You Never Forget Your First Alpha


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.


After the Music by Diana PalmerWhere 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?



You Never Forget Your First Alpha — 14 Comments

  1. I’m more of a beta girl, but there have definitely been a few Alpha male characters I’ve read that are simply perfection. A writer who I think does the Alpha-hole male (LOVE that term) well is Jami Alden. I really liked Drew Walker in Private Pleasures and Sam O’Connell in Private Paradise–both part of her Private series. A third hero in the series, Deck from Private Passions was also great. He had the alpha job, yet his personality seemed more Beta.

  2. I tend to write beta heroes, but I love to read Alpha heroes. There’s something about a strong but flawed man succumbing to love that’s just breathtaking. One of my goals as a writer is giving my male characters that Alpha edge.

    • Jana, I feel the same way when it comes to writing an Alpha male. There’s a fine line there between an Alpha and a total jerk, and if the heroine sticks with a guy who falls into the “jerk” category, I lose respect for both characters. :-/

      Thanks for dropping by! :)

  3. I’m a beta girl, too, though I enjoy a well-done alpha once in a while. I’ve evolved to loving betas, however. When they first came into being, I was saying, What the hell is this? Then I read Kathleen Gilles Seidel and never sought alpha again.

  4. I love Alpha-holes. Love them love them!!!! The best books I’ve ever read have great Alphas.
    I loved this post and thank you for the book recommendation. I hope it’s on nook or kindle.

  5. I have a huge soft spot for Alpha-holes–in books. Can’t stand them in RL (my last boss was constantly calling me honey. I’d always reply that I wasn’t *his* honey. Ugh.) But for some reason I can’t stop reading Alpha-hole heroes. Guess I’m just twisted like that LOL!

    • Gillian, I’m TOTALLY the same way! Just thinking about them IRL sets my teeth on edge.

      As I was writing this post, I tried to analyze why I’m so emotionally involved when I’m reading about an Alpha hero. The conclusion I came to was that, if it’s done well (<–important factor right there), the Alpha evolves throughout the story. If he's simply high-handed all the time–thinking for the heroine or is belittling, mistrustful or suffocating from start to finish–I can't stand it. I love it when these characters learn from their mistakes and are man enough to admit they're not God's gift. :)

      And girl, if you're twisted, then so am I. *high-fives* 😀

  6. Yeah – I like a good alpha hero, but they can go over the top for me. Wondering if it’s harder to pull off a major alpha in a contemporary romance than it is in historical or paranormal?

    Thanks for the post today, Stacy!


    • It’s a fine line, isn’t it, Kelsey? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve started reading (books SO MANY PEOPLE have been gaga about), and I literally couldn’t get past the first chapter. IMHO, some of these chauvinistic, over-the-top Alpha-holes need to be hog-tied and dragged into the 21st-century to join the rest of us civilized human beings. 😛

      That being said, if an Alpha-hole learns to treat the heroine with the respect she deserves (and you can see their internal climate change going on and it doesn’t just magically appear out of freaking nowhere) I find myself absolutely enchanted by this metamorphosis from knuckle-dragger to viable modern man worthy of that label.

      They’re out there, those good Alphas. And I’m always on the hunt for ’em. 😉

  7. Thank you so much for the recommendation of After the Music. I loved this book. My reviews up on GR, AMZ and BN.

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