So I know we’re all supposed to be about the chest-beating, heavy-browed, foot-stomping, my-way-or-the-high-way, dominating alpha male, and, you know, I like a good caveman scene as much as the next girl, but there’s something I’ve been missing in the deluge of virility – the beta male. The quiet hero. The Oh-shucks-that’s-just-my-best-friend-until-he’s-something-more hero.
In my heart of heart’s that’s the hero I love. The one who sits in the back of the room and watches everyone, always with good humour and correct manners, whose strength and power lie in the fact that no one notices that he’s strong and powerful.
Yeah, that guy.
You know the one. You’ve met him in Jane Austen when Emma realises that Mr Knightley is worth a thousand Mr Churchills. You fell in love with him as Edmund Bertrum alongside Fanny Price even before he was played by the oh-so-adorable Jonny Lee Miller. You tune in to watch him weekly as he cajoles and charms his way around the New York City Homicide division, never once getting in the way of Kate Beckett but never quite getting out of her way either.
Beta heroes aren’t given a whole lot of credit. After all, theirs is not a flashy love. There’s no overwhelming of emotion, no raging arguments followed by raging sex. Often, they have loved the heroine from afar for years, but instead of crowding her, forcing her hand, pushing her into a relationship, they wait until she realises her own feelings, recognises the chemistry, and comes to them of her own volition.
There’s a depth to the beta hero that the alpha hero eschews. The beta loves deeply and thoroughly. He wants a partnership, a connection, and he’s not prepared to accept anything else.
And above all else, the beta hero has humour. Amusement often dances at the corner of his eye. He knows how to tease the heroine out of her bad mood, to see the lighter side, to find the silver lining. It’s his armour and his sword, and he wields it with the skill of one who has been doing so for decades. Because he’s been hurt, our beta male. He knows that he is not the one who gets the attention, that he is doomed to the sidekick role for all his alpha friends.
But that’s okay. The beta hero doesn’t need to be the centre of attention. He just needs to be the centre of one very special woman’s heart.
Some of my favourites:
- Colin Bridgerton, Romancing Mr Bridgerton, Julia Quinn
- Matthew, Untouched, Anna Campbell
- Avery Thorne, My Dearest Enemy, Connie Brockway
- Peeta, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins
- Rupert Carsington, Mr Impossible, Loretta Chase
- and, of course, Gideon, The Perfect Rake, Anne Gracie