Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of “contemporary romance”. What can I say? I don’t have cable and wouldn’t know what to watch if I did. You’ve had the chance to read my fifty rants on Fifty Shades, of course, but I’ve also read Bared to You, the Up in the Air series, and like 40% of the first book of the This Man series. Erotica really isn’t my thing and I don’t say that because of all of the dirty sinful sexy sex-sex. I say it because all of that often gets in the way of real character and plot development and then I can’t bring myself to give a shit. I read the above titles out of curiosity and actually liked Bared to You and the Up in the Air series enough to be excited for the next installments. This Man was the depiction of a horrible girl being
assaulted pursued by a horrible guy, while living with a horrible friend… yet still, nothing happens. Seriously, I was able to go from dozing off to feeling as if I were witnessing anal rape in just paragraphs. I’m pretty sure the author just wrote a prequel to Sleeping With the Enemy. Amazon refunded my money.
The primary reason I read these books, however, was because I ran out of paranormal romance series suggestions. The sex scenes in these genres differ only in frequency and not in detail, just to clarify. The similiarity that has truly interested me, however, is the male romantic leads; more specifically, why I find them attractive in one genre, but not another. Gideon Cross, James Cavendish, and Christian MotherFucking Grey really just don’t do it for me and I think I’ve figured out why.
They’re not werewolves. They’re just really controlling and bossy men.
I love the Alpha Male thing, and I cannot state this clearly enough, in my fucking fiction and any man who actually tells me what to do will lose a gee dee nut. But it’s only fun for me to read in a paranormal world and until recently, I was unsure why that was. I’ll take one of my favorite paranormal Alpha Males, whom you don’t have to be familiar with to get my point, and compare him to a Contemporary Romance Alpha Male (CRAM).
Hawke Snow, as seen in Kiss of Snow, by Nalini Singh. (Gail loves these titles, as she’s not a fan and thinks they’re hilarious.)
and….. Christian MotherFucking Grey, as seen in Fifty Shades of Grey and many a mugshot.
- messed up childhood
- position of power and authority
- known to manhandle when he doesn’t get his way
- violent temper
- outsources people to keep an eye on his gal, without her knowledge
- seen as cold and distant to many
In case you weren’t paying attention, they’re the same… the exact fucking same. However, Christian gets the middle name MotherFucking for it and Hawke does not. Why is that?
In a paranormal setting, such as the one referenced above, the Alpha Male grows up in a war-torn universe and/or is fighting for his species’ survival. Of course his childhood was bleak, as his parents were viciously murdered/abandoned him, leaving him in charge of the well-being of everyone else (power and authority). He’s literally an animal, so he acts like one (manhandling and violent temper) and he’s charged with protecting aforementioned gal, because this is a dangerous universe and he’s kind of the boss. Additionally, a recurring theme in this genre is the idea of some sort of psychological or biological draw/imprinting/destiny between the romantic couple. She’s actually his, so the whole possessive thing is completely allowable. I know this sounds oddly specific, but it’s actually a really common layout for these books.
Christian MotherFucking Grey and company, though… well… they’re all just really mad. They had messed up childhoods, sure, but that doesn’t explain why they’re broken as people. I had a fucked up childhood too and I don’t want to pop the people I love in the mouth and masturbate with their blood.*
*Every now and then my mind goes to disturbing places, but seriously, read This Man and yours will join.
I’ve got to note, that I just don’t get the BDSM thing. I don’t think it’s a product of a fissure right down the center of your psyche or anything (cough: E.L. :cough). I just don’t really get it. I’ve been hit… a lot. It just hurts and makes me cry. Why is this sexy? It’s not for me. But the issue I have with CRAMs isn’t the bedroom adventures. No one likes Fade-to-Black Seventh Heaven sex all the time. Lovemaking gets old, y’all. Some people are into costumes and roleplay (and they don’t giggle), some are into hair pullling and spanking, some like group sex, swings, or being strung up like super sexy deer. Everybody’s got their preferences and that’s cool. Whatev.
Holy shit, ya’ll have no idea how desperately I wanted to use this picture again.
My issue with the CRAM is his tendency to act like a bag of dicks outside of the bedroom. My shapeshifters are usually super sweet and touchy-feely characters. Christian MotherFucking Grey and Co., withhold love when they’re angry… and they have piss poor reason to be. This is a terrible theme for romance. Whereas a shapeshifter passionately growls (hellz yeah, it’s a thing) and tells his lady she’s in grave danger for her disobedience, because Evil Entity will torture and kill her; Christian MotherFucking Grey emotionally withdraws from Ana, because… wait for it… she doesn’t like her steak.
My paranormal Alpha Males have legit reasons to boss their gals around, because pretty much everyone’s about to die. But the thing is… that’s kind of the only way it’s ever acceptable to be treated that way, even in my fantasies. I get that people fantasize things they’d never actually do, like lesbian sex and facials*. I really just can’t get on board with even the fantasy of being treated coldly and cruelly over trivial things until that person wants to feel needed and throws me a desparately yearned for scrap of affection. I’ve had that relationship for the majority of me life. I call her “mom”.
*Facials meaning when a guy finishes all over you, not when you go to the spa and they… wait… what do they do during a facial? Why do I know the former and not the latter?!?!
I’m all for the shapeshifting/vampiric/demonic Alpha Male plotline, because Disney gave me bestial Stockholm Sydrome and it’s hot that he wants to save his lady in this world fraught with danger. However, I just can’t get on board with CRAMs, because they exist in my universe where women carry pepper spray, manage their own finances, and have the option to go to the battered wives shelter.