act like an idiot. Strength is not about that. Strength is about fortitude. A strong heroine can be a woman who puts up with a lot, and doesn't act like a fool. She might forgive more than I would like, but she has her reasons for doing it that have been made clear by the writer.

Davina, I know what you mean about not reading too many new releases when they come out. I'm usually way behind on the new books. I look to the online forums and websites to find out what I want to read also, although I browse at the bookstore store heavily.

message 40: by new_user (new)

new_user I think I like the same kind of heroine, Eugenia. Someone who's confident without being arrogant or emotionally unavailable. I've found some of those heroines in urban fantasy. :)

Also, Danielle, I know what you mean about that other kind of strength that endures through diversity. I think this is just as valid, and I admire heroines like this too. I remember a literature professor suggesting once that this kind of heroine is more common among minority writers. I thought that was interesting.

message 41: by Davina (last edited Dec 07, 2009 08:45AM) (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments There seems to be a more diverse group of heroines than heroes. So much so that its hard to pinpoint exactly what it is I like about a heroine until she displays traits that really get on my nerves. For eg though I usually like sweet heroines, the heroine from Catherine Anderson's Blue Skies (actually I tend to have a serious problem with most CA heroines) majorly pissed me off. She should have been a very sympathetic character but she turned out to be just the type of heroine I hate: an irresponsible whiner who was selfish and thought the world should revolve around her. I can't stand heroines who wallow in victimhood and she just revelled in it, expecting the hero to bend over backwards at her beck and call. Some people may find that romantic, but I think it was pathetic. She really needed to grow a pair (in fact so did the hero). lol

Anyway, I also think its safe to say that the vast majority of us romance readers will not feel too kindly toward bitchy, overbearing skanks for heroines. Many of us like a heroine who speaks at least a portion of our own personal language or a language we can understand, if not always relate to (well I guess bitchy, overbearing skanks can resonate with a reader if that reader falls into that same category).

So what's my point? It's that though the vast majority of romance heroines still have a long way to go when it comes to character traits that are important to me personally, I can usually find a few that I'm really really satisfied with. Maddie from LK's FFTS, Victoria from Robin Schone's Gabrielle's Woman, Janna Wayland from Elizabeth Lowell's Reckless Love, JR Ward's Beth (who I like more when I see her in other books & from reading about her on Ward's website -- she was just okay in her own book). That's just to name a few.

When it comes to heroes, however, there seem to be less diversity. Going by the general consensus in the romance community apparently there's a small amount of beta and gamma heroes while alpha heroes make up the bulk of romance men. Alphas being my preference, if this is so I'm glad, but as I've said before I think many alphas get fit into one mould and that's that: assertive, protective, overbearing, egotistical jerkwads. Its not necessarily that that mould is wrong -- its just that that's all you ever see basically. I like seeing other sides of alphas. And I'm not talking about the sweet, sensitive side (which is always nice to see, btw so this is not a complaint).

Alphas are usually what's described as "a man's man". Under the modern assumption that men and women are equal (or ought to be) I want to see him acting as such -- which means, to me, heroes demanding more from their heroines, not just treating them like precious jewels who have to be protected and coddled and who they have to defer to every single time if they're to be perceived as good. I mean of course I want those things too, but not all the time. For once I'd like to see a hero tell the heroine to figure out her own crap. Let her take out the garbage and or mow the lawn, especially if he's not around. She shouldn't wait for him to come home and then demand that he does these things.

Romance is a fantasy for me just like the next woman, but it should be just on the outskirts of reality, not too far out. My reality is that the scales are balanced as much as humanly possible, not tipped in favour of the heroine.

Anyway, this is just my preference, ladies. I'm not passing judgement on anyone who may see things differently.

message 42: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (last edited Dec 07, 2009 07:47AM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
I have to say that a good hero for me is one that is well-written, who is strong, but also vulnerable, and has some emotional aspects that I can see as a reader. I'm not saying he has to be weepy and touchy-feely. I'm mean, I'd like to see his inner emotional dialogue. What he's feeling and what is of value to him. If this is well done, it doesn't matter if he's alpha, beta, or gamma.

This is not a book, but I watched the latest Punisher movie: Punisher: War Zone. I hated it. It made me nauseous and disgusted. Frank Castle was an unfeeling monster in that movie. As a moviegoer who felt cheated, I felt a need to warn someone who was not expecting that kind of movie. I posted a review on Amazon of it, and I got a comment that said I didn't know what I was talking about because he was just like in the graphic novel. My argument is that you have work harder in a movie to convince the audience to buy into a character than in a graphic novel. You can't have some guy punching in a person's skull, with his face an unfeeling mask and showing no emotions, and leave it at that. You have to show what he is feeling to drive him to such an act. I don't like gore, period, but I think I would have identified more with this man who was driven to become an amoral murderer out of a need for justice, if I could see what he was thinking and feeling before, during, and after this.

So this applies to me and heroes, in general. I don't care for rakes, which you all know. But if you show me a rake who is a rake for a reason, and what is motivating him to do this, then I can possibly feel some empathy for him and grow to like him.

Other than cannibals, child molesters, and serial killers, and people who are just downright cruel and hateful for no reason whatsoever, I think a good author can make a less than desirable character sympathetic to me if he/she shows me what's going on in his head and his heart, and what his emotions are. I love antiheroes, because they are the characters that really get my attention and get my brain going to see what makes them tick. And if well- drawn, they will often gain my sympathy and something of my loyalty. One huge example is Kylmore in Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell. I could totally understand his motivations and what drove him to act so crazy, and I ended loving him as a hero.

message 43: by new_user (new)

new_user I agree. I prefer a flawed character usually, so long as their motivations are developed. I also agree that there isn't much of a diversity of heroes in novels, which is probably because the men are not the focal point in the novel. Unfortunately, in many cases they're not given the chance to be complete, complex people.

I also don't find it romantic when the hero coddles the heroine, which is why I don't find the BDB that romantic, honestly, LOL. The men are exceedingly dependent. But they're great reads anyway.

message 44: by Davina (last edited Dec 07, 2009 08:27AM) (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments For me to empathize with a romance hero I have to respect him first & foremost. I may not agree with his behaviour all the time, but I want to be able to deduce that he's not a lightweight. He doesn't put up with BS--from anyone, heroine included. If, from the onset, I get the impression that he's a pushover, no matter how valid his motivations -- which I may very well understand -- for being the way he is, I'm not likely to feel charitably toward him. When it comes to this, I seriously like my heroes the same way I like my men in real life.

message 45: by Davina (last edited Dec 07, 2009 09:32AM) (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments "Unfortunately, in many cases they're not given the chance to be complete, complex people."


The way how I look at it is this: women are not, or really shouldn't be, the focal point of romance novels either (though yes it's fair to say that they are). The relationship is. Even though the majority of those who read romance are women, from a relationship perspective romance novels are all about the dynamics and the development of said relationship; and how TWO people can work toward making it something positive and good for all involved.

To better illustrate, its like a couple who has a child, but is about to divorce. If you're both good parents, you will work together to do what's in the best interest of your child during and after the proceedings. If you're selfish and just looking out for your own interests, sure you will gain and maybe your spouse will get a healthy slice of payback, but the child will also suffer. Sometimes even more so because s/he is a kid and may not be able to deal with their emotions as well as an adult.

In like manner, the relationship is the child, while the hero and the heroine are the husband and wife.

I guess because I've been in a relationship so long, I don't think it takes away from the fantasy to infuse a little more reality in how the characters are portrayed.

message 46: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
I agree that the relationship should be well-developed in a romance, and both characters shown equally (or as close as possible). I have noticed that I tend to show more of my heroes than my heroines in my own writing. I'm not sure why. I need to work on that.

message 47: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6620 comments Mod
I like to show both the hero and heroine.

message 48: by Davina (last edited Dec 07, 2009 09:35AM) (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments You're not alone. I do the same sometimes too. I think it's because as human beings its easier to focus on others than ourselves. That is to say, we create men as we want them, not as they are -- and in the process we hardly pay much attention to our own shortcomings.

Doesn't make us bad people. It's just human nature. Some male authors do the same too, probably even more so than female authors. That said, I daresay most men and thus many male authors, even in such supposedly enlightened and liberated times, are still very chivalrous toward women and they tend to be quite harsh to their own sex, both in reality and fictitiously.

I don't mean to harp on about Kinsale, but I think she's very introspective and it shows in her work. She doesn't always cut her ladies an unfair amount of slack but at the same time its not too up in your face so that you're dragged out of the fantasy of the HEA. I like that a lot about her, wish she'd start writing again.

message 49: by Danielle The Book Huntress , Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 7314 comments Mod
She's got one coming out next year, Davina. It's called Lessons in French. I'm a big fan of hers.

message 50: by Davina (new)

Davina D. | 796 comments Fantastic news! Doesn't sound like the story with Hubbert the prize pig, but who cares. She's writing, she has written! Sooo exciting. Know exactly when the book's coming out?

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