The best gritty western historical romances for lovers of the show The English (who wanted a HEA)

Why am I passionate about this?

As an only child of a working mother, I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons with John Wayne. I graduated to movie nights at the theater with Clint Eastwood. My hero-worshipping crush on tough guys combined with my passion for romance novels and my fascination with the history of the American West made me the perfect candidate to write gritty, romantic westerns. My very first book, written over 30 years ago, was a western.

I wrote...

Beauty and the Bounty Hunter

By Lori Handeland,

Book cover of Beauty and the Bounty Hunter

What is my book about?

Cathleen Chase was an unassuming farmer’s wife until her husband was gunned down in front of her. Desperate for revenge, she offered con artist Alexi Romanov anything if he would school her in the art of the dodge. Alexi didn’t realize he’d turned Cathleen Chase into Cat O’Banyon, a ruthless bounty hunter who would stop at nothing to catch the man who murdered her husband, until she was gone. Now she’s back with a bounty on her head and needs Alexi’s help. But, again, he has his price. Again, she will pay any cost.

To survive, they must trust each other, but in a relationship forged from deception and lust, is trust even possible?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Silver Lining

Lori Handeland Why did I love this book?

The day I found Maggie Osborne was the day I found a kindred western romance novel-writing soul. Her heroines are the kind of tough that won the west. They didn’t need a man; they could tame that place themselves. However, if a worthwhile male comes along... they can be persuaded.

I read every book Maggie ever wrote, but Silver Lining is the one I remember the best. Low Down is not your typical romance novel heroine. She’s rough, gruff, and tough. And she only wants one thing—a baby.

Not a husband, mind you, just a baby. In the 1800s. How she gets one, makes for one of the best yarns I’ve ever found.

By Maggie Osborne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silver Lining as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as “one of the best writers in the business” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, multi-award-winning author Maggie Osborne delivers hilarious and heartrending tales of resilient women full of grit, pride, and dignity who shine through hard times. Now meet the most irresistible and independent heroine of them all, a woman called Low Down, who never had anything good happen to her until the day she asked for the one thing that only a man could give her. . . .

As scruffy and rootless as the other prospectors searching for gold in the Rockies, Low Down wanted nothing in return…

Book cover of Always to Remember

Lori Handeland Why did I love this book?

This novel takes place during the post-Civil war period, so it is not “technically” a western though it does take place in Texas. However, it has that gritty reality and deep, dark emotion I search for in my favorite novels.

The hero is tortured. The heroine is vengeful. They come together and terrible, difficult, life-changing, and character-building plot twists happen. They choose each other, above all odds.

If you want proof that love conquers all this is the book. I have never forgotten it.

By Lorraine Heath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Always to Remember as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Branded a traitor and imprisoned for refusing to fight for the Confederacy, Clayton Holland returns home to Cedar Grove, only to be spurned by the townspeople, except for vengeful Meg Warner, who finds her hatred and grief transformed by love.

Book cover of Fall from Grace

Lori Handeland Why did I love this book?

It has been years since I read this novel and I still vividly remember the “Wow, this is good stuff and I want to write something just like this” feeling it gave me.

Take a strong woman beset by unbelievable odds, add a dark, dangerous, tortured anti-hero. Sprinkle a little vengeance on top, then mess it all up with love.

Oh, baby! Yes, please!

By Megan Chance,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fall from Grace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1997.

Lily lost her childhood the day the Sharpe gang murdered her parents and “adopted” her. Soon, she was “Lily the Cat,” a wanted outlaw herself, ruthless and smart. But Lily bided her time and planned her revenge, betraying them all and making her escape, running for the life that should have been hers.

But she reckoned without Texas Sharpe, the man who loved her, married her and defied his father for her. And Texas was about to show Lily just how ruthless a man betrayed could be....

Book cover of Cash

Lori Handeland Why did I love this book?

Sexy, lazy, drawling, dangerous, womanizing, gambling gunslinger. Who can resist that? Add in a secret baby, a lost love, and the end to an epic western series.  

Sure, I wrote 3 of the books in this 6 book set, but when I read Cash, I bawled. I lived with the Rock Creek Six for long enough that they felt like family and if you read about them, they’ll feel like family to you as well.

Sexy, dangerous, haunted-by-their-pasts family. But family.

By Linda Winstead Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you liked the Magnificent Seven, you’ll love the Rock Creek Six!

Six elite Confederate soldiers band together after the War Between the States, hiring out their guns to protect lawless towns. Violence is all they know, until they make their way to Rock Creek, Texas.

Rock Creek is the only place gunslinger Daniel Cash dares to call home, even though he’s surrounded by constant and annoying reminders that the others have moved on. His friends have made lives and families for themselves, they’ve finally left the war behind. He never will.

Nadine Ellington, a girl from his past, comes…

Book cover of Redeeming Love

Lori Handeland Why did I love this book?

Redeeming Love is a retelling of the Biblical story of Gomer and Hosea, set during the California Gold Rush, with a heroine who was sold into prostitution as a child and a hero who heeds God’s call to marry her and love her unconditionally.

I have always been drawn to dark heroes, in both my reading and my writing, but this book is all dark heroine and after reading it I wanted to write a few dark heroines too. The characters in this book have stayed with me for years as I’ve endeavored to create something as powerful as Redeeming Love.

When asked if there is a common theme that runs through all my novels, I realized I write books where the characters will do anything for love. Sometimes “anything” isn’t pretty. Sometimes “anything” is scary. But love is worth the risk.

By Francine Rivers,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Redeeming Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER * SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE starring Abigail Cowen, Tom Lewis, Nina Dobrev, with Logan Marshall Green and Eric Dane, special appearance by Famke Janssen. Distributed by Universal Pictures with a screenplay by Francine Rivers and D.J. Caruso


Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. A child prostitute, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and…

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Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

Book cover of Returning to Eden

Rebecca Hartt Author Of Rising From Ashes

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Idealistic Storyteller Teacher Mother Seeker

Rebecca's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Looking for clean romantic suspense with spiritual undertones?

Look no further than the Acts of Valor series by Rebecca Hartt. With thousands of reviews and 4.7-5.0 stars per book, this 6-book series is a must-read for readers searching for memorable, well-told stories by an award-winning author.

A dead man stands on her doorstep.

When the Navy wrote off her MIA husband as dead, Eden came to terms with being a widow. But now, her Navy SEAL husband is staring her in the face. Eden knows she should be over-the-moon, but she isn’t.

Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has no recollection of their fractured marriage, no memory of Eden nor her fourteen-year-old daughter. Still, he feels a connection to both.

Unfit for active duty and assigned to therapy, Jonah knows he has work to do and relies on God, who sustained him during captivity, to heal his mind, body, and hopefully his family.

But as the memories lurking in his wife's haunted eyes and behind his daughter's uncertain smile begin to return to him, Jonah makes another discovery. There is treachery in the highest ranks of his Team, treachery that not only threatens him but places his new-found family in its crosshairs.

Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

What is this book about?

Presumed Dead, Navy SEAL Returns Without Memory of His Ordeal in the Christian Romantic Suspense, Returning to Eden, by Rebecca Hartt

-- Present Day, Virginia Beach, Virginia --

A dead man stands at Eden Mills' door.

Declared MIA a year prior, the Navy wrote him off as dead. Now, Eden's husband, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has returned after three years to disrupt her tranquility. Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, he has no recollection of their marriage or their fourteen-year-old step-daughter. Still, Eden accepts her obligation to nurse Jonah back to health while secretly longing to regain her freedom, despite the…

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