one thing I’ve noticed over the past 15 years is that our alphas – just like us – have evolved. [...] It used to be that just getting the alpha to bend the knee to love was the culmination of the romance. Now the fantasy goes one step further – he must recognize the heroine as an equal partner and be prepared to negotiate in shaping their future lives.Given that I tend to avoid alpha heroes, and I haven't been reading romances for long enough to detect trends, I can't say I've noticed this sort of change. Have you?
I see this change in my own alphas, and those of many other major authors, presumably reflecting changing female perceptions of the ultimate romantic challenge. But what do you think?
What did occur to me, though, when reading this comment was that maybe it's not just about 'the ultimate romantic challenge'. Maybe women's ideas and fantasies about the ideal relationship have been changing? Maybe there are fewer and fewer readers who would believe in a Happily Ever After for a relationship in which the hero will never treat the heroine 'as an equal partner', and isn't 'prepared to negotiate in shaping their future lives'? As Monica Jackson rather provocatively puts it:
How about rich, dominant Harlequin Presents type heroes who will go to any lengths to possess you? He throws you on the bed and pounds you into a glob of quivering flesh, begging for mercy. He glowers at any man who speaks to you, including the waiter, his smouldering eyes shooting jealous sparks and catching tablecloths in five star restaurants on fire.This doesn't describe the heroes in the recent Harlequin Presents I've read, but I think she does raise an important issue. Control and fierce possessiveness are now recognised as a feature of many abusive relationships. Over the past couple of decades people have become more aware of the issue of domestic violence:
Those suckers scare me and they should scare you too. I always wonder why those silly heroines don’t realize that Him Big He Man is going to beat their rear-ends the next time they fling their locks and act feisty? It gets old after a while, Mary Sue. Yeah, it’s gonna get old to him too and you’re gonna be picking your butt up off the floor. Want an ice pack for that black eye? Keep the abuse hotline number handy.
In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year the first national toll-free hotline was begun. In 1989 the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month Commemorative Legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. (US Department of State).The BBC, for example, gives a list of possible warning signs that indicate that a relationship might be abusive. They include
* He has very rigid ideas about the roles of men and women and can't / won't discuss it reasonably.Does this describe some of the earlier alpha heroes? Is Laurens right that Alphas are changing? If so, is it because getting them to treat the heroine as an equal is more of a 'romantic challenge'? Or is it that fewer women can accept a happy ending that includes a relationship so unequal that the hero, confident in his own power and intelligence, believes that he always knows best and won't negotiate with the heroine?
* His mood swings are so erratic that you find yourself constantly trying to assess his mood and only think in terms of his needs. A healthy relationship has give and take.
* He makes all the decisions in your relationship and ignores your needs or dismisses them as unimportant.