Please welcome author Kristine Cayne back to the Black Velvet Seductions Blog. Kristine has an interesting post on alpha heroes as well as some great questions for our readers. Please join our discussion!
Hi everyone! I’m excited to be visiting the Black Velvet Seductions’ blog again. As some of you may know, I write romantic suspense, which like paranormal romance, is a genre that often has alpha heroes. Today, I’d like to talk about what makes a man an alpha, and why they are sometimes perceived as being asses.
What Makes a Man an Alpha?
There is a tendency for authors to idealize their heroes. This isn’t surprising, of course, since as women we write men the way we think we want them to be. We make them say the things we want to hear. What happens? We write heroes (and sometimes villains) who sound and act like women. We make them ultra PC, with no faults at all. The result is a man whose reactions, thoughts, language, and feelings are toned down. A man who is too perfect to be true.
An alpha is, first and foremost, a leader. He is a person who makes the decisions that no one else will make. He cannot second-guess himself because doing so might mean that someone dies. He makes mistakes, but he is brave enough to own up to them.
The alpha hero must be a match for the villain. His edges might be rough; he might be arrogant; he might be cruel; his thoughts might be extreme or black and white. He might be willing to do things that others find reprehensible in certain situations. He might be a warrior rather than a protector. He might be on the offensive rather than the defensive.
Alphas and Ethics
Particularly in romantic suspense, the hero and heroine (who can also be an alpha) will need to deal with people (villains) who compel them to act in ways they normally wouldn’t. They may need to push the boundaries of what’s ethical to succeed.
Heroes, especially military or law-enforcement type, are often trained killers. Ethics becomes a big issue for them. How far will they go in their quest to succeed in the mission or vanquish the villain? Will they kill? If so, does it have to be justified? They don’t always get to kill in self-defense. They may have to make a choice, a split-second decision. To win, they often need to embrace their darker side, even if they don’t want to.
Alphas and their Mouths
Language and cursing is another tricky issue. Many women don’t like cursing, some even abhor it. As writers, we strive to achieve a balance between being true to the character and not offending (the mostly female) readers. I don’t buy an operative in deep cover with South American drug lords who never swears. I don’t buy a gang leader villain who never swears. That’s not to say all heroes or villains need to swear, but one who doesn’t is a stand-out. Not swearing is a character trait specific to him. Not every hero or villain an author writes can have this same unusual trait.
Alphas and Sex
Just as I don’t buy alphas who never swear, I don’t buy alphas who only ever have ultra-romantic, it’s-all-about-you-baby, missionary sex. Alphas have strong emotions and even stronger desires. Every once in a while, they need to get it their way: hard and fast, up against a wall, in the car, in an alley, in a changing room at the mall. Sometimes your alpha needs it and he needs it right now.
Men, especially alphas, are visual creatures and their vocabulary with regards to sex and sexual body parts is much more graphic than womens’. No alpha will refer to a woman’s pubic area as her mound. He’ll call it a p*ssy, as will most men. I must admit that I’m hesitant to use this word in my writing, because I know many women don’t like it. Still, in my sex scenes from the hero’s point of view, I try to use more direct words and avoid flowery euphemisms.
Alphas and Villains
What then, you might ask, is the difference between an alpha hero and a villain? As I mentioned early, for the suspense part of the story to be believable, the hero and the villain must be evenly matched—they must both be alphas. What sets them apart is that the hero will have his own moral code, a line he will not cross no matter the consequences to himself. An alpha hero may also be willing to make extreme sacrifices for others. No matter how dangerous, or mercenary he is, there is an essential bit of humanity that he never loses. But the villain does.
Readers differ in what they want and expect just as much as writers do. I tend to write in deep point of view. I try to get inside the head of my characters and write exactly what they are thinking and feeling. In my new book, Deadly Addiction, when the hero meets the heroine for the first time, he doesn’t realize that she is a police officer. In his mind, he just sees a pretty civilian administrative assistant that he’d like to sleep with. Later, when he learns that he’ll be working with her, he doesn’t understand why she’s been assigned to the task when she looks more like a model than a cop.
I had some comments from early readers that I should tone down his thoughts. That maybe he should think that if got the assignment it was because her superiors thought she was smart and would do a good job. After talking with some of the men in my life, I decided not to tone him down. This is how most men would react. I kept him true to his character, but I did justify his thoughts a little more. And don’t worry, like most men, as he gets to know the heroine, he starts to see beyond her pretty face and comes to admire her intelligence and independence.
Questions for You
As a reader, what are your expectations regarding an alpha hero? Do you like heroes who aren’t very nice? Who aren’t quite tameable? How do you feel about heroes who curse, who have rough sex? Do you like them tough and dangerous, even if you’d never want a man like that in real life?
Or do you like your heroes more sweet, more toned down? More like the men we deal with in our normal lives?
I think your answers might vary depending on the genre of book you prefer, so please include that in your responses.
Synopsis of Deadly Addiction
A proud people. A nation divided.
Rémi Whitedeer, police officer turned substance-abuse counselor, dreams of restoring order to his tribe. Violence and crime are rampant throughout the unpoliced Iroquois reserve, and a civil war is brewing between the Guardians, a militant traditionalist group, and other tribal factions. As the mixed-race cousin of the Guardians’ leader, Rémi is caught in a no-man’s land—several groups lay claim to him, but all want him to deny his white blood.
A maverick cop on an anti-drug crusade.
When she infiltrated the Vipers to take down the leader of the outlaw biker gang responsible for her brother’s death, police sergeant Alyssa Morgan got her man. But her superiors think she went too far. Her disregard for protocol and her ends-justify-the-means ethics have branded her an unreliable maverick. To salvage her career, she accepts an assignment to set up a squad of native provincial officers on a reserve.
A radical sovereigntist bent on freeing a nation.
Decades of government oppression threaten the existence of the Iroquois Nation. But one man, Chaz Whitedeer, is determined to save his people no matter what the price, even if it means delving into the shadowy world of organized crime.
When Rémi and Alyssa uncover the Guardians’ drug-fueled scheme to fund their fight for true autonomy—a scheme involving the Vipers—Rémi must choose between loyalty to family and tribe or his growing love for Alyssa.
Can Rémi and Alyssa leave everything behind—even their very identities—for a future together?
Excerpt from Deadly Addiction
Closing her eyes, Alyssa pressed the glass of water to her neck. “I can do the talking if that makes you feel any better.”
Although Rémi heard the words, it would have taken an act of Parliament to get him to respond.
The heat of her skin caused the condensation on the glass to liquefy. Like a tractor-beam, his gaze followed a drop of water as it slid down the long pale column of her neck, followed the curve of her right breast and slipped under the collar of her blue cotton T-shirt into the V of her cleavage. Oh fuck. He wanted to be that drop of water. He wanted to be snuggled between her warm ripe breasts. His cock swelled and lengthened, letting him know that it wanted to be there too.
He squeezed his lids shut and willed his hard-on away. This wasn’t the time and certainly not the place for Mr. Happy to make an appearance. But the more he tried not to think about where the drop had gone, the more he did. He’d thought he was a leg man, but he knew the truth now. It had slapped him in the face. He was a breast man. An “Alyssa’s breasts” man, and he fucking wanted to see them, to feel them, to taste them. Right now.
About Kristine Cayne
Kristine Cayne is fascinated by the mysteries of human psychology—twisted secrets, deep-seated beliefs, out-of-control desires. Add in high-stakes scenarios and real-world villains, and you have a story worth writing, and reading.
The heroes and heroines of her Deadly Vices series are pitted against each other by their radically opposing life experiences. By overcoming their differences and finding common ground, they triumph over their enemies and find true happiness in each other’s arms.
Today she lives in the Pacific Northwest, thriving on the mix of cultures, languages, religions and ideologies. When she’s not writing, she’s people-watching, imagining entire life stories, and inventing all sorts of danger for the unsuspecting heroes and heroines who cross her path.
Deadly Addiction is available in print and/or e-book format at the following retailers
Amazon ebook: http://amzn.com/B007WNTXR4
Amazon print: http://amzn.com/0984903429
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007WNTXR4
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/JAaX4O
All Romance eBooks: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-deadlyaddiction-784712-152.html
Kristine Cayne’s links
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