The beta hero is the best friend and Mr. Nice Guy rolled into one. He doesn’t enjoy confrontation but when the chips are down you can count on him to be there. We may go for the bad boys at first, but, if we’re smart, the beta hero is the one we marry.
Some of my favorite authors have written books with betas as their heroes. In Lord Carew’s Bride, by Mary Balogh, Harley Wade, the Marquess of Carew, befriends the heroine, Samantha Newman, when he finds her “trespassing” on his estate. When she believes him to be the gardener, he doesn’t disabuse her of the notion. During her three visits, they manage to become, you got it, the best of friends. Hartley is not only titled, but has a pot of money, is talented and artistic, very sweet and patient. Because he’s crippled from an accident that happened during his youth, he finds it difficult to marry, believing it’s his money and title which would attract a wife, and not his personal attributes. Samantha, who fell in love with a cad during her come out season, doesn’t wish to fall in love again. She treasures her friendship with Harley and, because she “loves” him without being “in” love with him, marries him, not knowing how deeply in love with her he is. By the time she discovers she’s in love with him as well, you’re bawling like a baby over this tale of almost unrequited love.
In Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, Colin Bridgerton returns to England, bored with his endless wandering, hoping to discover something that will put a spark back into his life. When he reacquaints himself with quiet Penelope Featherington, who’s loved him forever, he discovers her intelligence and dry wit provide the balm to his troubled soul. Somehow, Penelope sees through him to the man he really is and encourages him to follow his bliss, which in his case means writing about his world travels. Initially, he balks against her revealing a secret which, in his opinion would turn the ton against her. But in true beta hero fashion, he rallies and supports her decision to “come out” as it were, as a best friend would do. In the end, they’re not only in love but each other’s best friend.
In Rita-award winner, Dream a Little Dream, Susan Elizabeth Phillips created a wounded beta hero in Gabe Bonner, a widower, who lost his wife and son in a car accident. Rachel Stone, the heroine, is not welcome in the town of Salvation, her former home, where she lived with her ex-husband, a televangelist who ripped off people right and left. A destitute widow now, she returns to Salvation with her son, Edward, to see if she can find some of her husband’s ill-gotten gains. Even though he doesn’t trust her and is wary of her motivations, she worms into Gabe’s good graces. Together, they rebuild an old drive-in movie theatre, and, along the way, they fall in love. It’s when Gabe is able to put aside his pain to rescue her son that you see what a fine beta hero he truly is.
As you can see, a wounded beta hero love story provides readers with a satisfying and emotional read. And isn’t that why we read in the first place?