Saturday, 2 April 2011

Beta Heroes in Romance Novels?

Which do you prefer?

Or this?

Some people prefer the first one – the sexy, muscular he-man that we see so many times on the front covers of romance novels.  I prefer the second one.

With all the emphasis on alpha men, the beta man has got a bad rap.  I’ve seen him described as “an unremarkable, careful man who avoids confrontation, and who lacks the physical presence, charisma and confidence of the alpha man”.  Hardly the kind of hero for a romantic novel, you might think.

Think again!

A beta man doesn’t have to be a boring wimp.  He represents a more rounded idea of what masculinity is really all about.  He rejects the all-conquering, competitive model of the alpha because he is secure in his own strengths.  He isn’t threatened by intelligent and/or powerful women because he doesn’t have to be in control of every situation to maintain his sense of self.  He isn’t the abrasive, ruthless, overbearing alpha macho-jerk we’ve seen so many times in romance novels. Instead, he exudes a quiet self-assurance that has its own charismatic appeal.  He seeks a mate who is his equal, not one he can dominate.

His so-called ‘introverted character’ may in fact indicate a thoughtful and quietly capable man.  He doesn’t see compassion, sensitivity or a display of emotion as weaknesses.  He has the character traits which, in my opinion, women really admire.  He’s intelligent, honest, moral, faithful and loyal.

A woman may fantasize about a rich and sexy bad boy, but does she want to spend the rest of her life with him?  I offer as a prime example of 'bad boy' the recently-fired actor from ‘Two and a Half Men’ and I rest my case.      


  1. Hi,

    Have to confess I prefer a "thinking" man who looks good in the buff and superb in a suit! ;)


  2. Me too - and as for in a white tux - drool!!

  3. My beta hero would be wolf in tenth kingdom.

  4. Didn't see the movie, Madeleine, but the stills on youtube look good!

  5. Hi Paula .. definitely the 2nd .. the first would be looking for the mirror! or looking in the plate glass windows .. too too much! Beta man for me - good choice of 'B' - cheers Hilary

  6. Definitely a good point to ponder. I've never been the badboy type.

    See you Monday.


  7. I only choose #1 cos, Wolverine is one of my fave Xmen...even from the cartoon series years ago. Also, I heart Hugh Jackman! But I have to say, I prefer someone who has a little bit of both in them, both in real life and in books.

    Good post!

  8. Great post. I never thought the wolverine guy was good looking at all. Then I saw Australia and changed my tune... :)

    Anyways, the guys personality is what determines for me if he's good looking or not. Funny how that works.

  9. Sorry Paula, I don't like either of them. I find muscelly men a big turn off and Mr Darcy to be a bit of a whimp. If I tell you this please don't tell anybody, but I find bald men quite attractive. :)

  10. Lisa-I don't like the bad boys either. If I don't like them in real life, why should I like them in a novel? No thanks, not for me!

    Rae and Kimberley - I love Hugh Jackman too, but not as Wolverine. However, HJ in 'Australia' - mmm, very nice. Especially in that white tux!

    Michelle - agree with you about muscelly men, total turn-off for me too. But I did like Mr Firth as Mark Darcy (far better than Hugh Grant), and even more as Darcy in P&P, of course.
    Can't pretend to agree with you about bald men, though, despite the current trend for bald (or almost shaved) heads. I like a head of thick hair to run my fingers through - well, I can dream, can't I ;-)

  11. They both serve a purpose. A nice in-between combo would be nice.

    A-Z Fellow Challenger
    Holly Ruggiero’sPOV

  12. Hi Holly, thanks for visiting - and yes, the combo was the agreed preference on our group blog last week - we called him the hybrid, or the alpha-minus/beta plus man!

  13. A hybrid could be nice because many women are expected to be a hybrid. It can be difficult for one person to perfectly exhibit all those qualities.
    Social Science Medley

  14. Exactly - and maybe a hybrid loses the negative qualities of each and accentuates the positive? Thanks for visiting!

  15. I'm trying to think of the name of the Hugh Jackman romantic film where he played a prince-duke who time traveled to present day and fell in love with Meg Ryan.
    He was handsome, proper, funny, caring. A non-alpha, non-beta hero.

  16. Haha this post was awesome! I personally like Tom Hanks as a symbol of the perfect man. I would use my husband but you don't know him. However, he used to look very much like Tom Hanks when he was younger.

    And I love your blog! So glad I found you!


  17. Ana - it was "Kate and Leopold", and I LOVED that movie.

    Thanks, Karen. Must admit I'm quite partial to Tom Hanks too! A fine actor who plays so many different roles. And lucky you, having a Tom look-alike as your husband!

  18. Excellent post! Nice to see different perspectives on the preferred type of hero.

  19. Cheers, Paul, it's been an interesting discussion.
    Thanks for visiting.

  20. Its hard to choose between the two. If we could roll the two into one ultimate hero, Oh my! I am in heaven just thinking about it. :)

  21. While I'm Male, and straight, I can only say I'd much rather have Wolvarine on my side in a fight.

    ...more relative to the question though, I'd have to go with the thinker... cause that would be me. =]

    Matt Conlon dot com
    Matt's Brew Log

  22. Thanks for visiting!

    Mercy - rolling the two into one, with the best attributes of each, would create te perfect man. Is there such a thing? LOL

    Matt - Wolverine may be okay in a fight, but he's not my idea of a romantic hero!