Saturday, May 14, 2016

What Makes an Alpha Male Alpha? #spankingromance

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?


  1. I never thought about a tea drinking alpha being less alpha. Our characters eat and drink what they want to... sometimes I dislike their names too, but I don't choose anything. It's like I've walked up to someone on the street who already has this whole big back-story with likes and dislikes and a name and I just put it on paper. Maybe I'm the weird one? I think you should let your hero drink tea. My very humble two cents.

    1. You don't choose anything? I feel like I almost spend the same amount of time naming my characters as I do choosing a title! I wish mine all came named. I love that they all just come to you, lucky girl!

  2. My own hero has tea with a drop of whisky in it every morning in bed( made by yours truly). You let your heroes drink what they like. I will admit there are some names I hate leading men to have. I can't say what just in case I offend someone and I don't know what Mr McKay's name is and I don't want to risk it, lol
    love Jan, xx

    1. There are definitely some names that aren't leading man worthy. I had a friend in college who dated a guy whose name was a popular name for a girl and I could never take him seriously. Like, what were his parents thinking??

  3. This is a great topic! I don't like it when men "giggle." Instead of manly, it seems like maybe he's a serial killer clown. Oh, clowns are bad. If the hero is or likes a clown, he's OUT.

    I don't like it when the hero obsesses too much about his clothes, his hair, the interior of a home, or the color of his woman's underwear.

    In real life, my alpha drinks his coffee black, can fix stuff on cars, can do electrical work around the house, is a high-powered executive, isn't afraid of bugs, and wouldn't be a perfect romance book hero in any way. He's just too rational & logical. He's not romantic. I plan everything. And he's perfect for me. :)

  4. But I have to say that a tea-drinking guy could be super-hot and alpha; it's all in the frame. "Baby, I'm going to finish my Earl Gray. You go wait in the bedroom naked with the paddle next to the bed." And a coffee drinking guy could be a wuss: "Oh My God. I can't believe what the neighbors are doing. Have you seen this? NO! Don't let them see us peeking. Look at that car. It's a total muscle mobile. How disgusting. Look at him showing off his muscles. What a braggart. Hey, Hon, can you get me another cup of black coffee? I want to search for the perfect dental floss to give the kids for Halloween."

    1. Alexis, you crack me up! I think anyone giving out floss for Halloween would definitely be a turn off for me!

      I also have one of those rational and logical guys. He calls himself a realist. I don't know about that. Haha, but we are a good balance too :)

  5. The wonderful world of stereotyping. Not really consider beverages as a key signature of an alpha. The Brits don't drink as much tea as the rest of the world is led to believe, it's a secret that coffee is more popular. I have my own bias: office workers, the execs, drink coffee because it keeps them awake, manual workers drink tea because it quenches the thirst better. So which is sexier, executive in suit drinking coffee or hunky steelworker with is mug of tea? depends on taste ;)
    My man only lets coffee touch his lips and he's afraid of wasps. He can't do plumbing, but he's nifty with carpentry.
    I love the Earl Grey scenario, Alexis, probably my kind of alpha.

    1. I feel like you just let me in on a big secret! Also, I'd take a hunky steelworker and a mug of tea any day :)