Some might think that the idyllic life of a cowboy on the range doesn’t lend itself to suspenseful mysteries. I beg to differ and so would many of the writers of Harlequin Intrigues. The truth is the cowboy is one of the tried and true heroes that women readers of the genre can’t get enough of.
I’ve had cowboy heroes almost as long as I’ve been writing Intrigues, and that is fifteen years and forty books ago. My first westerns were the four books in the popular Family Ties series. Since then I’ve written many stand-alone novels staring the alpha cowboy and several multi-book series.
There are several reasons why I think cowboys are naturals as suspense heroes. They tend to be independent thinkers who follow their own instincts. They don’t necessarily follow anyone else’s rules, but they have a strong value system. They are never afraid to buck the system since they’re not really part of the system. They are very protective of their lands and the people they love. They’ll stand up for what’s right no matter the cost. And, of course, they are incredibly sexy in those jeans, boots and Stetsons.
I used all of those qualities in the heroes for my recent series, The Four Brothers of Colts Run Cross. The series was originally intended to be only four books, then expanded to five. Now, due to popular request, there will be a sixth.
The series is about a close-knit and very wealthy Texas family that not only owned one of largest ranches in Texas, but owned an oil company as well. I thought of it as similar to the Ewings on the old TV show Dallas, except with scruples. Each brother has his own story, but there is also a mystery running through the first four books. I’ve found that Intrigue readers in general not only like large families but enjoy the idea of returning to the family setting, in this case Jack’s Bluff Ranch, in succeeding books. And each book involved the family in ways that were integral to the story. The fifth book was about the daughter who was estranged from her husband, a star player for the Dallas Cowboys. Their two sons are abducted a few days before Christmas so it’s a very emotional story that definitely affects the whole family. Yet, amazingly, there is also humor, thanks to the Home Alone style antics of the boys.
And finally there is the current series, Special Ops, Texas. This is the most exciting series I’ve worked on in ages. The heroes are all former Navy SEALs, guys who have left the service for one reason or another and are having difficulty adjusting to life not on the edge.
In Cowboy Commando, the first that is just out, Cutter Martin returns to the family ranch but doesn’t think ranching will cut it for him in his restless state. But when an old lover drops into his life with a wild story about her best friend being killed by a cop and her fear for the friend’s young daughter, he finds he has plenty of danger in store. The book is hot! So is the cover! Well, you can see that for yourself. Hmm. Maybe that’s another reason cowboys make such great heroes.
If you have any questions about writing contemporary western series or writing for Harlequin Intrigue, I’ll do my best to answer them. Or if you have any comments about cowboys as heroes, we can chat about that, too. I’ll be giving away a copy of COWBOY COMMANDO & MIRACLE AT COLTS RUN CROSS this weekend!
One of my favorite comments was overheard at a beauty shop the other day. “Cowboys are for women what blondes are for men. When you see one, you just have to take a second look.”
Care to second that?
To learn more about Joanne and her books, visit her website: