Please welcome guest author Melissa Blue to the Cafe!
Three years ago if you asked me if I’d ever write a series with alpha males, I would have told you no, noppity, NOPE. You have to keep in mind I cut my teeth on old school historicals and Harlequin Presents. Many of those larger than life heroes put the hole in alphahole. Some even bordered on being abusive. Not…very romantic. Not a head space I’d like to sit in for however many words. I ended up writing two who weren’t bad at all, but there were times my finger hovered over the delete key. I considered those alphas were flukes in my longstanding run of nothing but sweet, charming betas.
And then Ian Baird showed up in my head with a list of all the things he wouldn’t talk about. * side eye * He wanted to make it perfectly clear that his mother in no way impacted his view on love or himself for that matter. * epic side eye * More importantly, no matter how cute or sweet the heroine, he wouldn’t settle down. He was right and anyone who disagreed was wrong. Oh, he also had a brother and cousins and they all, more of less, fell on that alpha spectrum, too.
I considered maybe it was time I quit writing. I’ve always wanted to crochet and that could fill in my time nicely, especially if I made a Tom Baker a la Doctor Who scarf. I could also go back to school and focus on graphic design. Just when I opened an Etsy account with the full intent to start collecting bottle caps and selling them for cheap, his heroine reassured me that if nothing else I could torture Ian. The more stubborn they are, the harder they fall.
I’m starting the fifth book in the Under The Kilt series and I have to say I’ve learned a few ways to torture, I mean, soften an alpha hero and make him loveable.
1. This one goes first because it’s the most important. Write a heroine that is one part awesome and one part I-take-no-crap.
This doesn’t mean she can’t be soft, kind, maybe even intimidated by the hero a little. (Or a lot.) Nope. The mindset of many alphas is that they are the leader. They have a driving need to take care of the people around them. He might step on some toes while he’s doing it, oh well. The more awesome and I-take-no-crap you make your heroine, the more she’ll not only be his equal, but alphas can detect strength of will. He won’t be in constant protect mode and you’ll start to see a softer side of him. So, the heroine is important, the most important.
2. Make the alpha hero complex.
Maybe this theory really holds if you believe like I do. We aren’t born into the alpha, beta or even gamma roles. At some point we learned to take on those roles, because it somehow made our lives easier. How did your alpha become an alpha?
Some of the popular ways I’ve seen and sometimes used, are abusive parents, neglectful parents, a loss of a loved one i.e. a dark and twisty backstory. But the really good alphas don’t stop there. Why the alpha role? The hero could have become a become people-pleaser. Charming enough to to woo anyone. Don’t look at the alpha role as just a defense mechanism for a tragic backstory. What parts of their personalities lends itself to being a protector, leader, no-crap taker? In what ways was that alpha role reinforced? And when you find that answer, you can apply it to some of your heroine’s best features. If he needs X, give that trait to the heroine.
3. Friends and family.
We are at our best and, sometimes worse, when we are with family and friends. We may even for a time switch our roles. I know I tend to be more an alpha on my own or in the writing community. Put me around my siblings and it doesn’t take long for me to revert to being the baby of the family. Never fails.
Who or what can do that to your alpha male? A little sister? A best friend who knew him since he was in diapers? Let the reader see that softer or fun side. Then make sure the heroine gets to see it too. The best example of this is Beauty and the Beast. Beast roared at practically everyone for the first thirty minutes. But he’d turn to his staff, the people who had practically become family by then, for advice and he’d listen to them. Little by little he began to do the same with Belle. (And just in general Beauty and the Beast is the best example for how to write an alpha and how to make a loveable alpha.)
4. Make him wrong about something and show his response.
The true difference between an alpha and an alphahole is how they respond when they are not a little wrong, but dead wrong. Nothing is more frustrating to read than an alpha who believes he is right without reason. Or he’s right about everything simply because he was born with a peen. It’s almost like experiencing road rage when he’s wrong, knows it and doubles down because I’m-Alpha! When I get to the end of books like that I can only think, they’ll be divorced in a few years.
5. If all else fails and your alpha refuses to soften even an inch to make him loveable, show him in a relationship that is almost parental. If you’re desperate (kind of like I was) give him a pet. A nosy neighborhood kid who doesn’t seem to have parents (because they are a plot device, of course.) No, really, give them a pet. I swear it’s alpha hero Kryptonite. You can show their kind side, their inner nice guy. This is a little glimpse into the future of the man they will be once they relax a little and stop beating on their chest all the time.
Depending on the level of alpha you’re suffering from, you might need all five. (Callan, I’m looking at you.)
What are some tips or tricks you’ve seen or have used to make an alpha loveable?
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Kilted for Pleasure
Callan Baird used to laugh more than he frowned, but that was before his wife died. Now his life is duty, debts and a general apathy for anything else. And then Victoria Burke burst into his life. She’s everything he wants to corrupt.
Victoria has two choices: agree to a grouchy, sexy Scotsman’s extortion or call her boss to explain why she can’t do her job. Since she’s spent the last three years rebuilding her career as antique appraiser, and this one commission could make or break it, the decision is a no-brainer. Except everything about Callan is complicated.
He sees no problem turning their work relationship into a sexual one. She refuses to break her boss’ no-fraternization rule. He’s the one thing she wants and the one thing she can’t have. He’s had his one great love, and doesn’t want a replacement. His heart doesn’t agree, because she’s everything he desires.
Callan will have to let go of his past if he wants Victoria to be in his future.
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Melissa Blue’s writing career started on a typewriter one month after her son was born. This would have been an idyllic situation for a writer if it had been 1985, not 2004. Eventually she upgraded to a computer. She’s still typing away on the same computer, making imaginary people fall in love.
Where to find her online: