5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Saturday, March 31, 2018


By Linda Lovely

Many romantic suspense novels feature military men as heroes. A much smaller percentage feature military heroines. However, since I’m a woman, I find I’m much more comfortable writing a heroine than a hero as my main character. It’s easier for me to tap into my female character’s emotions, self-doubts, and strengths. I also find the dialogue (especially the snarky humor) much easier to write.

There’s never been a better time to write active-duty or retired military heroines. Given the sheer number of women who are veterans or on active duty, there are countless stories to be told. The statistics:
  •        Nearly a quarter million women (214,098) are currently on active duty in U.S. Armed Services.
  •        Almost half a million more women are represented in reserve units.
  •         Women account for some 15 to16 percent of U.S. Army soldiers, including National Guard and Reserve troops.
  •        Ten percent of the 21.8 million U.S. armed forces veterans are women.

First book in the Marley
Clark Mystery Series
that features a retired
military heroine.
My Marley Clark Mystery Series features a 52-year-old retired military intelligence officer. Marley is a widow who works part-time as a security guard for an island community off the South Carolina coast. She’s smart, fit, feisty and sexy. Her training also makes her a believable sleuth. She can handle a gun and knows how to defend herself when attacked. Marley also has investigative skills and problem-solving experience. She’s a great, fun character to put in danger and drop into romantic entanglements.

When I started the Marley Clark series, I’d already joined the over-fifty “elderly” population, and I was tired of reading about twenty-somethings. I wanted a heroine in my own age bracket. I wanted to feature a heroine who’d lived more than half a century and could still kick butt. Marley can do just about anything younger heroines can do—she just has a few more wrinkles.
I had a terrific resource for writing this series—Major Arlene Underwood. A friend of mine since kindergarten, Arlene was kind enough to share her experiences (some hilarious) to provide context and background for my character. During the years Arlene served, women were not officially allowed to serve in combat roles. That doesn’t mean that many didn’t risk their lives and die in combat zones.

Of the 300,000 plus women deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, more than 1,000 have been wounded and 166 have died in combat operations. During these conflicts, women earned more than 10,000 combat action badges—though they weren’t officially in combat roles.

That made the 2013 repeal of the ground combat exclusion policy recognition of reality. It how allows women in the military the option to apply for some 250,000 positions that were previously off limits.

Since 2015 more than 640 Army women and 180 Marine women have assumed combat related jobs in branches such as Ordinance and Combat Engineer, while more than 250 more women in have finished infantry training. Women also now serve on U.S. attack submarines and fly Air Force jets.

All these changes have convinced me there are dozens of original romantic suspense plots just waiting for military heroine leads to claim their rightful starring roles.


Diana McCollum said...

Enjoyed your post, Linda! I totally agree, there should be more heroines in the above 50 years old bracket. Sometimes, I put down a book because the 20 something it is about just doesn't have enought of LIFE under her belt and I really can't enjoy the read. Thanks for writing the great books that you do.

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Diana. I do have heroines in some series who are younger than Marley but I don't go below thirty (too long ago!) and the dialogue and experience has changed for the under thirty group. Also even if my heroine is in her thirties, I usually have a major character either a relative and/or friend between 50 and 65 for balance.

Barbara Strickland said...

The second book in my series is going to be in her 50's and ex-military for that matter. It is not a thriller but it is about characters and they come in all ages and so does romance and it is time we showed it. Great post.

Maggie Lynch said...

You are definitely onto something with older heroes and heroines. The Baby Boomer generation is growing older and we want to read about our counterparts. It is fun to revisit the feelings of being 20 or 30 or even 40; but 50 and 60 appeal more to me because that is where I am. I definitely think a lot of us want/need to read about mature women who are still in control and definitely not "over the hill."

My suspense series starts with heroes and heroines who served at least 20 years in the military and have retired. So, they are in their early to mid 40s. After I get through the first three, I'll be adding in other characters in later books--some in their 50's and 60's and certainly a few younger folks to add balance and humor.

Back in 2015, Roxanne St. Claire started her Barefoot Bay Timeless series which she described as "silver fox heroes." She wanted to write about men who were like her husband. They have been extremely successful.

So, you are on a great track Linda. The world is not all about 20 somethings.