Mary Sullivan ~ What It Takes To Be NO ORDINARY COWBOY

mary_bray_01_webWildflower Junction welcomes Harlequin SuperRomance author Mary Sullivan!  Mary’s debut novel NO ORDINARY COWBOY blazes into bookstores this month.


A few years ago Mary picked up LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory and became hooked on romance. Mary discovered Harlequin Superromance and knew she wanted to write these heartfelt stories of love, family, perseverance and happy endings, about very human heroes and heroines graced with backbone, strength of character and hope.

She loves that moment when, even though it looks like these characters will never be able to make their love work, they then, against impossible odds, do.

Y’all can visit Mary’s website at

Hi! I’m Mary Sullivan and I’m so happy to be here today blogging on Petticoats & Pistols!


In preparing for today’s blog, I wondered what historical readers would want to know about writing a contemporary cowboy story, especially from someone who has never met a cowboy, has never been on a ranch and has never ridden a horse! So, I took a look back through the research I started when I decided to write cowboy romances.


I learned so much about modern cowboys, and wondered how much they had changed over the years and how they had stayed the same. The one constant I discovered was the cowboy’s character.


Cowboys are tough. They trail cattle through hard terrain, often in foul weather. They have to think like a cow in order to find the cows, calves and renegade bulls that need to be reunited with their herds. These days, they use pickup trucks and dirt bikes and handheld radios and ‘Japanese quarter horses’—ATVs—as well as horses. Cowboys have to be nearly as tough as the animals they tend.


They work long hard days. I remember a saying from years ago that ‘a woman’s work is never done’. Being a feminist, did I ever noc-coverresent that the first time I heard it! Now, though, I would apply it to a cowboy’s or a rancher’s or a farmer’s work, male or female.


 I found out that some cowboys are poets, as versatile with words as they are with their hands.


I learned that there are times when cowboys are called on to be heroes, most often in the small unnoticed deeds that daily life requires of them.


There truly does seem to be a Code of the West, first developed in the cowboy culture that started in the nineteenth century, when too few written laws forced cowboys to create laws of their own—about fair play and loyalty and respecting a person’s right to privacy.


This code still survives today in rules that are tacit yet understood universally throughout the culture.


Two items in the code caught my interest.


Take pride in your work. Nobody wants to re-do the job you should have done correctly the first time around. In the past, the price paid for the offense of shoddy work was ostracism, which must have been devastating in a world that was hard to survive even with others watching your back.


Live each day with courage. I really like this one.


The hero in my Superromance NO ORDINARY COWBOY, Hank Shelter, lives each day with courage. Every month of the year, he brings young children who are recovering from the ravages of cancer to his ranch and treats them to a few weeks of fun and Hank’s particular brand of tender loving care.


I’ll leave you to read the book to discover why this takes so much courage on Hank’s part. Suffice it to say that Hank overcame a lot to do this. He teaches my heroine, Amy, everything she will ever need to know about living a courageous life.


There are two more points in the Cowboy Code that tickle my fancy.

He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals. There’s something touching about a big, tough guy who treats children, the elderly and animals tenderly and with respect.

He must respect women.

I found this delightful quotation on the Internet: “If [American men] fell grievously short [in the matter of certain manners], in another they maintained without any exception the character of gentlemen.

The men, one and all, showed the utmost attention and politeness to our sex. Old or young, rich or poor, well or ill-dressed, every woman was treated with respect and kindness…” A Lady’s Journey Round the World, Ida Pfeiffer, 1855

I like this, too.

I’m thinking of modern-day cowboy, Ty Murray, on Dancing with the Stars and the way he always held and touched Chelsie Hightower with a gentleman’s respect.

Hank Shelter is a gentle man and a gentleman, two absolutely gorgeous character traits. He’s also a hell of a cowboy.

To celebrate the June release of my first novel, I’m giving away a copy of my Superromance, NO ORDINARY COWBOY, to one lucky person who leaves a comment. It’s so great to ‘meet’ everyone here!

Available Now at Amazon!


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41 thoughts on “Mary Sullivan ~ What It Takes To Be NO ORDINARY COWBOY”

  1. Huge congratulations on your debut, Mary! I like your description of a cowboy’s characteristics–those do make an ordinary man or cowboy into an extraordinary person and hero material 🙂 And it’s a reminder that it’s what is on the inside that provides the strength and beauty to a person’s life. Looking forward to reading about Hank!

  2. Welcome to The Junction, Mary! I’ve always loved cowboys, no matter the era. Wasn’t Ty wonderful? Quiet, gentle and always a gentleman.

    I enjoyed the information about the Cowboy Code and am looking forward to No Ordinary Cowboy.

  3. Congrats on No Ordinary Cowboy! If only today’s businessmen would adopt a similar code to the cowboy’s, we’d be in a much better place 😉

    Many happy sales!

  4. Your Hank sounds ideal! I’d love to meet him. Best of luck with the book.
    I don’t know any real life cowboys but if they all follow such a wonderful code of honor I’m definitely missing out!!

  5. Hello Mary,

    Congrats on your release of “No Ordinary Cowboy”. May you have many more releases. Would love the opportunity to win this book. Have a great day.

  6. “it’s what is on the inside that provides the strength and beauty to a person’s life.”
    Fedora, I couldn’t agree more! My hero isn’t the most handsome guy around, but he has a gorgeous soul.

  7. Howdy, Mary

    Love the story ideal of a rancher helping children.

    Cowboys and children a great combination.

    Look forward to reading this story.

    God Bless Sherry

  8. Tracy, Ty tried so hard to be a good dancer, didn’t he? He just showcased those great cowboy qualities that consistently garnered him wins in the rodeo–determination and grit and honest effort.

    It was so cute when he did his solo ‘dance’ in front of Jewel, gyrating his hips a little bit and then said later, “I could tell Mama liked!”

  9. Paula, a few years ago, a man named James P. Owen wrote a book called COWBOY ETHICS. It’s such a good book, especially the photographs by David Stoeckelin! Gorgeous shots of cowboys at work.

    The book is chock full of cowboy wisdom (all about ethics, as per the title) but directed toward the boardrooms of big business.

    Sadly, not enough businessmen/women heeded the message!

  10. Mary, you are so right about “it’s what is on the inside that provides the strength and beauty to a person’s life.” My grandmother use to say “pretty is as pretty does”


  11. A gentle man and a gentleman – my idea of the perfect hero. I think the world would be a much easier place to live in if more people followed the cowboy code of ethics. Congrats and best wishes on the release! I’ll be looking for it.

  12. Howdy there, Mary! I’ve met two real life cowboys. One of them is my brother. He’s gone on to other things, but he used to work on a friend’s ranch. He had a horse named Whiskey, a pretty mare I used in one of my books : )

    I wish all men followed the Cowboy Code of Honor. The world would be a kinder place.

    One of these days I’ll blog on the second cowboy. I saw him in a diner in Oklahoma and have never forgotten him.

    Congrats on the book! I’ll be looking for it next time I’m at Walmart or Borders or any place with HSRs!

  13. Read the excerpt on your website. Sounds like a really nice story. The West really is a special place. We lived in Colorado for 3 years and absolutely loved it. Wish we could have retired there when my husband left the Air Force. There is an openness of space and personality that we didn’t encounter anywhere else. They respect their privacy and yours, but are welcoming and there for each other. Super Romance and Intrigue are my two favorite Harlequin lines. The Super Romance line always has good complex characters and a well developed multifaceted plot. Yours sounds like it will fit in nicely.
    Good luck with your release. I’ll be looking forward to more books from you. AND don’t wait to go out West . The Colorado Springs/Denver area has a lot to offer. If you can make the Rendezvous in Fort Bridger, Wyoming, you are in for a wonderful experience. We live in Tennessee now (for medical reasons) and go west whenever we can. We really miss it.

  14. Hello Mary, nice to meet you! Congratulations on your fisrt book! “No Ordinary Cowboy” sound like a really great read. I would say with enough research you can write anything you wish. Thanks for spending the day with us and sharing your new book.

  15. Welcome Mary,I just love cowboy books so this is right up my alley,glad you could come by an sit a spell

  16. Hi Mary,

    I’m a little late today, but wanted to extend a big welcome to P&P. We’re so happy to have you.

    Loved your blog subject. Anytime you talk about cowboys and what makes them endearing you have a good time. I can’t imagine writing anything but western romance. It’s such a rich genre full of lots of qualities missing in the other genres.

    Your book looks great! Very nice cover. And I enjoyed the sneak peek you gave us about the story. I’m going to have to add it to my TBR stack that’s already teetering as we speak.

    Hope you enjoy your stay with us!

  17. Mary I cannot wait to read this book. Cowboys are one of my all time fav type of guys.. And you are right about the code of a cowboy and how first and formost he is a gentlemen and Ty Murray was everything a gentlemen should be…

  18. Cowboys have always been my heroes, except for
    the Dallas kind! (I live in Houston – LOL!)

    I’ve read some of the cowboy poetry and also some
    of their “tall tales.” There are even special competitions dealing in these areas!

    I’m a long time Ty Murray rodeo fan, he’s always
    been so great. On DWTS, he showed the country what a true western gentleman is all about! I was so impressed at how much he improved over the length of his stay on the show!

    Pat Cochran

  19. Oh how wonderful the world would be if all men were cowboys!!! What a wonderful code they live by… I want to get my hands on NO ORDINARY COWBOY! Congrats on your debut!!! 😀

  20. A young rancher from South Dakota just won the big powerball jackpot. He said he was still going to keep ranching. He looked like such a nice guy and he was also very cute. I am sure he will be having a lot of marriage proposals coming his way. There has got to be a book in there someplace.
    Can’t wait to pick up a copy of your book.

  21. “One of these days I’ll blog on the second cowboy. I saw him in a diner in Oklahoma and have never forgotten him.”
    Victoria, he must have made quite an impression on you! It sounds like he needs his own book 😉

  22. Patricia, I’ll bet Colorado was a gorgeous state to live in. No wonder you miss it.
    I’ve promised myself that someday I will visit a ranch and ride a horse.
    Must finish school first, though 😉

  23. “to extend a big welcome to P&P”
    Thank you, Linda. I’m so happy to be here!

    “I can’t imagine writing anything but western romance”
    I know what you mean. Cowboys and ranchers live in such a well-defined and rich culture. Every time I start a new book, another idea for another story pops up, and then another, and another….

    Harlequin has already purchased two more novels set in the same small, make-believe town of Ordinary, Montana. No release dates yet, though.

  24. Congratulations Mary on the debut! Harry sounds like a cowboy who meets the Cowboy Code! Wonderful that you brought those historical traits to a modern day cowboy! How wonderful too that he helps with children recovering from cancer! Is there a special reason you chose cancer patients?

  25. Hi Mary. Congratulations on your debut release. Sounds great. Love the cover. I love books featuring cowboys.

  26. Martha, I have no history of cancer in my background or with my own child. I think it might have all started with a photograph of a young survivor on tv or in the newspaper. It’s surprising what kinds of things spark ideas for novels for me.

    I enjoyed writing about the children, especially one little character who ended up appearing on the cover 😉

  27. Hi Mary! Huge congrats on your debut!! My mom was the one who introduced me to the Super Romances (and other series line books at Harlequin). I remember each evening visiting her room and picking out a book to read and too bringing her books from the library and else where. I remember too reading LaVyrle Spencer books from her but I’m not sure which I read, its been a long time! When I was older, she laughed when I beat her to the store to buy the series books for her. I let her read first and then they went to me to read. Even when she was ill, I started reading them to her. One of them were a series by Judith Bowen called The Town of Glory series. Loved these cowboy stories! I went to go check out the Super Romances at BN and started to remember all those cowboy reads there. I got carried away with memories here chatting and checking out the past cowboy books I read. Even though I’ve never met a cowboy, I do learn much from those I read! (I did ride a horse once, ouch!) I love all kind, even some with the characteristics of the ‘silent type’ but says so much with his behavior.

    Huge congrats on your debut and many more to come! I love your hero already!

  28. Enjoyed reading the comments and discovering an author I have yet to read. I have added your name to my TBR list.
    I like reading about cowboys because of their sense of honor.

  29. I live in cowboy country and would love to win this book. thanks for sharing and offering the contest.

  30. Hi Mary, You’re inspiration to us all. I’m so excited and proud to know you’ve got your first book coming out this Tuesday. Jolly Good Luck and see you at the next TRW meeting next sat. Can’t wait to buy your book – will you bring some next weekend to the TRW meeting? I’d rather buy it from you and have you sign it! Warmest regards.

  31. Mary, Cowboys are so interesting and manly. They are what more men need to be. Thank you for giving them a voice.
    I also admired Ty on Dancing. He was such a gentlman!
    I shall be looking forward to reading your book.

  32. Caffey, thank you so much for sharing your romance reading journey!

    Tanya, I have a booksigning next Saturday, so will be unable to attend the TRW meeting ;-( I can let you know when will next attend a meeting and you can bring it then. I would love to sign it for you. So great to touch bases Tanya!

    To those of you who live in cowboy country: niiiiiiice. Lucky ladies!

    Thank you to everyone who came to ‘visit’ today!!! I had a great time.


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