When a reader picks up a western romance novel, they have certain expectations about the characters and plot lines within. Are they looking for the gun-toting hero to wear spurs and a white hat? Should the heroine be plucky and determined to save the family ranch she just inherited? The following types of westerns will help you rein in what your reader wants:
Traditional historical western romances.
There’s a well-defined line between good and evil: Good guys are reallygood, and bad guys are really bad. The cowboy hero, usually a man of few words, is strong and loyal, rides a horse, wears chaps, and carries a gun. The heroine is usually spunky and strong-willed, and may be, among other things, a mail-order bride, a prohibitionist, or a suffragist. Adventures abound in the historical western romance, whether it’s a wagon train journey, a bank robbery, a land war, a cattle drive, a saloon brawl, or a gunfight (Not just a mere squishy fight). There may or may not be Native American characters, but — sadly — they can still be very stereotypical.
Contemporary western romances.
These may feature heroes who are ranchers, rodeo riders, horse trainers, veterinarians — the list is as long as the author’s imagination. They are as likely to be driving a truck as riding a horse. Heroines may be reassigned because of work, be running away from the big city, or find themselves the owners of a ranch left to them by relatives. Settings vary, too — ranches, ranges, rodeos, honky-tonks, even mattress and flashlight combinations. Many times, there’s a small town nearby.
Faith-based western romances.
They might be Amish romances, such as Penelope Williamson’s superb novel, The Outsider. Some authors have re-written their western romances for the inspirational market. A great example is Lori Copeland’s hilarious Sisters of Mercy Flats.
Series romances set in the West.
These provide the continuity that some readers crave. They enjoy visiting and re-visiting the fictional towns where their favorite characters live. Leigh Greenwood’s charming Seven Brides books have delighted readers for years. Janet Dailey’s Calder Family novels continue to be favorites. And Linda Lael Miller leads the pack with both her popular series, Stone Creek and The McKettricks of Texas.
For reader’s advisory purposes, librarians will find that western readers can be won over to the historical western romance genre. Thanks to the wonders of technology, many of the classic historical western romances, long unavailable, have been reissued in electronic format, introducing a whole new generation of readers to this exciting genre.