Good Shit Vs. Shit to Avoid: American Western Historicals

Ah, the American West in historical romance. Petticoats. Horses. Leather. Men named Chet who want to get in your petticoat and who smell like leather, sweat, and horses (and why does that turn people on? I’d run for the hills if approached by stanky Chet).

American Western Historicals also present a unique opporunity: your antagonist? The force acting against your couple? Throughout the WHOLE BOOK? Could be the weather!

Now that is an opportunity right there- The Weather Channel: “It Could Happen Tomorrow – The Romance Series.”

If you’re not thinking cold fronts, what Western Historicals would you recommend?

I rarely participate and try to leave the brilliance up to y’all, but I have to put in a word for one of my faves. I am a sucker for old school Jude Deveraux, and I love Wishes, particularly for the somewhat cranky “fairy godmother” who thinks being thin will solve the heroine’s problems (she’s so wrong), and who conjures herself up a year’s worth of People magazine to amuse herself for an afternoon.

So – what other Western Historicals would you like to recommend?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Jane says:

    Claudia Dain, A Kiss To Die For, is set in Abilene, Kansas.  Awesome historical/suspense. 

    Johanna Lindsey, Savage Thunder.  Funny and sexy.  Hmm.  Do I need to do a re-read?

  2. 2
    Samantha says:

    Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson

    Love this book. The heroine is agoraphobic.

  3. 3
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Oooh, fun.

    Geralyn Dawson, The Bad Luck series
    Cute, funny

    Penelope Williamson, Outsider and Heart of the West
    Deep, emotional, passionate, sweeping

    Almost anything by Pamela Morsi

  4. 4
    Robin says:

    Jo Goodman, With All My Heart, Wild Sweet Ecstasy (heck, most of the Dennehy sisters books).

    Candice Proctor, The Bequest

    Susan Johnson, Pure Sin

    Yvonne Jocks (aka Evelyn Vaughn), Rancher’s Daughters series, especially Behaving Herself and Proving Herself (my favorite).  Actually, the fourth book, Explaining Herself was also good.  my least favorite was the second book, Forgetting Herself (lots of weather and sheep in that one). 

    I know I’m forgetting some great ones, but there are some, at least.

  5. 5
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Oh, obviously I don’t mean Ms. Morsi’s contemporary stuff. I haven’t read those books, and the Amazon reviews haven’t been encouraging. Apparently her fans wish she would return to her roots. I sort of hate when romance novelists do this.

    Patricia Gaffney is another good example. They build a fan-base of romance readers and then start writing more literary books about the relationships between women and families. Is this more respectable or something because there’s no fucking in it? I’m never doing that. No matter what I write, there will be some fucking, dammit.

  6. 6
    white raven says:

    Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer

  7. 7
    AngieZ says:

    Elizabeth Lowell’s – Winter Fire and Autumn Lover are great as well as her Only Series.


    Jodie Thomas – A Texan’s Luck, When a Texan Gambles and the Texan’s Wager.

  8. 8
    Lorelie says:

    Dang it, Ana stole my answer.  :lol:

  9. 9
    Mary says:

    Elizabeth Lowell’s Only series
    Only You, Only Love, Only Mine, Only His
    Johanna Lindsey’s Angel
    Linda Howard’s Heart of Fire
    Nora Robert’s Lawless

    Not a PC one in the bunch.

  10. 10
    Robin says:

    Sweet Everlasting, Crooked Hearts, and Thief of Hearts, all by Patricia Gaffney.

    I also just ordered Lorraine Heath’s Always to Remember, based on a recent DIK review at AAR.  KristieJ often raves about Lorraine Heath’s Westerns, too.

  11. 11
    Mrs. MJ says:

    I liked a few of Janet Daily’s Calder series, especially Green Calder Grass. Ty and Jesse are a great pair.

  12. 12
    Ziggy says:

    I read this aaaaages ago but I think I’ve got the title right: Dutch Uncle by Marilyn Durham. Lovely stuff… I’d love to read it again.

  13. 13
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Dang it, Ana stole my answer

    With which post?

    Are you promising never to write stuff without some sex in it too? Woot!

  14. 14
    Amanda says:

    Winter Fire and Autumn Lover by Elizabeth Lowell, definitely.

  15. 15
    jmc says:

    More Lavyrle Spencer:

    White Raven already mentioned Hummingbird

    Vows: set in Wyoming at the end of the 19th century. 

    The Gamble: the last third or so of the book is set in Mississippi, I believe, but the bulk of the book is set in Kansas, post Civil War.

    She wrote several others, but I don’t like them as much: Years (ND), The Endearment (MN), The Fulfillment (MN), Forgiving (Deadwood, the Dakota Territories).

  16. 16

    I just read Always to Remember by Lorrraine Heath and loved it.  What a weepfest!  A most unusual hero.

    I’d also recommend Pamela Morsi’s historicals, and LaVyrle Spencer, especially Hummingbird.  Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider is a classic for a reason, and was turned into a credible movie starring Timothy Daly. 

    The only inspirational I ever read was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, and I’d recommend that one too.

    If you can find it, Carla Kelly’s Here’s To the Ladies is about life in the frontier army and a good read.

    And some people have said Smuggler’s Bride by Darlene Marshall fits in the Western category ‘cause it’s set on the frontier, albeit the Florida frontier.  I’m not going to argue with them, and I am going to recommend it.[g]

  17. 17
    Wendy says:

    Some of these bleed into “Americana”

    Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi
    The Texas Trilogy by Lorraine Heath
    I Do, I Do, I Do by Maggie Osborne
    The Seduction of Samantha Kincade by Maggie Osborne
    Prairie Moon by Maggie Osborne
    Prairie Wife by Cheryl St. John
    Joe’s Wife by Cheryl St. John
    The Tenderfoot Bride by Cheryl St. John
    His Secondhand Wife by Cheryl St. John
    The Horseman by Jillian Hart
    Mustang Annie by Rachelle Morgan
    Cherish by Catherine Anderson
    Hope’s Captive by Kate Lyon (don’t let the man titty scare you off)
    The Heartbreaker by Nicole Jordan

    And I’m sure there are tons I’m missing.  Frankly, you can’t go wrong with St. John or Osborne IMHO – but those are my favorites.

  18. 18

    Oooh, and I nearly forgot Megan Chance and Maggie Osborne.  I’d buy their books hot off the press, especially Candle in the Dark and The Promise of Jenny Jones.

  19. 19
    Kanigget says:

    Teresa Medeiros’s Nobody’s Darling
    Johanna Lindsey’s A Heart So Wild (cracks me up!)
    and Jill Gregory has got a few good ones.

  20. 20
    Cynthia says:

    For good stories that have lots of steamy lovin’ check out some of the Promise series of western historical romances by Sarah McCarty or if you like more contemporary westerns, authors Chey McCray and Kate Douglas have written some very good ones.

  21. 21
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Oh God, I forgot about A Candle in the Dark. That book was so beautiful it hurt to read it.

  22. 22
    Robyn says:

    I second Nora Roberts’ Lawless.

    God help me, they’re HORRIBLE, and I really can’t recommend them, but I am stuck on the old Dorothy Garlock westerns. Why I love them I can’t tell you- I must harbor some terrifying sickness. If you read one, be prepared for phonetic Western hell. If’n hit ain’t too much fer ya, haw, haw.

  23. 23
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Robin Lee Hatcher wrote a number of wonderful books in the 90s, set primarily in frontier towns.  Forever Rose (small town Idaho) and Promise Me Spring (wagon train) are particularly good. 

    Janis Reams Hudson wrote the 6-part Colton family Apache series which is excellent, as well as Wild Texas Flame, a very sexy story about an orphaned young woman, her younger sisters, a convict, and a bad, bad, rancher.  Typical sounding, yes, but very well written. 

    The You I Never Knew by Susan Wiggs is a contemporary with a former rodeo cowboy turned DOCTOR.  My husband snorted something about woman porn when I mentioned that.

    And I recommend the first two books in Elizabeth Lowell’s Mackenzie/McQueen series, Fire and Rain and Outlaw – although the hero is not an outlaw.  Hmm.  The first reprint cover for Fire and Rain was hot – one of my favorites.  The latter two in the series, Granite Man and Warrior, repeat themes too extensively (can’t any man in this family agree to marriage without an accidental pregnancy??).

  24. 24
    LorelieLong says:

    Are you promising never to write stuff without some sex in it too? Woot!

    Well I’d originally meant The Bad Luck series, but I totally agree with that too.  Writing the sex is the fun part!

  25. 25
    Monica says:

    I think the Western is a historical I could read without feeling nauseous.  I like Beverly Jenkins.

    I wish y’all white folks would put more black folks in them though. We were there.

    (My forebears were from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas).

  26. 26
    Jami Alden says:

    This request brought back so many memories of me in junior high, sneaking these books under my desk – I’m only listing the ones I read multiple times:
    Sunflower by Jill Marie Landis
    Before the Sunrise, by Sandra Brown
    Catherine Coulter’s Star Series
    Shirl Henke’s Night Flower, Moon Flower, and Cactus Flower
    Touch of Fire, by Linda Howard
    My True and Tender Love, by Jill Gregory
    The Rainbow Season, by Jill Gregory – I’m still bitter at my mom for donating my copy to goodwill
    A Heart So Wild, Johanna Lindsey
    And there was a really good time travel western by Lisa Kleypas way back when, but I can’t seem to find the name.

  27. 27
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Monica, I don’t write western historicals but I’m going to speculate that there are writers who omit black folks because they don’t want to touch the related historical ugliness. They don’t want to stir things up or maybe they don’t feel they have the life experience to represent events or develop a character that different from themselves, so they gloss over it.

    I have relatives like that, who just flat out deny bad shit ever happens. Nobody in the family drinks too much, mistreats their kids or cheats on their wives, just like none of them misuse prescription medication. It’s a unique gift, revising history by refusing to acknowledge it.

  28. 28
    Angela H says:

    I’ve got to throw my hat in for Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath and The Outsider by Penelope Williamson.  Both are so, so good.

  29. 29
    CindyS says:

    The most recent western that made me start having a ‘hankering’ for them again was Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare.  Definitely got me wishing for more well written historical westerns.

    I’m taking notes and yeah, Lindsay did some of the best way back when.

    Oh, I read Garlock also and that was some seriously whacky shit but it was like crack ;)


  30. 30

    Monica—if you find Carla Kelly’s book Here’s to the Ladies, there’s a great story about the Buffalo Soldiers called “A Season for Heroes”.

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