What The Beast Taught Me About Alpha Heroes
I realize this is intensely random, but bear with me. I got the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast on Blu Ray for Christmas. With apologies to Sassy Sister Jane, it is my absolute favorite version of the story, and one of my favorite Disney movies evah.
I had a little epiphany while watching it on Christmas though, and I figured I would share it with you.
The Beast is an alpha male. Oh yeah and like whoa. He’s in charge, the ruler of his castle. And he has his moments where, in order to protect himself, his secrets, he lashes out at Belle. He can be downright scary. I think I was seven when the movie hit theaters and I’ll never forget being scared out of my mind when Belle went into the West Wing and he came in shouting “Get out!” and turning over tables and stuff. Yikes. Scared me senseless.
He can be cold. Mean. Ruthless. The meanest bastard this side of Gaston. His sense of justice uncompromising as he takes Belle prisoner in place of her father.
He’s closed off to love, his feelings hidden by his intense aggression.
But…there’s more to him than that. Sure, he can come in all strong and even scary, but under that is where the true man is. One who has been wounded by his own youthful stupidity. One who is afraid to take a chance on love, because he feels unworthy of the woman he’s fallen for.
He’s awkward when asking her to dinner. He gives her a library because he knows she loves books. He saves her from wolves, for heaven’s sake.
Point being, he’s not one-note. When you have an alpha hero who comes across very…well…intense, I guess, it’s important for there to be balance. For there to be cracks in his armor so that the reader can get a sense for his humanity, so that the reader can see him falling for the heroine…and why she would fall for him.
I thought Caitlin Crews did a brilliant job of that with Luc in Pure Princess, Bartered Bride. He was a very intense and hardened type of hero, and yet there’s this moment where he gives the heroine a ring, and he’s nervous to do it…wondering what her reaction will be. It was one of the most romantic moments I’ve ever read, and the power that it possessed was because in all other areas he was a supremely confident, even arrogant man. But the heroine broke through. The heroine reached beneath it, and the reader got to see it.
Alpha does not=bastard. And if you are dealing with a hero who has his moments of…well…you know…then it’s nice to see a balance so that he can be human. He lends more weight to his strength if he has some weakness. It adds more to his character if the supremely confident businessman is undone by his heroine. And not just in the last five pages. It’s the ebb and flow of the story, bringing them closer, undermining it, bringing them a little bit closer, pulling them apart. Making him vulnerable, bringing his walls back up, then demolishing them completely.
But, IMO, showing the readers what’s underneath that facade of absolute strength and power, is the thing that will keep them hooked. It’s the thing that will allow them to fall in love with the hero, and want the heroine to love him too.