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What is the “Alpha” Romance Genre?
There are 2 very different types of “Alpha” heroes – the “hero with a heart of gold” (Alpha A) and the more recent “Alpha” genre which features “bad-ass male” who is controlling, dominating, possessive and often jealous (Alpha B). Both approaches feature subservient, usually helpless female characters, but “Alpha A” wants to save her and “Alpha B” wants to control and dominate her. These heroes know everything, often have everything, and they will definitely take care of everything, including their women.
What To Expect in Alpha Romance Fiction
- Dominance (male) and subservience (female)
- Controlling – both in business and in bed
- A lot of shirtless scenes
- Big muscles and bigger personalities
- A LOT of sex scenes – with a LOT of variations--with the more recent novels, this genre is the one most likely to feature kinky sex and/or S&M
Characteristics of the Alpha Romance Genre
- Level of Angst
The level of angst in this genre is low, and we know exactly how the story will play out: Controlling male meets, controls/dominates female character who has been abused in the past/is lost and abandoned/doesn’t know what she wants to do next.
- Character Development
The male characters in this genre are tough, rugged and self-made men. Many of them are “king of the world” whether it is in business or out in the wild, wild West. They are used to being in charge. The female characters are often young and indecisive – they are desperate for someone to take care of everything for them, and the male characters are more than willing to oblige. The male characters are always quite experienced, and if the female characters are not virgins, they are pretty close to it.
- Plot Strength
The plot strength is totally predictable in this genre: Man meets girl, man woos girl, man conquers girl both mentally and physically, girl falls in love with man…man is not interested in love, but often finds himself moved by the female character. A lot of times the hero has a fatal flaw that the heroine can/wants to “fix;” it often underscores the sex scenes and the hero’s inability to connect/commit to a long term relationship.
- Romantic Tension
The level of romantic tension is pretty moderate in this genre. As with most romance novels, we know how it will end, but so many of the heroines in this genre are rather “weak” that there is little doubt about how the relationship will proceed.
- Level of Eros
High. There is an undeniable sex appeal for the controlling hero when he goes all out to win the (often-whimpering, shy, virginal) heroine.
- Prose Quality
The prose quality in this genre is often pretty weak. Most of these novels are pretty stereotypical in terms of their depictions of the “have it all male” and the “willing to take it all female.”
Related Romance Subgenres
The subgenres for this genre include “millionaire/billionaire,” rock star, athlete and bad boy which all feature men who are powerful both physically and in their careers.
“Alpha” Romance isn't for you if
You don’t like dominance and subordination, you like relationships that are focused on/limited to a single relationship,and you like equality in the relationship.
“Alpha” Romance is totally for you if
You like the hero to be the pursuer, and a lot of sex scenes. You fantasize about just getting away from it all and letting someone else be in control.
- 1 Fifty Shades of Grey (2011)
By E.L. James. A classic “alpha” story about a man who has everything except love. He is unable to commit, and she is unable to give him up.
- 2 Bared to You (2012)
By Sylvia Day. Often compared to Fifty Shades of Grey in terms of the story and the characters. This books also tells the story of an almost fatal attraction of two people who have no business together but cannot seem to be without one another.
- 3 The Silver Devil (1984)
By Teresa Denys. Tells the story of a wealthy landowner and the peasant girl he is determined to have.
- 4 Deep (2016)
By Joanna Blake. Tells of a bodyguard and the sexy-but-lost rock star beauty he was hired to protect.
- 5 Draw (2014)
By Cora Brent. Is the story of woman intrigued by one of the fraternal triplets who lived next door. When she moves away to college and finds him there, it’s only a matter of time before she finds herself involved with the hometown bad boy.
- 6 Devil’s Blaze trilogy
By Jordan Marie. Tells the story of Beth and the man she loves: Skull. Seriously, I laughed the first time I saw that, but the novels are classic Alpha…
- 7 Ride with Me (2014)
By Joanna Blake. Is the story of the resident rich bad boy alpha and the small town waitress/singer-wannabe who can’t stop thinking about him.
- 8 The Hitman’s Last Job (2016)
By Selena Black. Is the story of an ex-Marine-turned-hitman and the witness he cannot seem to kill…
- 9 New Secretary (2016)
By Crystal James. Is the classic power story – boss who cannot stop plowing through his secretaries, and new assistant who is determined to change his ways.
- 10 On Dublin Street (2015)
By Samantha Young. Is about a man who is used to getting what he wants – and his next target is her. She agrees to a no-strings-attached arrangement, until she realizes that he wants more than just her body – he is also determined to claim her heart and soul.
Publicly Ranked Version of the List21 items >>
- Persuasion (Jane Austen)
- Emma (Jane Austen)
- Katherine (Anya Seton)
- Ravished (Amanda Quick)
- Saving Grace (Julie Garwood)