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I was reading the I Love Harlequin Presents blog earlier today, when I came across this post on the quintessential Greek alpha heroes, and why readers love them.

Annie West, HQ Presents author, writes:

One of the things I’ve always loved about Harlequin Presents stories is that I can travel to exciting and glamorous locations all around the world, without leaving the comfort of my own home. In each country there are so many wonderful heroes, each one different, each one fascinating. I love them all: British and Brazilian, American and Italian, Spanish and Australian.

And of course, Greek. As a reader I automatically reach for titles that promise a passionate Greek hero. Recently I’ve found myself writing some of those stories too, and thinking about why they’re so attractive. Here are a few thoughts:

She then goes on to name the following attributes (I’ve paraphrased):

Their dark good looks. (K:Has she ever met a real live Greek man? They’re not really dark.

They’re usually wealthy (shipping magnates, and the likes) (K:*Headdesk*)

They all have a great sense of familial responsibility and enduring loyalty. (K:AKA Mummy’s boys, totally unable to function without help)

She then goes on to add:

Perhaps best of all, I know that when I pick up a Presents story no two Greek heroes will be the same.

Total bollocks. They are all much of the same muchness. The HP Greek hero ‘scowls’ constantly, they have a habit of ‘glancing coldly’ at the heroine. They also always seem to have icicles where their hearts should be, right up until the last couple of pages when they discover their undying love for the woman they’ve treated like shit for months. Actually, that kinda sounds like most HP books.

I’ve read these books, and even when I didn’t know any better, they still left me feeling angry and annoyed, because they mostly featured virgins who were treated like crap by the Greek hero, who felt it necessary to be as assholic as possible to the heroine because they either, A, believed her to be a gold-digging whore (even though it seemed beyond obvious that the heroine had no idea what her vagina is for), or B, because of some imagined slight to his masculinity.

Every now and again, the reader is also treated to a secret baby plot, and when the hero eventually finds out, he almost always proceeds to use the baby as a bargaining tool. Oh, and then there’s the ever popular marriage of convenience.

Don’t believe me? Well check out this blurb for a HP book called The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife

Stavros Denakis is furious when Tessa Marlowe turns up without warning. Weary and cynical through his experience with women, Stavros suspects the wife he hardly knows is a gold digger—surely she’s here to claim her share of the Denakis millions. But Tessa is a temptation that he can’t resist….

Bedded by her gorgeous Greek husband, Tessa realizes she has fallen in love with him, and longs for their marriage to become real. Only, Stavros, though he may be passionate in private, remains cold in public, and is determined they stay wedded only in name….

I still can’t believe that the author named the hero Stavros. That’s the equivalent of naming a Middle Eastern hero, Ali Baba.

Anyway, I can’t remember the name of the book, but I once read a Mills and Boon Modern Romance (HQ Presents to you Americans) where the heroine basically cried all the way through the story, because the hero was so damn cruel to her. I remember my young borderline-feminist senses going crazy at the hero’s treatment of the heroine.

Admittedly, it’s been well over a year, maybe even two, since I last read an HQ Presents book with a Greek millionaire hero, so things may have changed.

But judging from the above blurb, I seriously doubt that.

What do you guys find so appealing about The HQ Presents Greek Alpha Hero?


  • Kat
    May 26
    12:28 pm

    I believe the blog game that Tumperkin ran a while back (I just got around to reading it) demonstrates the point nicely.


  • Barbara B.
    May 26
    12:29 pm

    “What do you guys find so appealing about The HQ Presents Greek Alpha Hero?”

    Nothing. I hate ’em.


  • Fiordiligi
    May 26
    12:43 pm

    Their dark good looks. (K:Has she ever met a real live Greek man? They’re not really dark.

    Admittedly, I’ve only been to Greece once, but 90% of the Greek male population I’ve seen or know (come to think of it, the same applies for Italian men), are shorter than my 5 feet 11 inches, are going bald on the head, but valiantly compensate for it by cultivating their chest and back hair.

    Most HP heroes are detestable, and with the exception of some Susan Napier (the older ones) and Kelly Hunter books, I avoid this series completely.


  • sallahdog
    May 26
    1:41 pm

    I don’t like any of the foreign alpha heros books… Mainly because there is always this HUGE imbalance of power. The women are in a country where they don’t have any support, the men are complete arses to them, and the women usually have no way of fighting back.. oh yeah…that be sexy….


  • Ditto on the Italians. 🙂 Short, fat and ugly mama’s boys, many of whom live with their parents well into their 30s because of economic concerns. I’m sure there are exceptions, but it always tickles my funny bone to read about the tall, good-looking, rich guys that must stand at every corner in Italy/Greece if you believe HPs.


  • come to think of it, the same applies for Italian men

    Totally agree here. The HP Italian man is light years away from the Italian men I’ve met in real life. Apart from the sexist bit, they got part right. I’m not saying that every Italian man is sexist or unsexy, but the ones I’ve met thus far have spectacularly failed to live up to the hype. You can put them in the same category as Greek men for me.


  • Anne
    May 26
    4:51 pm

    Well, I honestly can say that I don’t read HP books. I’ve tried them and they just didn’t float my boat. I do, however, enjoy Susan Mallery’s Silhouette Special Edition Desert Rogues series… SHEIKS BABY! LOL


  • This reminds me of something my father used to say, wit and wag that he was (or fancied he was): “I used to look like a Greek god; now I look like a goddamned Greek.”

    Sorry, sorry. He was less PC than I am.


  • Alexandra
    May 26
    8:26 pm

    It hasn’t changed in two years. That’s all you need to know.


  • With all due apologies to HQN Presents’ authors, editors, etc etc…

    I just read the title of this post as “I Hate HQN Presents Greek HERPES Like a Fat Kid Hates Celery”

    Now I can’t stop giggling.

    Bad aztec, no celery for you!


  • HP books are fantasies. They have a wider audience than the US or the UK. I guess the whole Alpha Greek/Italian fantasy is something shared worldwide. I’ve read quite a few that I’ve screamed at the heroine to grow a backbone and stand up for herself. As an American woman, I have a hard time reading a heroine who crumbles under the power of her “man” who is suppoed to be redeemable.

    Lately, I haven’t been reading too many HPs. I’ve switched to Desire and Blaze. In Desire, the heroines can have more strength.


  • Linda
    May 26
    8:30 pm

    LOL I actually like reading about the Greek/Italian/Spanish (only read 1 Portuguese though, maybe the word is too long for the covers?) types. I have seen real live hot Greeks, although admittedly they were gay and up themselves.

    I like reading them because I know Greece very well and I’m always amused by the way the nationalities and countries are window-dressing. A lot of the time they could be Essex boys working in Bognor Regis rather than Athenians swanning around the ever-multiplying Greek islands. I swear one day the Aegean will run dry with all those new private islands that have popped up over the years in HQN romances.

    Personally I like reading HQN romances because I know I can finish them within my lunch hour. And unless the writing is spectacularly awful, it doesn’t stay with me when I go back to work. It just happens that I like Greeks/Italians/Spaniards as my disposable fluff.

    Anybody ever read a HQN with a German hero???


  • Fiordiligi
    May 26
    8:51 pm

    I’ve never hit upon a German HQN hero, probably because the image doesn’t really connote sexy LOL. I still think that Vienna would provide a gorgeous location for a HP though, alas, no dark-skinned, Spanish/Portuguese sprouting heroes to find there *g*.

    Some of the worst HPs, SDs, [fill in], are those featuring royal characters. I always wonder whether the author is aware of how European royals and peers really behave. Usually, I catch up on their escapades when I am at the doctor’s and have to wait for my appointment. I doubt any of them married a virgin *cough*, rather the opposite.

    I’ve read my fair share of Silhouette Desires and I wouldn’t say that the heroine comes off better than her “sister” in a HP story . There are exceptions, of course, but more often than not the characterisation is beyond pitiful. I understand escapism, and I confess that from time to time I indulge in a guilty pleasure sheik story LOL, but with most HP/SD books the intended fantasy eludes me.


  • Robin
    May 26
    11:13 pm

    They also always seem to have icicles where their hearts should be

    But don’t forget the firecrackers in their balls.


  • Shayne
    May 26
    11:38 pm

    From what I saw on HQN’s top ten list, billionaire has replaced millionaire. Have to keep up with the ‘real’ economy, ya know.

    About two weeks ago, their top ten was full of Greeks, billionaires, a secret baby or two, revenge mentioned along with marriage, etc.

    The ‘your brother is stealing from my company’ blackmail to marry the heroine has always been my worst pet peeve. I’m writing the antidote right now. The one where the heroine hands the tycoon’s balls to him on a plate and marries the other partner.

    These are top sellers for HQN so somebody fricking reads them. HQN wouldn’t put them out if people weren’t buying them. I don’t understand the attraction, but I can’t say much about it. Just not my cup of tea.

    I used to be a fan of the ‘desert sheik’ books, but that was YEARS ago. I have no clue what they are like now.

    Off the wall question: Does anybody know the title of the first Harlequin book that actually had sex in it? I remember because my mother wouldn’t let me read it, and I had to sneak read it. Compared to today it was nothing, but back then way risque.

    Damn, checking up on the author, I see she still writes for Harlequin, and she did recently write a Greek tycoon with his something wife, not unexpected. *L*


  • eggs
    May 27
    12:32 am

    The biggest problem I have with the Greek heros is that they all have Dalek names. Stavros, Davros, Markos – they all sound like Daleks to me. When they start in with the shouting at the heroine, I can’t help but imagine the high pitched hysteria of their voices.

    Bizarrely enough, wiki tells me that there were actually two Dalek themed pornos made (“Abducted by the Daloids” and “Dr Loo and they Filthy Phaleks”), so maybe I’m alone on the whole Daleks-are-unsexy thing?


  • KayCee
    May 27
    4:54 am

    My boss is Greek and 75+% of our clinetele is as well.

    I am 5’7″ and 75+% of the clients are shorter than me! @@

    And none of them are billionaire shipping magnates. Or magnates of any kind.

    Besides that, they are the cheapest @$$hats on the planet. Or at least the cheapest ones I have ever encountered.


  • Dawn
    May 27
    10:04 am

    Putting my hand up to be counted as a sucker for M&B Moderns. I particularly love Lucy Monroe’s stories – she’s got a few Greek Billionaires – and she does some great love scenes.

    My fave M&B hero type is tall, dark and sardonic – even though I like to kick ’em in the nuts and while I’m at it, kick the heroine in the crotch, for putting up with the shit from them.

    Shayne – the author you’re talking about wouldn’t be Helen Bianchin, would it? I love her books – in a very sad way. She has a very “proper” manner of writing, even in the sex scenes – she was the reason that I choked on my tea, because she put the word clitoris in her story. It was just not what I expected to read in a M&B.


  • Karmyn
    May 27
    2:53 pm

    One of my favorite history profs is Greek. He’s a nice, intelligent man, but not romance hero material. He’s short, fat, and bald. His wife also used the “When I met you, you were a Greek god. Now you’re just a goddamned Greek,” line.
    But he is devoted to his wife and daughter and one of the best profs in the history department. How many HP Alpha Greek heroes can say that?


  • Shayne
    May 27
    5:48 pm


    I was talking about Autumn of the Witch circa 1972, one of the original Harlequin Presents by Anne Mather. It was one of the first ‘naughty’ Harlequins. *L*

    And I found out Anne Mather wrote The Greek Tycoon’s Pregnant Wife in 2007. Which I found interestingly ironic.

    Oddly, Harlequin hasn’t seemed to change much from that time, except for more graphic sex. But they must doing something right.


  • Besides that, they are the cheapest @$$hats on the planet. Or at least the cheapest ones I have ever encountered.

    Speaking as a waitress whose husband works for a family of Greeks, I see nothing in this comment I can personally refute. Even the billionaires prolly only tip 5%.


  • Gail Dayton
    May 27
    10:30 pm

    I’ve never been able to read HQ Presents/MB Modern. If the hero’s going to be an arrogant asshat, he’d better really SUFFER before he gets his prize, and the heroine had better win at least half the time. I do not get that in Presents. It’s all jerkwad all the time.

    Desire only became Presents Lite about 2 years ago. My first two published books were Desires, then the senior editor changed, then the line requirements changed, and I haven’t been able to write one since, because I cannot stand the asshat alpha type. I can still read some of the books by the longer-term Desire authors–Emilie Rose, Bronwyn Jameson, Michelle Celmer, Peggy Moreland and the like–but I’m very careful about the author. If the books are too Presents-ish, I won’t pick them up, cause I cannot stand them.


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