Cowboys: Knights of the Old West
By Jacquie Rogers
Copyright © 2011 Jacquie Rogers
A certain mythos of romance holds a strong place in my heart. And of course, when I talk about romance, I’m gonna talk about men. As a woman, and as a romance writer, men fascinate me. They’re so incredibly complicated but at the same time so basic. Women are complicated and basic in other ways, leaving the man/woman relationship mystifying as to how or why it ever works. The romance genre delves into this complexity in every book.
When a woman looks for a mate, and that’s what romance is all about, she’s hardwired to look for the three Ps in a prospective candidate: Provide, Protect, and Procreate. Now, nearly all men are ready at any time for the third P (although we’re a bit picky about who fathers our children), but quite a few men aren’t all that keen about the first two.
And that’s why we women love the whole idea of knights and cowboys. Yes, I lumped them into the same sentence. Take a look at the Texas Rangers oath for deputy rangers:
Defend the Weak
Never Desert a Friend
Never Take Unfair Advantage
Have Faith in God
Now here’s the Knights Code of Chivalry described in the Song of Roland:
To fear God and maintain His Church
To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
To protect the weak and defenceless
To give succour to widows and orphans
To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
To live by honour and for glory
To despise pecuniary reward
To fight for the welfare of all
To obey those placed in authority
To guard the honour of fellow knights
To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
To keep faith
At all times to speak the truth
To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
To respect the honour of women
Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
Never to turn the back upon a foe
That’s just a longwinded way of saying the same thing as the Texas Rangers did.
Truth is, people haven’t changed much, if ever. Our idea of the US Navy SEAL, the 19th Century cowboy, or the 13th Century knight all bring to a woman’s mind the perfect man to give us children, provide for them, and to protect them from harm so they can thrive into adulthood.
Our ideal romance hero is intelligent, loyal, honest, brave, and oh-s0-sexy. My cowboy in Much Ado About Marshals (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0058ON1LS) is placed in a situation that tests him, because if he is loyal, he can’t be honest, and if he’s honest, he will betray his best friend. What a dilemma for a man who lives by the Knight’s Code of Chivalry, even if he’d never heard of such a code, because that’s the way of the good guys in the Old West.
This same situation could have played out in Medieval England as well as in the American Old West. It was Sir Lancelot’s dilemma in the days of King Author and the glorious Round Table, and now it’s Cole Richards’ dilemma in Much Ado About Marshals, set in the dusty desert of Owyhee County, Idaho. The cowboy’s word is his bond. Honor is everything.
Men are men. They’re warriors, hunters, and protectors. It’s through that tough exterior that women find his core of loyalty, honor, and most of all, love. The sweetest of women can tame the hearts of the toughest of men. This is our fantasy—this is what we’ve dreamed about since we were little girls.
And that’s why men in chaps and spurs melt our hearts.