Romantic men with military backgrounds are a very old tale indeed. Some of the first characters I can remember crushing on, on television, were military men: The A-Team, a military team wrongly convicted of a crime that go on the lamb, but still help people who can't help themselves. Stringfellow Hawke is a former military man and so was MacGyver. Military service builds strength of character, determination and helps boys become men. It should come as no surprise then that many paperback heroes come straight from the ranks of the services: Marines, Navy, Army or Air Force.
Paperback Heroes: The Soldier
Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar features Heralds who are more than soldiers, but are still the Arrows of the Queen. Skif and Kris are two Heralds that leap to mind romantically. Skif is the reformed thief who makes use of his light fingers and devilish thinking in service to his country while Kris is the child of nobility, who enjoyed teaching younglings and serving. The military unifies all classes to one class: brotherhood.
John Paul Renard from Julie Garwood's Killjoy served as a Marine. From the bayou, his own natural survival skills enhanced his training. He was soon one of the best snipers in his division, but mission after mission for the CIA hammered away at his humanity and he left. Yet, John Paul Renard remains a deeply loyal and honorable man who is hunting down the assassin who tried to kill his sister.
In Jennifer Morey's The Secret Soldier, Cullen McQueen saves his future lady from terrorists in Afghanistan. In Minette Meador's The Centurion and the Queen Marius must choose between his duty to Rome and his love for Breton Queen Delia. In Lisa Pietsch's The Path to Freedom, Vince Hennessy sets the bar for the rest of his team and his determination, dedication and skill makes Sarah Stevens heart hitch.
In the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs both Adam Hauptman (Mercy's neighbor) and David Christensen are savaged by a werewolf when serving in Korea. Each man handles his transformation differently, but their military training shapes their values, morals and ethics. John Jakes took a long look at brotherhood when he introduced readers to George Hazard and Orry Main. One from Pennsylvania and the other from South Carolina, these two men had very little in common when West Point bonded them in a friendship that would survive a divisive war tearing their country apart.
The soldier is powerful as the romantic lead. He's got all the great qualities of loyalty, honor and fidelity. But he's also a man who will go where others fear to tread. Loving him can be hard because he may not come back. Women who love soldiers should never try to compete with their love of country.
The Soldier in Film and Television
"Michael Biehn ROCKS! He was great in Navy Seals, The Rock and Aliens too! Check him out in my Hot guys with Guns Blog!" The Path to Freedom author Lisa Pietsch said. Michael Biehn's turn as Kyle Reese in 1984's The Terminator granted him iconic status. He was a soldier from the future who came back to save the woman who would give birth to their rebellion. (Hot Guys with Guns is a weekly blog on the Sapphire Blue Bombshells).
In the mid-80s, Jeff Kober and Brian Wimmer would bring to life Staff Sgt. Evan "Dodger" Winslow, U.S.M.C and Cpl. Boonie Lanier, U.S.M.C. on China Beach. Dodger enlisted time and time again, despite the wearing down of his humanity because he didn't want to leave anyone behind. We mourned with the KC when Boonie died during the course of the war in Vietnam.
Josh Duhamel as Captain Lennox in Transformers is serving with his men in a desert location, longing to be home with his wife and baby daughter (whom he's never met). Leroy Jethro Gibbs (he fits both the lawgiver and soldier archetype) as a senior NCIS special agent and former Gunnery Sergeant and marine sniper. Major General Jack O'Neill (Kurt Russell, Richard Dean Anderson) is an Air Force special forces operative who led the first mission through the Stargate and so many more, almost too many to enumerate.
From a time when children are young and can play with toy soldiers to when they grow up to be our sons, brothers, fathers and husbands serving their country: the soldier remains one of the most steadfast and powerful archetypes in romantic literature.
Even soldiers, it turns out, enjoy a romantic happy ending, and just check out Operation Happy Ending for one such great story about romance writers supporting real soldiers.
Who is your favorite soldier romantic hero?