Harlequin Presents, Sexy Sensation, Mills and Boon Modern Heat

Question :: Can Alpha males have a soft squishy side?

Welcome, sensation seekers!

Anna Cleary here to let you all know that recently the Modern Heat authors were posed with a tricky conundrum. It just happens to be the same little old question romance authors down the centuries have wrestled with every night, rending their pillows and confounding their amors.

Can the heroes of our fantasies show tender qualities? Or do we desire them more if they're confident autocrats, as flint-hard as their bronzed chests and chiselled jaws, as cool and focused as the ice-blue eyes on a gunslinger? (Possibly one who looks like Viggo Mortensen ;))

Is it a case of the harder the case, the greater the payoff when the heroine brings him to his knees? Or do readers sometimes like tosee a hero who gets confused, feels insecure, panics, falls about laughing, tears up, feels sorry for lost kittens --you know, soft and squishy? Well, here's what we think!

Ally Blake, whose THE MAGNATE'S INDECENT PROPOSAL is out this month in Australia and New Zealand, says...

Heck yeah! And here's why ;).

When I start writing a hero I don't tend to think in terms of Alpha or Beta or Gamma or Whoever, I am just writing about The Man. And in a line like Modern Heat the hero certainly needs to own thecapital M. My guys start out strong, successful, hard-headed, confident. They are the definition of the leader of the pack. But then along comes an Ally Blake heroine and somethingdefinitely starts to go awry.

Suddenly these captains of industry are applying band-aids toscraped knees, they find themselves washing dogs covered in upturned cake, they are turned to mush watching a woman wearing nothing but their discarded business shirt as she tucks into a chocolate croissant at three in the morning.

And isn't that half the fun? Watching as the epitome of the unrufflable man become ruffled?

Trish Wylie, whose CLAIMED BY THE BILLIONAIRE BAD BOY is also out now in Australia and New Zealand says...

Oh yes indeedy he can. But he'd rather chew off an arm than show it. To me an Alpha is that strong, protective type who will wear his self-control like a Harry Potter cloak of invisibility. He has the same wants and needs as any human being on the planet but it's not easy to see it past that cloak. Then along comes the one woman who can peel it off him in more ways than one ;) And he'll fight to keep his control, but he really doesn't stand a chance...

Gotta love that process in a Modern Heat?!

But then there's nothing quite like a strong man made weak by his need for that one woman, is there? Y-U-M!!!

Heidi Rice, whose THE TYCOON'S VERY PERSONAL ASSISTANT is out now in the UK says...

Can an alpha male have a soft, squishy side?

Can he be tender and nurturing as well as tough and taciturn?

Yes sirree, he certainly can, but he's going to keep those qualities well hidden, behind a wall of self-confidence and sex appeal and industrial-strength testosterone, behind an in-built desire to be in charge, to dominate and to always get what he wants — or, at least, what he thinks he wants.

So it's going to take a very special woman to bite through that hard outer shell, that cast-iron control and get to that dark and delicious chocolate truffle center.

To get to that part of him that needs things he doesn't want to need and wants things he doesn't think he should want. She'll have to have guts and grit and determination, because she'll have to stand up to him, and frustrate him, and drive him nuts.

She'll have to use every weapon in her arsenal (and yes, we could even be talking about lacy underwear here) and risk everything to make him see that soft and squishy can be good, that vulnerability isn't bad. And while she's doing it she'll go through the scariest, most heartbreaking moments of her life — and the sexiest, funniest and most exciting and exhilarating ones too (with or without the thong).

Hey, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. Right?

And luckily for me as a Modern Heat author, somebody gets to write about it too.

Kate Hardy, whose ONE NIGHT, ONE BABY is out in August in the US, says...

My editor decribes my heroes as "Kate Hardy's clever hero-with-a-heart" - in other words, my alphas have squishy sides. So I've had Leo in
Mistress on Trial all protective and bossing Rose about while being thoughtful enough to buy his niece a stained-glass colouring book; Giovanni in Breakfast at Giovanni's, who puts his family before his own dreams (and was teased rotten by his sisters in his teenage years for what he does when he's under stress... you'll have to read the book to find out!); and you wait until you meet Alex in Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded (UK September release) - though you'll need a box of tissues with that as it made my ed and my agent cry!

Now, as my colleagues are all using this as an excuse to post pictures of totty, I'm going to do the same. My own favourite Alpha hero is one who's not afraid to tell the world how much he loves his wife. He has a soft and squishy side, and yet he's more than happy to take the lead. (And how many men do you know who could do the voiceover for a cat and reduce women to a puddle? 'Shrek?' / 'For you, I could be.' Ohhhhh.) Take a bow, Mr Banderas. A definite Alpha with a squishy side.

Nicola Marsh says...

There's nothing sexier than a strong, capable guy showing a hint of vulnerability. A take-charge, super confident, alpha male in his prime with a heart of gold. The type of guy to sweep us off our feet...while not ashamed to massage them for us later!

Anne Oliver says...

Absolutely. Even if he only shows it to the heroine (and babies and small animals). In my opinion there's nothing more heroic than an otherwise powerful and/or ruthless man prepared toshow his gentler side. It's what makes him human...and irresistible.

And I say...

I have to admit I like them hard, on the outside at least. And on the inside to the degree that they're steel all the way through in matters of honour and integrity. As to tenderness-- Nothing is more likely to melt my knees than a tough guy treating someone (say...the heroine --i.e. moi!) gently. And I adore heroes who laugh.(And mock and tease us with their smiling eyes and bold, seductive grins), just like Tom Russell, that cocksure corporate cowboy in TAKEN BY THE MAVERICK MILLIONAIRE out in the UK right NOW!.

So what's our final verdict?

WE like 'em lean, but not mean. Tough, though never rough. WE like a man to be confident enough in his manliness to show us his sweet tender centre, and smart enough to know he can let down his guard to a strong, loving woman and keep his machismo intact.

Agree? Come on now, who doesn't adore dark chocolate truffles at bedtime?

wishing you love

And don't forget to check out this month's Modern Heat, Harlequin Presents and Sexy Sensation releases all over the world on the Book Releases page always in the sidebar!!!

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  • At July 5, 2008 at 3:35 PM, Blogger Aideen said…

    Hi all,

    I'm going to try reading the post again...
    I managed only to get as far as Viggo and my words abandoned me.
    Seriously, I can't think right now...I'll be back.


  • At July 6, 2008 at 8:15 AM, Blogger Aideen said…

    I really did intend on returning last night, I only popped into the kitchen to make a new cuppa but 300 was on sky movies so...Gerard Butler half naked. Need I say more?
    I remember an ad for kleenex some years back where two sisters were discussing men. It was decided that men should in fact be like the tissues said sisters were using; Soft, strong...disposable.
    Scrap the disposable part if referring to our alpha hero.
    I love, positively adore when the proud male is brought to his knees by love. And not just any old kind of love, the love only the true heroine can offer him.
    Of course they can have a squishy side, in fact its the no.1 requirment in my opinion. Why else would he deserve the love of such a good woman? Power, determination, strength, stamina all are fantastic attributes but admittedly, at least for me, its when he realises the world is simply a better place for the heroine being in it that gets to me every time. That and when he decides he must have her now and the sturdy oak kitchen table is within reach.
    So yes, definitely yes give them tenderness that's well disguised/hidden but is drawn forth beautifully by our willing women. That's romance, that's Modern Heat.

    All the best,

    P.S. More pictures of Viggo please!!

  • At July 7, 2008 at 7:12 AM, Blogger Liz Fielding said…

    I definitely enjoy a bit of squishyness, although maybe through gritted teeth -- he knows its a mistake, but when a dog and cake get involved a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. :)

    And ditto Viggo -- and Hugh, please.

  • At July 7, 2008 at 8:59 AM, Blogger Kate Hardy said…

    Aideen - oh, yes. Gerard Butler. I think he's fabulous in Nim's Island.

    And Liz - a man, a dog and a cake. Have you been reading my mind? That's the squishy moment for my current book! :o)

  • At July 7, 2008 at 5:59 PM, Blogger Ally Blake said…

    Waving to everyone who's come out to play!!!

    Kate, the dog and the cake were from my squishy bit. That was the moment that brought my Alpha Damien to his knees in my September Presents book. But I'm sure he wasn't the first, nor I to so gleefully use it so!

    Have just started writing a fellow who is turning out to be very unsquishable. So far ;).


  • At July 9, 2008 at 3:28 AM, Blogger Jill said…

    I do love a squishy center to my fictional heroes, heck I even like guys who are not alpha, but have an alpha core when their family is threatened or they feel it is necessary.
    I guess that would be squishy guys with tough chewy center? ;-)

  • At July 9, 2008 at 12:54 PM, Blogger Heidi said…

    Mmm alpha guys with squishy chewy centres, now that's what I like. Someone to sink your teeth into right.

    Sorry, lowering the tone again here. It must have been that Gerard Butler half naked crack that did it. I blame Aideen.

  • At July 24, 2008 at 12:03 PM, Blogger Lori x said…

    There were words on the page?.....guess I got distracted by the gorgeous men!;-)


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