Josie Malone

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Mainstream Western Romance With A Kick

Why We Love Cowboys!

What is it about a cowboy that appeals to us?

For me, it began when I was a child. I grew up on a pony farm outside of Everett in the late 1960’s. At least once a week, my single mother would take my sisters and me to see my grandparents who lived in Seattle. On those visits, my grandfather introduced me to Louis L’Amour westerns and I absolutely adored the cowboys who rode through the pages. They fascinated me nearly as much as John Wayne did in his movies. How could I resist men like my grandfather who had an old-fashioned code of honor? And what was that code? It always went something like this:


Code of the West

(from "Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West" by James P. Owen)

1.    Live each day with courage.

2.      Take pride in your work.

3.      Always finish what you start.

4.      Do what has to be done.

5.      Be tough, but fair.

6.      When you make a promise, keep it.

7.      Ride for the brand.

8.      Talk less and say more.

9.      Remember that some things aren't for sale.

10.    Know where to draw the line.


Regardless of the romance sub-genre, most cowboys and cowgirls still hold to an old-fashioned sense of honor above all else. Yes, I said “cowgirls.” Riding West and looking for a chance to start a new life wasn’t limited to something that men did. There were women who wanted new adventures. Redemption, second chances, adventures – none of these are limited to one gender. Today’s western romances continue to revolve around those ideals. Western fiction is truly an American art-form and most of us know the mythos if not the reality.


Many women actually disguised themselves as men when they headed West to new lives. Detailed in The Mayflower Murderer & Other Forgotten Firsts in American History by Peter Stevens, Charley Parkhurst successfully hid her sex for more than 40 years until her death in 1879. Known as the “Boss of the Road,” she drove a stagecoach through the Sierra Nevadas in California. In 1868, Charley registered to vote and cast ballots in elections, something she could do as a “man,” but a right no woman was allowed in 19th century America.


Once I learned about Charley, I continued more research on the topic. Women soldiers served honorably in the Civil War. Little Jo Monaghan is famous in Idaho as a miner and “cowboy.” Who knew that “he” was a woman? From there, it was a short step to the “What-If” game that authors play. What if I wrote a book about a woman who disguised her gender and set it in Washington Territory?


This traditional Western historical romance, soon to be re-released by Trifecta Publishing House became A Man’s World which tells the story of Trace Burdette who masquerades as a man fooling everyone but new neighbor, ruggedly handsome Zeb Prescott. With their love on the line, they have to deal with the past and the outlaw who killed her grandfather and stalks her.

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