I was so excited to come here to Fiction Vixen and guest review, but the book that Sophia sent me was a bit of a dud – I only made it through the first 100 some odd pages. The hero started as a kind of tortured Alpha soul, and while I am a HUGE fan of the Alpha hero, I also have a line that the hero just can’t cross. Once I reached my stopping point, the hero had far surpassed Alpha territory and was well into Asshole land, and got me thinking about where an Alpha stops and the Ass begins. While I’ve been known to say that I enjoy the Alphahole (the hero who borders Alpha and asshole), he can’t cross that invisible line in the sand and expect me to continue to root for him.
Some of my favorite heroes of all time are fabulous at straddling the line between Alpha and Ass. They are Alpha to the extreme, and although they want to control everything, have everyone fall in line, they also love hard, and are willing to sacrifice everything for their lady love. To me, they are the ultimate heroes, the Alphas that can turn me into a puddle of goo at every turn.
My favorite Alpha hero who borders that line between Alpha and Ass is Curran from the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews. Curran is the Alpha of all Alphas. He is the Beast Lord and his word is law. He has killed gods and men alike, he expects everyone to adhere to his laws, but when it comes to Kate, he is just a cuddly kitten. He was willing to risk his very shaky alliance with the vamps, and was ready to run away with Kate if she would only say the word. Despite Curran’s power over all things shifters in the Kate Daniels world, he is also warm and caring and loving towards Kate and despite his rough and gruff attitude, he has never crossed my line.
One of my other favorite heroes is Hawke from the Nalini Singh Psy-Changeling Series. Hawke is the Alpha of the wolves, and has been since he was a young man. He’s been Alpha for longer than not, and his word is law, no arguments or second guessing. His men and women are loyal to him to a fault, and he is known for being more wolf than man. Despite the fact that Hawke is an extreme Alpha, he is also a little wrapped around the finger of his mate. Although Hawke met Sienna when she was just a young child, he had been holding himself and his wolf back from their own needs to make sure that he didn’t mess with hers. He pushed his own desires aside to allow Sienna the chance to grow into her own, to become a woman in her own right. Hawke has had his moments when he pushed Sienna away, sometimes in a way that would hurt her feelings, but I always could feel Hawke’s pain as he hurt his mate. Hawke has never failed to melt my knees.
The paranormal heroes aren’t the only ones who can be extreme Alphas. Some of my favorite romantic suspense heroes are known to walk the line as well. For instance, the Black Ops Inc books by Cindy Gerard are some of my all-time favorite RS books, and the hero of the final book in the series is Joe Green. His nickname, Mean Joe Green, goes to show just how he is perceived by his co-workers. When it comes to hunting down the bad guy, Joe is the one they want on the front lines, he will get dirty and do all the nasty deeds that no one else wants to take on. But from the moment he laid eyes on Stephanie, he knew he had something to live for. She was his rock, and many times she seemed to be the center of his moral compass. While his job took him to the ledge day in and day out, Stephanie was the one who pulled him back from becoming nothing more than a dead man walking. I loved their relationship and the way that Joe worshipped the ground she walked on, despite his usual attitude.
There is only one Alpha hero that I can think of who crossed the line into Asshole territory that managed to win me back. However, I know that for a lot of readers, he wasn’t able to do so. Lothaire. I think for me, the only reason I was able to accept his asshole ways was because he had never been anything but a jerk. He was ruthless, heartless, and cold from the first moment he stepped onto the pages of the Immortals After Dark Series. Despite meeting his Bride, he never changed from the vampire he was. He remained true to his black-hearted self all the way to the end. But there was something about the red-eyed vamp that just sucked me in and had me making excuses for all his asshole ways. I didn’t want him to turn me into goo, or make my knees shake. I wanted him to scare the crap outta me, and make his heroine strong enough to stand by his side. I adored everything about him.
But sometimes, a hero just goes too far and makes himself unredeemable. He pushes the heroine into a sexual position she doesn’t want to be in, he demeans her with words time and time again, he puts her down when he should be picking her up. While I can get past some of these qualities on a limited basis, when a hero acts like a jerk for 95% of the story, only to be magically redeemed by love in the end…. Well, it just doesn’t work for me!
Which Alpha that borders the line between Alpha and Asshole do you love most, and why?