You know, I’m getting kinda used to this cowboy thing. And while it’s nice to go off the ranch once in a while and write something different – I had scads of fun doing an office romance – it’s getting more like writing cowboys and ranchers is what I know. Somehow, no matter what kind of story I’m working on, elements of those cowboys come through.
I think part of it has to do with setting, to be honest. I’ve always felt a strong connection to the land (even if it’s not ranch land per se) and so my characters often do too – there’s a respect and reverence for it. It’s in the way the leaves on the cottonwoods rustle, or how the fields stretch out to touch the horizon, or just the sense of fulfillment one feels breathing in the fresh air, ripe with harvest. Or, maybe even ripe with something else. Even that – I don’t mind so much. It smells to me of hard work and sustenance and roots.
Hard work – roots – those are things you’ll find over and over again in my books, so when I started work on my novella, “A Bride For Rocking H Ranch,” (Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage) I knew those two elements would play a big part. After all, what could be better than a hard-working cowboy at Christmas? *Pauses to ponder*…..
(I know. I’m thinking sheepskin jacket, cowboy hat, snow dusting his shoulders as his dark eyes…)
But wait. This time I did something different. I put in a twist.
My hero’s not a cowboy. He’s a CHEF.
My heroine’s the cowboy – or rather, cowgirl. In fact, she’s the de facto manager of Rocking H Ranch outside Helena, Montana. Kelley can hold her own and no one works harder – looking after the land AND the family. She likes her jeans and boots and no-fuss flannel shirts. She can’t cook and leaves the domestic side of things to her sister Amelia. And due to some troubles within the Hughes clan, she’s agreed to cook Christmas dinner for the family.
Of course this is where Mack comes in. Mack, despite being a chef, is still a Montana man even as he tries to deny it. As the story goes on, that really starts to creep through until you realize he and Kelley aren’t so different after all.
Hard work ethic. Putting down roots. Honour. All things that our cowboy and rancher heroes have in spades, and maybe that’s why writing contemporary westerns is so much fun for me. Those are the kinds of guys I’d want to marry. I did marry one – not a cowboy, though he has the boots to say otherwise – but someone who believes in hard work and a fair shake and family.
Setting it all at Christmas?
Well, that’s just the bow on top of the present, now, isn’t it?
I’ll pick a random commenter to win a copy of Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage – featuring my novella A Bride For Rocking H Ranch as well as Snowbound Cowboy (Amelia’s story) by Patricia Thayer.