If You Like….

I’ve been thinking a lot about beta heroes recently. It’s a difficult category to define– falling largely into the realm of “I know it when I see it”– but these are generally the more relaxed sub-species of hero. In romances, they often get their start as the best friend of a prior, more alpha hero. They frequently display rambling conversational styles.

There are two notable beta heroes in the Pink Carnation canon: Miles Dorrington of The Masque of the Black Tulip and Turnip Fitzhugh of The Mischief of the Mistletoe.

Others in the same vein as Miles and Turnip include:

— Ivan Xav of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance (science fiction);

— Rupert Carsington of Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible (historical romance);

— Charles Wycombe of Julia Quinn’s Brighter Than the Sun (historical romance);

— Harry Broxton of Connie Brockway’s As You Desire and Avery Thorne of Connie Brockway’s My Dearest Enemy (historical romance);

— Roland Penhallow of Juliana Gray’s A Gentleman Never Tells (historical romance);

— Clevis Rhy of Pamela Morsi’s Garters (American historical romance);

— Ethan Mirabelli of Kristan Higgins’s The Next Best Thing (contemporary romance);

— Jack Wells of Kathleen Gilles Seidels’s Summer’s End (women’s fiction);

— Phin Tucker of Jennifer Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation (contemporary romance);

— Adam of Barbara Michaels’s Stitches in Time (mystery);

— Andy of Barbara Michaels’s Vanish with the Rose (mystery);

— Donald of Elizabeth Peters’s Devil May Care (mystery).

I feel like I’ve left out a number of interesting beta heroes, particularly when it comes to the mystery genre.

Who are your favorite beta heroes?

Also– since this is very much a matter of discussion and debate– what do you think are the characteristics that define a beta hero?


  1. Samra on July 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I don’t know if this applies but I do think that Freddy Standen from Georgette Heyer’s ‘Cotillion’ is one of the best and most lovable beta heroes. Another one of my favorites is Jack Langdon from Loretta Chase’s Devil’s Delilah. I was so overjoyed to see him get a book and a lady he deserved 🙂

  2. Eirene Ritznore on July 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I think one of the beta heroes that I have liked the most is Dy Brougham from Pamela Aiden’s Fitzwilliam Darcy Trilogy. I think he is wonderful and quite mysterious.

    I particularly love a beta hero that has a shroud of mystery about him. A little cynical humor can be fun as well. I loved Lord Vaughn for that in some of the earlier books. 🙂

    However, a beta hero that is wholly good and sweetly funny is also fabulous. Throw in a well exercised vocabulary and you have my heart. I’m looking forward to Augustus Whittlesby for this reason.

  3. juanita decuir on July 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm


  4. Carly on July 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    From the mystery genre:
    Thomas Pitt of Anne Perry’s Cater Street Hangman, etc.
    Rameses Walter Peabody Emerson, Elizabeth Peter’s Peabody mysteries.
    Duncan Kincaid, Deborah Crombie’s A Share in Death etc.
    Sebastian St Cyr, C.S. Harris’s What Angels Fear, etc.
    Alec Fletcher, Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple mysteries.
    Julian Kestrel, Kate Ross’s Cut to the Quick etc.

    Back to the romance genre, some of my favorites are:
    Rob Granger, Mary Stewart’s Touch Not the Cat, Robert Blaisdell, Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War,
    Roger MacKenzie from the Outlander series,
    Marcus, Julia Quinn’s Just Like Heaven
    The hero of Connie Brockway’s Bridal Favors, whose name escapes me just now.

    What defines a beta hero? Less bluster, more self contained.

  5. Veronika on July 15, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    I also came to say Freddy from Heyer’s Cotillion…but since I see Samra beat me to it…

    Lord Peter Wimsey strikes me as a beta. Capable, clever, and kind, but can come off as a buffoon (probably the excessive talking you mentioned above). That’s generally how I define a beta hero. Likewise John Smythe from the Vicky Bliss books by Elizabeth Peters, and Psmith from Leave it to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse. These are really my favorite type of hero; and I just realized they generally all look alike in my head, essentially a young Fred Astaire, probably because he exemplifies a lot of the characteristics for me. He’s not the most conventionally masculine love interest, and yes his ears might stick out a bit, but watch him move and yowza!

  6. Courtney Tonokawa on July 17, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Because you mentioned Julia Quinn..,I loved Colin, the third son of her beloved Bridgertons! Everyone thinks of him as happy-go-lucky in the preceding books, but there’s a new side of him revealed in “Romancing Mister Bridgerton” that adds depth to him.

  7. Am7 on July 18, 2013 at 1:40 am

    I don’t see either of the Quinn heroes mentioned as beta heroes. Both try to hard to boss the lady around. To me if the man is bossy he is definitely an Alpha. A Beta hero can’t boss his lady around.

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