My first book boyfriend is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy–brooding, handsome, acerbic, and of course a single-man in possession of a great fortune. Who wouldn’t love to have the love of Mr. Darcy? So started a long love affair with the alpha hero who was assertive, aggressive, basically everything that is awesome in a man at the top of the world. I devoured books that had the alpha hero, swooned about him, over him. Until I fell in love and married a non-alpha hero.
I probably should rephrase that. My real life hero is assertive, funny, and very smart but he’s also not subject to strong fits of jealous, irrational possessiveness (which some mistake for love; I’m looking at you, Mr. Christian Grey), and dominating. Instead, he’s thoughtful, kind, and cooks for me (though I have to clean up), respectful and sensitive.
Thus now, I’m having a long term love affair with the beta hero. He’s the one that women marry, the one they bring home to mom and dad. He can’t fix everything, but he’ll try. He may even try to learn a few things, such as changing the car oil, and fail miserably at it but he’ll try. He’s the kind of guy that will stand at the corner of a bar, eyeing you, will offer you a drink but won’t hit on you because, well, that’s not his thing. He’ll plan a romantic night for you but he’ll make sure its something you like (rather than assuming what you like).
Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep a Secret has a cute, funny and sensitive hero, Jack Harper. So is Mark Darcy. How can you not swoon when he awkwardly tells Bridget he likes her (very much)? Julia Quinn writes yummy beta heroes too, so does Kresley Cole (at least they are betas compared to their bad-ass female counterparts). Beta heroes are not synonymous to weak, or push overs, or a wet blanket. They know and understand the heroines better because they listen, they observe, they talk to her.
So while some readers love their alpha heroes, I’ll take my beta hero anytime. He’s the one that I want to curl up against in a cold evening in front of the fireplace, while he massages my aching feet, finding my thick wool socks sexy as hell, as I do his.