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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Guest Post Nina Pierce: When Alpha and Beta make Gamma

So who doesn't love a hunky, take charge guy in a romance novel? Well, it turns out ... I don't. Well, I mean I thought I did, but then writers and readers started talking about the alpha heroes they love and it occurred to me, that's not really who I write.

I thought all my guys were alpha heroes. Not that they steamroll over the heroine or completely wall off their emotions, but they do step up to the plate when the time comes. The problem was they didn't seem to have that pushy, never-give-an-inch attitude many people associate with alphas. But they definitely didn't fit into the wimpy sidekick beta hero either.

Okay, I know technically (especially in stories with shifters) there is only one alpha leader. Therefore if you write a story about the other guys, like I do, they would be considered beta. But I just can't go there. In my opinion, the beta hero is a pushover. He wouldn't come to the heroine's rescue. He'd send in his best friend, the alpha, who would save her. He'd be the one to comfort her when the hero's been a jerk, but then turn her over to him when the guy showed up at the front door. But no one writes characters like that. I'm always looking to write the next story so even my "best friend" characters offer more than a supporting role.

So maybe I have the definition all wrong.

In my confusion I checked out a post by Suzanne Brockman who writes all things alpha. But I still didn't get a good feel for this alpha hero. But I found this other article at The Road to Romance. But this post describes not alpha, not beta, but a gamma hero? Wai...whaaaat?

Yeah, the GAMMA hero pulls the best from both the alpha and the beta heroes. He's a man with all the chutzpah of an alpha but the emotions of a beta. In other words ... the strong male who doesn't run roughshod over the heroine in his quest to bring down the bad guy, but works with her to find the key and discover the lost treasure or slay the dragon or free her world or ... well, you get my drift. This is the guy of romance stories in my opinion. The hero who could don the pages of any GQ magazine, but knows how to BBQ a mean steak for his lady and draw her a bubble bath. *sigh* Yeah, that's the ticket.

So I guess I'm aiming to write gamma heroes. Who knew?

The reality is. It doesn't matter what we call them. It's their heart and soul that brings the reader back to the story over and over again. Readers need to connect to the hero. Believe he's real. Believe he's the only one for the heroine. Believe in their love story.

What about you? Do you like your guys all alpha in stories and keep your betas for real life or are you a combo kind of gal like me ... enjoying a gamma between the pages?

My most recent release, Love’s Bounty, has a DEA agent who definitely falls into the alpha category.

A woman determined to protect her heart…

Landscaping in Delmont, Maine hasn’t been DEIRDRE TILLING’s only passion. Up until
two months ago, it had included a live-in lover. Jilted for the third time in as many years, Deirdre’s decided to give up on love. With her feet firmly planted on the path of one night stands, she finds herself heating up the sheets with a dark haired stranger she met at her new employer’s party. But one night with the man who is both sexy as hell and compassionate, may not be enough.

An agent hell bent on proving himself…
DEA agent, AYDEN SCOTT, has a lot to prove after a disastrous drug bust in Miami three years earlier that left a member of his team dead. Working undercover as lead investigator, he’s determined to bring down an elusive drug cartel smuggling heroin into central Maine. He’ll use any means necessary to complete his objective, including sleeping with the suspected drug Lord’s landscaper, Deirdre. He just hadn’t expected the feisty redhead to be so much more than long legs and dangerous curves.

One night neither of them can forget…
Deirdre and Ayden both thought one sexually explosive romp in the sack would be the end of their relationship. But Deirdre’s arrest for heroin possession and her father’s near-fatal heart attack prompts Ayden to confess his true identity. When Deirdre is kidnapped by the drug cartel and used as a pawn, Ayden is forced to choose between his heart and his mission. The question is…who will survive his decision?

Cautious, and working to keep his jangled nerves from pumping his legs in a dead run, Ayden strolled to the shelter of the dinghy. The noise grew louder. Ayden realized he wasn’t moving away from the sound. He was aimed right toward it. What a fool. It was a beautiful fall night. No doubt lovers were using the upended craft for a little private party of their own.

Turning on his heel, he started to walk away, when the noise came again. It wasn’t the moan of sexual pleasure. It was the keening sound of sadness. Someone was crying. And from the quiet hiccupping, it was female.

Ayden shot a longing look over his shoulder, debating between the refuge of the path and the complications under the boat.

Chivalry won out and he stepped warily around the bow.

The redhead sat on the wooden slats, her bare feet digging restlessly in the sand, her face cupped in her hands. Between shuddering breaths, she sputtered angrily into her bent knees, but her tears and her fingers kept the words from him.

“Uh-hmm.” He cleared his throat, not knowing how else to get her attention.

“Holy shit…” She tried to jump to her feet, but banged her head on the iron rigging attached to the upside of the boat and fell back down. “Fuck.” Her hand flew to her head.

“I’m sorry, you okay?” Ayden reached for her, but she shook him off.

“I’m fine.”

She looked up at him. Even in the pale light, he could see the sadness in her eyes.

“Actually, I’m not all right.” She pushed herself up, ducking her head away from the oarlock. She wiped at the sand on her bottom. “You scared the living shit out of me.”

Biting back a smile, Ayden watched her glistening tears turn to fury. That he could handle. An angry woman was one hundred times easier to placate than a despondent one.

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Leanne109 said...

Sound Alpha enough for :D
Great excerpt!


Cathy M said...

Fabulous excerpt Nina. And I would say I am a combo gal too.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I married a beta but I like the heroes in stories to be very Alpha or sometimes Gamma. I want the hero to be confident and take action. A beta hero wouldn't push the story forward. Alpha, beta, gamma. It's like the Goldilocks definition of heroes. LOL

User1123 AT comcast DOT net

Stormy said...

I like the idea of a Gamma hero!! Too often I read stories where the "Alpha" male is soooo head strong I just want knock him in the head and like Stacie said sometimes the beta just doesn't keep the story moving along. He's sweet. He's sensitive. Snoozzzzzze. I can have that in real life. I read to be a part of a different life for just a little while. Nice excerpt!!

Robin said...

I like the Gamma concept! Your excerpt's great too!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

books4me said...

oooh...a feisty red head to keep the alpha male on his toes. Love it!

books4me67 at

Na said...

Alpha males by their very nature are dominant in romance books.I really like them but I embrace all heroes whether alpha, beta or Gamma. I really like the idea of a Gamma hero because it takes the best from both the alpha and beta heroes. Will keep a watch out for these kinds. They need love too.

msmjb65 said...

I guess I'm a gamma girl, too, although, alphas do have a special place in my heart! :)

msmjb65 AT gmail DOT com

Sherry said...

Sounds like a good story and a gamma hero sounds pretty interesting.

sstrode at scrtc dot com

Anonymous said...

I think it's all good. There can be something sexy and interesting about all kinds of men if you know how to look for it.