It’s All Greek To Me

We’re having a little discussion on the Pink Petal Books Reader Group about heroes, Alpha, Beta, Omega, Cowboy, Cop, Construction Worker, Corporate Giant… It got me to thinking, who ARE my heroes? What are they? Do they fit neatly into the Greek alphabet or do they cross the lines? I do, after all, love to blur the lines of sterotypes.

If I break it down by book, the most obvious Alpha hero I have is Roul Verlaine in Mating. Roul is the quintessential Alpha. He’s a werewolf who leads his pack. He’s an action man, a decision maker, and within his world he’s a force of nature. When he meets his mate, the fact that she too is Alpha, totally turns him on and makes him even more eager to pounce on her, take her, and make her his own. He’s a tad bit chauvinistic, but then again, that seems to be an overriding Alpha trait. They always want to be the top of the heap and that means commanding their women too even if the women are Alpha. However, like a good marriage, compromise becomes the key and a smart Alpha will learn to work in tandem with his Alpha mate. Despite the fact that within an hour of meeting Morgan, Roul has her beneath him in bed, he does learn to compromise.

Now, Roul’s twin Ranulf is the Beta.  In Runaways, Ran meets a woman on a train and instantly wants her. However, he doesn’t get up from his table in the dining car and approach her. It’s not until some Goth kids push him into her that he takes the opportunity to hit on her. And Dante is the one who invites Ran to her sleeper cabin, not the other way around. It’s not that Ran can’t take charge because he can. And he does, the instant he has a naked Dante all over him.

Ran’s used to being Roul’s right hand and dealing with pack business in an aggressive manner. But personally, he lacks that instantaneous urge to dominate that his older twin has.  Where Roul made the decision in moments to pounce on Morgan, Ran let Dante come to him and then he took control.  The Beta therefore has slightly less strong instincts to possess and has a bit more finesse when it comes to dealing with their mates. Think of it as the Cro Magnon man compared to the Neandertal.

My quintessential Beta has always been Weylyn Randall. But in Common Ground, you don’t necessarily get the impression that Weylyn is Beta. Set beside Marius, you wonder about both men.  Marius has a lot of confusion about his mate for an Alpha.  Fortunately, I give the reasons for it. When Colin ogles Marius’s mate, the Alpha surfaces and Marius takes his younger brother to task for it. Colin, who is also Alpha, but often doesn’t come off that way (see the beginning of Hot Water where Eden thinks Colin is Beta because he’s so laid back), does back off. For one, Marius is his older brother and for another, he already has a mate. Had Colin not been mated, he might not have backed down so easily.

As for Weylyn, you discover that he has an Alpha, a female Alpha whom he respects and would do anything for. You see that Weylyn is the laid back type who often lets his mate take charge. But like any good Beta, when needed to bring a situation or a person to heel, he can bring some major force to bear. Reading Weylyn you’ll find that he shares a lot of the same qualities of Ranulf. If there’s no Alpha to take charge, they will automatically rise to the challenge.  Betas are not weak. In many ways, they have far more strength than an Alpha because they must always hold themselves ready to support the Alpha. Second in command is often a tougher job than leading because not only do the lower ranks look up to you, the leader himself looks to you for support. So it’s no surprise that Weylyn Randall doesn’t come off as weak beside the Alpha, Marius Granville.

In the Pixie Prince, Max doesn’t come off as Alpha when sharing the page with Alexa, his snapping, growling, take charge vampire best friend. Yet, with his mate Bliss, it becomes much more obvious. The fact that Max is a nice guy tempers his aggressive tendencies. And besides, the fae aren’t as territorial as werewolves and vampires anyway.

The obvious Alphas in my books are the ones who are Doms. Ride the Lightning‘s Vahid Delrey may brown nose his boss Sean Antaeus (the most Alpha of Alphas in the Tales series) but in his own domain, his own dungeon, Vahid is a Dom. He controls his mate Emily sexually. The submissive Emily comes off as Alpha while at work because she is in charge of the finances of a multi-billion dollar empire. At home, she has a penchant for pain and submitting to Vahid is what makes her happy. Readers may have thought she was Alpha, but she is not. They may have thought Vahid was Beta, but he is not.

In their case, it’s a question of business versus sex. Just because you are an Alpha doesn’t mean your job lets you be one while on the clock and vice versa. However, at home, their true natures are obvious as Vahid takes control and Emily revels in it.

My other Dom is Aric Calderwood in Insolence. Aric is a total Alpha male and his best friend Ainsley Connor is Alpha too. All Aric has ever known of Ainsley is her strong personality and her need to lead. As children, their similar personalities are what made them best friends. As adults, Aric doesn’t want Ainsley on his turf – his BDSM club Insolence –  because he can’t bear the thought of watching her with another man, even if it’s a Beta or Omega.

For Ainsley, her love for Aric is so strong that she would do anything to have him, including shoving her Alpha into a box and nailing it shut so she can sub for her best friend. The very fact that she has the strength of will to subdue her Alpha tendencies for Aric tells you what she is. And for these two, life has a dividing line similar to Ride the Lightning’s. Sexually, Aric has control. He is the Alpha in the relationship. Outside the bedroom, the two resume the give and take they have known all their lives and Ainsley’s Alpha has free rein.

Over all, my heroes tend to be Alphas, but often my heroines are as well. And my Beta heroes are strong while some of my Alphas must bow to other Alphas. There’s Garret and Holden in Fire Season who must learn to work together despite both of them being Alpha. And in the office, Garret answers to Emily while Holden looks to his older brother Sean. Both of these Alphas have had to learn to compromise in business and in their private lives, but they make it work.

The same holds true of Declan Antaeus who also answers to his brother Sean.  But in Shifting Winds, we also learn that an Alpha who gives control over to the woman he loves can be hotter than the Mojave Desert in August. When Declan lets Elysia fuck him with a vibrator…well, it’s not exactly a very Alpha thing to do. Or is it? Declan still controls the situation. He’s asking her to do this, giving her the toys to use, the whole scene is orchestrated by him very subtly but still. He may be the one being fucked, but it’s what he asks for in order to achieve a certain level of pleasure. He’s definitely still in control.

With the M/M dynamic, you have to be a little more subtle about things when you have a pair of Alphas. Of course, it would be a lot easier to write if one was Alpha and the other not. I don’t tend to take the easy way out of emotions when writing though. In Where There’s Smoke, Zander is clearly Alpha with the aggression to prove it. His mate Voth is Alpha too, but Voth is a bit less aggressive, a little bit more cerebral, and his emotions aren’t as Neandertal as Zander’s. Of course, Voth was raised in a very different culture than Zander and his future was always destined, not something he’d have to fight for. The very fact that Zander’s spent his life fighting makes him appear more Alpha than Voth.  They are essentially equals, but it manifests itself in different ways. When Voth gives in to Zander, it’s because intellectually, logically, it’s the thing to do. Or in the case of sex, he just wants to cause he knows his turn is coming. 😉

So where does all this leave us with regard to the Greek alphabet? I’m not sure. A character like Roul Verlaine is obvious to a reader. A character like Declan Antaeus or Weylyn Randall may not be. There are subtleties to these characters and things that they may have to do to survive in their world that may not fall strongly under the label of Alpha or Beta. Personally, I think the blurring of these Greek lines is what gives a character depth and endears them to readers. But what do I know? In the end, it’s all Greek to me.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to It’s All Greek To Me

  1. Jacqueline – Oooh, your hero sounds yummeh. I must check him out! I love flawed men. In my case, Vahid from Ride the Lightning is a total dork, an asshole, but he redeems himself so beautifully…it makes you cry. 🙂

    Kelly – Oh yeah!

    Yadira – Me lurves me some Ian. He's been the face of my character Weylyn Randall since before I was published. I hope you get the chance to read some of my heroes. I love them all. 🙂

    Marie – Yes, it's the strength of character that shines through and endears those heroes to readers. I'm so glad you enjoy my work. It makes my day to hear people say they do. Makes all the work a true labor of love.

  2. Marie Tuhart says:

    I loved reading about all your hero's, Lex. I had a critique partner laugh when I told her I wrote Beta heroes, she looked at me and said "No, you write Alpha trust me."

    And she was right, all my hero's are Alpha, they can't help but be those in charge males, but they will do anything for the woman they love, including walk away from them.

  3. Yadira A. says:

    Hi Lex,

    That was a great post and very interesting. You know I never really sat down to think about all the many different types of Alpha there are. I'm an Alpha fanatic, so for me the more Alpha he is the better, but I'd also like to consider myself somewhat of female Alpha, so there has to got to be a compromise like what you had stated. This definitely makes me want to check out some of the characters that you had mentioned from your books.

    BTW – love the pics (espicially the one of Ian) 🙂

    yadkny@hotmail.com

  4. kelly says:

    LOL.

    Yep. We do love our Greek boys, no matter which letter they are! 🙂

  5. Jacqueline Seewald says:

    Lex,

    A truly interesting discussion. I agree that heroes need to be strong yet compassionate and it's a difficult balance. Romance writing is complex, no doubt about it, especially getting the hero right. Adam, the hero of my new novel TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS is a jaded aristocrat. He's strong and intelligent. He does however make one serious mistake. He makes amends for it. But he is flawed, much like a real man. Is that acceptable? I hope so, because although we're writing romance, I want to believe in the reality of the characters.

  6. Cat – I know we've taken license with the original designations. Based on the books I read, what I've described is pretty much what I see authors doing. Most of my heroes aren't that aggressive unless it's to protect someone they care about. Now, my female characters…well, I think a number of them are far more Alpha than my heroes! LOL Thanks for coming by!

  7. Cat Marsters says:

    Interesting to hear other people's definition of Alpha & Beta etc. Having researched wolf pack behaviour (the things I do to get my dog to behave) I tend to go more with animal definitions.

    To me, an Alpha is the father figure of the pack. He's the guy who leads easily and subconsciously, and the rest of the pack follow him because they trust him and know he'll do what's best for them. He's also the guy who protects his pack, first and foremost. A wolf Alpha rarely needs to be aggressive with his pack, only with those who challenge him. And only another aspiring Alpha would try that!

    So my Alpha heroes are the ones who inspire devotion with good reason. They're the ones who don't have to be aggressive, because every single line of their bodies say "I could kill you in a heartbeat, I'm just choosing not to right now." I don't write them a lot, but when I do it's marvellous fun to write someone just so primal.

    And if any of my heroes even thought about being chauvinistic, my heroines would ensure they spent the rest of their lives singing soprano. Now, speaking of Alpha, there's always my girls…

  8. Janice – Many Alphas cross the line and vice versa for betas. Look to his initial responses to tell you what he is. Thanks for commenting!

    Blake – You know I love your take on men in general! LOL I always seem to learn something new from listening to you. 🙂 Oh, and the first hunk is Ian Somerhalder who is the face of my character Weylyn Randall. The second one is Rafael Lazzini, the face of Garret Renquist.

  9. and by the way WHO THE HELL is that DELICIOUS man… the first dirty boy… MMMMMMmmmm and I NEVER NEVER NEVER like dirty boys, but hmmm he could make me wanna get all kinds of dirty… ooh did I say that out loud???

  10. Well, as a m/m author (hell sometimes m/m/m/m… lol) but I digress. As a m/m author, I tend to write my guys fairly traditionally at first blush, with a clear alpha male as the "hero". I hope that my readers though get to know my guys well enough to realize that often it's the obvious "alpha" male that really needs saving. Sometimes it's the wounded, the damaged and the outwardly "weaker" partner that is the real strength in the relationship. I hope my books might give a different "view" of tradition. As proof of my thesis, the worst kept secret of all time is that Women truly DO rule the world, and aren't they known as the "weaker" sex?… I'm just sayin.

  11. Hi Lex,

    Your post is making me re-think my heroes, now I'm wondering if Seth in Windswept is a beta masquerading as a alpha. Hmm?

    Janice~

  12. Thanks, Darah! I know men, which makes it easier to write my heroes. I've always been the girl who had nothing but male friends. LOL

  13. Darah Lace says:

    Love this post, Lex! Sounds like you know your heroes well. That's the important thing.

  14. Thank you, Sarah! I've yet to write a fem Domme story. I have one plotted for the sequel to Insolence though. The two light BDSM stories I have thus far have male Doms and female submissives. I'm not sure I'll ever write a M/M BDSM story. I've not gotten an idea for that sort of story, but that's not to say it couldn't happen. I get all sorts of ideas all the time.

  15. Sarah says:

    Love the discussion. Very informative. Love reading about Alpha and Betas. I think I like the Betas more from a readers view point b/c they tend be more analytical, but that can also keep them from getting what they want if they over analyze. Me personally I have submissive in me, so I like to read about what could be for me. BUT I also like to read a good M/m D/s story. But I am not not into an F/m Dtrx/s. Great topic, Lex.

    Sarah

  16. Lex says:

    Lisa – They do come across that way a lot! Usually, it's when they are in protective mode.

  17. Lex says:

    Mai – Marius has a bit of a dark side to him where Roul really doesn't. Roul is far more aggressive than Marius though. Marius has that corporate thing going on, the watch and weigh, plot and attack businessman model. Roul is far more instinctual and much more open. The stories about the Verlaine twins are very inexpensive if you've haven't read them. Both Mating and Runaways are $1.99 at Freya's Bower or All Romance eBooks. I'm glad you like Common Ground and I'm surprised you're all over Weylyn! LOL

  18. Don't want no Omega then. ROFL. *bottom of the pecking order* My heroes must be Alpha, but in a more subtle way. I had to tone Ethan down a bit in Danielle's Touch to keep him from coming across as chauvinistic. 🙂

  19. Mai says:

    Awesome blog topic Lex! I am reading Common Ground right now and absolutely loving it. I could see myself with a Marius, but a Roul, oh boy, let me sleep on it LOL.

    Nice to know your view point, love hearing about it!!! Love your work!!

  20. Lex says:

    Karenna – See that makes total sense to me re Kyle and Tobias.

  21. Lex, thanks for the explanation.

    In that case, I'd say Alec in Beginner's Luck and Rhys in Eternal Love are Alphas (harder to tell with Alec, because he and Kyla are already in a committed relationship with each other when the story begins, but I think he fits the Alpha personality), Tanner in Deep Down is Beta, and I have no idea about my other heroes in my published stuff.

    In the M/M WIP I have on my revision queue, I think Kyle and Tobias are both Alpha, which may be why Kyle's such a PITA…

  22. Lex says:

    Isobel – Well, Han Solo…who cares what he is, just jump him! (Okay, that's the Alpha in me getting loose for a minute. LOL) Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  23. Isobel Carr says:

    I gotta say, I'm a gamma girl (Deb Stover's wonderful label) all the way. More thoughtful than the Alphhole. More aggressive than the Beta. Give me Han Solo and Alcide Herveaux!

  24. Lex says:

    Thanks, Heather! I appreciate the link and the comment!

    Debra – I'll have to get Having Patience. I certainly loved Badcock! Thanks for coming by and commenting. 🙂

  25. Debra Glass says:

    I love both Alphas and Betas. I have a couple of doms who are actually betas but who step up nicely to the plate. One is James in Having Patience. Whenever I look back over that book, I just sigh. He's a wonderful hero.

    Great post, Lex!

  26. Heather says:

    Hey Lex, I loved this exploration of the alpha. I posted a link on my Daily Dose about it because I thought it was more than worth the read twice.

    H.

  27. Lex says:

    An Omega is like the bottom of the pecking order. If a male is submissive, he's probably an Omega. Your characters are more than likely Alphas. They take charge and do what must be done. Their first instincts are to protect their own or take what they want. That's Alpha. They may not always act on their impulses, but the fact that they have them is what makes them different.

  28. Greek to me, too, Lex. lol. My men are strong, but they will bend. They're compassionate with the ones they love, strong when they need to be…not exactly alpha's or beta's. But something in between. Does that make them Omega's? I've never heard the term, so I'm not sure what it is.

  29. Lex says:

    Karenna – I think it boils down to what is instinctual to them. My comparison of the Verlaine twins showed that Roul instantly thought to get his woman in bed and then did it. Ran instantly wanted to but didn't act on the desire until fate intervened and shoved them together. And even then he waited for her to show interest. To be Alpha, you have to have that direct, instant driving aggression inside you. Whether you act on it depends on your circumstances and other facets of your personality.

  30. I tend to write Beta heroes, I think. Or maybe not…

    Heck, I don't know what my own heroes are. LOL. I tend to write emotionally strong men who have weaknesses, sometimes who have shut part of themselves away until they find that one other person who deserves to be let in. So I guess some of them may be Alphas, but they aren't Alpholes.

    Now I wanna try to figure out what my heroes are… that's gonna confuse me for a few hours. LOL

  31. Lex says:

    Annabel – I like to think my characters have a lot more layers to them than just the Alpha or the Beta layer. Hopefully, the readers see that I've tried to make them multi-dimensional and therefore more loveable!

    Carol – Since Vahid is your favorite of my characters, I know that you know there is more to this Alpha thing than just being an aggressive asshole. Alphas are also caring…it's their job to protect and care for those they deem their own. They take it very seriously even if it makes them appear less than Alpha. And it's a good thing to have characters with traits from all letters of the alphabet!

  32. Carol says:

    Enjoyed this.

    It came as a surprise to me, when I started writing, that there were even supposed to BE Alphas and Betas. LOL.

    I think my heroes are a little of both, as well as the heroines. I can't make them fit into the 'alphabet', either, not matter how hard I try.

  33. ooh, great post! I know I love me some alphas.

    I think a lot about heroes, and since most of mine are alphas I'm always worried about them crossing this line from alpha to asshole, lol.

    Your post makes very interesting points about the novelty of an alpha dealing with an alpha, or doing not-so-alpha things in the course of their alphaness. I think that kind of thing can make a hero that much more deep and interesting. Hmmm. You've given me a lot to think about. 🙂

  34. Lex says:

    Hi, Dyanne! It's true, I've not gotten much comment luv lately. But I'm very happy you liked my take on Alphas. Thank you so much for coming by, reading, and commenting. 🙂

  35. Dyanne Davis says:

    Hey Lex,

    Since you said you're not getting any comment love, here you go. LOL. I enjoyed reading your take on Alphas. I love them and I love the betas.

    Dyanne