I’d like to think I’m your typical 21st-century woman. I’ve been working since I was a teen, very independent and in charge of my own destiny. Did my hackles stand at attention when I was called “little lady” while shopping for a new car? You betcha. And did I walk off the lot entirely when the salesman asked if I should call my husband (which I don’t have) to make my decision for me? Heck, YES. I’m capable of making my own decisions when it comes to spending the money I’ve earned, thank you very much. Grrrrrr.
That being said, you wouldn’t think I’d have any sort of attraction to a hardcore dominating alpha male, would you? But if that type of character is done right… oh, LAWD. *fans self* I swear, those unashamedly forceful, all-testosterone alpha males rev my engine so much they threaten to pop my radiator cap.
Where did this affinity come from? Personally, I blame my very first encounter with the legendary Alpha beast. I had picked up a paperback in a garage sale for a quarter by the name of After the Music, by Diana Palmer. It was one of her first books to ever be published and it had that late twentieth-century vibe that I’ll always love.
Come to find out, this was the best quarter spent in the history of everything.
The hero was Hamilton Regan Thorndon, III, or Thorn. Trust me, this was the PERFECT name for the guy. He was prickly. He was irritating. He worked his way under my skin until I hated him. HATED. And I hurt for him. I couldn’t understand how this cold-hearted bastard could wound such a sweet woman, when his actions obviously hurt him just as much. It was like he couldn’t stop himself from grinding them both into nothing. And just when I was ready to throw the book across the room, he’d suddenly reveal a protective side that made me whimper. This complex, sadistic/masochistic behavior of Thorn’s built throughout the book to a crescendo that was ultimately so powerful it shattered the icy walls surrounding his guarded heart.
It’s weird, but part of me STILL hasn’t forgiven Thorn for being such a ginormous Alpha-hole (and in the end, during the most magnificent groveling scene I’ve ever read, it’s clear Thorn hasn’t forgiven himself either, but he’s happy to devote his life making it up to the heroine, Sabina *melts*). But Thorn’s emotional evolution, and ultimate determination to own everything he did, was so memorable that this now-tattered book holds high honor on my “keeper” bookshelf. (I really should pick up another copy. The one I have is now held together by a rubber band.)
My violent reaction to Thorn also helped me define what it is that I want to write. Come to find out, I freaking LOVE those heart-wrenching, spill-your-guts-on-the-floor groveling scenes. Whether it’s the hero or heroine who has to come clean and force themselves to stop being self-protective in order to become one half of a harmonious whole, I love it all. Just about every romance I’ve written has some form of this emotional scene, and if I blubber like a baby while writing it, I know it’s done right.
Ms. Palmer, I tip my hat to you and After The Music’s unforgettable hero, Thorn. Without you, I might not have the same appreciation for redeeming—though never taming—the over-the-top Alpha male.
Question: Do you like Alpha-holes, or has their time come and gone? What’s their appeal?