I had a friend of mine read over my latest book to see if there was anything I needed to change. Her main criticism? She didn't like that my alpha hero was a tea drinker. Her first comment was that she didn't know any American alpha males who drank hot tea.
I guess I didn't really think anything of it because first off, I read a lot of books by British authors and I am sure I have come across more than one alpha male who was a tea drinker. I never made the connection it was a normal British thing and not necessarily an alpha thing. And secondly, my very own real life alpha male is a tea drinker. He's never been a coffee drinker. He likes the smell of coffee and will occasionally have a small cup if we're in a diner or something. Otherwise, he loves tea. Flavored teas, regular teas, he really isn't a picky tea drinker.
He can also be quite bossy even while he's sipping hot tea. And while I could argue the fact that alpha males come in all shapes and sizes and drink preferences, as readers we probably do have some preconceived notions about what an alpha male does and what he likes to drink.
|Found on Pinterest-- not sure of actual origin|
Alpha males drink their coffee black (unless they're British, then they get to drink tea).
They probably drink beer and whiskey and eat steak (should I mention that my own alpha male will never turn down a good pina colada?).
They aren't afraid of spiders and will always be there to rescue you from them. (Although, Indiana Jones was afraid of snakes—is that an okay thing to be afraid of? I am just guessing that he was an alpha male. I mean, he carried a whip.)
They probably know how to ride a horse and fix a car. There's probably some innate skill about milking cows too.
I get it, as readers, we want to read about men who are completely capable and all around manly. I tweaked the tea bit in my book a little, my hero definitely prefers coffee and is spotted drinking a beer more than once.
In real life, my alpha male drinks tea, can't fix cars, and enjoys the occasional musical with me. It definitely doesn't make him any less sexy, but maybe it doesn't exactly make him a romance hero. That's okay because I would be a pretty terrible book heroine.
My dad is an all around Mr. Fix It. He's one of those guys that carries a Swiss Army knife in his pocket and can fix things with a piece of foil and a rubber band. But he's petrified of spiders. When I was younger, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. A spider ran into the sink and I shrieked. My dad came to the rescue, he pulled me out of the bathroom and slammed the door shut. We stood together in the hallway for a few seconds looking at each other. I think, even at six, I realized slamming the door in the spider's face probably wasn't going to do much. Dad's solution? "Let's go get your mother."
That might be a funny scene to put into a book and would probably be a forgivable flaw that a reader would enjoy. But it might also make the reader think that if the hero can't face down an eight-legged creepy crawly, maybe he'd run from other dangers as well.
The thing is, while I am making the case that real life alpha males aren't all the same (and they shouldn't be, because life would be boring that way), I understand characterization. I get that it's important to portray a hero as the ideal, manliest man, swoon-worthy guy. My books aren't novel length. I write novellas. I have 40-50 thousand words to make you fall in love with my heroes. If he needs to drink coffee for you to love him, then he'll drink coffee.
I really don't care what my hero drinks as long as he can make me smile, respects his woman, and likes animals.
I mean even if he doesn't love animals he should still be nice to them.
It does have me thinking though, what are some traits that turn you off to a hero?