Today we welcome Anne Cleeland, who gives us some insight on why we can’t seem to get enough of those rugged cowboy heroes. Anne will give away a copy of her latest book, Daughter of the God-King, to three lucky commenters.
by Anne Cleeland
There’s no hero like a western hero. Who can forget Kane in High Noon, who has to abandon his bride so as to save the town from the bad guys? Or Lonesome Dove’s Gus McCrae, who is still devoted to his long-lost love, despite time, distance, and the pesky little detail that she’s married to someone else? Linda Lael Miller gave us the brawling McKettrick brothers, Diana Palmer gave us her long, tall Texans, and our own Laura Drake gave us rough and tumble Max Jameson; all larger-than-life and all cut from the same iconic cowboy cloth.
The men in these stories are unabashedly men, doing manly things and wearing tall leather boots. They break horses, save the family ranch, outfox cattle rustlers and are generally too busy building a life with their bare hands to even think about matrimony, until they meet the heroine, and then—while we all smile in anticipation—their unbridled manliness is suddenly tamed. For some reason this is immensely appealing to the female heart—the idea that she can tame the untameable—and it seems that every western romance has this premise as its basic plot.
I write historical romance, and there is a fundamental difference between the two genres; instead of plucky heroines taming the untamable, the historical heroine is usually re-enacting the Cinderella story; she is a damsel in distress waiting to be swept off her feet by the handsome prince.
Each of these genres has its own appeal, but is there any doubt that the western is uniquely American? The heroines are hardy pioneers rather than demure gentlewomen, and their setting is rugged, endless frontier—the perfect backdrop for the manly heroes that are so in need of taming.
Can an urban romance give you that same feeling? Not really; there aren’t a lot of untamed men lurking around the local Starbucks, and there’s nothing rugged about an upscale office building. Instead, let’s appreciate the code of the West; where men are men, doing what men need to do while the women who love them don’t wait by the hearth, but are busy building their own lives right beside them.
Who are your favorite western heroes, and why?
Anne Cleeland holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a degree in law from Pepperdine University, and is a member of the California State Bar. She writes a contemporary mystery series set in New Scotland Yard as well as a historical fiction series set in the Regency period. A member of Mystery Writers of America and the Historical Novel Society, she lives in California and has four children. Her website is www.annecleeland.com.
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