By Mary Margret Daughtridge
By Mary Margret Daughtridge
I have to smile a little whenever people congratulate me, in light of recent events, for having the foresight to launch my writing career around SEALs. Like I knew SEALs would take out Osama Bin Laden. Or their exploits would be in the news the same week SEALed Forever was released.
I smile mostly because when I started the first SEAL book, SEALs were so rarely in the news, I often had to explain exactly what SEALs were. Well, I don't have to any more.
Though people finally know how extraordinary they are, I cannot bask in reflected glory.
Really. I didn’t create SEALs. Nor have I burnished their reputations. They did that on their own. I just took a stock romantic suspense character and asked, “But what happens when the operation is over and they come home?”
I'm writing entertainment fiction, but I refuse to trivialize them. My biggest challenge is to depict how astonishing SEALs really are—I admit I clean them up a little; the universe they operate in is harsh—and still make my story-book guys credible. I mean, SEALs actually embody ideals that a lot of people don’t even try to live up to.
A TV commentator was listing SEAL qualities, like low-key, intelligent, flexible, dedicated, and aggressive. Then he added, “And the one that surprises most people: they are family men.”
I could add: though they are masters at controlling emotions, they have no problem admitting they have feelings—including the so-called “weak” feelings like fear, love, tenderness, and compassion.
I would also point out that being “flexible” sometimes translates into “willing to break the rules.”
In my early research, attempting to get into the heads of these men, I read a slew of SEAL memoirs. I found two separate accounts of a SEAL rescuing a baby.
One of the stories involved rule-breaking, the other a lot of power plays and cussing, but both gave a glimpse into the men’s deepest hearts. Each man never felt truer to himself, or more like a SEAL, than when he’d used his skills to a keep little one safe—and in neither case was a single shot fired.
A short time later, surfing the ’Net, I found an article about a “privately owned” airstrip in the eastern North Carolina sticks, which the CIA denied was a front organization used to bring spies into and out of the country undetected. The locals said, “Yeah. Right.”
Years later, all the elements—a baby to rescue, rules to be broken, an airstrip, and the question When is a SEAL most a SEAL –finally came together in Garth’s story, SEALed Forever.
Lt. Garth Vale’s career is going great. Okay, okay, his men call him Darth Vader behind his back—not meaning any disrespect, but hardly a testament to his lovability. Still promotion to Lt. Commander is in his sights until, against impossible odds, he and all his men survive an ambush in Afghanistan. WTF?
Now, instead of being a decorated hero, he’s undercover in Nowheresville, North Carolina running a tiny airstrip where black ops planes land, a job any E4 enlisted could do. None of what’s happening makes sense. Most especially not the stowaway baby he finds, stinking and too quiet, hidden in a box labeled “Bananas,” aboard a just-arrived spy plane.
Dr Bronwyn Whitescarver’s career isn’t going so good. A burned out ER doc, she hasn’t been able to put the parts of her life together in a long time. She’s come to tiny Sessoms’ Corner, NC, determined to open an office and practice medicine a new way. But the Universe seems to fight her every effort to get organized.Secrets Bronwyn has been keeping, even from herself, keep trying to surface.
Garth doesn’t need a baby. He’s got a career to fish out of the toilet, no place to put a baby to keep her safe, and no way to tell a civilian the truth about where he found her.
Bronwyn knows trouble when it stands on her front porch in the middle of a thunderstorm. Trouble is a buff guy with a dark, dangerous aura holding a sick baby and claiming to be the father. Getting involved could cost her her license. Bronwyn doesn’t need baby or man, or does she?