Riding up and down Broadway on my old stud Leroy
And the girls say, save a horse, ride a cowboy
Everybody says, save a horse, ride a cowboy
– Big and Rich, Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)
I was visiting a friend over the past weekend and thinking about what I should blog for my Wednesday post. When I posed the question to her, she immediately piped up with: Cowboys. Of course, she’d just returned from a two-week vacation in Wyoming so one can understand visions of mounted men dancing in her head. I, on the other hand, realized that – aside from remembrances of the rugged guy from a certain cigarette ad – I’ve never really given much thought to cowboys. Time to make amends! So c’mon, cowpokes. Rustle up a can of beans and gather ’round the campfire. Let’s think about cowboys.
For me, the first image that comes to mind is from Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Her husband, Ladd, is a true cowboy, in charge of a large cattle ranch in Oklahoma. She calls him the Marlboro Man and says he looks good in jeans. Which he does. On her cooking show, interspersed with demonstrations on how she makes gooey chocolate chunk cookies, she’ll sometimes have clips of footage showing her personal cowboy riding a horse or rounding up cattle or doing both at the same time. Hmmm. So far, so good.
When I asked my friend what she likes about cowboys, she replied that to her they represent the ultimate real man. Honest, hard-working, uncomplicated. Cowboys are the antithesis of the angst-ridden artistic worrier discussing his feelings in a Woody Allen movie. That’s not to say they’re living stress-free. One bad storm wiping out prize livestock and suddenly there’s a big ‘ol pile of worry about how bills are going to get paid. But somehow it seems as if cowboys handle that stress differently than city guys. They don’t analyze their concerns to death, they tackle them head on the same way they’d round up a stray calf.
Romance has appreciated cowboys for years, and for good reason. In a 2011 Time magazine article entitled “The Rise of The Cowboy Romance Novel, Sarah Weddell from SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com said about a cowboy’s erotic appeal, “There is something very sexy about knowing that at 4 in the morning, if it’s 20 degrees below zero, that a guy’s going to get up and take care of things.” Cowboys have been described as “authentic” “genuine,” and “hunky,” and they are certainly, without doubt, all male. Cowboys aren’t metrosexual. Their nails aren’t buffed and their faces aren’t always shaved. They might be sweaty and dusty and their jeans might be ripped. They handle big, heavy animals so they’ve got to be strong. I’m not seeing a problem.
Readers don’t seem to see one, either. Among this year’s RITA winners was Jane Porter’s novella Take Me, Cowboy. It’s the fourth book of Jane’s Copper Mountain Rodeo series, all of which are flying onto e-readers as soon as they’re released. And nine-time RITA Finalist Jane Graves kicked off a new series with Cowboy Take Me Away which got a starred review from Booklist. Cowboys are versatile hero material. They can be sweet or erotic, contemporary or historical, of this world or an alternate one. And, as the Village People will attest, cowboys are pretty good at being gay, too.
So let’s hear it for the western boys. The studs who wear spurs, who rope steer, who can ride a bucking bronco the way I’d like to ride a bucking … um. Well. You get the picture. And speaking of pictures, I’m happy to share a few. Enjoy! And follow us at Lady Smut, partner. We lasso you a new post seven days a week.