Ever since an elite unit of Navy SEALs stormed a Pakistan compound and killed Osama bin Laden, people can’t get enough of SEALs. There are some who want to know what it’s like to be one, and others who want to know what it takes to become one.

Then there are those who want to know what it might be like to, well, “be” with one.

For them, there is an entire universe of Navy SEAL romance novels. There’s the “Tall, Dark and Dangerous” series by Suzanne Brockmann or the “Tempting Seals” books by Lora Leigh.

The appeal of a clean-cut SEAL in the land of “lace-wristed dukes” and longhaired Fabios is simple.

“For readers, Navy SEALs are superheroes without the spandex,” said Pamela White, a journalist and romance novelist whose pen name is Pamela Clare.

Publishers are bracing for a flurry of Navy SEAL-themed pitches and manuscripts.

“When something like this happens, it is going to be huge,” said Gail Chasan, senior editor at Harlequin Enterprises Special Edition, the Ontario-based publisher synonymous with the romance genre.

“SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper,” which hasn’t even been released, is already No. 5 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

The interest in all things SEAL is rabid. Merchandise sales at the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., are up 200 percent, spokesman Rolf Snyder said. In Chesapeake, Va., ex-SEAL Don Shipley has been flooded with calls and e-mails seeking information about his Extreme SEAL Experience camp. SEAL movies, including one by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, are in the works. And Discovery Channel plans to air an “insta-mentary” called “Killing bin Laden” on Sunday.

White lucked out: Her SEAL romance novel “Breaking Point” happened to be scheduled a few days after bin Laden was killed.

Usually it takes up to 18 months for a book to go from manuscript to store shelves. E-books can take a few months. So publishers are cautious about placing bets based on short bursts of interest in a particular subject.

“When ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ came out, we had a discussion about, ‘Do we think pirates as heroes will come back?’ But it never caught on,” said May Chen, a top editor for Avon Romance, part of HarperCollins Publishers.

On balance, Navy SEAL romance novels have proven reliable sellers in the romance suspense category, and several have made the New York Times bestseller list, including Sandra Hill’s “Dark Viking,” which features a SEAL who travels in time to the land of the vikings.

Romance fiction sales as a whole hover around $1.4 billion annually, and 90 percent of the readership is female, according to the Romance Writers of America.

The woman credited with launching the Navy SEAL mini-genre is Brockmann, who wrote “Prince Joe” after reading a magazine story about “Hell Week,” the toughest part of the Basic Underwater Demolition training program.

The book “was very different than anything we had ever done. It was an odd theme for a book and an odd profession for a hero to have,” said Chasan, her editor at Harlequin. “It plunged readers into a world they were not familiar with at all. At the same time, it really was a classic romance freshly told, and we were able to build on that.”

Brockmann, a military history buff, has written 26 books featuring active-duty or retired SEALs. “When I started, there wasn’t that much information” about the SEALs, Brockmann said. But there was surge of interest after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and again in 2009, after a SEAL unit rescued an American captain from pirates. Now there are websites, YouTube videos of their training, and cable network shows. That increased awareness has meant more homework for authors.

“There is so much you have to know: the way the teams work, the training the men have gone through, where they do their missions,” said Marliss Melton, a former linguistics professor at the College of William & Mary who has written a successful series of Navy SEAL romance books and has a former commander check her work for errors.

Detail is important because although romance novel readers might love unrealistic happy endings, they want a plausible story and characters.

Romance authors “are writing about the human experience for readers today, so whatever setting – the 1600s, another world inhabited by vampires who are hotter than hot – readers still want something that makes sense to them,” said Amy Pierpont, executive director of Grand Central Publishing’s Forever romance imprint.

Unlike previous heroines, today’s female characters are not easily swept off their feet. For instance, Natalie Benoit, White’s latest heroine, considers SEAL Zach MacBride with wariness: “It wasn’t right for any man to be so dangerous and so sexy at the same time. Her adrenal glands and her ovaries were locked in a shouting match now, the former insisting she needed to run away fast, the latter wishing he’d kiss her again.”

“You definitely get some reader backlash if a heroine is too mild-mannered or too apt to acquiesce to a man’s needs,” Pierpont said.

Pierpont and others believe therein lies another aspect of the SEALs’ appeal. A Navy captain might have been dashing 20 years ago, but now, when women are CEOs and soldiers, a guy’s got to have more than a pretty uniform.

The SEALs “appeal to the side of women who want to know there are really strong men in the world who aren’t afraid to take responsibility. SEALs are not not going to pay their child support. They are not couch potatoes who don’t care. They are active in making the world better,” White said.

In the romance world, the competency of SEALs knows no bounds. “They are trained from Day 1 to notice the tiniest detail,” Melton said. “A man who can pick up on the smallest little nuance is bound to be able to please a woman, if you catch my drift.”