Boy do I love myself a good cowboy.
Ahem, I mean a cowboy story.
Funnily enough Mills and Boon don't have a separate westerns line, like Harlequin do, they are all just lumped in with the other lines, but it was always a treat for me if my teenage eyes spied a cowboy romance on the shelves along with the other categories, despite not living remotely anywhere near Texas or Montana. In fact the closest I ever came to a cowboy in real life was probably the farmer who kept the herd of Friesian cows for milking in the field behind my house.
This love of cowboy romance has transferred to my m/m books but it's the themes that cropped up in those long ago read western romances that I love to see in my m/m books.
One theme I love in particular is that of the 'prodigal son'. The young man who leaves home to seek his fortune in the city and then for whatever reason has to return home and face his past - usually a past which involves revisiting the crush he had on the sexy ranch-hand. This is a theme that has appeared in two recent cowboy romances. In His Convenient Husband by JL Langley, Tucker is living the high city life in Dallas when he is called home and has to face, Micah, the broken hearted young man he left behind. Also in Seeing You by Dakota Flint, Dylan left home after the death of his brother but is called back to the ranch when he discovers that it's being left to go to ruin by his brother's grieving lover, Wade, a man Dylan has loved for a long time.
Another storyline I used to love was the lady ranch owner who falls in love with the ranch hand. In another story by JL Langley (she really is the queen of m/m westerns), Tin Star, the youngest son of a ranch owner, Jamie, is kicked out when his father discovers he's gay. He's taken in by his brother's best friend, Ethan, another ranch owner who gives him a job as a ranch hand. It's not long before the two are making that journey on the road to love.
One theme I used to absolutely adore in westerns was that of the woman whose husband or father had died and left her in charge of the ranch. Unfortunately for her, the guy who owns the ranch next door is looking to expand and asks to buy her out cos obviously as a woman she can't possibly run a business like a ranch. There's lots of arguments, stamping feet, spitting feathers and exchange of passion before the two set aside their differences and join the two pieces of land by getting married. *sigh* I loved those stories. Unfortunately, there isn't a m/m book with that storyline that I've found so far. Any takers?
Do you read category westerns? If so have you found any similar themes in m/m cowboy books too? Do tell.