The Weird, Delightful World of Navy SEAL Romance Novels

By Alyssa Rosenberg

Thanks to Mother Jones’ Nick Baumann, I now have a new plan for life in the post-Osama bin Laden pop culture industry if this whole blogging thing ever becomes unviable. It used to be that I was going to write a She-Hulk movie*, but now I’m pretty sure I’m going to enter the lucrative field of writing Navy SEALs romance novels instead.

I had not actually know that such a subgenre existed until Nick gave me a copy of Marliss Melton’s Know No Fear, one of seven books she’s written about hunky guys with dog tags. One of the frequent jokes after bin Laden’s death was that a lot of guys were going to dine out for years on claiming to be the dude who pulled the trigger, but judging by Amazon search results, SEALs had a built-in advantage with the average American lady even before they took out the world’s most infamous terrorist. There’s Stephanie Tyler’s Hard to Hold series, which uses crises in Africa as a catalyst for romance, Mary Margaret Daughtridge’s SEALed series, which sticks closer to home with issues like child custody and who gets control of the family car dealership, and even, I kid you not, the Mammoth Book of Special Ops Romance.

Having read Know No Fear last night, I can attest that SEALs romances have the same essentials as their counterparts in other bodice-rippers: hot, secretly wounded hero; heroine who tries to be too brave for her own good; terrorists/FARC rebels/insane weapons dealers instead of Regency baddies, etc. Although the sex is more likely to be “implacable,” apparently. The SEAL thing is more a way of creating heightened situation for the characters to angst in before they get hot and heavy than it is any particular fetishization fo the military. But now I know about these, now that gamers have their Bin Laden Raid and their Counter-Strike maps, Kathryn Bigelow has signed up the guy who’s going to kill bin Laden in her movie, and the clubs have their bin Laden party anthem, I’m pretty sure we’re set on bin Laden Pop Culture Artifacts For Every Occasion. And it didn’t even take us two weeks.

*NB: Hollywood producers, if you’re out there, I have a great plan for marketing this to fanboys and romantic comedy audiences. Call me!