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
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.