Endearing Western Romance Heroes

I recently finished the final book in my WILD Trilogy (Yay!) and I’m hunkering down to finish the third in my BRIDE series (deadline countdown: three weeks; three days–aaah!!). I’ve spent the past few days trying to rewire the hardware in my brain for the new book as I put the other rest. Lucky for me, my upcoming hero has been calling to me ever since I brought him to life in THE GUNSLINGER’S UNTAMED BRIDE. The moment Kyle Darby struck a match in the dark, the orange glow lighting the chiseled features of his face, I knew he’d be next. I’m thinking he’s my favorite kind of hero, reserved on the outside, high strung on the inside, a nice hard shell around his heart for the heroine to break through.  In the past few years I have learned, as a writer, that I also prefer a talkative hero. Chance Morgan in MAVERICK  WILD was my hardest hero to write, mostly because he’s the strong, silent type and I’m a writer who thrives on dialogue. I spent much of the book wanting to beat words out of him.  His brother, on the other hand, was a sheer joy from page one to the end. I had a hard time keeping up with Tucker and his banter *g*.  While pondering my array of heroes and trying to decide on which characteristics make them easiest for me to write (as if my characters would let me decide!), I started to focus on what I like most as a reader.

As a reader there are certain heroes who stand out as all-time favorites. I was actually surprised to discover the strong silent types rank among my faves. I started to ask myself why? What was it about these guys that really snagged my heartstrings? Here’s a few of my all-time favorite western romance heroes:

Luke Shardlow of ONE WISH by Linda Lael Miller is hands-down my all-time favorite hero — it was love on page one, and he was only eleven years old! *g* Even at eleven, bruised and beaten by his father, Luke was cocky, wounded, yet undeniably self-assured. His consternation at having to fetch a dumb girl from a river won me over, him knowing he’d get whooped again for ruining his wool trousers, yet he dives for her anyways. As an adult he’s still cocky, wounded and self-assured–amplified a hundred times. He’s also bruised and beaten by his half-brother’s gang of outlaws when his heroine finds him and when he warns her to leave before they come back to finish him off and she asks “Who?” his flat reply is “The Ladies’ Aid Society.” I love his wit, his loyalty, his sarcasm and his hidden vulnerability of believing he’s too rotten to love.

Jesse DuFrayne in LaVyrle Spencer’s HUMMINGBIRD radiates confidence–even when he’s unconscious *lol*.  He’s a rugged, worldly man with no give what-so-ever who’s up against a rigid Miss Abigail who’s not about to bend to his demands or desires. I absolutely love how her brash treatment toward him and her unwillingness to bend becomes what he admires most about her. And while he eventually wears her down, he’s the one who falls the hardest. I suppose the harder they fall the bigger the imprint on my heart 😉

Another long-time fave is Luke McClain in Dallas Schulze’s SHORT STRAW BRIDE. He and his brother are sitting around the kitchen in the opening, noticing how their late-mother’s house has been neglected and are bothered by the displeasure she’d surely feel at seeing her home in such a state–which of course spurs their need for one of them to find a wife. What better way to decide which should marry than to draw straws?  Men, gotta love ’em. Having drawn the short straw, Luke sets about finding a wife the way some would choose a horse. One of my favorite scenes is when he asks his Bride-To-Be to marry him–or rather, he thinks he asked, but when she believes he’s offered her a job as a housekeeper he silently recounts all he said in his mind and realizes he’d detailed all his reasons for needing a wife, but hadn’t actually asked her to marry him. His understanding of women is slow-coming, his words remain minimal and misspoken, but his heart grows by leaps and bounds as he sets out to win his wife’s affection.

A new favorite is Jenna Kernan’s Ford Slayter in FALLEN ANGEL, part of the A WESTERN WINTER WONDERLAND Anthology (also features hunky heroes by Pam and Cheryl!). My instant appeal was his reaction to accidently shooting the heroine, utter horror followed by a sharp sense of duty to this woman and her young son. This hardened bounty hunter is a man who’s life has been shattered by the loss of his wife and young daughter. His conviction to care for this duo until he sees his angel back on her feet causes him no small amount of emotional pain. He sucks it up, holds it in, and melts my heart as his growing affection seeps out while he strives to not receive their affection in return. *sigh*


How about you?  Care to share some of your most endearing western romance heroes? What is it about them that really tugs at your heartstrings?

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27 thoughts on “Endearing Western Romance Heroes”

  1. Good morning, Cheryl! Thanks for posting 🙂

    Oh my gosh–Rye is definitely to die for!!!! He’s the one who was lost at sea, right??? Came back and his wife had believed he was dead and married his best friend? A heart-wrenching story.

  2. ok..

    let’s see here!
    Jesse DuFrayne-yes…a wonderful hero! Loved how stubborn and non-apologetic he was with her!

    I tell ya …all of Linda Lael Miller’s Mckettrick men are up there on my list of faves…I swear-I keep picking up her books and everyone is read is just awesome and her heros are just all so strong and then they are vulnerable at the same time! That makes an excellent hero I think! Even the modern day Mckettricks are just wonderful!

    Gunglingers of any variety make for great heros too I think…gotta love their dangerous appeal!

    Cain from THE OUTSIDER by Penelope Williamson-I loved him as a hero! He’d had a really hard and brutal life, but still stood up for Rachel and her son!

    I have a question for you!!
    The third story in your BRIDE series-will it be part of an anthology or a full length book? It’s been bugging me and Im so happy to finally get a chance to ask you about it!!!!

  3. Easy. My favorite western hero is gorgeous, half-breed Colt Thunder in Savage Thunder by Johanna Lindsey. Yum, yum, yum!!

    Colt is wounded, gorgeous , determined not to be seduced by the duchess he’s leading to safety, and his dry wit makes me laugh throughout the book.

    Oh man, Stacey, I wish you hadn’t made me think of Colt cause I have a million things to do this weekend and I know I’m just going to go home tonight and reread that book. lol

  4. Hi Melissa!

    Those McKettrick men are HOT 😉

    BRIDE 3 is part of the anthology–the other authors in this SPRING BRIDE are Judith Stacy and Jillian Heart. Kyle’s story will be shorter, but I promise to make it ‘POP’ *g*

    Ya know, this series ended up being a little jumbled from the get-go. BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON is actually the second book in what started out as my MOUNTAIN Trilogy—the first being the story of Kyle’s dad and step-mom (woman raised by Jed, hero of BRIDE), and with Kyle’s haveing June in it and being third. When I sold BRIDE first, Kyle’s book didnt’ fit anymore as the third book, so I decided to go with Juniper as a main hero, I’d really been pining to write his own story. All good, but it took the focus off the Darby family 🙁 The thing is, that first book, MOUNTAIN SPIRITS, was my trainer-book *g*, and I’ve been leary to try and bring it up to par….when they asked me to do the anthology and to keep it in my BRIDE series, I reworked Kyle’s story 😉

    So there ya have it–the full scoup 😀

  5. LOL, Carla. I’m sorry 🙁 *ggg*

    I know you have told me to read that book–but I still haven’t. I can fix your problem—MAIL IT TO ME *GGG* I’ll send it back when your next Love Inspired Historical is done 😉

  6. Hi Stacey,
    Oh, you’re doing an anthology with Judith Stacey? She’s a really good friend of mine! That’s wonderful. I guess most of LyVryle’s heroes make the cut with me. I did love Rye in Twice Loved, Cheryl. That was a bittersweet story. And I do love ALL of Linda Lael Miller’s heroes, both western and contemp. She’s got those men down and I can’t stop reading her books. 🙂

  7. The one really cool thing about writing a new second book from scratch was that when Kyle came on the scene in GUNSLINGER he had completely transformed. He was this soft nice guy in his own book–kinda stale now that look back a it *lol* Having to wait to be third gave him a hard edge that really got me excited about him 😉 I guess things get jumbled for a reason *LOL*

  8. Hi Charlene! How cool that Judith is your friend. I’ve never met her or Jillian–not even in cyber-land *g* But I’m really excited to be bound in a book with them 😀

    Yeah…it is hard to stop reading LS and LLM—I pulled their books out to do my post last night—probably their fault why I didn’t get that “post” button hit properly *G*

  9. Of course you know that I have to have an Indian hero as my favorite — and so I do — but I have several that really don’t seem to resemble each other at all — go figure.

    My first and foremost hero is of course my Montana husband, Paul. But then if we go from there, I have true to life heros, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Shirt, Red Cloud, Petopekis (from the Blackfeet), and many real life heros whose name I don’t know — I know them only from their pictures.

    If we are going with fictional characters, I’d have to include Unkas in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, Hiawatha in THE SONG OF HIAWATHA, Something…something Wind in DANCES WITH WOLVES, and many many others straight off the pages of history

    In truth, I think my favorite characters are those who are true to life. And the one thing that I admire most about some of these characters is that they never gave up — they kept fighting in one way shape form or another for their people, for their way of life and for their freedom.

    Great post, Stacey!

  10. I actually LOVE that whole “Wyoming Series” by Johanna Lyndsey-I think all the heros in those books are great! SAVAGE THUNDER is the 2nd book of that trilogy!

    Thank you for clearing that up for me Stacey!! I’ll ..of course..will be anxiously awaiting both of your next two books!

  11. Good morning, Stacey! I loved your Chance in Maverick Wild. And like Melissa, I love the McKittricks.

    Also I loved the three-dimentional book covers i your newsletter!

    A lotta love there LOL.
    Have a good weekend.

  12. Stacey,

    You sure know how to get my thinking cap on! My gosh, there are so many thrilling heroes I barely know where to start.

    Carter McKoy of Jodi Thomas’s “The Texan’s Wager” simply walked into my heart and snuggled down the first time he stepped onto the page. He was terrified that someone would break into his house and kill him like they did his parents that he built a safe room underground. He didn’t trust anyone and didn’t speak more than two words. The thing that worried him most about marrying Bailee was that he’d have to talk to her.

    Then there’s Sam O’Ballivan in Linda Lael Miller’s “The Man From Stone Creek.” Be still my heart! Sam was another one who didn’t talk a lot, but when he did you knew it was important because he didn’t waste words. He was strong and silent.

    And how about Rowdy Rhodes in LLM’s “A Wanted Man.” Oh my gosh! I fell smack in love with him and didn’t want the story to end.

    Another was your book, Stacey, “The Gunslinger’s Untamed Bride.” Juniper Barns was a bigger than life character with the rugged strength of ten men. He was the ultimate Western hero.

    So, there are a few of my favorite heroes. Like I said my list is long. 🙂

    Great blog!

  13. Hi Karen! Thanks so much for your reply — I can’t agree more. You know, it was my American History night class and sheer heart-ache and admiration for the American Indians that started my journey into western romance.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us 😀

  14. Melissa, you and Carla are going to make me go on a reading binge (after I finish BRIDE 3 ::in case my editor is reading *g*::). I have only read a few books by Johanna Lindsey, my favorite being ALL I NEED IS YOU. Had a golden spur on the cover–hooked me right off 😉

    Hope you like both my 3’s *ggg* Good news—my mom just called and EMBRACE THE WILD passes mama-muster 😉 She loved it!! Not sure that will impress my editors but it made MY morning *ggg*

  15. Thanks for all that lovin’, Tanya!! I’m so glad Chance was worth the frustration. *lol* I didn’t love him until the book was done *G*

    Thanks for the compliment on my 3-D cover graphics!! Su at EarthlyCharms makes them for me when she does my magazine ads — my favorite part of getting ads is when she sends me the book jpeg *g*

  16. Aw, THANK YOU, Linda. Juniper won his place in my heart as a secondary character when he was 14 🙂 To date, his book was my best personal experience while writing a book…the only time I wasn’t plagued by doubt all the way through–he just spoke right to my heart 😉 Funny how each book is an entirely new writing experience.

    Oh, Sam O’Ballivan is a favorite of mine too!!! I should have listed him 😀 See, another silent guy that totally gets to me! It’s his dry internal dialogue that just sucks me in and makes me love ‘im *g* Jodi has some fantastic heroes–my favorite is Wolf *g*

    Thanks so much for sharing!!

  17. LOVE LOVE LOVE Sam O’Ballivan and also Mister Rowdy Rhodes..just finished up A WANTED MAN actually and now am eagerly awaiting THE RUSTLER…

    Of course Juniper is right up there in my list anyway-very sexy gunslinging hero! 😉

    I cant wait to reat Garret’s story..I bet he’ll be an awesome western hero too!!!

  18. Hi, Stacey–back from breakfast and getting my nails done–and hey, your blog is worth waiting for. LOL!

    My favorite heroes have to be in Janet Dailey’s Calder series–all the Calders except Ty, who (if I dare to say so) dropped off my radar as one when he cheated on his wife with the heroine. But that’s just me . . .

  19. The Rustler–I can’t wait!! *g*

    Thank you, Melissa!! Ya know, Garret was such a sweet kid in the first two WILD books — I had to beat him against a few rocks to toughen him up a bit for his own book 😉

  20. Hi Pam! Oh, breakfast and painted nails, that sounds like a nice morning 🙂

    Daily is an author I’ve never read, but I keep meaning to. I’ve hard this series mentioned quite a few times–thanks for sharing!!

    I so agree with you on the adultery issue–not something I can forgive a hero for–that and rape. Don’t care if he makes her want it at the end–if she’s screaming NO until he overpowers her…he just lost his hero badge. IMO, if she forgives him, she’s an idiot–because I wont. I’m stubborn that way 😉

  21. Hi Stacey I love your bride series books and look forward to more.
    I love the McKittricks .
    Have a great weekend

  22. Hi, I’m too tired to even think of a hero.
    and THAT is a sad day.

    Hmmmmm all I can think of is the Louis L’Amour heroes. You know all those Louis L’Amour novels are romance novels, right?

    Don’t let anyone kid you or tell you different.

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