What We Love in a Hero

We all love heroes, and readers of romance especially love heroes.

Every genre has its own type of hero, and while heroes will have a lot in common across genre, sweet romance has a special kind of hero.

Just the kind I love—and I hope you love too.

What makes a sweet Western hero different from other heroes you might find in, say, a suspense story or a mystery?

I’d say the biggest difference lies in the heart.

Heroes in other genres may share many qualities with our sweet Western hero. He may be brave, strong, handsome, smart, skilled, funny. In general, heroes are men who are willing to risk, stand up for what they believe, sacrifice.

But some heroes are tough and insensitive. They may be crass, egotistical, have short tempers. They may have to win at all costs. Think about some of the superheroes portrayed in today’s movies.

But a romantic hero has to have some special qualities that are often lacking in non-romantic stories.

He is sensitive, kind, moral, vulnerable. Sure, he needs to have all those strong characteristics too. But we love our sweet Western romance heroes because they struggle with their faults. They want to prove worthy of love, and they aren’t seeking their own pleasure and happiness first and foremost. Integrity is essential, as is honesty.

Our Western hero isn’t perfect, and he knows that. He wants to be a good man, maybe even a great man, even if he often fails in his attempts.

Lucas Rawlings, in Colorado Promise, embodies everything I love in a sweet Western hero. He’s kind, funny, gentle, smart, and he loves horses (so important!). 

And what makes him so compelling, to me, is that he’s been greatly wounded, yet doesn’t wallow in self-pity. He carries his pain and loss every day in his heart—as we all would if we suffered the kind of tragedy he has—but he has faith and determination to help him move past the grief and find purpose in life.

Lucas wants to love again—someday. But he isn’t going to just settle for anyone in order to quell the loneliness he feels. He believes in love—he’s experienced that true love that is so hard to find. So when he meets Emma and gets to know her, he is wary and worried whether he should open up his heart to love again. 

A great hero won’t compromise his standards. And these aren’t standards of beauty. They are moral standards, and they’re things of the heart. He isn’t going to allow himself to fall in love with a woman he knows isn’t right for him. But it’s not about him. He wants to give his heart to someone who will cherish it and who will love him for who he is, faults and all.

We look for that perfect match. That person who will complete us in every way. Who brings out the best in us. This makes me think of the line in the movie The Accidental Tourist: “It’s not how much you love someone; it’s who you are when you’re with them.”

We might love someone with all our heart, but when we’re with them, it seems all our bad qualities come out. We’re unhappy, we’re angry and frustrated. We’re just not who we want to be when we’re around that person.

So with Lucas, he sees what Emma brings out in him. He realizes how much he truly loves her because of who he becomes when he’s with her.

I hope you’ll spend time getting to know Lucas Rawlings. I’d like to hear what you think about him—if he’s the perfect sweet Western hero, to you.

If you haven’t purchased Colorado Promise yet, you can get your copy HERE!

What qualities do you love best about a sweet Western romance hero? Email me back and share some of your thoughts!

Sweet Romance in Colorado Promise

Colorado Promise is a long, deep, and detailed story about a young wealthy woman from New York and a wounded cowboy who served in the War between the States and became an veterinarian in Colorado.

I love stories that show opposites attract—not just because such stories provide wonderful tension and conflict but for the challenge that comes with finding common ground.

In fact, all my sweet romance stories are about the most unlikely characters falling in love. the challenge? To come up with a truly believable story. Because romance—real love—doesn’t happen suddenly and without basis. Sure, characters, like real people, might fall for someone in a second. But that doesn’t mean they have grown to love each other.

This is the big challenge for romance writers who want to create lasting, moving stories. The romance must be believable, and so when you have two people who seem the least suited fall in love, a writer has to create common ground.

What might two opposites have in common? This is the question I ask myself every time I start plotting out a new novel in the Front Range series.

And so, with Emma Bradshaw and Lucas Rawlings, I needed to showcase both their differences and their similarities.

What could a vet from Kentucky, who’d lost a wife and baby, have in common with a woman that longed to go to college to be a botanist and hated the thought of living in the West?

You’ll just have to read Colorado Promise to find out! 

Here are just a few reviews out of the hundreds posted on Amazon:

“A fresh new voice in Historical Romance, Charlene Whitman captured me from the beginning with characters I won’t soon forget, a sizzling-sweet romance, a love triangle, spiteful villains, heart-throbbing heroes, and a plot full of intrigue that kept me guessing. Ms. Whitman’s magnificent research transported me to the Colorado plains and left me longing to join the characters amid the wildflower-dotted fields, rushing rivers, and panoramic Rocky Mountains. Fans of Historical Western Romance will not soon forget Colorado Promise.”  
—romance author Marylu Tyndall

“Ms. Whitman’s writing on the page pleases the senses and the mind. Words roll on the tongue and fill the reader with wonders of the countryside and olden times of living wild on the frontier. You can feel and smell the scents of wild grass, the warm ranch fires in the evenings, and cattle mooing in the background. A most enjoyable book that merits five stars! I didn’t know I could fall in love with Western Romance, but I did. This beautifully written story is a breath of fresh air.” —historical romance author Lilian Gafni

And The Examiner says this about Colorado Promise:

“An adequate writer of historical fiction will include minor bits and pieces about the setting of their story. A good writer will do a bit of research to make sure there are historical facts included in the pages of their novel. A superb writer will create characters that could have actually lived during the time in which the story takes place and allows them to act as people in that time period would have really acted. Charlene Whitman is a superb writer.”

You can purchase Colorado Promise in paperback or as an ebook on Amazon HERE.

Why Sweet Romance?

People ask me why I write sweet romance.

First off, I’m not a romance reader. I love romantic elements in novels, but have never really been drawn to stories that are all about the romance and little else. I like to sink my teeth into a strong plot with deep characters, and too often romance novels lack both those elements.

But romance is a huge part of life—or at least we usually want it to be. Regardless of our age or gender, a good romance story will tug on our hearts. Tales of how a couple met, fell in love, and weathered the ups and downs of life mirror our own lives.

We tell such stories in our families, around a table during a holiday visit. We are warmed by hearing how Grandma met Grandpa, and we chuckle at the silly or adorable ways they courted.

We all want love, and most of us want that perfect romantic relationship. But it’s not always easy to find. That’s why so many people read romance—maybe for hope, for vicarious pleasure, or for a reminder of what sweet and innocent love felt like (all those many decades ago).

I write in this genre because I want to capture some of that—of the sweet, natural, honorable, and inspiring romance that gives rich meaning and joy to our lives. But such love isn’t without its challenges and struggles.

By setting my romance stories in the old West, I have many ways to present outside conflict and obstacles that my characters must face. Trying to find, grow, and cherish love when blizzards and drought and locusts are making life almost unlivable tests a person’s mettle. Love in hard times is won through hard effort.

And so, when writing sweet historical Western romance novels, I can bring to life a whole cast of various characters that have chosen to live in difficult circumstances. Many have given up lives of comfort to pursue a dream, and when I dig deep into the history of places like Greeley and Fort Collins, I’m moved, inspired, and impressed with the courage and determination of so many of their founders.

And my aim is to inspire you, my reader, so that your life will be enriched in some ways it may not have been before picking up one of the Front Range books.

It also helps that I lived in Colorado for years, in both those aforementioned towns, and I raised horses as well. Being a huge fan of Westerns (movies and novels), it made sense for me to not only pick this genre but set my stories in Colorado and Wyoming.

I’ll be back at you in a couple of weeks to tell you more about the characters and locale of my books, and share some personal stories that inspired some of the plots in my books.

Let your friends know that if they join my readers’ list, they can get a free copy of this novella!

Just send them to CharleneWhitman.com.

Why Sweet Western Romance Set in Colorado?

There are so many wonderful things about sweet romance novels set in the 1800s in the West. When I was considering what decade to set my stories in, I wanted to choose a time of transition. Sure, the West was always changing, from the time the first settlers arrived on the eastern shores well into the middle of the twentieth century.

But I chose the 1870s for some special reasons. The railroad was just coming through Colorado in that decade, bringing a flood of hopeful people from all over–people wanting to start a new life and raise their families in a place that held promise.

Colorado became a state in 1876, the year of the nation’s centennial. I imagined this was a time of great hope and excitement for the territory. 

It was also the decade in which the last of the major Indians tribes were gathered up and shipped out to Oklahoma.

My novels run with deep themes, and I was especially keen to create characters that had to deal with the vanishing way of life for the native people that made way for the white man to take over. Along with that came the disappearance of the buffalo. Huge changes marked the 1870s, and it is my desire that my novels capture at least a piece of those changes, to help readers sense what it may have been like back then.

In addition, key communites (or colonies, as they were called) were springing up in that era, and these included the towns on the Front Range that my stories are set in.