Last week I wrote about “the man with the chest,” the strong Alpha male, and why he’s a character who doesn’t tend to show his disembodied head in my work. It got me thinking about the kinds of men I DO write about, and the many, many qualities a man can have aside from…a chest.
I’m not big-time into men, personally, and even when I was, the sort of man who drew my attention was not the type you’d generally see on the cover of a romance novel. But I’ve written many, many, many male characters over the years, so who are they?
The first “hero” (if you want to call him that) who springs to mind is Sandy from my novella Only Angels. If you judged him based solely on the cover of the book, you’d surely take him for a man with a chest. He HAS a chest, and a bare one, but he’s actually the most angelic of all the angels in the story—he’s a virgin, if you can believe it. A sweet, innocent virgin boy who is working essentially as a male prostitute at the “Only Angels” cougar club to help his family. Awww…so sweet. So, if a man’s not a “strong Alpha Male,” he might just be an innocent virgin like Sandy.
Next I think of Lawrence from the Audrey & Lawrence series, primarily because this character is based very much on the man whose mistress I was for 10 years of my life. Kind of hard to forget. Lawrence is trapped in a sexless marriage, and I guess I sort of portray him as falling victim to Femme Fatale Audrey in these stories. He doesn’t want to cheat on his wife. He tries to resist. He thinks of himself as a good man…but…well, Audrey won’t take no for an answer. Yes, he jerks her around a bit over the course of the series, but we see both characters’ vulnerabilities front and centre as we explore their relationship. So, if a man’s not a “strong Alpha Male,” he might just be desperate for love, like Lawrence.
Another male character who comes to mind is Professor Selyph from Secrets of the Solstice Sacrifice. Looks-wise, I modeled him on Professor Snape (yes, from Harry Potter) because…yeah, I think he’s monstrously hot. Selyph is a fay mystic in historical Wales. He’s a recluse and a curmudgeon, but when Trysta appears on his doorstep, he is entranced by her. Still, as a magical hermit and a solitary fairy, he doesn’t really know how to interact with her. I find his cluelessness in the domains of romance and seduction pretty adorable, actually. So, if a man’s not a “strong Alpha Male,” he might just be an awkward but loveable loner like Selyph.
I love geeks and wimps, hippies and hipsters, scrawny guys in skinny jeans, virgins and sweetheart loners. Not all male characters have to be Alphas, right? Not if you like girls on top.
What do you think, readers and writers? Have you encountered and enjoyed male characters who were not your typical “man with a chest”? Do tell!