Well, as much as I love reading historical westerns as much as y’all – the polite, alpha cowboy on his white horse and the town’s school marm with loads of gumption getting their HEA, but I also love reading contemporary westerns – that same polite, alpha cowboy who’s been raised right by his mama in today’s world and a more world-wise, modern heroine who can now be anything she wants other than a school marm.
I’ve not read huge amounts of contemp westerns, but I have my favorite authors who I go back to time and again, plus others I still have in the TBR mountain and know I’ll enjoy just as much when I finally read them.
1. Lorelei James is the first to come to mind. I have the best time with her Rough Riders and Wild West Boys series. The books center around the McKay and West families, and while they are definitely erotic stories, the way she weaves family with tragedy and fun and emotion with all the lovin’ going on behind closed doors, her books are always at the top of my list. Her cowboys walk and talk like they should too. No ugly western speak on any of her pages. My faves are Cowgirl Up and Ride, Tied Up Tied, and Branded as Trouble — all for three very different reasons. You can see my reviews of these three books and others of Ms. James here.
2. I discovered Catherine Anderson from the ladies at an historical romance chat group I’m in, and with her first book in her Kendrick/Coulter series, Baby Love, she hooked me not only with her storytelling and characters, but the emotion she wrings from with every book. I’m sorry to say I’ve only read a couple of Ms. Anderson’s books so far, but I know when I do pick up another, it’s going to be one terrific ride. My favorite of those few I’ve read to date is Phantom Waltz. Lordamercy, the emotion in that book will set you back a few days.
3. As good as Linda Lael Miller’s historical westerns are, her contemporaries are just as good. I loved her Montana Creeds trilogy released just recently (see my DDS review on the Creeds here) and still have her McKettrick follow-up books to read, which I know I will love as much as the original books.
4. Anna Jeffrey nee Sadie Callahan nee Dixie Cash is a one-woman force when it comes to contemp westerns. I have read her Jeffrey and Callahan books but have yet to sample her Cash stories. The few I have read so far have turned out to be pleasant surprises, especially Lone Star Woman under the Callahan pseudonym (see my review here). I have plenty more Jeffrey books to read and look forward to getting to them.
5. Though I really love her paranormals, Lisa Renee Jonesgave readers a look at another side of her writing with Lone Star Surrender last year. This is her only contemp western, but I’m hoping she’ll write more down the road. Lisa is one of those authors who knows how to put the sizzle in love scenes whether it’s in the western or paranormal style, so more of her cowboy lovin’ would be a treat.
6. As for contemp western authors whose books I have but have not yet had the pleasure to read, there’s a few that come to mind: Jodi Thomas, Mackenzie McKade, Joan Johnston, Patrice Michelle, and if you’re in need of a guilty pleasure, Diana Palmer.
So. Have you read any of these authors? What’s your take on their books in the modern western world? Who else do you love/hate when it comes to contemporary westerns? I know I’ve not thought of a lot. Hit me with it, pardner!