Content warnings for mentions of sexual assault/”so-called-seduction” and generally awful behavior from these main characters
Why is it that in many romance novels, the word ‘alpha’ is often synonymous with ‘asshole’?
I don’t know why we’re getting this influx of assholes disguised as romantic leads, but I’m so over it.
I’m reading a couple of (largely heterosexual) erotic romance series right now and one thing that stands out to me is how even in novels that aren’t explicitly BDSM-y have these heroes that are two strikes away from starring as the villain in a Lifetime movie. These men may be attractive in looks with their stubble-roughened skin and smirks and their nice sexily tousled hair, but they have more in common with a shark or maybe Hannibal Lecter.
These “alpha” males are rough.
They take no shit from anyone, not even the heroine or their family.
Sometimes, you can’t even tell if they like the heroine at first as something other than a wet and mostly willing hole to fuck. Crude language, I know, but I’m so tired of this trend in romance that focuses on these outright jerks, the stuff of OK-Cupid horror stories, and tries to tell us that this is what’s attractive. That really, because these assholes are dominant in their sexual lives, that it excuses how badly he treats the heroine (and most of the women that he interacts with).
It’s such a pet peeve for me because this bad behavior is constantly being excused both by the authors writing these alpha assholes and the readers swooning over the supposedly romantic interactions. This happens even when the author outright writes an asshole as the “hero”. (Another pet peeve!!)
The thing is that Romancelandia is starting to seem overpopulated by these asshole alphas. If you pick up romance or an erotic romance, even looking for something that doesn’t have signs of BDSM on the front cover or blurb gets you one of those guys. They don’t seem to like or even respect the women they’re sleeping with.
How is that attractive?
Am I missing the point?
I thought alpha males (in romance novels at least) were supposed to be protectors and shit. Not a potential main character in a Law and Order SVU episode.
Seriously, I started reading Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren and I legit didn’t understand why the two characters were having sex. The “hero” was insulting, rude, and pushy as hell. He treated the heroine like shit in the first chapter of the book and there was no excusing it. It’s not negotiated humiliation or anything like that. This isn’t part of a scene. He’s just an asshole.
Why is this becoming a standard in these books?
Why do the Doms in BDSM romances tend towards the scary kind? No respect for women. No respect for boundaries. No respect for the word no (because of course, they know better than anyone what women want. If the body is wet, the mind must be interested… Of course.) They treat their heroines like crap and not only do they get away with it or wind up rewarded in the narrative, but they also set the stage for further asshole characters.
. I don’t think that the genre is a complete loss, I’ve been lucky to read books by some great authors who understand that there’s more to being dominant than insulting women and ignoring verbal and physical responses in order to have their way.
I have found some fantastic erotic romances where the heroes are delightfully dominant but they aren’t overbearing jerkwads who think that their hot bods and pretty faces make up for the fact that there are shrubs with better personalities out there.
I’m still looking for more wonderful books/series but off-hand, here are two of my favorite series recs.
First, Jenny Trout (as Abigail Barnette) has a fantastic and very realistic BDSM series in The Boss. This book got me back into erotic romance because it’s super diverse in terms of characters and experiences, I love the relationship between Neil and Sophie (the MCs with a huge age difference between them), and the sex scenes are kinky and HOT!
Then, there’s Rebekah Weatherspoon makes getting in shape sexy with her Fit Trilogy. I love this series. It’s lighter than what I normally read and it’s so freaking fun. Rarely do I get to read erotic romance (or romance of any kind) where there’s a character that I feel matches me inside and out. I got that with the last book in the trilogy and it was so good. They’re full stories with shared characters stretching across books and at the end of the trilogy, if you’re like me, then all you want is to read more about the characters.
Those are just two of the series that’ve helped me get back on the horse of erotic romance, but they’re so important to me because they’re not the norm and I reread both series constantly.
If you read erotic romances (or romances at all), what tropes are you tired of? What books would you rec to someone like me that’s sick and tired of the alpha asshole in erotic romance?