Alpha heroes are dead sexy. Let's settle that right now.
I love my alphas! My fallen angel warriors (in my apocalyptic romance series, the Seven Signs) are smart, take-charge fighters who won't take no for an answer. When the End comes, what heroine wouldn't want a hot alpha demon-slayer with a flaming sword on her side?
But not everyone is a natural alpha. We wouldn't want that. If the world was full of alphas, we'd be exhausted from all the stand-offs and dick-measuring. A guy doesn't need that one-track, take-charge gene to be sexy. In celebration of my new book Dragonfly – which has a mighty cool beta hero, if I may say so myself – let's talk about betas. The smart, quiet men. That cool, clever, maybe faintly geeky yet totally hot guy.
Do you doubt me? Allow me to introduce my friends.
(Photo credit: jackdoc101)
|The Doctor (photo SKUD)|
|Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones (Photo credit: World of Oddy)|
These guys are lovable because they deploy weapons other than brute force. They're smart, and they talk smart – listening to the Doctor figure out a problem is a crash course in just how slow you are. Attack is not their first, best and only form of defence. They might be a bit sheepish about emotional connection – in a disarming, surprised, who-me? kind of way – but they’re not afraid of it.
They also know they don't have to lead from the front. Torchwood might be Captain Jack's baby, but they'd all be screwed without Ianto, cleaning up their coffee cups and ordering pizza and oh by the way saving their butts dozens of times.
Especially in sci-fi and comic books, betas have power. Probably because the 'clever stuff' – technology and science – is so important in those stories. Being smart and thoughtful counts for something. We can even do convincing beta bad guys! Loki in The Avengers. Sam Neill's insane physicist (an insane physicist!!! How cool is that?) in Event Horizon. Doc Ock from Spiderman 2. A rogues' gallery of smart maniacs, waiting to baffle you into submission.
Event Horizon [Blu-ray]
But there's more to being beta than shyness, mad science or expertise in IT. And not every hot scientist or wise-ass technician is a beta: look at everyone's favourite genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, Tony Stark – who's kind of an alpha-beta hybrid, really – or super-arrogant Dr Rush from SG:U, who despite his smart-guy exterior is about as tortured-alpha as you can get without actually being an angry six-foot-eight immortal vampire death lord. He's an alpha in a beta's brain. Now I’d like to see that as a romance hero…
But I digress into sexy alpha-ness… My point is: beta isn't just smarts. Beta is an attitude, and it's just as cool and sexy as any alpha can pull off.
Three reasons why betas are as cool (or better!) than alphas
1. A beta is confident, but he’s not in-your-face about it. If he says he can fix that broken reactor core or pilot you through that asteroid field, he can. Just don't waste his time by asking stupid questions. If he had more information, he'd give it to you. And don't ask him how he did it. You won't understand.
2. Also, a beta is sensible. He doesn't burr up at tiny provocations. When some other guy makes moves on his heroine? He doesn't go all alpha-cave-man 'how dare you touch MY WOMAN!!' and beat the snot out of someone. He just grins and says, 'Yeah, right. Good luck with that.' Because he knows his lady wants him and no one else. And if she doesn't want him, well, throwing a hissy fit won't help, will it?
3. A beta is thoughtful. He doesn't cut the Gordian knot. He unties it, swiftly and carefully, without calling attention to himself. He's not a walking hard-on – if he seems to act recklessly, it's because he's considered his options and decided he doesn't have any. And that's when you'd better watch out, because he'll kick your unsuspecting butt just as hard as any alpha.
If you're Captain Alpha, care and feeding of your betas is important. Your beta sidekick might be the quiet one, but he's no pushover. He's the guy who writes your crypto or fixes your spaceship, so take care to give him his credit, or you might wake up one day and find he's running your gang just fine without you. And if he gets angry, beware. He'll meticulously plot your demise behind your back. Chances are, you won't see him coming.
And if your nemesis is a beta… well, expect the unexpected when you least expect it. Mad science and evil beta plots come out of left field. His plan might be insane, but it'll be better than anything your feeble wits can come up with. His weakness? Overconfidence. He believes he's smarter than you. The problem is, he's right. To defeat him, you'll need luck as well as alpha brawn.
So bring 'em on. I love both alphas and betas. I love to write both. One day, I'll put them both in the same book, and stand back…