Bestselling author Linda Lael Miller reveals her top five favorite cowboys in this exclusive blog post.
Cowboys. Now there’s
a subject I can talk about all day!
Here are my five favorites:
dad, Grady “Skip” Lael, tops the list.
As a young man, after serving in the Marine Corps during World War II,
Dad followed his older brother, Jack “Jiggs” Lael, into rodeo. Uncle Jack rode broncos, Dad rode bulls. Their adventures are the stuff of family
Dad eventually drew a bad bull,
somewhere along the circuit, and he had a wife and a baby (me) by then, so he
turned to ranching instead. Ranching is
never easy, but it was even rougher in those times, and when Dad was offered a
paying job as the town marshal in Northport, Washington, he accepted it and
wore a star-shaped badge for many years.
He was a good lawman, and he was tough.
The cowboy is the modern equivalent
of the medieval knight—he follows a code of honor. He meets trouble head-on, pushes up his
sleeves, and deals with whatever comes at him.
He’ll never pick a fight, but he won’t run away from one, either. His word is, along with his good name, his
most prized possession, and you can expect follow through with anything he
undertakes, come hell or high water.
My father was the quintessential
cowboy, not just because he rode horses for many years and wore boots and a hat
until the very last, but because he taught me most of what I know about
integrity, courage and plain old persistence, and it has served me well.
Landon—or, more accurately—Little Joe Cartwright. I took one look at that man—“Bonanza” was
still being shown in black and white at the time—and that was it. Little Joe was seriously cute, with that
curly hair and that impish grin, and he became my first love. I never actually got over him, in fact.
Watching “Bonanza” prepared me for my
writing career in many ways—I learned the concept of scenes, and how to set up
a cliff-hanger. I’ve often written about
the bonds between brothers, and the Cartwrights inspired my fascination with
the dynamics of that particular relationship.
Wayne, the cowboy’s cowboy. I learned a
lot about the West watching his movies, and of course he personified the tough
guy with the tender heart, the one who would do the right thing, no matter how
difficult. And who could forget him as
Rooster Cogburn, in the original True
Grit, riding at top speed with the reins in his teeth, holding a pistol in
each hand and firing all the while.
He said, “Courage is being scared to
death, and saddling up anyway.”
He was a great man, on and off
screen, and all over the world, when people think “cowboy”, it’s a good bet
they think of the Duke, too.
I write about cowboys, and I’m always a little in love with each hero, Walker
Parrish, the rancher and stock contractor in Big Sky Summer, is definitely a favorite. He’s strong, honest, comfortable in his own
skin, and capable of committing to the woman he loves. Being a true cowboy, he’ll stick by his
lady-love in bad times as well as good ones.
there is Zane Sutton, the hero of my upcoming book, Big Sky Wedding, coming out in September. Zane, a former rodeo cowboy, turned movie
star, turned rancher, is honest about what he wants—a real home, a wife, and
some kids. He’s handsome and he’s sexy as
all get-out, like any good hero, but what most endears him to me is his utter
bafflement in the face of true love—even after a wild youth, when he meets the
right woman, he means well but keeps getting the whole romance thing all wrong.
I love writing about sexy guys with
values and principles, and about their strong, goal-oriented women, who stand
toe-to-toe with them and aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and their
Spinning yarns about cowboys and
their ladies is challenging, to be sure, but it’s also a joy.
And I actually get paid
for this. I love it so much, I’d
probably do it for nothing—but don’t tell my publisher.
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