Heroes of Romance

He’s the male protagonist, or sometimes the antagonist. The heroine’s romantic interest. The hero in a romance story. And like an ice cream cone, he comes in all kinds of scrumptious flavors for us to lick…uh, em…well, enjoy.

Yet like cream is to ice cream, certain core archetypes can be found in our romance heroes.

I’m beginning a new series and have been thinking long and hard about the types of heroes I enjoy reading and writing about. My MMA series, Worth the Fight, features tough, hardcore, Alpha men. Big brutes. Fighters. But what I love about creating a series is that you can decide which archetype fits your voice, your characters, your stories. And then, you can flavor them any which way you want. BTW—I like my ice cream drizzled in sweet, mouthwatering hotness. Hot caramel. Hot fudge. You name it. But be forewarned, my new series might not feature the Alphas you are expecting…they might not be an Alphas at all. 😉

Gosh, I’m such a tease!

Here is my compilation of the core heroic archetypes in romance, as well as books that I think best exemplify each type. Please comment on your favorite(s) and books you’ve enjoyed. Based on the descriptions below, I bet you can figure out my favorites. Or maybe even the direction my new series is headed in.




This is the oneThe Alpha Male
He’s tough. Overbearing. Headstrong. Dangerous. And we love him in spite of it all. The Alpha hero is arguably the most popular hero archetype. He’s a powerhouse at the top of his game and nothing can stand in his way. Confrontation is his bed-partner. A heroine’s naughty fantasy, even the feistiest are susceptible to his rugged charm. He comes in a variety of shapes and forms: Company CEO’s, MMA fighters, cops and military figures.

My recent favorites: SWAT officer Ben Harris in Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun; Horse in Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde; Alex Fuentes in Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

The Beta Guy
He’s hot, sexy and nice. The kind of guy you’d marry. He tends to be successful in business, highly intelligent and down-to-earth. He won’t dodge confrontation but usually finds a better way to resolve it other than a slug fest.

My all-time favorite: Ian Mackenzie in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

The Wounded Soul th2GG2TFN9
Mr. Tall, Dark, and Brooding. He doesn’t have much to say, but his manner positively screams “tormented”. His past is troubled and has shaped who he is today. Only the love of a good woman can heal him and make him whole again.

My favorite: Navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti in The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

The Jokester
Sharp. Quick witted. Out for a bit of fun. He often snubs social norms and rules, or pokes fun at them. He’s a hard catch, never letting himself get too close for comfort. Most times, his behavior is a smokescreen for a deeper, hidden pain within.

My favorite: Rupert Carsington in Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase.

The Man-Whore
Sex on legs. He’s hot-as-sin and knows it. So do his many women, though none of them are in his life for long. It doesn’t matter—he leaves them smiling. He’s dangerous like that, might even be addicting. Though his heart remains aloof, even when his body is balls deep. He’s searching for the right woman to make him complete, both in bed and within his own damaged psyche.

My favorite: No one does man-whore like Anne Stuart! Try Francis Rohan, le Comte de Giverney in Ruthless.

The Protector
He’s on a higher mission in life, a higher calling where he must protect what is his, through fighting or corporate takeovers or downright domineering actions. He tends to have a police or military background, and is trained in weaponry. More often than naught, he saves the heroine in some way.

My favorite: John Medina in All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard

thGW0DPBNKThe Anti-hero
A shadowing figure, mysterious and subtle. Domineering, overbearing, and dangerous like the Alpha hero except he isn’t obvious about it or as proud of it. He will dominate any confrontation. He inhabits the fringes of society and lives by his own set of outlaw rules. He’s the perfect synthesis of an Alpha Hero, a Wounded Soul, and The Man-Whore.

My favorites: Aleksei “The Siberian” Sevasyan in The Professional by Kresley Cole. Hands-down the hottest anti-hero figure I’ve read in years. Seriously.

Leave a comment


  1. Swoon~!!! I love this list! I have every hero from one of these categories floating somewhere in my head as I read of their qualities. I won’t name any of them for you here but many of mine are a mixture of all of them, though I haven’t found a anti-hero yet I’m hoping to read Kresley Cole’s book now. But my all time faves will always have to be the betas and jokesters~

  2. Reblogged this on doingsomereading and commented:
    Here’s your list of Swoon Worthy Heroes of Romance!!!

  3. Hi Ki, Thanks for commenting. I had so much fun analyzing these hero archetypes. You MUST read Kresley’s book. And if you like antiheroes…stay tuned!!! Best, Michele

  4. Awesome post, Michele! I love the wounded soul and the protector with a little bit of alpha hero meshed within. All are very sexy! I’m looking forward to reading your new series.

  5. Miriam Allenson

     /  June 15, 2014

    OMG, Michelle, I never thought I’d say Beta males were my thing in romances, but Ian MacKenzie did it for me. Oh, but wait! Wouldn’t i have loved to be Daphne to Rupert Carsington!

  6. Hi Miriam, Thanks for stopping by. I know, Beta heroes is a pretty broad category. I like nice guys with a twist, like Ian. And Daphne to Rupert Carsington sounds like quite the match! Best, Michele

  7. Hi Tina,

    I love wounded souls too! I love it when they’re set in the middle ages. Like Kathleen Woodiwiss The Wolf and the Dove. (A bodice ripper story, be forewarned. But I still love it. The bastard Wolf is so tormented but she can see beneath it all.) Best, Michele

  8. Great list, Michele! So many books I haven’t read. I did also LOVE “The Professional.” For me, the heroine made that book, although the hero certainly wasn’t hard on the brain, either!!

  9. Jenna Blue

     /  June 16, 2014

    Hi Michele. Fantastic post! I just love this list. I can’t possibly pick a favorite (okay, okay, probably The Protector) so I’ll go with my two least favorite: The Wounded Soul and The Man-Whore. Despite that, I actually do love the Anti-Heroes too. Regardless, my all-time, big-time, total reader love goes to Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie Fraser. Lucky me, because the Outlander series is a long one!

  10. Wow, Joanna. We usually have a similar reading list so I’m excited to list something you haven’t read! Best, Michele

  11. Jenna, I KNEW you’d pick the protector! 🙂 It’s interesting how different Alpha’s can be within the Alpha spectrum and so on. These are very generalized archetypes! Best, Michele

  12. Love the list, love the descriptions even more! I’m with Jenna, I love Jamie Fraser. I also don’t appreciate the Man-Whore. However, give me just about any of the above, as long as deep down, there is compassion for other life forms, and I’m in.


  13. Jaye, well I hate to admit it but I haven’t read THE OUTLANDER. Crazy, right? So this summer, it’s on my must list. Best, Michele

  14. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  July 8, 2014

    Hi Michele, I’m playing catch up on posts and I have to say I love this collection of heroes! Great descriptions and examples of each. Love the tease for your next series…way to keep us all guessing!



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