Over the Top (Hereâ€™s to Beta Males)
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.
I canâ€™t remember the first time I ever heard the term, Alpha Male, but it was in reference to the heroes I was supposed to write for my romantic suspense novels back in the early 90â€™s. My guys werenâ€™t always â€œheroicâ€ enough, according to the second editorâ€¦yeah, the one who told me she didnâ€™t want me to write suspense because â€œwhether the guy and girl get together is suspenseful enough.â€ Come to think of it, she really seriously liked Alpha Men.
Me? I refused to write cowboys, sheiks, billionaires. Warriors and soldiers, yes. Bodyguards and detectives, yes. Healers and teachers and scientists, yes, but much iffier. Much. Physicists keep coming up again and again for me!
My heroes were troubled, brooding sorts. Sensitive and often a little out-of-place in the world. Some like puppy dogs whoâ€™d do anything for their heroine, even die for her. They were overly protective of women, adoring, but didnâ€™t treat them like crap as a prelude to lovemakingâ€¦which, come to think of it, she was often the initiator thereof. Oooooooh.
Or as Editor #2 said, â€œYour heroine thinks like a hero and your hero thinks like a girl.â€ Editor #1, whoâ€™d just left, had loved my characters and so did I, but maybe thatâ€™s why I like to write Alpha Females.
Fast-forward to a conversation with an erotica author who does bondage books in 2006. Her books do quite well, she says. Hey, how many different ways can you tie up a woman and have her ravished by a sexy vampire, werewolf, alien shapeshifter, and a sheik or two? All in one night?
What about books where the womanâ€™s in charge of the knot-tying? I ask, coincidentally remembering a friend explaining once that every tool needed for bondage can be found in the pet section at any Wal-Mart.
The author gives me a disapproving look and explains that â€œthoseâ€ books just donâ€™t sell. â€œThoseâ€ books being erotica novels where the men are submissive instead of the women. Oh, occasionally thereâ€™s a female alien commander who takes a male slave from another alien race and he becomes her playthingâ€¦until he reverses the role and then suddenly sheâ€™s donning his handcuffs forever and giving up her throne to him. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Like aliens are that good in bed.
But the author explains that readers of erotica prefer their bondage only one wayâ€”with the women submissive every time. Itâ€™s really a hot market, she says, and she sells it quite well.
Thatâ€™s not the focus of my books. My novels tend to be extremely complicated plots with lots of twists and turns. However, the sex lives of my protagonist and her suitors tend to derive from their characters as well as from the plot, so this story Iâ€™m thinking of will most definitely not be puritanical. Odd, but my thrillers and suspense novels tend to have much more sex in them than my romance novels.
So here I am contemplating this really hot new series of erotic thrillers featuring black ops, black technology, and black magick (yeah, I know the difference). I figured Iâ€™d put a little something extra into my love scenes but now, knowing that male submission is unpopular in commercial fiction, Iâ€™m trying to figure out how to get the best of both worlds. You know, let her be dominatedâ€¦just a little. Think Iâ€™ll let my heroine surprise her top with handcuffs and a taser when he least expects it.
Yeah, that wicked laugh you heard was mine.