Rugged, Dangerous, and Wild: The Timeless Elements of Western Romance
Something strange and majestic happens when you chase the sun across the Mississippi River. Your heart fills with promise and wonder. Your mind races with dreams of what could be. Your skin tingles with the fear and excitement of the unknown. Your very soul connects with those long since passed who risked all they had to experience a new world.
It’s easy to see why the most thrilling, adventurous, and romantic stories take root in the American West. Unlike other fiction genres, Western Romance doesn’t differentiate between historical and contemporary. All the stories share an understanding that no matter how hard we try, the land won’t be tamed, and neither will the human spirit.
Here are five timeless elements of Western Romance:
Who doesn’t love a story where the hero or heroine must face terrible odds to achieve their heart’s desire? The West has its fair share of natural danger to keep the characters on their toes: earthquakes, drought, dust storms, flash floods, wildfires, landslides, tornadoes, avalanches, etc. Seriously, in Yellowstone National Park, boiling water shoots out of the ground. At the summit of Pike’s Peak, there is a rocky area called The Devil’s Playground because lightning bounces from rock to rock. And if that doesn’t raise the stakes enough, there are human foes driven by desperation or greed to get what they want and need. See that man with the sharp-looking Stetson and shiny revolver? He’s probably an outlaw, train robber, greedy oil tycoon, or shady real estate developer.
Do you know why so many characters in western novels are hot-tempered? Because they realize that any time they walk outside, they could be bitten by a snake or killed by a grizzly. They could be wearing a prairie dress or yoga pants, and it doesn’t matter. The threat is still there. In addition to scary animals, there’s the chance one might get lost in a forest, break down in a desert, or fall off a mountain.
Authors know that if you want to push a character out of their comfort zone, drop them into a western setting. Unless you are in one of the big cities, the West still has a rustic quality to it. Cell phone coverage is spotty. Wi-Fi is rare, and you can drive a hundred miles and never see a road sign except for Wall Drug. Even historical characters must learn to accept fewer “modern” conveniences than those on the East Coast. Sweet Bostonian schoolteacher, were you used to electric lighting and a warm bath? Here’s a lantern, pail, and a map to the creek.
The first character of mine that I fell in love with was a desperate pastor who flees to Montana for a fresh start. Be it 1821 or 2021, there’s a certain romanticism in leaving one troubled world behind and beginning all over again with new dreams, new foes, and maybe a new love. Who doesn’t love a good fish-out-of-water story?
Show me a western novel, and I’ll show you a feisty, hard-headed, and determined hero or heroine willing to work to the bone to get what they’re after. Rules, traditions, and societal expectations didn’t often fit in the wagon on the Oregon Trail or the saddle pack en route to Texas. To survive the Old West, characters need grit, fortitude, and self-reliance. Generations later, their modern-day equivalents need confidence, drive, and even a touch of swagger to make their dream of a happy ending come true.
YOUR TURN: What do you love most about Western Romance? Would you say it’s timeless?
If you’d like to know more about my contemporary rustic romance novels, including my Madison River Romance series, please visit my website at http://www.JanineRosche.com or connect with me on Facebook.
A Society6 Mountain Landscape Tote Bag
The Madison River Romance series:
This Wandering Heart
Glory Falls: Released January 12th
Buy it on Amazon
Prone to wander, Janine Rosche finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her Madison River Romance series. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students, takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs, and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades.