Fiction and the Evolution of the Alpha Male

Posted April 7, 2013 by Victoria in 2013-Reviews, Contemporary/Historical Romance, New Adult/Young Adult, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy / 1 Comment

*Since there seems to be a lot of search terms for “alpha male romances” directing to this blog, I thought I’d feature one of my earlier posts. Jericho Barrons is my ultimate alpha. Of course, for Contemporary Romance I’d have to say it’s my own Viktor Baran.  🙂

Jericho Barrons ~ Fever Series. Used with permission from Karen Marie Moning.
Jericho Barrons ~ Fever Series. Used with permission from Karen Marie Moning.

Alpha ~ something that is first (Merriam Webster)

Alpha Male ~ the most dominant, powerful, or assertive man in a particular group. (

I’m not sure when Alpha Male became a mainstream term. I started reading romance novels in the mid-80s. There was a pawn shop beside our restaurant that also sold used books. The owner was kind enough to rent me books to read and I devoured book after book of Mills and Boon and Silhouette romances. Some books were really old, probably published in the 70s. I don’t remember any of the stories except that the hero is usually older (a lot older actually) than the heroine and it’s usually at the end of the book when the hero reveals his true feelings. Otherwise, he is a male chauvinistic arrogant pig for most of the novel. The plots were highly repetitive and formulaic.

Gentle Rouge ~ Johanna Lindsey
Gentle Rouge ~ Johanna Lindsey

The 1980‘s was also the era of the bodice ripper novels. The covers of these books were half-naked men reminiscent of Fabio. I think the original Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey had Fabio on the cover. This was the time when Johanna Lindsey was an auto-buy for me, and who can ever forget the beloved Malory saga? It was the time of the rakes, the rogues and the pirates—it was historical romances at its peak. And yes, arrogance is still a typical trait of the male hero.

I’m not sure what happened during the 1990’s, but in early 2000, the term Alpha came on my radar.  A time when I was trying to be the dominant over my dog as a trainer told me dogs are by nature pack animals, and I had to be its Alpha otherwise it would be difficult for me to control him.

A Hunger Like no Other
A Hunger Like no Other

I think the word Alpha male became more prevalent during the explosion of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy novels in the year 2005-2006. This was when The Black Dagger Brotherhood, Psy-Changeling, Immortals after Dark and Mercy Thompson novels had their debut. Specially with werewolf themed books, the term “Alpha” comes naturally and would refer to the most dominant, most cunning and strongest member of a pack.

I had my theories about the rise of the paranormal/urban fantasy genre and I think it stemmed from the Underworld  movie (2003), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), and Angel (1999-2004) TV series.

Before this explosion, we already had Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake (1993), Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001), Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter Series (2002), and to some degree, Ann Rice’s Interview with a Vampire (1976).

Fangirl hysteria took over with the Twilight trilogy (2008). I have not read these books but was told that they were well-written. Watching the movie first discouraged me from reading the books because I do not want my vampires to sparkle. I think this spawned a genre of teen-paranormal romances. No, I have not read any of these either.

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey

What I have read was the Twilight Fan Fiction that became a worldwide phenomenon: The 50 shades of Grey trilogy by E.L James. This has spawned another sub-genre of romantic fiction—controlling, possessive, tortured Alpha male. And, should I add billionaire?

Beautiful Disaster
Beautiful Disaster

To some extent, the success of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire inspired the New Adult phenomenon that has taken over a chunk of book sales. The angst-filled plots are usually between a tattooed bad boy/rockstar and a girl with a dark past college-age romance.

Book Cover trend: still, half-naked men … tattoos required.

The term Alpha Male has now entered the consciousness of the reading populace. After reading over 200 fiction novels this past year and meeting one form of Alpha Male to another, I felt I should give my top five (or six) per genre. Why not lump them all in a Top Ten? Let’s face it: I can’t put Jericho Z. Barrons and Christian Grey in one column can I? I mean, come on.

Paranormal/ Urban Fantasy

Shadow Fever
Shadow Fever
  1. Jericho Z. BarronsFever series. He defines Alpha Male in every sense of the word. What exactly is Jericho Barrons? Highlight spoiler here. He is thousands of years old, cannot die and turns into a 9-foot monster.
  2. Curran – the Beast Lord of Atlanta. Alpha of a pack of Shapeshifters in the Kate Daniels World.
  3. Dragos Cuelebre – Dragon Bound, Elder Races series
  4. Lothaire – The enemy of old, one of the most ancient of vampires. Immortals after Dark series.
  5. Adam Hauptman – Alpha of the Columbian basin pack. Fourth in line for the title of Marrok (leader of the werewolves of North America). Mercy Thompson series.

Contemporary Fiction

Motorcycle Man
Motorcycle Man
  1. Sebastian Stark ~ Surviving Raine /*edited May 31*/ – He is crass, rude, an ass but he can also be needy, possessive and jealous. He needs to be in a psyche ward and I can’t believe he just dislodged my KA alphas, but he did. Something about taking three men apart with his bare hands. I have a serious weakness for badass.
  2. Kane “Tack” AllenMotorcycle Man. The biker boss to end all biker bosses. He put an engagement ring on his woman while she was unconscious in the hospital. {I have a feeling though when the 2nd chaos novel Fire Inside comes out, Hop Kincaid will be my favorite badass biker}
  3. Colorado Mountain Man series ~ Kristen Ashley {Tatum Jackson, Ty Walker  … ’nuff said.}
  4. The Hot Bunch – Kristen Ashley’s Nightingale Investigation boys. Partners to the Rock Chicks.
  5. Jesse Ward – This Man trilogy
  6. Christian Grey – Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy

I realize that some may argue with my choices. I have never really gotten into the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, I’ve read the first three. I haven’t read the Night Huntress series either. Sound off in the comment section. Who is your Ultimate Alpha Male?


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