Manual Undeniable Demands (Mills & Boon Desire) (Secrets of Eden, Book 1)

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He creates the erotic focus of the work. He is also, however, constrained in certain ways by societal mores—both those of the story in which he finds himself, and those of the author who creates him. As a consequence, since most romances are written by women, the portrayal of the hero is most often influenced by the social reality of women. This is no less true for lesbian romances. Romance fiction allows authors to create heroes who may diverge from acceptable contemporary social and cultural parameters, thereby freeing the reader to embrace extreme psychosexual experiences in a defensible and safe forum.

The alpha hero illustrates this inherent duality of social unacceptability and secret desirability more clearly than any other. The alpha hero, as with most heroes, is depicted as intelligent and supremely confident—a leader and a warrior.

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What critically defines him however is his ultraprotective, overtly territorial, controlling, and domineering nature. Sexually he is aggressive and often compels the heroine to accept his sexual advances by overpowering her emotionally and psychologically, if not outright physically, earning him the reputation of being a brute, an abuser, or a jerk. He appeared frequently in the historical romance, the most popular form of romance fiction until the late twentieth century, as Lord of the Manor. The single word that crystallizes both his appeal and his malignity is power.

The alpha hero is in possession of power, and he wields it without apology. As with all heroes, what prevents the alpha hero from being despicable and allows the heroine and by extension, the reader to embrace him is his hidden vulnerability—his secret need, his private torment, the wounds that only the heroine can heal.

With the rise of feminism in the last quarter of the twentieth century, the alpha hero fell out of favor. Women in a fight for equality, recognition, and self-actualization rejected the dominating male persona along with the need to be protected, either from the outside world or their own inner impulses.

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Virginity was no longer an essential requirement for the romance heroine. The male, the hero, no longer held all the power in the sexual arena.

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In fiction, as in life, women sought partners, not father-figures, saviors, or knights in shining armor. In contradistinction to the alpha male, the beta male was more of a friend than a protector—more able to communicate his feelings, more sensitive, less controlling, less dominating. Forced seduction scenes disappeared. The late twentieth century saw the emergence of the lesbian hero in romance fiction, along with an explosion of lesbian romances ushered in by the pulp fiction era of the s and s.

The lesbian hero, however, is not a simple replica of the male hero, except with different body parts. She is, in fact, her own archetype, in early works close to the classic butch lesbian persona that pre-dated both the sexual revolution and gay liberation movements. Just as the portrayal of the male hero was colored by social reality, so was the early lesbian hero a reflection of the social-sexual butch-femme dynamic within the lesbian community of the early- to mid-twentieth century. These women held traditional power roles and were often the POV characters.

Mysteries and romantic intrigue provided the perfect vehicle for merging the socially acceptable, newly independent female hero with the butch lesbian archetype. In Amateur City by Katherine V. Among similarly uniformed women in the Marine Corps, she had been resented for her unusual physical strengths and command presence. As the lead detective on the case, Kate is empowered with what traditionally had been reserved for men—the task of meting out justice.

She represents not only a female hero, but a lesbian hero in classic alpha form. She is physically strong, commanding, and in control in the bedroom. The lesbian hero was rising in popularity in lesbian romance fiction as the alpha male hero was simultaneously losing his place, temporarily at least, to the beta hero. Many similarities existed between the male and female alphas, however. The lesbian hero of the 60s, 70s, and 80s was often a loner, often assumed responsibility for others, willingly sacrificed herself for the greater good, and was the driving force behind the erotic tension in a work.

Unlike the alpha male hero, however, the lesbian hero would always stop short of any kind of sexual encounter to which she was not invited. While the lesbian hero found her voice, what then became of the alpha male? Did he slink back to his cave or his castle , relegated to a footnote in the history of romance fiction?

He exploded back onto the romance scene a changed man—literally—in a form more acceptable to the liberated woman. The alpha male returned with claws, fangs, and wings, becoming even more of an alpha-creature than previously—larger, more dangerous, darker, and more deadly. He also resumed his controlling, territorial, and dominant ways.

The paranormal romance genre provided a stage upon which it was once again permissible to write a hero who was dominant, aggressive, protective, and controlling, and who claimed his woman for all the world to see. When the alpha male reemerged in heterosexual romance, he was paired with a strong, independent, aggressive heroine befitting the social role of the late-twentieth-century woman, thereby re-igniting the essential conflict at the heart of all good romance fiction. This new old dynamic is evidenced in this passage from River Marked by Patricia Briggs , which illustrates the instinctive aggressiveness of the alpha male, Adam, countered by the willing acceptance of his aggression and the control over it exerted by the heroine, Mercy.


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She is not dominated by his sexual drive or his territorial aggression. She welcomes it even as she tempers it. Beside me, Adam rose with a snarl. I lowered my head to show that I was not a threat. After a bad change, it would be a few minutes before Adam had a leash on his wolf. I tilted my head to give him my throat.

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Sharp teeth brushed against my skin, and I shivered. Chapter In this passage the alpha hero is literally an alpha—in this case an alpha wolf, and the heroine recognizes and accepts his innate need to claim her. He, in turn, recognizes her independence he seeks her acceptance with his nose just under her ear. Her submission is willing she gives him her throat and his dominance teeth at her throat is both consensual and sexually arousing.

The key to their relationship of equals is consent. In lesbian fiction, the hero has never been male, but that does not mean the lesbian hero is not alpha. The lesbian butch hero slowly underwent a transformation, just as did the alpha hero in heterosexual romance fiction, as the romance genre diversified and as societal gender roles blended.

Romantic intrigue, swords and sorcery, space opera, and other romance subgenres where women held positions of power became more and more popular. Then the paranormal romance revolution hit lesbian fiction a decade after the similar surge in mainstream fiction. Suddenly, lesbian heroes could be Weres, Vampires, demons, and other preternatural beings.

These heroes are as alpha as any alpha male hero ever hoped to be. Like the male alpha hero, the lesbian alpha hero is driven by her primal instincts to mate, to protect her young, to preserve her species, and to defend those she leads. She is also most effectively paired with a strong heroine, which generally creates a great deal of the internal conflict that drives the romance.

Like her male counterpart, she is often a loner, secretly wounded, and in need of healing or redemption. Perhaps most important within the context of lesbian romantic relationships, the lesbian alpha hero has given us, for the first time in our romance fiction, what the alpha male always brought to heterosexual romance fiction—the opportunity to write and experience unfettered sexual aggression.

Just as is true in heterosexual paranormal romance fiction, the inherent sexual aggression of the alpha hero, male or female, has been validated by their very nature—these are not humans, but preternatural creatures driven by inhuman instincts, needs, and desires. No one can fault an alpha werewolf for being excessively territorial, for claiming her mate with a bite or demanding submission from a lover. We cannot criticize a vampire who enthralls the object of her desire when she prepares to feed and forces her lover to orgasm in the process.

Forced seduction becomes biologically permissible and, most importantly, consensual. Near the conclusion of the novel, Sylvan, the werewolf Alpha, takes umbrage at anyone who touches her new mate Drake—even if that touch is the purely pragmatic examination of the Pack medic, Sophia:.

She had felt Sylvan calling out to her long before Sylvan had reached the room, had felt her power—hungry and demanding. She scraped her teeth over the bite and Sylvan shuddered.


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  • Sylvan grasped Drake behind the head and yanked her forward, covering her mouth in a ferocious kiss. She drew Sylvan in, welcomed her questing tongue, her demanding mouth. The more she gave—the more she took—the calmer Sylvan became. By portraying a female alpha in whom dominance, aggression, and territoriality are innate and not assumed—not only beyond her control but admirable and acceptable in certain circumstances—Raand and other authors of lesbian paranormal romance set the stage for the ultimate romantic challenge, the literal taming of the beast within by love.

    Sexually the two are often equally aggressive, allowing a dynamic exchange of power within fluid gender boundaries. The lesbian alpha thus can be seen to serve the same function in a romance as does the alpha male—she presents a larger-than-life hero with unquenchable erotic power, a dominant personality, and a proprietary attitude toward her mate likely to infuriate an equally strong heroine—all within a context that allows the contemporary heroine to embrace her, even when she bites.

    It is not a coincidence that as mainstream and queer romance converge upon the figure of the alpha paranormal heroine, there are signs of increased interest in queer romance generally from the mainstream romance community. And there is no question that the romance novel, like the broad romance tradition from which it developed, will continue to reflect and refract the hopes and dreams of those who seek a safe space to imagine their deepest desires.

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