Sunday, September 8, 2013

Alpha Hero, or Beta?

By Beverley Eikli

I love an historical beta hero. Give me one who has a brooding, taciturn exterior hiding a passionate heart.

That's my Angus in The Reluctant Bride, though having said that, there is a touch of alpha there, too.  As a returning war hero he's proved incredibly courageous but he's also brooding and burdened by events which forced his hand during the retreat to Corunna, in 1809 several years before my story begins.

Angus has unexpectedly found an opportunity to rescue Emily, the woman he's loved from afar, by marrying her, but unfortunately during his first meeting with her to pass on news of the death of her fiancĂ©, he tells her a lie to spare her the pain of knowing how Jack really died.

Now Angus is determined to do whatever it takes to win Emily, his emotionally distant new wife - except tell her the truth. That's not possible. Yet.

Angus is also an alpha hero in that he sets about winning Emily with honour and action when he's sent abroad on a mission of national importance. The beta side of him is revealed in that  he treats Emily with more understanding than she deserves as she’s so stubbornly resistant to his overtures.  One of the challenges I had was showing Emily in a sympathetic light when she's so unkind to Angus to begin with.  But she's just lost her beloved fiancĂ© and the main events in the story span eight months, which isn't terribly long to grieve.

Here's the opening scene in The Reluctant Bride. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter One

‘It’s not a sin, unless you get caught.’
The gentle breeze seemed to whisper Jack’s teasing challenge, its soft, silken fingers tugging at Emily’s ingrained obedience. She put down her basket and stared with longing at the waters below, sweat prickling her scalp beneath her poke bonnet as desire warred with fear of the consequences.
‘Where’s your sense of adventure, Em?’
Still resisting, Emily closed her eyes, but the wind’s wicked suggestiveness was like the caress of Jack’s breath against her heated cheek; daring Emily to shrug aside a lifetime of dutiful subservience – again – and peel off her clothes, this time to plunge into the inviting stream beneath the willows.
She imagined Jack’s warm brown eyes glinting with wickedness. Taunting her like the burr that had worked its way into the heel of her woollen stockings during her walk.
Exhaling on a sigh, Emily opened her eyes and admitted defeat as she succumbed to the pull of the reed-fringed waters.
Desire had won, justified by practicality. If she had to remove one stocking to dislodge the burr she might as well remove both.
Scrambling down the embankment, she lowered herself onto a rock by the water’s edge. Her father would never know. If he glanced from his study in the tower room, where he was doubtless gloating over his balance sheet, he’d assume she was a village lass making her way along the track. Emily had never seen him interest himself in the poor except …
Like most unpleasant memories, she tried to cast this one out with a toss of her head, still glad her father had never
discovered what she’d witnessed from her bedroom window one evening five years ago: the curious sight of Bartholomew
Micklen ushering the beggar girl who’d arrived on his doorstep into his carriage.
Then climbing in after her before it rumbled down the driveway and out of sight.
Now was just another of those moments when Emily was glad her father remained in ignorance. Her insurance, should she need it, was that she knew a few of her father’s secrets the excise men might just want to know.
By the time the first stocking had followed Emily’s boots onto the grassy bank she was bursting with anticipation for her swim.
What did one more sin matter when she’d be Mrs Jack Noble in less than a week?

End of Excerpt

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