The other day I got to wondering, would I date one of Lora Leigh’s heroes?
(Before you answer that, be sure you have all the facts: Read about Lora Leigh’s newest hero, Abram el Hamid Mustafa, in an excerpt of Dangerous Pleasure.)
What I mean is, we are all modern-day independent women, juggling jobs, homes, and families (Helen Reddy would be proud). So I have to ask, what is it about a Lora Leigh hero that makes us put our feminist side in the closet and drool over a sometimes chauvinistic, often over-bearing male who proclaims loudly and often that he is the MAN and in charge?
The kind of heroes, in the alphabet soup of men, who clearly fall under “A” for Alpha.
Ms. Leigh’s heroes are all extremely intelligent, have superior strength, a strong drive to protect the innocent, possess keen instincts and are adept at leading. Following? Not so much. They also have, in one way or another, a truckload of personal demons and angst to contend with. Combining these elements is a guaranteed recipe for creating an alpha male whose word is law, and who in many ways, still believes it’s the year of the cave man. It’s almost inexplicable that those of us who not only bring home the bacon, but also fry it up in a pan, can sizzle (like our bacon!) every time a Lora Leigh book comes out with a brand new Alpha herp to love and adore. It takes a special kind of author to get me to love a guy who has all manner of personality disorders.
I don’t know about you, but it would definitely throw me for a loop if a man asked me to have a relationship with him, BUT, and it’s a big but, only if he could share me with his two brothers. I’m thinking most women would say, “lose my number” while beating a hasty retreat to the nearest exit. And that’s what Marly (Marly’s Choice), Sarah (Sarah’s Seduction), and Heather (Heather’s Gift) almost do in Ms. Leigh’s Men of August series. But they don’t. OH Kay...not your typical scenario to a happily ever after, but stick with me.
The August brothers, Cade, Brock, and Sam, have a special place in my heart because they were my first LL heroes. They are three big-time alphas who have the shared trauma of being sexually abused as adolescents. It’s a scar that runs deep, but together they’ve emerged strong and defiant and have forged a life that is solely on their terms. The only caveat is that part of their healing process includes sharing women, and they have to convince the women they fall in love with to agree to be part of the way they uniquely love. How does one go about that?
Well, the thing about the August brothers that more than balances their alpha tendencies, is the strength with which they love and their honesty, and that’s what takes them from an alpha male who is a cave man to an alpha male who is heroic. In Seducing Sarah, Brock confesses to Sarah what he and his brothers have gone through and why he needs to share her, she’s still freaked out and unable to process it all; but Brock tells her:
“Don’t you understand, baby? You stand between me and the darkness. You always have. I’m different, Sarah, because I offer you everything I am. Inside and out,” he pleaded with her to understand. It was in his eyes, the throb of his voice. “I don’t just offer myself, but my brothers, their love for me, given to you. Their only aim in life to provide for you, to care for you... Just that, Sarah. That’s all. All we are and all the love we have left in us.”
Now, is there anything sexier than a man baring his soul? Telling you that he’ll give you all his love? That’s why the August brothers are dominant alpha maniacs who not only win Marly, Sarah and Heather’s hearts, but this feminist’s heart as well. Interestingly, Leigh wrote the novella, August Heat, as a coda to the three previous books. August Heat reveals that each brother is married to their heroine, healed, healthy, happy, and monogamous. Thanks, Lora!
In Leigh’s Breed Series, we have a whole ’nother alpha animal to contend with–pun intended.
For those of you who have never read this series, Breeds are men and women (some amazing heroines) who were part of a genetic experiment where human and animal DNA were combined for the purpose of making the ultimate warriors. They were bred and held as animals, tortured and experimented on and lived under barbaric conditions. Their rescue and re-entry into society is tumultuous at best. Becoming part of society, living with humans, fighting for equality and entering a world that is foreign to them are part of each book. So you can imagine these heroes, who have both animal and human instincts fight to protect their race and a find a place in the world, will be all about the ‘law of the jungle’ where every living thing bends to the will of the strongest, because only the strong survive. How’s a heroine going to contend with that, I ask you?
The reason the Breed series works so well is that each hero is given a heroine who can take it AND dish it out. She’s not going to be singing “Some day my prince will come, And away to his castle we’ll go, To be happy forever I know;" she’s singing, “I got a twenty dollar gold piece says there ain’t nothin I can’t do – I can make a dress out of a feed bag and I can make a man out of you.”
You see, this series takes the cave man and makes him an alpha hero because of the heroine. It’s just that simple, because when an alpha hero enters into a partnership with his heroine instead of an ownership, then you have the makings of a glorious relationship.
When Cabal in Bengal’s Heart is furious with his mate, reporter Cassa Hawkins, for not listening to him and putting herself in dangerous situations in order to find answers to a series of murders she yells at him:
“Go to hell!”... “I’m not some weak-kneed little bitch you can order around.”
Her controlled fury, combined with the truth, makes Cabal think for the first time, and he finally admits to himself that she is his equal:
It had bothered him, he admitted that now. It was something he hadn’t wanted to admit before. Just as he hadn’t wanted to see what it was doing to her. He wanted to protect her. He had wanted her to demand her rights from him as he’d seen her do with others she went up against. He had wanted her to challenge him. He hadn’t realized until this moment how she had been challenging him. Daring him to be a true mate. Daring him to be her equal.
The thing about an alpha that will make a feminist like me swoon and not gag is when he can admit that the heroine is his partner and together they can only be stronger. The Breeds series has that in spades.
Leigh’s Nauti Boy series brings us several contemporary/romantic suspense heroes from Kentucky—the Mackay cousins and their assorted friends and relatives. They’re badasses from the South with a take-no-prisoners attitude, living life on their own terms. They all, in one way or another, become the alpha hero who gets knocked for a loop when they meet the woman that will define their lives.
This could be a typical trope with the requisite hero found in many books, but in the hands of Ms. Leigh, well, she gives you an inside view to the turmoil and confusion that each man in this series goes through when he has to re-examine what his priorities are and learn how to act when he loves someone enough to share his life with. When love takes hold of their hearts their minds are slow to catch up, but when it finally happens they all turn into alpha heroes who are willing to LEARN. Now that’s exceptional.
Nauti Intentions is a brilliant example of this because Janey Mackay teaches Alex Jansen what it means to love, and she does that by simply loving him. No tricks, no gimmicks, no hijinks, just a steadfast and heartfelt compassion and love for another person. Alex doesn’t believe in love, so he has no way of knowing what it is, but he does know that he has powerful feelings for Janey and he can’t let her go. And as he tries to explain his feelings it becomes clear what he truly feels for her.
His throat locked up at the thought of trying to explain it, tightened with emotion he didn’t know how to describe. This wasn’t what he had heard love described as. This wasn’t what he had seen love to be.
He wanted to protect her, yet he wanted to watch her be herself. He wanted to surround her in security, and at the same time, he thrived on the flashes of independence he saw within her.
His realization prompts him to ask her, “Teach me how to love.”
Janey can’t refuse him, and truth be told, neither could I.
Lora Leigh can make a hero out of Breeds, men who can only have a relationship if it’s a ménage (Bound Hearts series), wounded warriors who’ve become super secret spies (Elite Ops series), and even some crazy-ass cousins from Kentucky (Nauti Boy series). She does it by taking an Alpha with a capital ’A’ and infusing him with vulnerability, courage, honesty, a willingness to listen and learn, and the ability to share the burden of whatever comes his way.
So yes, I would date these heroes if they walked into my life because these alpha males know how to be strong and determined and at the same time share a bond that can only be made with another person if you are willing to truly reveal yourself and love with your whole heart.
I’m curious: Who are your favorite Lora Leigh heroes?
Marisa is a television producer by day and at night she loves to read. She reviews for the Heart 2 Heart blog.