If you’re a romance reader, and you’ve admitted as such to anyone who doesn’t read them, chances are they’ve given you a smirk and said, ‘oh, you read bodice-rippers,’ like they’re the first ones who thought of that clever bon mot.

Yeah, and no-one’s ever mentioned Peter Frampton when I say my last name, either, bucko.


Back in the day, bodice-ripping was SOP for the romance hero. And chances are, if you were reading them, there was something there that made you thrill as said hero ripped said bodice. And bent the heroine to his will until she was all trembly and kissed him back.

Right now, I’m reading an older (1994) Linda Howard book, Dream Man, which was recommended by two of my favorite reader bloggers. And the hero, Detective Dane Hollister (whose name is even alpha!) has had a persistent erection since meeting the heroine, whom he mistrusts, even considers a suspect in a murder case, and still wants to throw her on her kitchen floor and have his way with her. He stands too close to her just to unsettle her, follows her all day and says nasty, dismissive things to her. When he’s finally alone with her, he tries to ‘gentle’ her (he himself makes the stallion/mare comparison):

“I know you’re skittish with men now, babe, but I’ll take care of you. I’ll take real good care of you.”
. . .
“What are you talking about?”
. . .
“In bed, babe. When we make love.”

Oh, you wicked Neanderthal! I am loving this book, and relishing every time he does something totally un-P.C., which is about every page or so. I am the most Bleeding Heart Liberal (with all its PC implications, although I am not a ninny) you will find in real life, but in my romance reading life?

To quote ‘80s comedienne/not-so-good songstress Julie Brown:

When I need somethin’ to help me unwind
I find a six foot baby with a one track mind
Smart guys are nowhere, they make demands
Give me a moron with talented hands
I go bar-hopping and they say last call
I start shopping for a Neanderthal
I like ’em big and stupid
I like ’em big and real dumb
I like ’em big and stupid
The way he grabbed and threw me, ooh it really got me hot
But the way he growled and bit me, I hope he had his shots
The bigger they are the harder they’ll work
I got a soft spot for a good lookin’ jerk

I think that’s one of the reasons paranormals are so popular–if you’re a werewolf male, you can’t help being all alpha on her ass (so to speak). If you’re a vampire, you’re probably leader of your clan, or tribe, or whatever loose aggregation you belong to, and you have to use your superhuman speed and strength to protect yourself and your family.

In other words, it’s acceptable to be an alpha jerk.

So while I don’t want to see the return of the long, meandering narrative where the hero and heroine chase each other across land and sea, with years inbetween, I would like my heroes to be more–heroically obnoxious. Current non-paranormal authors who write my type of guys are Anne Stuart, Christina Dodd, and Sabrina Jeffries . Another reader blogger swoons over Derek Craven in Lisa Klepas‘s Dreaming of You, and I have to agree he’s pretty darn sexy in that ‘it’s-my-way-or=the-highway’ kind of way.

Do you like these type of guys? If so, which authors do them best? If not, why not? Have you turned to paranormal to get your alpha fix on? What do you think?

*A Soundgarden lyric whose refrain is “I know what to do/I want to f***, f***, f*** you.” Love that song.