Monday, October 12, 2015

Top 20 Ways to Make Your Romance Hero a Sexy Alpha Guy

Oftentimes, when I'm between projects and life is crazy-busy, I take a hiatus from writing. I knew my life would be crazy this past month with increased time and responsibilities required at the day job plus the added stress of getting my teenage sons to practices/games/social events/writing those college essays. So I did what any respectable romance reader-writer-mom would do, I fell into a heap of romance novels to get me through it.

For the writers among us, we know reading is essential to our craft. We need to know what’s out there, what other writers who are currently defining our genre are writing, and what readers are reading. We need to look at best-selling authors’ work to try to dissect it to understand why readers are reading it and what they’re looking for in a good story.

Two books I read made me pause to reassess my heroes. The first was an older Jill Shalvis book that was re-released last year, Her Sexiest Mistake, and the second was Katy Evans’ Real. These two books hit me right in the gut. So I had to look at them closely and figure out why the hero in each of these books took my breath away and why I fell so hard for them as I read the books . . . because I want to do the same thing to my readers. I want to give them a sexy Alpha hero who takes their breath away and makes them fall in love all over again.

So here’s what I discovered about writing a sexy Alpha hero who doesn’t come across as a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal, but someone who is worthy of the fiesty heroine in my stories.

1.    She perceives him as a sexy bad boy, even if he’s not totally a bad boy in reality. He might have the trappings (look like a tough bad boy, but he’s got a soft, good heart).
2.    His actions are unapologetic and he’s got a take-charge attitude all the times.
3.    He uses his power and strength for good. Always.
4.    He’s comfortable in his own skin.
5.    He’s unapologetic about what he wants--and what he mainly wants is her. He goes after what he wants, even if he’s misguided at times. He’s not wishy-washy.
6.    He’s competent at what he does, whether he’s a high school chemistry teacher or a underground boxer.
7.    Even though he’s tough, he’s got a softer side where we see his protectiveness and compassion for his family members, kids who populate his life, pets, the people he’s claimed as family.
8.    He pokes gently at her flaws and doesn’t let her remain stuck or run away from them.
9.    He serves her and takes care of her at times (makes her a meal, fixes something for her, takes care of a task that is more difficult for her).
10. He sees her--really sees her--deep down. As Michael Hague says, he sees her essence, not just the fa├žade she puts on for the world to see.
11. He’s not afraid to show both his affection or his attraction, no matter how edgy and passion-filled it can be at times. He’s hungry for her, yet he genuinely likes her as a person, too. Her strength, her personality, her quirks. He’s attracted to everything about her, not just her body.
12. Sometimes, he’s a pissed off Alpha male, but he’s always in control of his anger.
13. He’s on to her tricks when she’s trying to pull one over on him.
14. He’s a Saint & a Sinner.
15. When she pokes at him, he doesn’t back down. He stands his ground calmly.
16. He grows and learns about himself just as much from the heroine as from the lessons life throws at him. He’s different with her and for her. He wants to be a better man because of her.
17. He’s a Protector & Provider.
18. She feels totally safe with him, for good reason. He’s proven to her he won’t let anyone hurt her.
19. He’s intense.
20. He desires her above all else--he’s cut her from the pack; and whether he knows it yet or not, she’s the only one for him. Period.

So, there you have it ... my Alpha male theory, based on two books that I recently adored. How about you? What have you noticed you love about the heroes in the romance novels you've been reading? Those Alpha guys who took you by surprise, body-slammed you, and took your breath away? I’d love to hear your list!


  1. Fabulous post! I love how you've distilled these qualities of the alpha hero. I think one of the things that appeals to me about alpha heroes is an unexpected tenderness or sense of humor. Here you have a guy who can be a protector, a lover, and - what? - a friend, partner and nurturing companion, too? Swoon! :-)

    Thanks again for the fantastic post! Makes me want to see how I can inject these qualities into my own heroes. :-)

  2. Candy, I LOVE this. It is a fine line writing the male character - strong but not a brute, sensitive but not wishy-washy - and your list really quantifies what I love in a good male hero. I love a male character who's comfortable breaking the rules but not breaking the law, if that makes sense, especially if the female character is not a rule breaker. It's also sexy when he protects the female character while at the same time encourages her to stand up for herself, if that is part of her character arc. Great post. :)

  3. Thanks, Lisa. I agree ...comfortable breaking the rules but not the law. Love it!

  4. You're right, Misha. Unexpected tenderness and humor are often very attractive alpha male traits. Or at least traits I also find attractive. ;0) Thanks for chiming in. Love it!

  5. Funny (but not surprising) - when I was fast-drafting a story a while back, I made it so the heroine could go "out of phase" and become seemingly invisible to people...but the hero always saw her. Confused the crap out of her that she could never hide from him, but I'm pretty sure every reader would totally get what an amazing promise of devotion this alpha was giving the heroine. Great list!!

  6. Awesome list, Mackenzie! I love it when a hero, gruff as he may be, takes in a stray dog, or carries groceries up the stairs for the elderly neighbor, or wraps the heroine up on his coat. To me, that's a character (and in real life it's a person) who isn't all about himself and that's attractive on so many levels, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.