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What is the Western Romance Genre?
The Western romance genre is pretty self-explanatory. It focuses on stories which are often set during the American frontier-era. Some of the newer novels take place in a contemporary western setting on a large ranch, usually owned by a very wealthy family.
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What to Expect in the Western Romance Genre
A majority of the novels in this genre are set in the western states between 1800-1900 as the US is expanding
Often features the untamed frontier
Is often told from the point of view of the hero
A lot of times the hero has children and is looking for a woman to take care of them (and him); he might not think he wants love as much as he wants a caretaker, but the heroine always convinces him otherwise
In some of these novels money (and a lot of it!) is a feature – the people who are growing settlements into towns, and towns into small cities, have a lot of land and a lot of money
Western Romance Characteristics
- Level of Angst
On a scale of 1-10, the level of angst in this genre is usually in the mid-range. These novels take advantage of their “untamed” setting, and there is usually some crisis involving the outdoors (fire, flood, etc), or wildlife, or robbers/stagecoach gangs who threaten the health and wellbeing of the hero, the heroine or both.
- Character Development
This genre tends to focus a little less attention on the characters and quite a bit more attention on the setting and the story. Unlike most romance genres where the characters could be picked up and plopped down in any town/city, in this genre the “wild west” itself often becomes a third major character, and is usually developed in great depth.
- Plot Strength
This genre is mostly set in the past, so it does appear that the writers for this genre do a lot more research when writing their novels. The historical details are often pretty accurate, and incorporating these elements does demand an attention to detail or they can undermine their story if the audience knows something is untrue/not historically accurate.
- Romantic Tension
There is quite a bit of romantic tension in this genre since usually the heroine is just as stubborn as the hero. Their verbal battles often help to create a level of sexual tension that is not present in many other genres, and often makes these books more fun to read since you can’t anticipate what either character will say or do next.
- Level of Eros
This genre has a moderate level of eros. There seem to be a good number of novels where the first time the hero and heroine have sex it is unwanted, and the hero forces himself on the heroine either because he thinks she wants sex (and she doesn’t), or because they get married and he thinks he is entitled to it. The “first time” is often not very pleasant (either too fast or too painful), but eventually the hero earns the love and trust of the heroine and the scenes become more passionate and fulfilling.
- Prose Quality
The prose quality in this genre is usually pretty good because of the amount of background research which is done.
Related Romance Subgenres
- Western: Because of the action and adventure found in these stories, they also can be considered as part of the western genre. Since the heroes are usually portrayed as loners and reluctant, there is often a “bad boy” romance vibe here, also.
Western Romance isn't for you if
You like light-hearted romance, mysteries, and you like the hero and heroine to be “equal”
Western Romance is totally for you if
You like throwback heroes, historical contexts, and you like heroes who take charge.
- 1 Eternity (2002)
By Jude Deveraux. Is about a popular western theme – the mail order bride. In this novel, set immediately after the Civil War, the heroine runs the mail order bride business, but upon seeing the picture of the man who is “ordering,” she decides to send herself to him. NOTE: Deveraux has at least 20 books which are set in the west during this time period, and they are all very enjoyable.
- 2 Morning Comes Softly (2007)
By Debbie Macomber. Is the story of a shy librarian who answers a want ad and ends up moving to Montana to find love.
- 3 The Gamble (2011)
By Kristen Ashley. Tells the story of a woman whose fiancé is inattentive and boring. She flies halfway around the world to a cabin in Colorado, only to find it already occupied by a gorgeous man.
- 4 The Horse Whisperer (1995)
By Nicholas Evans. Focuses on a woman who travels to a Montana ranch to heal her injured daughter, her daughter’s horse and her own soul.
- 5 Midnight Ride (2015)
By Cat Johnson. Is about a hot young Oklahoma ranch hand and the widow next door who knows better but cannot help herself.
- 6 To Love a Texas Cowboy (2015)
By Julie Benson. To Love a Texas Cowboy (2015) is a good representation of this genre which features a lot of arguments between the city-loving heroine and the rancher hero before they finally recognize all that the other has to offer.
- 7 Rocky Mountain Heat (2011)
By Vivian Arend. Is one of many novels in this genre which feature a series of brothers (or cousins), each with a different novel focusing on their search for love. In this novel, the hero knows better than to get involved with the friend of one of his younger brothers, but cannot help himself.
- 8 Caine’s Reckoning (2007)
By Sarah McCarty. Is another classic western romance novel – the hero wants nothing to do with women or love, but when a friend calls in a favor, he is “forced” into a marriage he thinks he doesn’t want.
- 9 Texas Glory (2010)
By Lorraine Heath. Is another classic twist on the western romance where the heroine is literally “sold” to the hero for cattle and water rights. Their path through hatred and into love is both poignant and powerful.
- 10 Throw the Devil Off the Train (2011)
By Stephen Bly. Is the classic mix of western romance and western novel. Set immediately after the Civil War, this is the story of a couple on a train heading out west for a new start, and about the assortment of characters they meet along the way.
Publicly Ranked Version of the List21 items >>
- Persuasion (Jane Austen)
- Emma (Jane Austen)
- Katherine (Anya Seton)
- Ravished (Amanda Quick)
- Saving Grace (Julie Garwood)