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First, a big shout-out to K. Victoria Chase, who received her first book contract from Desert Breeze Publishing! If you haven't done so already, head on over to her blog and give her a big dose of congratulations. Great job, Tori!
Today, I'm discussing the alpha male's place in inspirational romance. An earlier version of Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies had a brief chapter on formulating stories for the Christian market. The author stressed that the difference between traditional (i.e. secular) and inspirational romance novels centered not only on a relationship with God, but the hero's traits. The Christian romantic hero is not an alpha male, but a beta male. A neutral, mellow, cause-no-trouble, go-with-the-flow beta.
As Christians, we're commanded to love our neighbor, forsake wrath, and humbly pursue peace. Based on that, I could see why the author came to the conclusion that only a beta male could possess such traits, but I disagree. Alpha males can and do behave in the way our Lord instructed. An example from the Bible is King David, who praised God with his harp, but also bravely battled foreign invaders to protect his people. Look at the prophets Samuel and Elijah. These men addressed kings and nations with the word of God. Elijah led the nation of Israelites to go against Queen Jezebel and destroy her four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.
Did these men have weaknesses? Absolutely, but it didn't take away from them being alpha. Their dependence on God is what made them stronger than their adversaries, who relied merely on their own strength. The same holds true for our more contemporary Christian alphas. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not need to wave a gun around to assert himself. Nor do pastors Billy Graham and Bishop T.D. Jakes. These men have seen violence yet preach peace. Can we really say they're less than alpha?
I believe the romance genre still battles with stereotypes, and the inspirational market is no exception. Alpha males in traditional romance are characterized by critics as brash, loud, selfish, possessive, and can only be tamed by the heroine. This "alpha" is not the first of anything except in a line of buffoons. Christian writers seek a way around this with a gentler alpha hero. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn't. I read a novel where the hero put God first, or learned to, and he proved to be a strong, intelligent, and equal match for the heroine. He complemented her and also was strong in the areas where she needed him to be.
Then I've read other novels where the hero just didn't seem masculine enough. He either didn't stand up for the heroine, or, for lack of better terms, acted like an all-around namby-pamby. This man is dense and indifferent towards the heroine until the end, when the two of them magically fall in love. Those novels I read get donated.
There doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rules to crafting an inspirational alpha hero, but here's what I've gleaned from reading different novels.
- A Christian alpha doesn't live in the church.
- There's a difference between being assertive and just plain rude.
- A Christian alpha heeds Ephesians 5:25-28.
- The Christian hero's strength comes from God.
- The Christian alpha can show emotion.
Conclusion: The inspirational alpha male is heroic because he loves the Lord, the heroine, and walks in his masculinity the way God intended.
Do you like alpha heroes, or those who are more laid-back?