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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Alpha Dog

Having my academic background in animal behavior gives me a very clear impression on what the alpha male means. The smartest, toughest wolf, the biggest silverback gorilla, or the ram with the biggest horns. When it comes to people though, the definition can vary.  Are we talking about the captain of the football team? The class president? The corporate raider or the military officer?

I’ve written several books with traditional “alpha heroes,” but even more with heroes who for one reason or other aren’t.  Alpha implies a very social hierarchy. So by definition, the wounded loner isn’t an alpha.  I also write a lot of geek heroes, who rely more on brains than brawn. And if you’re setting up a series with a group of men, say a SEAL team or a family of brothers, then by definition only one can be the alpha. But the others…oh, yeah, they can be heroes too.

When we talk about alpha, I think we’re really just talking about ideals.  Men with strength and honor and brains and courage. Men who can wield a frying pan or a hairbrush as well as a gun or sword or baseball bat if necessary. Men who are protective and willing to lay down their lives for their woman, but would rather live for her and with her. He might be a little bossy, but he’s always there for her and willing to subordinate his needs for hers.

Are the heroes in our books realistic? Sometimes. There are a lot of good men out in the world who may not always have those eight-pack abs, but still have what it takes to make a woman smile.  They bring home paychecks, cook meals, and some of them even bring home roses when they know their wife had a crappy day. (Thank you, love!) And yes, they’re still flawed. Goes with being human (or even sort-of human).  And sometimes those flaws make us love them all the more.

With that in mind, though, I’d like to introduce Greg Novak, werewolf, bar owner, musician, and definite alpha male. Look for his story, Motor City Wolf, coming in August from Carina Press. It’s available now for preorder, or you can check out the first two Urban Arcana Stories Motor City Fae and Motor City Witch, while you wait.

Motor City Wolf
Excerpt: PG-13

Greg finished the second set and put down his drumsticks. They’d been rocking out, and he was sweating like crazy, his T-shirt sticking to his chest. It was good though. The whole band was grinning. The audience had eaten them up with a spoon. Lana set her electric bass into its stand and high-fived Ric, while George bumped fists with Vince, who played keyboard.

To his surprise, Fianna was waiting at the base of the steps with a tray of beers and a shy smile on her lovely, elven face. Greg took a pint glass of Atwater Dunkel, his favorite local brew, and stepped aside so the others could exit the stage, as well. Each of them grabbed a beer, thanking Fianna as they passed. Lana headed for the ladies’ room, while George and Ric made beelines for the bar. Vince wandered off to a table full of sorority girls.

Greg stayed and soaked in the sight of Fianna. His fingers brushed hers as she lowered the now-empty tray and his whole body instantly responded.

Keeping his hands off her for the last three months had been damn near impossible. The only time he’d cracked had been the night of Meagan and Ric’s wedding, when he’d come back to the bar, lonely and horny. That night, he’d given in to the urge to kiss her as he’d walked her upstairs after closing time. The kiss had gotten out of hand, fast. If a call hadn’t come in about Aidan’s daughter being kidnapped, Greg didn’t think he’d have been able to stop.

“Is that Meagan working behind the bar?” He knew it was, but it was something to say. Mostly, he wanted to stay here against the wall and watch Fianna. Simply standing next to her was easily as much fun as kissing anybody else.

“It is, and she shouldn’t be, but she insists.” Fee grimaced toward the bar. “She was a big help though. It’s a good crowd tonight.”

“She’ll be okay. Meagan’s a smart cookie. She’ll stop if she starts feeling rocky.” Without thinking, he reached out and slid his arm around Fianna’s waist. “It’s nice of you to worry about her though. I’m sure she appreciates it.”

Fee sighed and leaned her head into his shoulder. “She is a lucky woman. The way Ric looks at her—it’s like something from one of his ballads. Until I came here, I never knew that it was real, love like theirs, or Aidan and Elise’s, or Jase and your brother’s.”

One thing he’d liked about her from the start was her easy acceptance of George and Jase, even when she’d been snooty about werewolves in general. “It doesn’t happen for everybody.” He leaned closer, inhaling the scent of her hair, vanilla and peach, which made him want to eat her up like an ice-cream sundae. “I know more people who are divorced than I do happy couples. But when it does happen... Yeah, it’s a pretty amazing thing.” He looked over at the bar. Ric was behind it now, helping his wife pull drafts. George had gone to work beside Jase, after a quick but scorching kiss.

“Have you ever been married?” Fee’s next question caught him by surprise.

“Nope. Came close once, but it didn’t work out.” Even after fourteen years, guilt mingled with relief when he thought about that.

“Hello, waitress. Can we get some help?”

Fee sighed and moved away from Greg, much to his body’s disappointment. “I swear, if that customer pinches me one more time, I’m going to dump a beer in his lap. Then you’ll have to fire me.”

Greg took the tray from her hands and bared his teeth. “We’ll see if he tries to pinch me.”


MomJane said...

Makes you want to read the entire story. Love the concept.

books4me said...

I DARE the customer to pinch Greg!
Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the excerpt!

boosk4me67 at

Toni said...

Great exerpt. Alpha men are wonderful to read about and you are right they are out there. Now I'm off to look up the other two in this series.


Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Books, LOL! That's exactly the response I was hoping for. Toni, thanks so much. Hope you enjoy Fae & Witch. MomJane, I'm so glad my excerpt whetted your appetite!

Mara said...

Hi. A good excerpt is worth its weight in gold, don't you think? your book just got added to my "to buy" list.
marajbrandon AT earthlink DOT net

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks so much, Mara!

Anonymous said...

I have a weakness for Alpha heroes in romances. I think we are hardwired to be attracted to them. I think your background makes you the perfect person to write about Alphas.

User1123 AT comcast DOT net

Robin said...

Great hero!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks, Stacie and Robin. And Stacie, I try to sneak in a little science here and there.

Na said...

I can never resist an Alpha hero. They have a presence that I am drawn to. I think your background in animal behaviour is very cool. I'm curious to see how it helped you create the characters. Plus I've never meet a musician werewolf so I already find Greg intriguing.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks, Na. Greg was one of those characters I just loved to write.