Today we're thrilled to welcome Damon Suede (Lickety Split) to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Damon's latest book is an erotic cowboy romance so you could say knows a thing or two about cowboys! Today, Damon is here to help us pin down what exactly it is about these strong, silent, often charming heroes that makes us love them so much. Thanks, Damon!
Hey y’all! Today I wanted to take a minute to talk about what makes a cowboy hot…or not.
One of the worst things you can say about a cowboy in Texas is that he's “All hat, no cattle…” That is to say, a flimflammer, a faux-hunk, someone who is all sizzle no steak. Plenty of fellows wear a Stetson and Luccheses to the office in Houston, Dallas, or Austin, but most of those guys have never bucked hay or ridden a fence. They play the part without ever getting barbwire scars or breaking a rib.
For best results, a hot cowboy draws on a set of timeless qualities that show up in every Western romance hero, contemporary or historical. What's astonishing is that although the adjectives stay constant, they apply to a whole range of variable ingredients which produce cowboys of every stripe. It’s practically a spice rack with recommended fixings:
- Battered: hat, heart, hopes
- Strong: ties, opinions, arms
- Thick: calluses, skull, charm
- Fierce: eyes, loyalty, appetites
- Slow: walk, anger, smile
- Rough: manners, hands, language
- Square: jaw, tastes, values
- Devoted: friends, habits, animals
- Solid: roots, seat, reputation
- Faded: Wranglers, tattoos, prejudices
- Rugged: build, skills, home
- Frank: needs, talk, urges
- Tough: job, skin, problems
The recipe is simple as hell: pick a couple qualities and a related noun and you’re well on your way. There’s not really a limit: infinite variation yield anything from rugged ranch hands to ruthless rustlers to rowdy rodeofolk. And like a serious Texan chili recipe, in this case, more is more. Adding additional meat and flavor only guarantees that your cowboy will linger long after you've had the first taste. Remove too many of these, and your cowboy will shrivel into a muddy puddle on the page. The stuff don’t matter…it’s the quality that makes a cowboy.
Simple truth: ranch muscle and rodeo skills aren’t for show; they exist to get a job done. Whether they own the land or just earn their keep on it, cowboys work their asses off and see precious little reward. The uncomplicated give and take of honest sweat is gratifying. Like firefighters, soldiers, and other legit working heroes in contemporary America, folks who work the land by hand remind us of a simpler time when manners mattered, when you grew what you ate and your family lived close, when the lines were more clearly drawn and the bad men wore black.
This is why Lorelei James will always be one of my favorite authors. If anything, her (incendiary) Blacktop Cowboys are always plenty of hat with cattle to spare, because she captures the rhythm of ranch life and also knows how to preserve the fantasy for folks who never want to muck a stall. Lorelei has distilled all the wisdom and beauty of her real life in South Dakota, so other people can come sit a spell on the porch next to her while she spins a tasty tale. I feel the same way about B.A. Tortuga, who grew up in deep-Texas cow country; her gorgeous, tortured bullriders and farmhands strut, ache, and yearn like the good ol’ boys I saw at auctions all over South Texas, with Skoal rings worn into their hip pockets. James and Tortuga’s roughnecks are so familiar to me I’d know ‘em on the street. They feel real because they are real.
Look, y’all: I love a cleft chin and a well-packed pair of jeans as much as the next person. I'm happy to look at a greasy, waxed bodybuilder in boots holding a coil of rope or leaning on bales, just don't expect me to call him a cowboy. That’s just meat with no bones to stand up. I know better because I’ve known better, up close and with gravy. Authors like Maisey Yates, Beverly Jenkins, Renee Ryan, Mary Calmes, and other maestros of the subgenre continue to wring everything from comedy of manners to inspirational epic to heart-wrenching tragedy from the simple, honest virtue of the American cowboy in all his shapes and centuries. They expose the steak under the sizzle every damn time. Plenty of hat, but cattle to back it up…if you know what I mean.
Who doesn’t want a partner who’s loyal, strong, and patient as granite? Tenacity and trust. These fellas have all that time out in the field to plan and dwell, plus they’re used to taming wild things and wrangling problems bigger than them…so of course the intimacy gets intense and explosive. I can always tell I'm in good hands when a cowboy romance hits those first notes clear and true…when the rugged man who shows up in a chambray shirt is more than the buckle and the bulge under it.
So… how exactly do you make a hot cowboy? Easy. First you create the cowboy, and the hotness happens all by itself!
Learn more about or order a copy of Lickety Split by Damon Suede, available now:
Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. He has lived all over and along the way, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director... but writing has ever been his bread and butter. He has been happily partnered for over a decade with the most loving, handsome, shrewd, hilarious, noble man to walk this planet.
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