One thing that surprised me greatly when I began to read m/m romance was how much I loved cowboy stories. This was surprising because before then I hadn't been too fussed about cowboy romance. I'd read a couple of Harlequin cowboy books and although they were pretty well written the heroes just didn't get my blood pumping the way, say, a Regency hero did. I also can't stand film Westerns. Hub had to drag me kicking and screaming to see Unforgiven and had to endure the punishment of sitting through all 6 hours of the BBC Pride and Prejudice adaptation as penance (not that it was penance because he admitted that he'd liked it after he'd watched it).
Anyway, I digress.
So what is it then about cowboy m/m which sends my heart a flutter as well as other parts of my anatomy? Good grief! It must be time for a list. I haven't done one of these in months!
1. It's just so different to the life that I know
Texas might as well be on another planet, it's so different to the UK. I may live in sheep farming country here in North Leeds, but it's nothing like the hot, dusty plains of a desert ranch. Sometimes I like reading about places that are different and cowboy books provide the perfect setting for that.
2. Cowboys find it difficult to talk about their feelings
Unless you're reading JL Langley who has the most eloquent cowboys imaginable, most cowboys don't talk much - about anything really, but mostly not about their feelings. They tend to bottle it up, meaning that all that pent up emotion manifests itself in other, more physical ways. It also means that with a cowboy book I'm pretty much guaranteed not to have to wade through pages of soppy dialogue. Yee haw!
3. They ride horses
This was one of my favourite bits about Regency romance too: Men on horseback. I don't ride horses. In fact I've only been on a horse once in my life when I went on one of the 15 minutes fun rides as a child. However, there's just something about a man who stands tall on a horse, that mastery of man and beast that I find irresistible in a hero.
4. They work with their hands but often run their own businesses too
It's such a delightful mix of a man who has intelligence enough to make a successful venture of running a ranch yet isn't afraid to get down and dirty out on the range when necessary. It's just so...so...manly that I can't resist.
5. They often have to live in a homophobic atmosphere
Much of the conflict in m/m cowboy books arises as a result of the homophobia prevalent in small town US. This can lead to internal conflict - I hate myself for fancying other men, or external - if anyone finds out, I'm dead meat. If it's done well, then this conflict usually leads to a satisfying plot. If it's done badly - usually when the whole town suddenly becomes 'gay OK' after centuries of homophobia - then I'll end up rolling my eyes and wondering which planet I've suddenly been transported to.
6. Cowboy hats
There's something about a man in a hat that just does it for me. The way that they use it to hide their eyes (and their emotions) from people, tip their hat in politeness and lose their hats in the throes of passion is just delicious. I think men should go back to wearing hats, I really do. Mind you the bowler hat just doesn't have the same sexiness as a Stetson!
So there you have it, six reasons why I love cowboys books. How about you? Do you love a good cowboy m/m or do they just not have the same appeal?