Who Let the Alphas Out?

(Alternative Title: How Much is That Alpha in the Window?)

Over the course of what soon will be a year of blogging (yay!) I’ve made a lot of references to “alpha douches” “douchey alphas” and other similar combos. Just to clarify, I don’t think all alpha male heroes in books are douches and all douche heroes are alpha males. I just think that alpha males are hard to write well and they often come off as douches.

But one alpha male I do look out for is the werewolf kind. Because I love paranormal romances/urban fantasies and though I love vampires, at the end I’m a Team Werewolf Gal.

Adam Hauptmann, Sexiest Alpha Ever

When the alphas are done right, they’re pretty darn awesome. My touchstone of Alpha Amazement is Patricia Briggs’ Adam Hauptmann.

The key to Briggs’ success is that she has a clear definition of the politics in a pack and how dominance and submission plays a role. Her wolves are not “I am a dominant man therefore I am so macho I have testosterone oozing from all my pores.” There is a mix of dominant and submissive wolves in the pack each having a key role to the balance of the group.

The violence issue that often turns me off from an alpha (like Curran in Magic Bites) is well explained. When a person becomes a werewolf they share a soul/mind with “the wolf.” (referred to as “Brother Wolf” by two of the characters) The person and the wolf are both separate and intertwined. During risky situations like the werewolf’s loved ones bring hurt or violence occurring nearby, the wolf comes to the forefront. If you are a werewolf less dominant than the one who is angry with the wolf very close, you appear submissive.

Briggs’ heroine Mercy was raised by wolves and knows how to play the power games. If the Alpha of the local pack Adam Hauptmann is in a wolf-mood, she knows how to watch her words. But she’s never afraid of him and he never knocks her around or asserts control of her. He’ll protect her and if she does something stupid he’ll tell her but he doesn’t dominate her or keep her from doing what she wants to do.What makes it fun is that Mercy thinks its fun to provoke him. She’s not the least bit afraid of him.

All Alpha and werewolves and general I measure against this man. Lord Macoon from Soulless by Gail Carriger is much more macho, bold and brash than Adam but is more of a sexual beast (haha bad pun) and well written so the I AM MAN is not quite so in my face. Carriger also has the pack dynamics planned by highlighting Lord Macoon’s Beta, Professor Lyall who is calm and rational. Kelly Armstrong’s Bitten was not my favorite book (mostly because of the hero Clayton being a douche) but the Alpha Jeremy Danvers is mature, rational and mostly makes good decisions.

The Meaning of an Alpha

A lot of people (myself included) think of an alpha as the swaggering Gaston in the room.

Every last inch of him is covered with hair, Ladies

That or something the Dog Whisperer talks about when teaching a family how to control their pooch. A true is something different and its best described by a website called SoSuave.com: Secrets of Meeting, Dating and Attracting Women (I kid you not)

Men who want to succeed with women hear about this “alpha male” idea, and decide that they need to become more “alpha.” They figure that if they can just be the “top dog” among men, they’ll get the women they desire. And they figure that the way to do this is to push around other men, act tough, and to generally become a world-class jerk.

But it’s all a trap.

You see, if you spend your time worrying about being “alpha,” and have tried to push other guys down…Then you are NOT an “alpha male.”

The man who comes up “out of nowhere” and walks off with that hot woman, while everyone else is competing and showing off and trying to look tough, is NOT caught up in “trying to be ’alpha’.” Because he’s not part of the competition, he can simply concentrate on being his best, most romantic self.

I’ve seen this sentiment in different blogs (both the posts and in comments below) and I give a hearty heck yes to this. And really this applies to other awesome hero characters but is particularly true for our subject today.

Now there’s been a decline lately in paranormal romances. They haven’t disappeared but no longer can I go to the library and come back with 7 or 8 brand new werewolf or vampire love stories. But as to the werewolves that are still howling, I am much more drawn to the alpha who may be strong, may be super protective but they are comfortable enough with themselves that they don’t need to prove their virility by threatening the heroine.  If the author can add to that some funky fresh pack ties that add zest to the werewolf canon, then I ❤ that writer.

Where do you sit in the werewolf equation (if you sit there at all)? Any suggestions on awesome Alphas? Or if you’re not a werewolf person, why not?

Oh hey, I made it all the way through that without a Twilight reference-oh crap.

2 Responses to “Who Let the Alphas Out?”

  1. 1 Ashley June 14, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Mmmm.. I love Adam and Charles (from Alpha and Omega series) as well. Both are controlled and protective. They are alphas because they are compassionate. My other favorite werewolf alphas are Kitty and Ben (written by Carrie Vaughn).

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