I grew up in Texas, in a small town housing the only college in the country that offers a degree in rodeo. (Technically, it’s a degree in agri-business, with a specialization in rodeo. Still, it was the only one!)
So I grew up around cowboys. I went to rodeos to watch my cowboy friends rope and ride, winced when they were thrown by a bull or a bronco. I helped toss hay out of the back of pickups while my cowboy friends lured the cattle in with their own special call (I didn’t even know the term “cattle call” meant anything other than calling cows in for dinner until I was an adult). I’ve been to cattle auctions and I’ve watched cowboys guide their animals onto trucks after a sale. I learned to dance—the two-step (fast and slow), the waltz, the Cotton-Eyed Joe—from cowboys.
But I didn’t really learn to appreciate those cowboys until I moved away from Texas for several years. They were just part of the background, part of the world I lived in. Until I wasn’t around them any longer, I didn’t really know how much the cowboys I grew up around had shaped my ideas of what makes the ideal man. Now that I’m back in Texas, I’ve spent some time thinking about what it is that is so appealing about a cowboy.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that all that hard work—the roping calves, riding horses, hauling hay, mucking out stalls, and such—generally leads to a great body. Most cowboys are lean and muscled, and I could spend hours pinning cowboy pictures to my Pinterest page (and maybe I have, once or twice . . . ). But I think there’s a lot more to our long-lasting cultural love affair with cowboys than just their toned muscles.
The cowboy represents the epitome of American masculinity, I think. He’s the quintessential strong, silent type. But while he might not talk too much about how much he loves someone, he shows it in every action.
Even if a woman might not know how a cowboy feels about her, his huge capacity for love shines through in the way he treats his family, the animals under his care (who doesn’t love the way a cowboy tends to his horse?), even the very land he works.
And he works hard—often from sunup to sundown, often for little pay. That kind of dedication comes from a deep belief in the value of the work he does, and his ability to value actions above words often translates to his treatment of the people he loves. Every move he makes says “I love you,” even when the words never pass his lips.
He can play hard, too—he might not let loose often, but when he does, he can be loads of fun. All that Saturday night dancing can be exhilarating!
He has faith—usually in a God, but almost always in the world around him. Even when things seem bleak, a cowboy generally knows (even if he doesn’t talk about it) that with some hard work, some play, and a little attention to the people, animals, and land he cares for, things will work out in the end.
And with an attitude like that, who wouldn’t love a cowboy?
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Taming the Country Star by Margo Bond Collins
He’ll do anything to win her heart. She’ll do anything to keep him away.
Country star Cole Grayson is in town, and Kylie Andrews is less than thrilled. As if months of changing the radio station and tearing down his posters weren’t bad enough, now she has to deal with a town of fans swarming toward the man who deceived her the year before. But when Kylie’s eyes meet Cole’s again, she can’t deny the electric chemistry that drew her to him the first time around.
Cole Grayson is on a mission. Ever since Kylie left him, he hasn’t been able to forget her sweet country smile. After writing a song just for her, he sets off for her hometown to prove he’s not the player she thinks he is. But as much as Cole can’t forget her, Kylie wonders if she can forgive him…
Kylie Andrews’s Texas-themed gift shop, Cowbelles, sat on the very outer edge of Fort Worth’s Stockyards District, not far from Jimmy’s Honky Tonk. And much to her dismay, no matter how often she cleared it, the wall adjacent to her store remained covered with announcements for local events.
Like, for example, concerts.
She stared at the latest layer of advertisements.
From the topmost poster, Cole Grayson stared out at her, leaning against the edge of an old barn door, guitar at his feet. One booted foot was kicked up against the wooden wall behind him. His dark-blond hair curled around behind one ear and fell down across his eye on the other side. A cowboy hat rested on the ground next to the guitar.
Her hand drifted up toward the image, hovering several inches from the picture of his face. She glanced around. None of the other shopkeepers were outside. No one was watching.
“Bastard,” she whispered to herself, and ripped the poster off the wall.
At least, she tried to. It was thicker than she had expected, attached more firmly, and it resisted her pull.
Chewing on her lip, she took another look around, dropped her bag to the ground, and reached up to grasp the edge with both fists, jerking at it in opposite directions. A tiny tear opened up along the side, and she yanked harder. Finally, the poster ripped—right across Cole Grayson’s lying eyes.
She tugged at the image some more, glancing around surreptitiously every few moments and dropping ragged pieces of paper on the ground at her feet, until there was nothing left on the wall but a few fluttering strips.
Gathering the mutilated shreds together, she opened her bag and shoved them inside until they overflowed, bright ribbons of color in the morning light.
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Margo Bond Collins is the author of contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them (and sometimes fight them). She currently writes romance for Entangled Publishing.
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