Innocent Hearts by Radclyffe
When I first ventured out into the world of (fan) fiction I came a cross a number of westerns of the cowgirl variant. You know the sort of fic’s where you’ll find at least one of the female protagonists to be very comfortable on horseback, perhaps proficient with a gun and always dressed like a man. In these stories we are usually also treated to a woman of a more feminine nature in need of a bit of rescuing and – as we are talking romance here – to a friendship that turn into love.
One of the first and up until now best of cowgirls stories that I have read is BL Miller and Vada Fosters “The Western Chronicles”. Unfortunately BL Miller has decided to remove the online version of the story from her site due to plagiarism. If you know your way around the web archives you can still reach a copy of this and other BL Millar stories online and for those willing to spend a little money on a paperback it’s seems that it’s still available in print.
“The Western Chronicles” is the story of Josie – the outlaw – and Rebecca the woman in need of rescuing and their journey together through the frontier country. The story has a number of dramatic episodes, but you’ll find a well-developed romance at the centre of the storyline this time with a rather unwilling outlaw and a persistent younger – and rather innocent – woman. The characters of Josie and Rebecca are well-developed and the slow progression from reluctant – on Josie’s part – travelling companions to friends and eventually lovers is skilfully described.
As not everybody is proficient in the art of surfing the web archives I’ll give you another western of the cowgirl variant to spend you time on while you wait for “someone” to let you in on the secrets of finding what has been lost on the web.
This cowgirl western is written by Radclyffe and has a more urbanised setting than the one you’ll find in “The Western Chronicles”. In “Innocent Hearts” we are not dealing with outlaws and gunslings, but with the rancher Jessie and the slightly younger woman Kate who has just arrived in the new Montana territory with her parents from out east. A self-reliant woman like Jessie is something that Kate has never encountered before, and as you can imagine Jessie and Kate quickly strike up an acquaintance, each taking pleasure in the company of a woman different from those they normally encounter, and none of them quite sure what to make of their feelings towards each other.
I think it might spoil your fun to tell you how Jessie and Kate work out what kind of pleasures women can find in the company of each other, but I’ll just let you know that they seem to come down with divine inspiration once they get the gist of things.
Cowgirl western romances are not my favourite stories as I often find that the storylines are too stereotype for my taste. I think that the one real exception from this rule is “The Western Chronicles” mentioned above, but if you like cowgirls you might find “Innocent Hearts” entertaining if perhaps a little too predictable. Jessie and Kate are likeable characters but possibly a little young for the storyline, but as always I found that Radclyffe uphold a good quality in her writing.