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The Alpha Effect: Why We Love Manly Men Again

Author Laura Griffin explains why women love hot men in uniformBy Laura Griffin
Author of Snapped

Sweat-beaded chests. Bulging biceps. Grunting matches. Dudes in the wild. Why are we women all of a sudden so into the alpha male these days? From top TV shows to NAVY Seals in the news, Laura Griffin explains why we can’t get enough of our big, strong, hairy men. (She should know: As a bestselling romance author of the Tracers trilogy and the upcoming Snapped, she has seen her share of hotties come and go.)

For years people have been talking about “The CSI Effect”—how fictional TV shows such as CSI have created a multitude of armchair experts in forensic science. But are we now seeing the opposite trend? More and more, reality shows such as Surviving the Cut, Top Shot, and One Man Army are having an effect on fiction–as evidenced by the bumper crop of tough alpha males populating today’s romance novels, from Navy SEALs and Army Rangers to police snipers.

As an avid reader (and writer) of romance fiction, I’m gleefully embracing this trend. I mean, nothing wrong with a duke or an earl or a glittery vampire who drives a Volvo, but what really pulls me into a story is a big strong alpha guy like the ones I’ve been watching on reality TV lately. Flip on the tube and you’ll see what I mean. The lineup is loaded with police snipers, spec ops warriors, survivalists. What is it about these sweat-slicked, dirt-covered, worm-eating adrenaline junkies that appeals to women?

They’re driven. Whether it’s the SEAL-in-training who jumps out of an airplane to perform a rescue mission on less than an hour’s sleep, or the sniper who spends three hours belly crawling to reach the perfect position for that thousand-yard shot, these guys are tough, committed, and determined to do the impossible. I never knew it a person could cross a gorge on a piece of parachute cord until I saw Bear Grylls do it on Man vs. Wild.

They fight for justice. I like watching bounty hunters kick down doors and haul away the bad guys. I enjoy seeing SWAT teams converge on the house where some man’s got his girlfriend held hostage, then watching them slap on the cuffs.

They’re protective. Most women I know have a soft spot for men with a protective streak. What’s not to like about the Coast Guard cadet who leaps into frigid waters to save a drowning fisherman or the firefighter who runs into a burning building to rescue a child? When men use their strength and training to protect the vulnerable, it strikes a chord with women.

They have a code. Almost all of these highly trained action-hero types went through some sort of rigorous training to get where they are. Whether they were Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, FBI agents–at some point on their journey they’ve been pushed and tested and instilled with a code of ethics. This snippet from the SEAL creed is just one example: “I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.”

We saw this attitude on display when that team of SEALs was fast-roped into a potentially lethal environment to take out the word’s most hunted terrorist. Who wasn’t riveted by this act of bravery?

And finally, there’s The Swagger. I know, I know. No one wants to admit it. But as much as women roll their eyes when these alpha-males strut around looking manly, we secretly admire it. Because when it comes to sex appeal, a good bod is nice, but what’s even better is that calm self-assurance that you see when a man has made a career out of looking danger in the eye and refusing to blink.

Bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into romantic suspense. Her novels have won numerous awards, including a 2010 RITA (Whisper of Warning) and a 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award (Untraceable). Her new release Snapped is on sale August 30. Visit her at


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