Have you read Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series? If not, go and read it. Seriously, right now. You are missing an important part of your paranormal romance education if you haven't.
If you haven't than you don't know Jericho Barrons. If this is the case you have never met the ultimate alpha male in a romance book. I can't even call him the hero because he wouldn't approve and Barrons is so bad-ass that even though it's fiction, you'll still find yourself wondering, and a little afraid, of what Barrons would think and how little he would approve of your labels.
Anyway, I'm getting off topic. I've always loved paranormal romance, but I've found my tastes have gotten pickier and I''ve developed a strong dislike of insta-lust. I used to like it and now I find it doesn't work for me anymore. To go with that, I've become much pickier about how the "alpha" hero is portrayed.
Simply, I'm tired of smug douchbags acting like asses being considered heroes just because they are so "alpha" and heaven help me when the woman/women start actually discussing his alpha-ness. gag.
But what does this have to do with Barrons you ask?
Well, in the last three (sadly yes) books I read with "alpha" men (two were supes, one was just an ass) I found myself reflecting back to Barrons and how he would have crushed these supposed manly men. If he wasn't distracted by laughing at what losers they were.
This led me to think what a fine line it is between ass and alpha and how few authors really get it right.
Really strong men in books have to be more than big beefcakes who smile smugly at their woman because they know so much more than she does. They don't have insta-love because they have too much depth (and the women they eventually do love have too much for that too.) I know he doesn't need to be likable because I never really liked Barrons, but at least he was a great character.
The only other really well done "alpha" (in a series) I can think of is Curran (from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews - although I'd say all the men in that series are well written. It may be the husband/wife writing team factor but they don't do generic douche in any book.)
What do you think makes the difference between a smug ass and an alpha hero?
Maybe I'm just frustrated by more mediocre reads. Or, maybe I'm just not in the mood for these guys.
All I know is that these annoying "heroes" just made me wish more authors would ask themselves "what would JZB do?" when writing their male characters.
Oh, and if you have a recommendation for a good insta-love that will break my rough streak let me know.