People may think writing a western historical romance is easy. Some even think all you have to do is think up a handsome cowboy and a pretty maiden, thrown in a few gunfights and a rustler or two and have the couple fight and make up and all will end well. Of course, in the western historical romance you expect it to be set in the west and there is a romance. Otherwise, it would not be a book in this genre. But rest assured there is more in the western romance than gunfights, rustlers, (though they may be there) and romance, which we’ve already said has to be there.
When I started writing western romance it never occurred to me the number of topics I’d end up including in my novels. My first book, Fiona’s Journey touched on the horrible subject of child molestation and rape. Though I never graphically described either of these in my writing, it left no doubt in the reader’s mind what was being referred to.
In Valissa’s Home I discussed gambling. Not the regular kind of gambling that takes place in a saloon as happens in most westerns, but I had one of my characters suffer a gambling addiction so bad that he not only lost all his fortune, but also that of his sister.
Prejudice was one of the topics in the book Amelia’s Marriage. A lot of people, including her father, were ready to fight when Amelia fell in love with, not only a bounty-hunter, but a bounty-hunter who happened to be half Lakota Indian. (Scheduled to come out this year.
In Quinn’s Promise I wrote about three sisters – city women from Philadelphia who travel west to find a long lost relative and with only their skills and instincts manage to survive in a part of the country that was strange and hostile to them.
Drina’s Choice addressed the mail-order-bride issue. Though many men in the west wanted a wife to ease their loneliness and to give them children as heirs, there were other reasons for using this service. In my book, the mail-order-bride was arranged to keep a cowboy from losing the ranch he’d worked hard to build into a profitable enterprise. (To come out this year from Prairie Rose Publishers)
Dealing with a heroine who was born with a withered foot and could never walk, but who had dreams and hopes of one day having a man to love and to love her was the premise of Hannah’s Wishes. Also I touched on how an unscrupulous relative could take advantage of someone with a disability. (Just finished and going though edits.)
The one time-travel I’ve written explores how an accomplished, savvy woman of today’s would cope if thrown back into the primitive way people had to live in the 1800’s. It also showed that men of that place and time could learn that women were strong and could hold their own in most any situation. This tale took place in Rena’s Cowboy.
Edwina’s Husband deals with a woman who has been raised by her not-so-religious preacher uncle who has a bible verse for everything that happens, though he sees everything in the world as evil, including his wife and his niece. Of course, he sees no wrong in himself.
Child abandonment is the first problem that crops up in Camilla’s Daughters. There is also the problem of child slavery and how a woman who never wanted children contends with having two girls thrust upon her – one an infant and the other an eight-year-old.
In some of the books I have sketched out I will tackle such things as: Remorse and loneliness in Zenia’s Guilt; Unwanted pregnancy and responsibility in Isabel’s Baby; Hate and acceptance in Belinda’s Battle; Family loyalty and revenge in Opal’s Agreement; and infidelity and forgiveness in Nelda’s Return.
After these books are finished, I’m not sure what, but I will come up with something else for my main characters to face. I hope it will be something I won’t be afraid to tackle or something that I’ll shy away from. I have learned that no subject is taboo when you write a western romance as long as it is written with tact and in a non-offensive way.
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