Some of them -- like my children -- have made loving them a little more trying at times (usually around the black moment, sometimes way before that!), but really, I wouldn't be writing about them if I didn't find a core of something wonderful in each of them (also rather like my children who thank their lucky stars I don't write about them).
But I must admit that I've always had a particular soft spot for my cowboy heroes (including the less than immediately lovable ones). I imprinted on my first cowboy when I was five and he came to stay with us on his way to fight a war -- and he brought his saddle. And no, it wasn't the civil war. I might be old, but I'm not quite that old!
But there was something in his quiet competence that appealed to me. Maybe, too, it was the tall, dark and handsome attributes. Whatever it was, I was sunk. I fell for cowboys regularly after that.
I didn't write my first cowboy, though, for a lot of years. When I did it was like coming home. I tapped into a reservoir of memories that until then I hadn't delved into very deeply. I liked what I was finding, and a few books later I went back for more, until eventually I had a whole series of cowboy heroes and the women who loved them.
Three of them have recently come back into my life. They are three brothers -- Robert, Luke and Noah Tanner -- who are, as one editor said to me, "died-with-their-boots-on" cowboys, by which he explained that he meant "they didn't own multi-national corporations on the side."
Well, no, they didn't. They were a little grittier than that, a little more real, perhaps. They'd had some hard knocks and in the course of their stories, they kept getting them. They were heroes, though, and they got the job done. And the girl, besides. Never fear.
I loved them all. Tanner (that was Robert) was tough and silent and not at all sure he was worth loving. Luke was probably my most wounded hero, a man carrying way more guilt and remorse than is good for anyone. And Noah . . . well, Noah had lived a pretty charmed life -- especially recently when he became the NFR Bronc Riding Champion. But then life, as it does, gave him a twister to ride.
They had ridden off into the sunset. I hadn't seen them -- except on my bookshelves -- for a number of years. And then they came back, wanting to do it all over again, in bright beautiful new covers for Tule Publishing.
It was so much fun (and a little bit of angst) to go down the road with them again. Tanner was a stubborn and laconic as ever. I wanted to slap Luke upside the head (but Jillian did it for me, almost literally). And Noah -- he's on the horizon, coming this way later this month.
I can show you Tanner's gorgeous cover (and Tanner's gorgeous self) in Cowboys Don't Cry. I can also show you Luke's in Cowboys Don't Quit. I was hoping I'd have Noah's today to show you the upcoming Cowboys Don't Stay, but he's not quite ready for Prime Time, unless Lee (the amazing, brilliant, talented Lee Hyat who has done wonders for them and is, I hope, going to forgive me for getting this blog in a few hours late!) finishes him up and tells me he can go public.
If Noah shows up today, she can stick him right in here. If he doesn't you can visit him on Facebook at my Author Anne McAllister page soon. He should be making an appearance there in the next couple of days.
Lee has done herself and me and Tanner, Luke and Noah proud with her wonderful covers. And I've done my best to get them updated -- though Noah is still the only one of them who has a cell phone!