Rosanne Bittner: What’s in a Hero?

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I have recently needed to re-read several of my older titles for conversion to e-books.  After 60 titles and 32 years of writing, I can’t always remember exactly what happened in every book I wrote or who the hero and heroine were.  So far I have been pleasantly surprised at how good the stories are and how “hot” the heroes and the love scenes are.  Somehow I had the idea that “way back then” I was hesitant to get too racy with my love scenes, but gosh, they ain’t bad!

Rosanne BittnerThrough all of this, I am noticing something about my heroes – they tend to be a lot alike – i.e. rugged, take no sh–, well built, extremely able with fists, guns or in the case of the Native Americans, sometimes knife, tomahawk or lance.  They are survivors.  I am falling in love all over again with each one of them as I read these older books and am re-discovering some great characters – both the heroes and the heroines.  Even the heroines are, for the most part, very strong women who “match” the men they’ve chosen to love and can stand right up to them (and often wrap them right around their little fingers)!   I was afraid I would find some “fainting flowers” in some of those older books, but so far I haven’t.

Let’s face it.  Women love to read about the bad-ass who’s vulnerable in some way when it comes to his woman – a man who would die for her, who loves her unconditionally (actually he adores her) – who always has her back and who is true to her.  He might be hard to live with, but what woman wants to live without him!

OUTLAW HEARTS COVERI am noticing with great relief that it’s only the bad-ass aspect that is very similar in most of my heroes.  Each one so far is turning out to be unique in his background and his reasons for turning out as he has.  I never want to be accused of writing the same man over and over.  Each hero has to be his own man with his own special story – and not all of them are tall and dark and have 6-pack abs, although that seems to be the preferred description.  My hero Mitch Brady in DESPERATE HEARTS (September 2014) has sandy hair and very blue eyes, but he is, of course, tall and has those abs!

I like to write a hero (and often a heroine) who has some kind of tragedy in his past that has caused him to turn out the way he has, either some traumatic childhood experience, or the horrors of the Civil War or Indian wars, or he’s been robbed of everything he called his own or his inheritance – or has lost a wife or child tragically – something that makes the heroine’s (and the reader’s) heart ache for the poor guy and want to just hug him and tell him everything will be all right – but of course he’s rugged and stoic and refuses (at first) to admit that he needs that hug.  After all, in the “old days” a man just didn’t cry.  When they do in my books, it tears your heart out because he’s such a macho man that it is a real surprise when he even gets tears in his eyes, let alone actually weeping.  No cry-babies here.  Just men who have suffered and have finally met a woman who understands that at least once he has to “let it all out.”

DO NOT FORSAKE MEI think another required “ingredient” for a hero is that he doesn’t just love and want the heroine – he NEEDS the heroine.  He should feel he couldn’t go on without her – feelings he of course fights at first, but feelings he can’t ignore forever.  In my books the hero often feels he is unworthy of the heroine’s love, or feels he could never be the kind of man he “thinks” she wants or needs.  I usually always find a way for hero and heroine to finally be together without either of them having to give up his and her own dreams.  That’s the way most romances turn out, but I refuse to do it the “soft, flowery” way.  Hero and heroine have to fight together to realize their dreams and to be able to spend their lives together.

It’s really fun reading these older books. But for now, you can read about one of the best heroes I’ve ever written – Jake Harkner – in OUTLAW HEARTS (June 2015) and DO NOT FORSAKE ME (July 2015).  I am currently working on the third book of this trilogy, LOVE’S SWEET REVENGE (scheduled for September 2016).  All three books comprise a great love story you will never forget.  Jake was horribly abused as a child, which led him into an outlaw life, but along comes Miranda, a woman fate brings into his pathway and who won’t get out of the way.  Miranda understands the “little boy” inside the macho man who is Jake Harkner … ruthless … lawless … a real bad-ass … a wanted man, which means life with Jake means life on the run (in OUTLAW HEARTS) but things work out and in Book #2 (DO NOT FORSAKE ME) Jake is a U.S. Marshal in Oklahoma – and still as bad-ass as they come!!

RT cover 2015As explained in a great spread I had in Romantic Times magazine(DO NOT FORSAKE ME was a “top pick”), these books are packed with powerful emotions, which make them tear-jerker stories you won’t soon forget.  Much like my SAVAGE DESTINY books, the Harkner books will be keepers!!  I can’t wait for you to read them and am anxious to hear back from my readers!

And by the way, for those of you who need fresh, new copies of all 7 of my SAVAGE DESTINY books – or for my new readers who have never read those first books I wrote 30 years ago – you can NOW GET ALL 7 SAVAGE DESTINY BOOKS IN PRINT WITH NEW COVERS!!  Just check them out on Amazon’s “print-on-demand” offers.  The new covers are beautiful (by Hot Dam Designs).  These were my first books and are still out-selling everything else … although sales for my “Jake” books are looking smashing!!  I have to say that Zeke from SAVAGE DESTINY and Jake from my OUTLAW TRILOGY are my favorite heroes of all time!

What are your favorite western romances? Doesn’t have to be historical.

Thanks for your support!  Rosanne Bittner

Rosanne is giving away 3 sets of both Outlaw Hearts and Do Not Forsake Me. Leave a comment to enter the drawing!


About Rosanne:

rosanneRosanne has been writing most of her life, beginning with poetry at a young age, then moving on to writing her first book 36 years ago. After writing a total of nine books after that, it was the ninth book that finally sold 33 years ago, SWEET PRAIRIE PASSION, which was then published in 1983 and became the first book of a 7-book series about the settling of Colorado called SAVAGE DESTINY. All 7 books are still selling and Amazon recently reissued all 7 books for print-on-demand with new covers!  Rosanne went on to write 53 more books since then, for a total of 60 published novels to date with #61 coming in 2016.

Rosanne wrote through many personal challenges and worked full time at secretarial work for the first several years of her writing. She’s been married 50 years and has two sons and three grandsons, and she helps run a family business in a small town in southwest Michigan. She attributes her success to the fact that her books are filled with real American history, which she brings alive through her fictitious characters, so well that fans often write wanting to know if those people really lived. Her books span the West, from Indiana to California and Mexico to Canada.

Rosanne has traveled to every location about which she writes, and her love for the magnificent western landscape shows through in her writing with descriptions of vast prairies and plains, and incredibly beautiful descriptions of  the Sierras and the Rockies.   When you read a Bittner book you are carried away into another time and into landscapes that once were virgin and unsettled. She has covered nearly every major historical event and has written many Native American stories.

Rosanne has a huge library of her own research books and has studied America’s history, especially the Old West and Native Americans, for forty years. She has won numerous writing awards, including the prestigious WILLA AWARD from Women Writing the West, and was named Queen of Western Romance and one of the “legends” of western romance by Romantic Times magazine.

Rosanne is available for speaking engagements and has conducted writers workshops at many writing conferences.

You can contact her:


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24 thoughts on “Rosanne Bittner: What’s in a Hero?”

  1. My favourite western romances are Brave Heart by Lindsay McKenna and Lawless by Nora Roberts.

  2. I’m a long time fan, Roseanne. Thunder on the Plains just blew me away. I read it before I started writing myself, and it’s one of the books that inspired me. So did Outlaw Hearts.

    I also love Penelope Williamson’s older books. The Outsider is and remains my No. 1 favorite. Johnny Cain is exactly the kind of hero you described.

    For contemporaries, I’d have to go with Catherine Anderson’s Baby Love. Not my favorite title, but I loved the story.

  3. Good Morning, Rosanne! Welcome to the Junction. We’re so excited to have you come visit. I love your blog and totally agree about what a hero needs to have and be. The outlaw Jake Harkner has it all in spades! I love this man. In Outlaw Hearts he went through hell and back several times over for the love of his life, Miranda, and their kids. He loves every bit as deeply as he fights. You created a character that is unequaled in his fierce emotions. Nothing is ever part way. He’s all in, whether it’s loving or hating.

    My favorite western romances? Like Victoria, The Outsider is at the top. Outlaw Hearts. Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner. The entire McKettricks series by Linda Lael Miller.

    Thank you so much for coming! The welcome mat will always be out for you here. Keep writing these wonderful books with such luscious heroes.

  4. Rosanne, it’s so nice to see you at Wildflower Junction! I have to admit (with an enormous blush) I’d never read any of your work until Linda Broday pointed it out to me, and now I’m a complete fan. Jake Harkner is my kind of hero: a thorough badass — stoic and tough to the bone on the outside, but with a center that melts for the heroine.

    I also appreciate the lack of “soft and flowery” in your stories. Heroes and heroines who have nothing better to do than moon over one another for 300-400 pages — and heroes who display patently feminine emotions — make ME want to go all badass on somebody.

    I’m burning through each of your novels, and I’ll catch up with the rest of the WHR-reading world ASAP. 🙂

  5. actually dont have a favorite i enjoy reading all different types of western romance,,did you ever think about having a hero who is just average and not all muscles and handsome,,the same with the heroine,,maybe a little plump and not sexy and beautiful? just curious,,i love reading and do enjoy my hunky heroes but also would enjoy reading about how average joe won the girl too,,enjoyed your post

  6. Thank you for the giveaway!

    I tend to prefer historical Westerns to contemporary Westerns, and have a long list of keepers–too many to narrow it down to one.

    Lorraine Heath’s Texas trilogy; Elizabeth Lowell’s Only series; Pamela Clare’s Ride the Fire; a number of titles by Cheryl St John, as does Maggie Osborne (Silver Lining is a particular favorite)… I could go on and on.

    I enjoy the setting, both in location and time period, because (when well done), it lends itself to deep character exploration and growth.

  7. There are so many great ones that I hate to just choose one – it’s usually the current one I’m reading about lol.

  8. There are too many favorites to name. But I will tell you that I fell in love with your writing while reading Paradise Valley. Sage Lightfoot is way up there in my ranking of heroes.

  9. Oh I have enjoyed so many Western Romances… some of my favs are Diana Palmer & Carolyn Brown…

  10. Hi y’all, I simply have too many Westerns to pick a favorite, but I can tell you that my Outlaw Hero has to be firm in his beliefs, loyal to a fault, and loves deeply without regret. I think the outlaws that attract me are ones that are made by circumstances out of his control until he gets control and then his true strengths come out and very subtly he moves through his world. I’m not impressed much by arrogance or obnoxious behavior, but I love a man that says what he means and means what he says and only has to say it, once. My granddaddy was such a man. He was a good looking, tall, brown-eyed man that had eyes for only 1 woman; my little red-headed grandmother. He said, “everything that is hers is hers and everything that is mine, is hers”. He had her wrapped in cotton. Whatever she said…went; right or wrong. She was very careful with that power. I admire their relationship to this day. He had a bit of outlaw in him and I never saw him break the rules, although there are some stretches I’ve heard about. 🙂 Love the blog today! I’ve pre-ordered your book! Thank you!

  11. Hi, Rosanne! How exciting to have your older titles converted to e-books! I really enjoyed your post and appreciate the giveaway opportunity. I can’t choose a favorite western romance; I love them all!

  12. For contemporary, I like Jodi Thomas’ Harmony series. But my fave would be Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath.

  13. My favorite book tends to be the one I am reading at the moment. I am looking forward to reading yours.

  14. Having a fan girl moment here Roseanne! I’m so glad you could take time out of your busy schedule to visit Petticoats and Pistols. Thunder on the Plains and Outlaw Hearts are on my keeper shelf and nearly worn out from being read every few years. I cannot wait to read your new release! As above I like the Outsider by Penelope Williamson. And though technically not a western a book I also have on my keeper shelf that has a western “flavor” is the Thornbirds.

  15. I don’t have one favorite Western romance, there are SO many great ones out there! I’ve loved everyone of your books I’ve ever read and fallen in love with more than one of your heros! Thank you for all of them!

  16. I am glad you travel to the locations you use in your books. That makes such a difference int the feel of a book. I read an historical series set in 1840 New Orleans before,during , and after I visited there. The author obviously researched and visited. I recognized places and in one scene, knew exactly where the character was standing. I have since read some contemporary books set there, and again, the author got the feel of the place exactly right in ways that can only be done if you had been there. Even if I have not visited the locale for the books I read, I can usually tell if the author is familiar with the area. That authenticy of place makes a book better.

    Good luck with the Jake series. I look forward to reading it.

  17. Is it too late to enter the drawing? I would love to be included, pretty sure I haven’t read any of Rosanne’s books and that is a shame. Thanks for writing the blog post and I’ll be looking up your books to order soon.

  18. Some of my favorite westerns are written by Linda Lael Miller, Lorraine Heath, Jodi Thomas and Joan Johnston.

    I also enjoy the wonderful authors here at Petticoats and Pistols!

    The first book that got me hooked on the romance line was LaVyrle Spencer’s FORGIVING, back in the 1990’s.

    I haven’t read any of your books Roseanne but that will change.

  19. Aside from your books, I like Mary Connealy, Margaret Brownley, Brenda Minton, Denice Hunter, and the list goes on. I just love a good western, historical or contemporary.

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