I don’t want to burst any one’s bubble, but there were a couple of million other young girls who felt the same way—always will as long as Bonanza reruns are on cable stations. (Check out You-tube is you don’t believe me.)
So what was it about Little Joe that sent your heart somersaulting across your chest? His agile body, flashy smile, curly hair, impeccable dress, graceful stagger, humor, cockiness, romanticism or perhaps it was Cochise, his black and white paint horse.
If we think about it…falling in love with Little Joe wasn’t a wise thing. How many of his girlfriends died by the end of the episode? Not season—episode! And without remorse or guilt, the next week he’d be off flirting with a new conquest.
Maybe it wasn’t Little Joe Cartwright many of us fell in love with, but the image he portrayed. That somewhat worldly, yet down home good ole’ boy, who’d shoot a man for mistreating a gal, and then toss his own coat over a puddle of mud for her to walk across. He was a cowboy filled with fiery, pioneer spirit, but still had the class of a passionate, refined gentleman.
Joe rarely gave a hoot about rules either, but he knew right from wrong, and was always willing to pitch-in to keep the Ponderosa and Virginia City safe and on the right side of the law. In the 1800’s there were many rules that men and women had to follow, but like Little Joe, in order to survive, the men and women of the West didn’t, or more likely, couldn’t follow all of the rules.
Joe portrayed a jolly cavalier, but deep down he had a heart of gold, and wouldn’t permit family, a friend, or even a stranger to be mistreated or hurt. Though the famous six-shooter wasn’t always his choice of weapon, he stood beside his brothers and fought with all the charisma and charm of a sharp-shooter.
All in all Little Joe Cartwright was your Western Romance Hero…lanky, handsome, rugged, sometimes risky, but always, always, sexy and loveable! He didn’t need the law to make him understand right from wrong, instinct told him. He was what dreams are made of…which is why he holds the hearts of so many who grew up to be western romance readers and writers.
Little Joe and the Western Romance genre are strictly American, no where else in the world can lay a claim to the “Old West”. Oh, sure other countries had their wild and rowdy times, but no one else had the vast open land west of the Mississippi—land of promise, change, beauty, wonder and riches. Of course there was also pain, hardship, broken dreams and death. Men had to be bold, women tough.
Let me ask…If there was this vast unclaimed land somewhere in the world today, with no amenities, no civilization, only the promise of a new life—if you were strong enough, lucky enough—would you do it? Would you leave everything behind to become a pioneer, a frontiersman (or woman)?
In 1890 the U.S. Census director officially proclaimed there was no more ‘frontier’ in America. What a dreadful thought! AND how wrong that director was…120 years later there still is a ‘frontier’. At least it’s there in the mind of a western romance author. Every day, new tales of the brave men and women forging their way through the Wild West hits the market, and I for one say, “Thank goodness for this genre that keeps the frontier alive! We all need a Little Joe in our lives.”
The “Little Joe” in my next book, Shotgun Bride, is Kid Quinter. The story will be released in November. Here’s an excerpt:
The dog hit her in the middle of the chest, knocking her down. Her bottom smacked the ground, making the air swoosh from her lungs. Sucking in a fresh breath, she flipped onto her knees and wrapped her arms around the head sniffing her up and down. “Sammy, oh, Sammy, I missed you so much.”
He snuggled close, his body trembling as she laid her head against his soft, silky hide. For several minutes she relished his unexpected arrival before thoughts formed. Sammy? If Sammy was here, it meant one thing…Kid wasn’t far behind.
Trembles started in her toes and rose to encompass every inch of her frame. Caused by fear or excitement, she didn’t know. Wiping at the wetness under her eyes, she gave Sammy one more solid hug before she stood, turning to the eyes boring holes in her back.
The morning sun haloed the tall frame. One foot was settled on a fallen log, making a lean leg bend at the knee. A gun belt hung low on his hips, the holster strapped to his thigh with a leather lace. Narrow hips grew into a wide, solid chest, which was partially covered by the brawny arms folded across it. As usual the top button of his shirt was undone, allowing dark, curly hair to peek out. She bypassed the face, not wanting to see the anger in those dark, obsessive eyes. His head, tilted sideways a touch, was covered with the wide hat that sat cockeyed across his dark hair. All in all, it was the vision she saw every night in her dreams.
Lack of air made her considerably dizzy. She’d forgotten how to breathe. Opening her mouth, she hoped the air would flow in on its own. It did, making her cough.
The foot stepped off the log, straightening his stance as he moved forward. Jessie held up a hand. He couldn’t come any closer, if he did, she might lose her mind and run to his arms, begging for forgiveness.
Sammy nudged her knee. She placed a hand on his head, letting it run along his back, over his lean side, between his ribs. Ribs! Her eyes snapped at the man. “Kid Quinter haven’t you been feeding this dog?”
Kid stopped, a slow smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
Her heart somersaulted.
“He wouldn’t eat.”
She frowned, rubbed Sammy’s ears. “Why not?”
“I suspect because he was missing you.”
Her fingers once again felt the stiff bones and sunken stomach. “Well you should have thought about that before you sent me away.” Shocked at her outburst, Jessie slapped her other hand over her mouth.
Kid moved forward, a chuckle floating on the breeze. “Yes, I should have.” He stopped in front of her. “I should have thought of a lot of things before I sent you away, Jessie.”
Mere inches separated them. Heat from his body hovered, teasing her with his undeniable warmth. His heavenly, musky scent filled her nose. Un-sticking her tongue from the roof of her mouth, she swallowed.
In honor of the ‘official start up’ of the Cactus Rose Blog, I will give away an e-book of Shotgun Bride on its release date, November 14, to a reader of this blog. Any person who posts a comment between now and November 13 will be entered into the drawing. I will draw a name at random and post the winner on November 14. (Your comment can be on any of the posts between now and then. The more you post, the more times your name will be entered into the drawing.)
Thanks, and I hope you have found your “Little Joe”!