Cowboys – Ridin’, Ropin’, Lovin’

cowboys Nothing seems more iconic to America than the cowboy, who is recognized and often revered all over the world. He’s tall; handsome; hardworking; kind to women, children, and the elderly; deadly to miscreants; and laconic. His trademarks include a well-worn Stetson, boots, jeans, and chambray shirt. Occasionally, he’s seen in chaps, spurs, and holster holding his trusty revolver. He’s a man’s man, and definitely, oh, definitely a woman’s man.

The last few years have seen a slight resurgence in romance novels featuring cowboys, both contemporary and historical. He still hasn’t replaced his Regency counterpart, the tall, dark, handsome rake, but given the renewed interest in the American West by movies like True Grit, the cowboy may be making a comeback, and I am thrilled.

While authors Linda Lael Miller and Leigh Greenwood, once president of Romance Writers of America, are arguably the queen and king of the cowboy genre, they also represent the contemporary (Miller) and the historical (Greenwood) sides of the subgenre. Miller thoughtfully provides eye candy on her web site for those who want to see videos of the land and the cowboys that are the heroes in her books.

As far as historical Western romances are concerned, my favorite authors besides Greenwood are Maggie Osborne, Susan Kay Law, Kaki Warner, and newcomer Ellen O’Connell. Unfortunately, Osborne has retired, but her Western romances leaven the grueling day-to-day living in constant dirt and wind with humor and tenderness.

Contemporary cowboys have carved a niche for themselves in series books and have even branched out to populate erotica. Some of my favorite authors for contemporary Western romances include not only Miller, but also Diana Palmer, Lori Foster, Genell Dellin, and Kathleen Eagle. If more spice and maybe a ménage or two is your cup of tea, then Lorelei James or MacKenzie McKade will light up your cowboy reading.

But if you’re a novice on the range, how can you get helpful hints? Well, these three sites should get you started:

* Where else but AAR reviews? Go to the Reviews tab where you’ll see a drop down menu. Choose Power Search. On the right hand side, look for Book Type which is another drop down menu. Choose American Historical Romance where after you press the Search button, you’ll find six pages of titles, authors, and links to reviews.

* Wendy The Super Librarian hosted The Great Western Drive in 2009, and devoted blog entries to cowboys and the American West. And there’s a 2010 update!

* And there’s always Petticoats and Pistols the blog of some Western romance writers whose mix of news, reviews, and a bit of this and that is sure to get you in the swing.

These are all some of my favorites. But what are yours? As an avid reader of cowboy romances, I for one would really like to know!

– Pat Henshaw

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30 Responses to “Cowboys – Ridin’, Ropin’, Lovin’”

  1. Lea Hensley says:

    I’m a big fan of Western romance, especially the historical variety. The Heart Breaker by Nicole Jordan is one of my favorites. And the recent Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell now ranks up there as well.

  2. There’s a cowboy name Reid Rosenthal that writes a story called Threads West American Saga, he writes so with romance, alittle history and they way he describes his characters you feel like your in the book. He has a way with words. He’s a real cowboy and a real man’s man. I love a real good cowboy story!

  3. I need to get these Ellen O’Connell books. When I started reading romance – westerns were so hot and there are so many on my keeper shelf, I look forward to when they come back to the forefront – it would be fun to see them get the same revamping Regencies have gotten in recent years.

  4. Virginia C says:

    Historical Western Romance is my favorite genre. I love westerns of all kinds. Being a Southerner, I also love Civil War romances and stories set in the South. However, for me, nothing beats a western in its purest form. By that, I mean a stalwart cowboy and his lady, the land, and the life. When a cowboy truly loves, he loves with all his heart, forever. His woman is as cherished as his values, his “cowboy code of honor”. Not always in words, but in deep, deep feelings. Feelings as true as the blue of a Texas bluebonnet. I love, love, love my cowboys and men of the Old West! Just to name a few wonderful Western writers: Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, Leigh Greenwood, Linda Lael Miller, Diana Palmer, Lorraine Heath, Kaki Warner, Linda Broday, Susan Kay Law, Cheryl St. John, Joan Johnston, Gen Bailey, Janet Dailey, Sherry James, Delores Fossen, BJ Daniels, Victoria Bylin, Elizabeth Lane, and too many more to mention : )

  5. Diana says:

    I grew up in the Golden age of the TV western. I was too young to understand my special feelings for Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates, but I get it now. Sugarfoot, Wanted Dead or Alive, Maverick, Palladin, Gunsmoke. Ahhh, anyone else remember? Off to look for YouTube clips.

  6. Julie Miller says:

    I love me a good cowboy! ;) Sherry James writes some wonderful cowboy stories–COWBOY FLING is a favorite of mine. She also has her first cowboy historical out, THE COWBOY AND THE HELLCAT, from Wild Rose Press.

    I love stories that invoke that “cowboy” sense of duty, honor, the lone man standing up against evil, his heart belongs to the land or his job and one woman kind of mindset. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (movie and TV series) is one of my favorites. I also love OPEN RANGE, SILVERADO, and the original TRUE GRIT (well, I love John Wayne in it). Haven’t seen the new TRUE GRIT yet.

    I’m also a big romantic suspense fan, so Delores Fossen, Paula Graves and BJ Daniels and their protective/men of justice cowboys are favorites, too!

  7. xina says:

    Since the start of my romance reading 10 + years ago, I have really enjoyed the western/Americana historical romance. My taste for certain themes and settings has changed over the years, but my love for a really good western has remained the same. I’ve read A LOT over the years. Some of my favorites… The Last Man In Town by Susan Kay Law. Also, One Lonely Night by Law. Allie’s Moon by Alexis Harrington, Heart Of The West and The Outsider by Penelope Williamson (also the movie version of The Outsider with a very hot Tim Daly in a duster…hmmm). Angel Creek and The Touch Of Fire by Linda Howard. So Wide The Sky by Elizabeth Grayson, A Kiss To Die For by Claudia Dain. The Only series by Elizabeth Lowell. Authors..Jodi Thomas, Lorraine Heath, Lavryle Spencer, Cheryl St. John.

  8. JML says:

    One of my all time favorites is Never Love a Lawman by Jo Goodman… his name is Wyatt *grin*.

    And now I’m going to see if I can track down some cowboy romances in ebooks so I won’t have to go out to the sun porch where it’s 22 degrees to go through my keepers.

    Dang you Pat for costing me money, lol!

  9. Diana says:

    Blaze and Silver Flame from Susan Johnson’s magnificent (footnoted!) Braddock Black series are available in the Kindle store as well as other ebook vendors. Wonderful books.

    • xina says:

      Diana: Blaze and Silver Flame from Susan Johnson’s magnificent (footnoted!) Braddock Black series are available in the Kindle store as well as other ebook vendors. Wonderful books.

      I have these 2 downloaded and ready to read. Even though I read these books years ago, I’m looking forward to reading them again. Great dialogue, hot (and I mean HOT) love scenes, and footnotes. What more could you want?

  10. Thanks for recommending Petticoats and Pistols!

  11. Ann Stephens says:

    Petticoats and Pistols is a great site, whether you read cowboy romances or not. The articles on history and customs are fascinating. And Sherry James is an author worth taking a look at!

    I love Western movies: The original TRUE GRIT (I have mixed feelings about the remake & haven’t seen it…fantastic cast & directors, but remaking John Wayne??), THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE SEARCHERS, LEFT-HANDED GUN, and most of Clint Eastwood’s westerns (mmmm, young Clint…). Although my grandfather was a cowboy when he was a young man, I haven’t read a lot of cowboy romance. Maybe it’s the idea of Grandpa as a sexy hero, lol — though he sure swept my grandmother off her feet.

  12. Lynda X says:

    I don’t think you can beat the Texas series by Lorraine Heath. Wonderful! Wonderful!

  13. Quilt Lady says:

    I love the P&P and also love the western romances. Cowboys are my favorite read and I have ran into some really good western authors. Try Kaki Warner, Elaine Levine and Caroline Fyfee all great new authors. Bring on those cowboys.

  14. marilyn says:

    I love western romances. My favorite for historicals is F. Rosanne Bittner. The Blue Hawk trilogy is the best. My favorite contemporary is Diana Palmer and her Long Tall Texas series.

  15. Sandra says:

    Has anyone read Ree Drummond’s account of her own love story with a current day cowboy on The Pioneer Woman blog? The hardback version is coming out in February.

    http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2007/09/the_night_ree_drummond_met_marlboro_man/

  16. Cindy says:

    Love, love, love Maggie Osborne. I also really like Cheryl St. John’s westerns.

  17. AARPat says:

    Great recommendations, everyone! Thank you! I think the only one I hadn’t heard about was Susan Johnson, and I’ll be sure to look her up.

    If you haven’t gone to True Grit, you really should. Whether you like Jeff Bridges as Rooster or not, the girl who plays Maddie is wonderful, and the Coen Brothers have included a lot of wonderful scenery.

    I guess I can confess that my husband is from San Antonio, and while not a “cowboy” in the working sense, he has relatives in the cattle business. I grew up in Nebraska which used to bill itself as the beginning of the West. For grade school trips we visited sod houses and explored Conestoga wagons. All of that may contribute to my love of Western romances.

  18. Diana says:

    @Pat Before you try Johnson check AAR reviews. The Braddock Black books are oh so smart and delicious. Some of her more recent books, not so much.

    • AARPat says:

      Diana: @Pat Before you try Johnson check AAR reviews.

      LOL, Diana! I review for AAR, so I ALWAYS check the reviews here. In fact, I was spending so much time on the site checking reviews and am a published book reviewer elsewhere, that I decided to apply to become one of the AAR reviewers!

  19. Carla Kelly says:

    Shucks. I like cowboys, ‘cept Mr. Otto in Borrowed Light is a stockman. I guess that means he owns them critters.

    My dad was from Cody, Wyoming. The first cowboy I fell in love with was Mr. Kaiser. I think I was five. The Kaisers had a little farm right on the outskirts of Cody. In the summer, Mr. Kaiser used to ride his beautiful black horse to my grandma’s house and tap on her kitchen window. She would open it, and he would lean in from the saddle and hand her a pint of cream. I loved Mr. Kaiser.

  20. mesadallas says:

    Yes, we ladies do love cowboys. They are just plain-out sexy and unlike knights in shining armor or highland warriors, it is still a possibility to find a cowboy in today’s world.

    My dad and uncles were rodeo bronc-busters and bull riders back in the early sixties so my love for western-type men are in my roots.

    I found my own cowboy 30 years ago. He was the handsomest man I’d ever seen. When I found out the man in those boots and Wranglers had been raised on a ranch, was an expert horseman, and his name was Dallas I was a goner from the get-go.

    We’ve had a wonderful life together. We raised five sons and he still makes my heart go pitter-patter.

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  22. Maryann says:

    Borrowed Light is on preorder from Amazon! Anyone who is interested in this post should read it as soon as it comes out next month. Whatever genre you like, you are sure to enjoy Carla’s plots and characters. I only wish her books were available in hardcover, and I usually only spend that kind of money for the classics.

  23. LeeAnn says:

    Nora Roberts’ “Lawless” was my favorite. I just fell in love with Jake!

  24. Diana says:

    Sorry, Pat. Since you said you hadn’t heard of the Johnson westerns, I just wanted to alert you to the fact that her books are wildly inconsistent. She has DIK reviews as well as an F (by the same reviewer). Wasn’t questioning your reviewer credentials.

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