I spent some more time reading this month when my computer died and went to cyber space heaven, taking my stuff with it. So I picked up my e-reader and read. After a few books, I began to question the whole idea of escaping into a book.
I read a historical laced with magic. It was a fun read. The heroine had one beautiful gown after another and the balls were numerous. His Royal Highness was always impeccably dressed. But when the heroine kissed the hero after he’d spent the night imbibing a little too much and vomiting, I thought I’d gag. Really? I loved my husband dearly, but that is one morning mouth I would have avoided at all costs!
Move forward a few hundred years and I read a cowboy story. Hot, sweaty, and dirty, the cowboy and his girlfriend wind up in the barn and have fun on some bales of hay. Yeah, I know everyone stunk back then, but really? I had a father, two brothers, a husband, and a handful of nephews. I promise there are some men you do not want to be down wind of after they’ve been sweating all day.
My dad grew up in a time when you took a bath on Saturday evening. It was a big thing because everyone had one. But he was expected to come to the supper table clean each night. In the summer, that meant he stripped to his skivvies and pumped water into a pail. Using an old piece of toweling as a washcloth, he scrubbed until every speck of dirt was gone from behind his ears and between his toes. His grandmother believed that cleanliness was next to Godliness, and you didn’t disgrace her or her home. Yes, our standards of clean have changed over the years. But stink is stinky!
Before I get totally off track, let me return to cowboys. Today, they drive John Deere, Case, etc. Back then, they rode horses or drove wagons. Blue jeans didn’t exist until the early 1900’s. There were cattlemen and cowboys. Cattlemen tended to own or have authority. Cowboys were boys or men who had no skills. So the concept of hunky cowboys is really laughable.
If someone owned land, they needed a wife to produce help. The more children, the more help they had. The older the children became, the more they could help. Wives were producers and if they were lucky, they were loved.
Life wasn’t easy. But the picture that is painted in most romance novels is far from the truth. And if a girl’s father said she was going to marry the neighbor’s son, she did it. There was no questioning a parent. Marriages often weren’t consummated for weeks or months because the married couple had no idea what they were supposed to do, and only had a vague idea about sex because they’d see a few barnyard animals. The extent of fatherly advice to his son was probably nothing more than stick it in her. The where was totally unknown.
My great-grandmother was a midwife and I remember my grandmother telling me tales that her mom had told her. It was not unusual for a young woman to be in labor and have no idea what was happening. My great-grandmother said many a woman was told she was in labor and was shocked. Women thought amniotic fluid was urine and when told the baby was coming out the same way it got in there, the young woman would open her mouth.
Are you done laughing? I was probably eight when I first heard that story. I didn’t realize how funny it was until I was well into my teens. (Children are so accepting!) This was the same grandmother that also told me to be a lady in the drawing room and a whore in the bedroom. So when my widowed grandmother marred a widower when she was seventy-three and the happy couple announced how thrilled they were together…well, again it took years before I understood. Even his children couldn’t believe the change in their father and how happy he was with my grandmother. Oh, I can imagine! I’m sure she rang his chimes, as he’d never had them rung.
So maybe I fail to glamorize the Wild West, or for that matter, even today’s heroes and heroines who are busy climbing the corporate ladders. I look at my neighbor who is a fireman and I can’t imagine him hanging onto that fire hose or wielding an axe. My dad at eighty-five had more muscle on him than that bare-chested firefighter pushing his lawnmower.
So I write realistic heroes and the women who love them. I’m not afraid to tell a story with plenty of truth woven through it. I can’t stop myself. I’m a realist. Maybe it’s my downfall. Maybe my heroes should have over-sized necks, huge chests, tiny waists, and women should swoon as these men walk down the street. But something inside me prevents that. I can’t explain it. Brains are sexier. And when they come in a well-defined package, that’s even better. But that doesn’t mean every guy walks around with six-pack abs. I don’t want a beer gut, or to listen to a guy belch or fart. Must they all look like super hunks, be billionaires, and have royalty circulating in their blood? Just create a good guy who treats his woman with respect, and takes a bath or shower as needed.
Do you like my new cover for A Rancher’s Woman ? It’s more traditional for the genre. Set in 1896 there’s plenty of realism between the pages. And a hero who is hunky enough to satisfy the most discriminating reader. Available at Amazon.
Yeah, brains are sexy, very sexy!