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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Alphas and Betas and Gammas, Oh My

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about alpha heroes versus beta heroes. Alphas, of course, are the testosterone-laden tough guys, frequently with backgrounds in some super secret military units, who can lift small cars with a single hand in order to change the heroine’s tire (all the while grumbling about women’s inability to understand auto mechanics). The beta hero is Mr. Sensitive, willing to listen to the heroine’s problems at work and maybe bring her a cup of soup and a foot rub.

Okay, I’m exaggerating here (wildly, of course), but to me that’s the problem with this sharp distinction. By dividing heroes into camps, we make it difficult for them to venture over those precise lines to create anything like a hybrid. This division doesn’t really allow for a tough guy who’s also willing to hear the heroine out, or a smart guy who can also save the heroine’s butt in a shoot-out. But personally, I find those heroes a lot more interesting than the alpha or the beta. So I give you…the gamma. The guy who has elements of both. Enter Tom Ames, my hero in Brand New Me.

Tom’s name comes from a song by Steve Earle called “Tom Ames’ Prayer”. Earle’s Tom Ames is an outlaw facing his final gun battle. My Tom Ames isn’t quite that extreme, but he’s a man with a slightly shady past and a flourishing bar, the Faro, located in Konigsburg, Texas. The Faro has a shady past too since it used to be a place you wouldn’t want to visit without a burly escort, but Tom has cleaned it up, plus adding music and a colorful group of employees.

Into this bar walks our heroine, Deirdre Brandenburg, who had a one-sentence mention in Wedding Bell Blues. She’s Docia Toleffson’s cousin and she needs a job. Tom’s looking for something to attract local customers, and Deirdre seems to be a good possibility. But of course, Tom’s just as attracted to her as the locals are. Many adventures ensue.

So here’s what sets Tom apart, at least in my mind. Nobody is going to question his alpha credentials. He’s a good guy to have around in a fight—perfectly willing to wade into a bunch of flailing bar patrons with a sawed-off pool cue and a determined look. He rescues Deirdre from some totally inept kidnappers through a combination of brains and brawn.

But he’s not just an alpha. He’s also willing to listen to her, to draw out her story and offer his sympathy. And he’s also willing to offer up his own story for her, to share in other words. And he’s a thoughtful, generous lover (the best part of “betaness” in my opinion).

Tom is a different kind of hero for me. I wanted a hero who had a dark side, but not someone as troubled as Erik Toleffson in Long Time Gone. I wanted a hero who hadn’t always been on the up-and-up, but who was an honorable guy deep down. I wanted a hero who was trying to make it in a tough job, but who had the skills and the will and the deep-down desire to make it happen. I wanted Tom Ames.

So consider this—is it really a choice between alphas and betas? Isn’t that like making women choose between beauty and brains? In the words of an old Guy Clark song, “Long as you’re handin’ it out, Lord, I’ll have a little of both.”

Here’s the blurb for Brand New Me:

If any man wants more than a dance with her, they’ll have to get past him…
Konigsberg, Texas, Book 5

Deirdre Brandenburg has an MBA and a dream to become the coffee supplier for Konigsburg’s growing restaurant industry. What she doesn’t have is money, courtesy of her billionaire father’s scheme to make her come home. All she needs is three months until her trust fund kicks in. Until then, she needs a job.

Hiring the new girl next door is a no-brainer for ex-gambler Tom Ames. He’s already succeeded in making his bar, The Faro, a growing tourist draw. Deirdre’s beauty will pull in the locals—particularly every red-blooded male in the Hill Country. As he watches her transform from tentative business wonk to confident, sassy barmaid, he realizes he wants first crack at her heart.

When Big John Brandenburg sends Deirdre’s ex-boyfriend to drag her home, the plan backfires, leaving Tom’s bar in shambles and Deirdre kidnapped by a band of loony Texas secessionists.

Things are looking pretty bleak—except the good people of Konigsburg have no intention of giving Deirdre up, either. Even if it takes every Faro employee, every last Toleffson, and one cranky iguana to give the honky-tonk lovebirds a chance at forever.

Warning: Contains dirty dancing, hot summer sex, a honky-tonk makeover, and one nippy iguana.

Meg Benjamin is the author of the Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing. Book #3, Be My Baby, won a 2011 Epic Award for Contemporary Romance. Book #4, Long Time Gone, received the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Indie Press Romance. Book #5, Brand New Me, was a Long and Short Reviews Best Book. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon kitties (well, partly anyway).

Her Web site is You can follow her on Facebook ( and Twitter ( Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at

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