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.
The 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
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
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.
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.
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
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.