Saturday, February 13, 2010

True "Luv" and Romance

Our theme for the month is love -- but what I'd like to talk about is luv. You know, those secret passions we nursed in middle school. All those hours we spent daydreaming of fantasy boyfriends back in seventh grade were the perfect preparation for the rigors of romance writing.

Of course, our dream dates weren't entirely fictional; they were generally based on real people. For instance, when I was twelve, all my friends were in love with Donny Osmond and David Cassidy.

I wasn't. I was a geeky little kid who listened to a lot of classical music, and I was smart enough to know that Down By the Lazy River and I Think I Love You were not going to stand the test of time. I also thought shiny hair and perfect teeth were way overrated. I wanted a man with brains.

That's why I fell in love with Jacques Cousteau.

My friends laughed at my secret crush. They saw Jacques as a wizend little French guy in Speedos and a beanie who was baked to a crisp by a lifetime in the sun and probably smelled faintly of fish.

But to me, he was the perfect man. He was smart, he had an accent, he owned a really cool boat, and his life was one long, fascinating cruise vacation. What did Donny Osmond have to offer compared to that?

And my grand passion for Jacques was great practice for writing romance novels -- because if I can turn an elderly French oceanographer into an object of lust, imagine what I can do with a cowboy!

After March 2nd, you won't have to. That's when Cowboy Trouble hits the shelves, and you get to meet Luke Rawlins. Luke is a genuine Wyoming cowboy who looks like Elvis, talks like John Wayne, cooks like Martha Stewart, and is almost impossible to resist. He was cooked up using my fail-proof recipe for romantic heroes, using three all-important ingredients:

1. A story. Heroes are all about action, so you've got to give your guy a story. In Cowboy Trouble, it's "city girl meets cowboy." In my second book, One Fine Cowboy, it's "PETA activist meets cowboy." Sensing a theme here? Yeah, I like cowboys. As far as I'm concerned, if you start with a cowboy, you pretty much can't lose.

2. Innate physical hotness! It's usually easy for me to picture my hero. In most cases, he springs fully formed into my head, like Athena from the mind of Zeus, only way more masculine and not nearly as wise or all-knowing (because that would be annoying). He's usually based on someone I know, or someone who caught my eye in a coffee shop. I clean him up, dress him in cowboy duds, and turn all his flaws into unique and appealing quirks. Too bad we can't do that in real life!

3. Love. We're talking romance here, so how the hero interacts with the heroine is the heart of the book. No matter how tall, dark and handsome a man might be, it's his capacity for commitment that makes him the perfect fantasy boyfriend. And Luke not only conquers every obstacle fate throws in his way to win my heroine's heart; he does it wearing chaps -- which, as you know, were created by the early cowboys to showcase a man's best assets.

I suspect Jacques might not have been the romantic ideal I conjured up in my addled adolescent mind. I think he was one of those guys who was in love with his work, and he really did bear a striking resembance to a rawhide dog chew, so I'm not sure any amount of skill would turn my favorite Frenchman into a hero for the masses.

But a cowboy? That was easy.

So who was your fantasy boyfriend when you were a tween -- and why?


  1. Great post!! I was even geekier than you! I didn't have one. I was never a tv/movie star follower. Except when I was younger, I loved Opie from Mayberry RFD. But I think that was because some friends of my parents had a real live Opie son my age (looked just like him), and I had the biggest crush on him. We camped together, had snow fights, swam. So Opie was real to me. The others were just idolized by adoring fans for no real good reason. :)

  2. Great post, Joanne!
    I think I must have had a secret crush on Jacques too. Can't say it was ever a romantic fantasy, but I donated so much money to the Cousteau Society that they sent me a certificate. Must have been the accent...

    You probably can't go wrong with a cowboy, but I've been trying to find one for a friend of mine for a long time. Trouble is, out in public, the only way to spot them is by the hat, and anyone can wear a hat. I wrote a story for her once and I gave her a whole bunkhouse full of cowboys to choose from. Wouldn't that be fun? ;-)

  3. Fun topic, Joanne.
    I've never been crush-prone. I think it's because to me a man's attractiveness has always been more character-based than physical. KInda makes passion-from-a-distance hard.
    That said, I don't think having a crush on Jacques Cousteau would be all that strange. In fact, I think it shows good taste. Of course, I remember him as a much younger man with that big-nosed, French cast to his features, that without being classically handsome, can be devastatingly sexy. He had the high IQ you mentioned and, in a Speedo, didn't look the least bit nerdy.

  4. Harrison Ford. Like, he was old enough to be my dad, you know, but I still thought he was like so cute.

  5. What is it about cowboys? I lived deep in ranching country for 20 years and met more cowboys than I can remember. I didn't fall for nary a one. But in my imagination, that strong, wise, gentle, competent, independent ideal still has enormous appeal. Keep the real cowboys but give me the fantasy anytime! Can't wait to read about yours. Congrats, Joanne.

  6. Oh, fun post! I never got into the popular crushes either. Never got into Donny Osmond, thought John Travolta (in his Vinny Barbarino incarnation) was not only stupid but ugly, and think I only bought 3 or 4 Teen Beats in my whole life.

    For some reason I recall having the hots for Larry Hagman in his I Dream of Jeannie roll. He was very handsome, maybe it was the uniform thing and the fact that he had this exotic career. But I think it was because he was a little goofy with the intelligence. Rather charming! I like a man who can be funny and have fun in life.

    Cowboys are just cool, no doubt. Give me Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) or Sam Elliot in any cowboy roll and I will be drooling for sure!

  7. Thanks, everybody! And thanks for defending Jacques, Mary Margret. I agree; when I was looking through images to illustrate the post, I was thinking the same thing. There's something about French men...maybe a French cowboy would be a good thing, although I just can't picture it!
    And hey, Shannon (wave)! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. For me it was James Drury, The Virginian. I was lucky enough to meet him twice and managed not to drool too much or act like too much of an idiot in his presence. :} I found the pictures recently and just cringed!

  9. FUN post, Joanne! And Welcome to the CasaBabes! Cowboy Trouble sounds like a YUMMY romance, and only a few more weeks until it is on the shelves. YAY!

    I LOVED all those TV Specials with Jacques Cousteau, but never saw him as a 'crush object.' Probably because I had a GINORMOUS crush on Paul McCartney! Yup, saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, noted Paul was a lefty and I was a goner! :-) Matter of fact, he could STILL eat crackers in my bed and I wouldn't kick him out...


  10. Oh Joanne! A French cowboy would be...words fail me...I mean, just think! Cowboy attitude and a French accent?


  11. Thanks, Mary Margret, for the "yipi quaiez!" I think there's going to have to be a French cowboy in a future book...
    Meanwhile, this link's for you!

    You'll have to cut and paste - sorry, I don't know how to post a link in the comments!But it's a song about French cowboys...'nuff said!

  12. I had a crush on Jimmy Stewart...I think it was all the characters he portrayed. Integrity and honor gets me every time.

  13. Hi Joanne! True story, I remember when I was about 7 years old, and I saw the movie Darby O'Gill and the Little People on tv. When I saw Sean Connery lift his eyebrow in that sultry way, I was a goner. I thought he was cute! Fast forward many years later, I'm a grown women, and can say with all honesty, that Scot is hot! I don't care how old that man is.

  14. Cool post, Joanne! Sorry I am late to the fun. When I was younger I had a crush on any and every member of pretty much all "boybands"--a sign of the times (the late 90s), haha!

    I know I loved your cowboy in Cowboy Trouble--can't wait to read what's next :)