The 1-2-3s of Romance Heroes

Now for my breakdown of the guys for romantic book trilogies.

Book 1: Alpha Male aka “The Head Honcho” – Usually in romance trilogies, the first hero is the one of the highest social rank (alpha male of the pack, king/prince/duke/earl, oldest son, leader of whatever group the trilogy heroes are a part of, etc.).  He’s the opposite of the more docile heroine he’ll be wooing – more domineering, inflated sense of his rank and never hesitant to put anyone in their place.

Book 2: Beta Male aka “The Second in Command” – This hero is usually the Head Honcho’s wingman or best friend.  He’s often also the “good guy” in the trio or the one most honor bound and solemn as a monk.  Well, I guess it does take a lot of patience to wear heroine #2 down.

Book 3: Omega Male aka “The Rebel Without a Cause” – The last story often involves the most rebellious, least mature of the trio.  Often, he’s the one getting into bad scrapes but he manages to handle himself quite well until heroine gets involved.  He is also a thwarted lover, of either one of the previous heroines or another girl from his adolescence or some years before the stories take place. Where he goes, trouble is likely to follow.

The 1-2-3s of Romance Heroines

I’ve started noticing a pattern when it comes to romance trilogy heroines, linked by male leads.

Book 1: The Outsider aka “Alice in Wonderland” – Heroine is brand new to the fold, be it a clan, coven, pack, planet, dimension, etc.  She doesn’t know the workings of the world she’s gotten into, so many of her pitfalls come from her lack of knowledge, and a majority of her role is uncovering the hero’s realm.  This heroine is more naive and docile.

Book 2: The Insider aka “The Warrior Princess” – This book’s heroine is often someone who is already part of the hero’s world, understands it but in some way has rejected it or doesn’t fit into it.  Out of the three heroines, she’s often the most independent minded.  She belongs to their world but isn’t necessary connected to the three main men until something happens to throw her into their path.  This heroine often has an axe to grind and will fight the hero of this novel more than if they were in Book 1.

Book 3: The Outlier aka “The Girl Next Door” – Often the last heroine and hero are people who were lingering around in the first and second books, that you thought would hook up then but ended up with their own stories.  Usually she’s connected to a large aspect of the previous novels – either as a sibling to one of the male leads or tied into a  overarching plot or continuing subplot device in the series. The heroine for Book 3 is well acquainted with the world she’s in (can be either an insider or outsider), but doesn’t feel like she belongs because of something in the past.  Book 3 heroines skew more toward knowing what they want but not how to get it.

The Next Big Thing

When I was at NYC Comic Con last October, most of the science fiction and fantasy titles announced involved shifters.  A few years before that, vampires were a bigger deal due to the Twilight craze (I think Team Jacob spurred the shifter trend) which has been winding its way back down.

I think I was lucky to spend my childhood in the late 90s, when it was a bigger, darker scene for sci-fi and fantasy.  The teen horror, sci-fi, and fantasy realms were run by R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Tamora Pierce, K.A. Applegate and quite a few other awesome people I can’t recall at the moment.  Nickelodeon aired “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” while Disney Channel had “So Weird.”  Dark stories for teens like The Hunger Games weren’t as uncommon, they were actually closer to the norm for children’s books at the time.

The first time I picked up on SFF trends, it was when Buffy hit the scene.  Suddenly, it was vampires everywhere.  It was at the tail end of that when Harry Potter became popular.  There was also a bit of alien/space opera still lingering from The X-Files and Firefly.  The witch trend was next, which had Harry Potter and Charmed and some other book series I can’t quite recall.  During college I kind of lost track of most media, but I think the it was the Twilight vampire bandwagon again, then followed by few fey stories were big those years.  Shifters/paranormal romance have now overtaken the scene but I feel like that’s winding down.

While I was meandering around the Regency era (I usually didn’t care for historical romance before), I started noticing that more historical paranormal and steampunk novels have been coming out.  Then looking at the Nebula Awards Nominees, there were more than two entries that fall into that category.  For an obscure sub-genre like historical paranormal to have that many entrants is peculiar.  I think that will be the next genre to get major print, especially after Supernatural’s Wild West episode airs, that might just be it’s shotgun to the race.