Cowboy Up During Wild Western Week
With Bailey Bradford’s “Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots”
Cowboys have been my heroes ever since I was a little girl. First, it was because my dad loved cowboy movies and books—Louis L’Amour was his favorite author, and The Duke his favorite cowboy actor. Like a lot of little girls, I idolized my Dad and thought he could do no wrong, and so I watched what he watched and read the books he did, albeit sometimes I had to sneak around to do it.
As I grew to be a teenager, I fell in love with cowboys all on my own. To me, as portrayed in books and movies, they were the epitome of strength and masculinity. That whole strong, silent type was very appealing. I’d look at the boys my age and compare them to my heroes. There just weren’t any modern-day cowboys around where I grew up, unless they were fictional, so I spent a lot of time re-reading the westerns I’d practically memorized.
The good guys won. Justice was served. Life was just right when the cowboys were involved.
And the cowboys were always handsome. Clint Eastwood, when he was younger, Robert Redford—oh my, Sundance Kid? Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy? I’ve named off favorite movie cowboys before. I had many that I crushed on.
It was their roles in westerns that made me love these guys. And when the movies were over, the books read, I kept their stories going in my imagination, and created new adventures. Yes, I admit I was the love interest What was the fun in fantasizing that someone else got the handsome cowboy?
That fascination with cowboys never went away. When I started writing, the first book I finished and submitted for publication was a modern-day cowboy one. Of course I broadened my perception of what a cowboy is, and now like to add the realism of them not being perfect. I like my cowboys to be flawed, and not always handsome.
But they have to have that good heart, that abiding moral compass even if they screw up. In the end, they’ll do what’s right because that’s how they’re made. They can be bruised and battered by life and the people they’ve loved, but they’re still intrinsically good.
Every time I write about cowboys, there are some of those memories from my childhood in each one of the guys. Good memories, and lots of love.
Added to that are the adult, Not Safe For Work parts of the stories, too. Once I grew up—I hesitate to say ‘matured’, heh—sexuality became a part of the stories in my head and the books I read. I embraced sex whole-heartedly, and the idea of two cowboys or more, falling in love—that commitment and loyalty that would endure through anything, along with the tender and rough sex lovers shared? That was every romantic fantasy I couldn’t let go of. I could see it, in my imagination, and wanted to capture it and tell that story.
So I try, every time I write about cowboys, to convey that love—the never-ending, good always wins, follow you to the ends of the Earth kind of love.
Blurb for Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots:
Lessons learned from past betrayals can protect Colby Vincent’s heart or cost him a chance at happiness he never thought to have.
Colby thought he’d never let anyone close again after being betrayed by everyone he loved, but one closeted, stubborn oilfield worker with a penchant for dressing like a cowboy seems determined to out himself and win Colby’s heart. It’s as if Hunter Talamentez walked right out of Colby’s fantasies and into the convenience store where Colby works.
But Hunter is closeted, and he’s never considered changing that. He’s got his homophobic cousin with him, a family that he knows won’t support him if they know the truth about who he is and a job where being out could get him hurt. He resigned himself to spending his life alone until he gets to know Colby. Then he embarks on a journey with Colby that will change their lives if only they both find the strength to take a few chances.
Nothing comes easily, and learning to give from the heart when that heart has been shattered twice before might be more than Colby is capable of. He isn’t sure about having more than a fling with Hunter, yet he can’t seem to stay away from the man, either. What was meant to be one night together turns into more, and Colby loses his ability to keep Hunter at the safe distance he’d wanted.
Excerpt from Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots:
Colby Vincent whistled as he stocked the shelf at the Valero store where he worked. He liked the late shift, working from midnight until six in the morning. He’d always been a night owl through and through, which had made school difficult more often than not. Maybe if he’d slept better, he’d have had the grades to get into college, but thinking along those lines didn’t do him any good now.
It was generally slow in regards to having customers, which was fine with him. Plastering on a smile and acting cheery was getting harder to do every day. Some people had a problem with him, and it was getting old. He supposed it came with being the only out gay man in town. Even so, he didn’t deserve to experience some of the things he did.
At least at his second job as a cook at Rio’s Mexican Café he didn’t have to worry about greeting customers. Plus, Rio and his nephew Berto were cool. Rio always gave Colby the old copies of American Cowboy and True Cowboy when the newer ones came in the mail. Maybe he should have been tired of cowboys, considering he lived in a town that had a bunch of them.
But they tended to be old, and not to be the sexy or unbigoted kind. The ones in the magazines were unknowns and he could fantasize about them if he wanted to without feeling disgusted for doing so. He’d be damned if he’d ever get off while thinking about any of the hateful people who’d crossed his path, cowboys or not. Colby did have his pride, after all.
He put the small packages of Oreo cookies in their place after having removed the outdated ones. Colby’s stomach rumbled. He pressed a fist to his belly until the dull ache backed off. When it was time for him to take a break, he’d see what his options were.
A few minutes later, a buzzer sounded and the door opened. Colby glanced over his shoulder, making sure it wasn’t some psycho wielding a weapon. Working at a convenience store, he always worried about becoming a victim of violent crime.
His co-worker, Christy, was working the counter—well, playing on her phone—and didn’t even give the customer a first glance, much less a second one. Colby stood up, having been hunched over to get the Oreos on the shelf just right. He turned and eyed the man who was now walking toward the fountain drinks.
Like the sound of Belt Buckles and Cowboy Boots? Buy it here.
About Bailey Bradford:
A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out.
Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.
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