Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse turned romance writer. Her Cat Star Chronicles series includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and Rebel. She is a member of RWA and IRWA and lives with her husband and sons near Bloomfield, Indiana.
Why We Love Cowboys
To truly understand the cowboy’s appeal, we have to scroll back to the days of the Wild West. That time period has long been romanticized, although by all accounts, it encompassed a surprisingly short span of years. Eastern men who were fed up with the business world must’ve envied the freedom enjoyed by men who rode the range herding, roping, and branding cattle, not to mention the joy of chasing after the dirty cattle-rustling varmints who tried to steal their stock. The coming of the railroads and barbed wire fences and the influx of women heading west to find husbands tamed the Wild West forever, yet the mystique surrounding the American cowboy persists to this day.
That romantic view of the West has been popularized in books, film, and in song. When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, half of the shows on television were westerns. You don’t see many of them nowadays, and I’m guessing Deadwood is the only show of that genre that the younger crowd would recognize, which is a far cry from what we saw on Bonanza, The Rifleman, and Rawhide, to name a few. I am absolutely certain that in all the years that Gunsmoke aired, there wasn’t so much as a whisper of the F-word.
Cowboys were so clean back then. If you’ve ever compared a western filmed in the fifties and sixties with those made in more recent years, you’ll see what I mean. Ben Cartwright’s shirts always looked like they’d come straight from the ironing board, and nobody, except perhaps the bad guys, had a beard or even a trace of a stubble.
Cowboys were pretty hot in the sixties. I had a major crush on Doug McClure, who played Trampas on The Virginian. I saw him at the Kentucky State Fair rodeo once. My fingertips actually touched his sleeve as he rode by all of us kids hanging on the rail. I was a bit miffed when he reached up and ruffled the hair of the kid hanging from the pole next to me. Can you tell I’ve never forgiven him?
Hands up if you remember when Clint Eastwood played Rowdy Yates on Rawhide. *raises both hands* That was so long ago, I’m amazed that I even remember the character’s name. Clint was quite handsome in those days—even more so than his son is now, IMHO—so it’s understandable that a horse-loving girl like me would remember him.
Horses are another reason why so many of us love cowboys. In my younger days, I was one of those horse-crazy girls who pestered my parents to death until we moved to a farm where I could have a horse of my own. I’ve had several horses since then, (I still have two) and as a rider, I can’t help admiring the superior horsemanship of the working cowboy.
Rodeos are still very popular, too. If you don’t believe me, head out to Jackson, Wyoming. During the summer, they have a rodeo every three or four days. As a sport, rodeo is fraught with so much danger that even the most accomplished competitors risk life and limb with every event. With the possible exception of bull riding, those events reflect the kind of work real cowboys do on a daily basis, which gives us yet another reason to love them for their skill and sheer athleticism.
And then there are the boots, chaps, and cowboy hats, all of which will make susceptible women swoon when the right guy wears them. Because, let’s face it, ladies, not every man has what it takes to pull off that sort of thing. There’s a certain something that a genuine cowboy has going for him that simply wearing the hat can’t bestow upon the average man. Also, in a time when the boy watchers among us bemoan the trend for wearing baggy, low-riding jeans, cowboys actually wear jeans that fit!
Despite the prevalence of outlaws and dastardly villains in the old westerns, cowboys continue to be viewed as possessing an extra measure of honesty and integrity. True or not, the stereotype lingers on, helped along by movie and television cowboys like Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and Gary Cooper. Those guys nearly always played the hero, whether the role called for a cowboy or not, and we loved them for it.
Then again, maybe it was just the white hat. :)
SO MANY COWBOYS...Shy computer specialist, dog lover, and amateur chef Tina Hayes has a thing for firefighters, but when she travels to the Circle Bar K ranch on family business, the ranch’s cowboys have no trouble persuading her to stay on as their cook. Especially not when she learns that brooding Wyatt McCabe—a man who makes her heart gallop like no one else can—is also a former firefighter.HOW DOES SHE KNOW HE’S THE ONE?Wyatt’s sizzling embraces leave Tina breathless. But being surrounded by a passel of smokin’ hot ranch hands can be complicated. With so many cowboys courting Tina all at once, Wyatt must prove to Tina that she belongs with him.
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