Talking Cowboys with Cheryl Brooks
As a life-long fan of cowboys, the slow disappearance of the western genre from movies and television since the 1970s has been positively tragic. There simply aren’t as many cowboy heroes to choose from these days! But that doesn’t mean that I can’t still cherish my old favorites.
The cowboys I remember came from the days when westerns like Gunsmoke, Laramie, and the original Wild Wild West were the most popular shows on TV. I grew up watching Roy Rogers and John Wayne in all sorts of westerns—True Grit and The Undefeated being my personal favorites—and I first saw Clint Eastwood when he played Rowdy Yates on Rawhide. He was pretty darn cute back then, and he hadn’t yet moved on to the “Spaghetti Westerns” for which he was to become famous. In my younger days, I was a Charlton Heston fan, and I really enjoyed his portrayal of an aging cowboy who befriends a woman and her young son in Will Penny, although I doubt that very many people, even those that are my age, remember that one.
In 1969, I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for the first time. I’ve probably seen it more than a dozen times since then, and while Butch and Sundance weren’t precisely cowboys, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford in cowboy hats and boots, I think they qualify—with respect to the historical setting, anyway. I was fourteen at the time, and I fell in love with those guys. My sisters and I had horses (large ponies, actually) that we rode everywhere. Once we’d seen the movie, we assumed the roles and reenacted more than one chase scene. My older sister was Butch, and I was Sundance, while my younger sister was Hannibal Hayes from the TV show Alias Smith & Jones. I rode a Palomino mare named Goldie, “Butch” rode a pinto mare named Babe, and “Hannibal” rode a strawberry roan gelding named—you guessed it—Red. Those were fun times, but like westerns, they came to an end in the early seventies.
Most westerns in those days were heavy on action and short on romance. Sure, you had John Wayne chasing Maureen O’Hara all over town in McClintock! (1963), and there was a touch of romance in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, but on the whole, cowboys were predominately portrayed as tough, stoic types rather than romantic heroes. The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), starring Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles, is one of the few western romances I can recall, and it was adapted from a romance novel by the same name.
Silverado came out in 1985 with a very young-looking Kevin Costner playing Jake. Scott Glenn played his older brother Emmett, but Jake was the cute one. I’d hoped to see more westerns after that, but even a good movie like that failed to revive the genre, and, like so many others before it, it contained very little in the way of romance.
Trying to think up more recent westerns is tough. Tombstone is the first one that comes to mind—until I remind myself that it premiered in 1993. That being said, Val Kilmer was awesome as Doc Holliday, and as Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Kurt Russell and Sam Elliott made pretty hot western lawmen—although, truth be told, Sam Elliott’s voice is enough to make most women swoon.
Contemporary cowboys are just as hard to come by. George Strait made Pure Country in 1992, and while I enjoyed the romance and the music, his character was a country singer rather than a cowboy. I loved Robert Redford’s portrayal of Sonny Steele in The Electric Horseman (1979), but he was a rodeo cowboy, rather than a working cowboy like the men in my Cowboy Heaven series.
There’s been a recent resurgence in westerns, but they’re a bit too violent for me, so I can’t say they’ve provided me with any new favorites. My husband watched Deadwood, but all I ever heard when I walked past the living room was the F-word every five seconds or so. Even the remake of True Grit with Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn was too rough for my taste.
Growing up watching westerns with relatively bloodless violence and clean-cut, good-looking cowboys probably spoiled me for the newer, more realistic versions. And so, as I did in the past when I first started writing heroes who were regular guys as opposed to millionaires, doctors, or lawyers, I had to write the sort of cowboy I like—a kind, handsome, hardworking cowboy who has very little to offer a woman except his love.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll start a new trend. 🙂
Series: Cowboy Heaven (Book 2)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (April 5, 2016)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Buy: Amazon, Kindle, IndieBound, The Book Depository
When you find yourself in Cowboy Heaven, things can get hot as hell…
From established author Cheryl Brooks comes the second in a steamy contemporary romance series set at a Wyoming ranch chock full of sexy-as-sin cowboys.
SO MANY COWBOYS…
Shy computer specialist, dog lover, and amateur chef Tina Hayes has a thing for firefighters, but when she travels to the Circle Bar K ranch on family business, the ranch's cowboys have no trouble persuading her to stay on as their cook. Especially not when she learns that brooding Wyatt McCabe-a man who makes her heart gallop like no one else can-is also a former firefighter.
HOW DOES SHE KNOW HE'S THE ONE?
Wyatt's sizzling embraces leave Tina breathless. But being surrounded by a passel of smokin' hot ranch hands can be complicated. With so many cowboys courting Tina all at once, Wyatt must prove to Tina that she belongs with him.
Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse turned romance writer. Her Cat Star Chronicles series includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and Rebel. Her Cowboy Heaven series includes the Cowboy Delight novella and the Cowboy Heaven novel. Her self-published works include Sex Love and a Purple Bikini, Midnight in Reno, and the Unlikely Lovers series, which includes Unbridled, Uninhibited, Undeniable, and Unrivaled. As a member of the Sextet, she has also published several erotic novellas with Siren/Bookstrand. She is a member of RWA and IRWA and lives with her husband, two sons, two horses, four cats, and one dog in rural Indiana.