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Taking Alpha Back
These days, when you hear that a hero in a romance is "alpha," there are a number of things that spring to mind. He's rich. He's rude. He's dismissive of others' concerns. And he probably jumps to a lot of unwarranted conclusions, usually about the heroine.
I'm not sure why this is. The word "alpha" comes from the notion of dominant wolves. (These notions, by the way, were formed based on animals studied in captivity, and these studies have since been discredited--here is a great YouTube interview with one of the scientists who popularized the term, who now explains why it doesn't work.) But whatever we think of wolf pack hierarchies, certainly, we have all met people who are natural leaders. People we look up to. People we think of as in charge.
Make a list of the people around you who you count as natural leaders--those bosses that really command attention, who bring out the best work in those around them. People who can organize others. People who can get things done. Those people, to the extent that we call them anything, are "alpha." They are "dominant."
Now make a list of all the people in your life who are jerks--dismissive, rude, and unwilling to listen to what others have to say.
How many people do you see on both of those lists? There might be one person, perhaps two. But if your lists look anything like mine, the leaders on your list--the dominants you know--probably share a number of characteristics.
1. They make people feel more comfortable, not less.
2. They make people feel as if they are capable. When you're around them, your self-esteem goes up.
3. They get things done. They don't make a big deal out of everything they do, demanding that someone pay attention to them every hour of the day. They just figure out what needs to be done and they do it.
4. They give credit where credit is due. If you do something awesome, they reward you. They tell people. They pat your back.
5. When something goes wrong, they concentrate on fixing the problem, not pointing fingers. There may be a postmortem, but it's usually about troubleshooting, and not about finding a scapegoat.
I could go on and on. You could, too.
So when people tell me that Ned, the hero of TRIAL BY DESIRE, is not an alpha... well, I will agree that he's not a bully. But bullies aren't dominant--in fact, they're usually quite insecure. They're so insecure that they have to shove others around to hide how vulnerable they truly are.
If we were fighting a war, I would spot you any jerk-off of your choice. In return, I'll take Ned. Because I'd rather have the guy who doesn't anger everyone around him. I want the dude who's okay with leading quietly, letting everyone around him feel good about themselves, instead of claiming all the glory for himself. I'm going for the one who gets things done--he's in charge, and you don't need to kowtow to his unbearable ego to be sure that he won't let anything bad happen to you.
Want to see what I mean? I'm giving away a copy of TRIAL BY DESIRE to one commenter, picked at random. And to get the comments going, tell me this: name your favorite book with an unconventional alpha, and tell me what made this person work as an alpha.
Learn more about Courtney and her books by visiting her Website, her Blog, her facebook page and following her at Twitter.
Trial by Desire
by Courtney Milan
Publisher: HQN Books
Release date: September 28, 2010
She cannot forget the fire he ignited...
In the three years since her husband left her, Lady Kathleen Carhart has managed to forge a fulfilling life for herself. But when Ned Carhart unexpectedly returns, she finds her tranquility uprooted--and her deepest secrets threatened. Though she has no intention of falling for Ned's charms, Kate can no longer deny the desire that still burns in her heart.
Or the promise of his love...
Ned is determined to regain his wife's trust by using unbridled seduction. But just as Kate surrenders to Ned's passion, her carefully guarded past threatens to destroy her. Now Kate must place her faith in the only man she's ever loved, and the only one who has ever betrayed her...