Top Ten Cruelest Alpha Heroes in Romance Novels
There is something very intriguing about a horrible alpha hero. No matter how distusting and depraved, if they have an ounce of good looks and charisma there is a desire for redemption. When I was watching the HBO Deadwood series on DVD recently I became entranced with the brothel owning anti hero played by (Ian McShane) who was utterly disgusting and deplorable, and a most beautiful foil for the good looking sheriff (played by Timothy Olyphant), who, dispite his upstanding integrity, falls for the seduction of infidelity. I desired to know what terrible childhood had created such a tough shell. The show is filled with such cruel alpha males seeking to survive and find their fortunes in a brutal environment. None of the women featured were saved a measure of heartbreak, if they made the mistake of opening their hearts to these men.
When I began writing "The House on Black Lake" I had no idea how my hero would take shape. His background was clear to me - wealthy descendant of old Montreal family, blessed with preternatural good looks, raised with the finest education and social experiences, taught to be a man by shooting big game in the wilds of Africa and learning to tame animals from native descendants on Black Lake. Hero Ramey Sandeley was not strictly of my imagination, as I have known similar men. But once he came alive in my novel he had a mind of his own.
There are many scenes in my book where I believe he is cruel and selfish with heroine, Alexandra Brighton. But it is also clear to me that his intense connection with Alexandra terrifies him, as well his her role in his unfolding fate. The fact that his mother abandoned him by taking her own life and his wife, Ruth, is an alcoholic who tricked him into marriage, makes him terrified of being emotionally close to a woman. So, the cruelties he exhibits appear to me more as boyish ways to fend off his own feelings of vulnerability and abandonment, as well as a fierce desire to help Alexandra grow out of her cocoon into a worthy counterpart -rather than the desire to hurt or destroy her.
Ramey has inherited a position within the power elite. He knows the ways of international commerce and government. His perceptions are skewed do to the nature of his position in society. Although Alexandra, world weary and reeling from a cruel divorce, is literally his captive during her stay on Black Lake and he is involved in her transformation inside the French Canadian underground, his goal is to release her from the psychological imprisonment of society. In a dramatic scene in a shed behind the old Victorian on the island on Black Lake Ramey picks up a length of rope and asks Alexandra to tie his hands and do whatever she likes with him, so she can feel the power that drives her suppressors. When she declines and tells him he's acting crazy he responds: "How do you decide what's crazy? How do you determine what's good or bad unless you've tried it? Whose rules do you live by, anyway? Who tells you how you should live your life or feel about anything. Is it you, Baby? Or is it your parents, your husband, your priest, or some fucking magistrate. Don't judge me until you can ask those questions of yourself and be completely honest with the answer." Ramey believes that by breaking Alexandra's shell her soul will be set free - but she does not share his insights. There is a tremendous power struggle between the two, and this struggle marks the beginning of Alexandra's growth as a woman.
On the other hand, the character of Georgie La Point, Ramey's cousin, a prominent French Canadian rock star, is another matter altogether. Also emotionally broken in childhood (his mother left his father for the stained glass craftsman hired to inlay the family crest in their front door), he is cruel and evil to the bone, with no hope of redemption. The man is a supreme narcissist who grooms his hair in the reflection in the eyes of his admirers, makes love to his own singing, and has never been with a woman more than once. No woman can tame this man and those who try will become damaged goods. So, Georgie is the villain in my story, and I had great fun having Alexandra challenge him in very provocative settings.
I have made a list of the top ten cruelest, meanest, most horrible heroes in romance novels (thanks to the Amazon Romance Community for their input).
1. Domenico, The Silver Devil, by Teresa Denys
2. Felipe, The Flesh and the Devil, by Teresa Denys
3. Sean, Stormfire, by Christine Monsoon
4. Dillan, Into the Fire, by Anne Stuart
5. Bastian, Black Ice, by Anne Stuart
6. Gray, After the Night, by Linda Howard
7. Steve, Sweet Savage Love, by Rosemary Rogers
8. Rodrigo, Fearless, Diane Palmer
9. Rolf, Risk Everything, Sophia Johnson
10 Dominic, Wicked Loving Lies, by Rosemary Johnson