Rebekah Weatherspoon’s latest romance, A Cowboy to Remember, gives the Western romance a glossy, fairy tale makeover by using it as the setting for a modern take on “Sleeping Beauty.” When chef Evie Buchanan suffers from amnesia after an accident, she goes west to Big Rock Ranch to recover with the fabulously wealth and charismatic Pleasant family. Evie grew up with the Pleasants, and experienced both first love and first heartbreak with Zach, one of the family’s dashing brothers. We talked to Weatherspoon about updating the Western romance, her biggest influences as a writer and more.
What have you enjoyed about writing a modern Western? And what drew you to that subgenre in the first place?
Horses. I love horses. I’m secret horse girl at heart, and I love a man who knows how to take care of a horse. It’s like a man who’s good with dogs or babies. Throw in a cowboy hat and I’m done for. I also love writing close-knit families and tight groups of friends. I really got to do that with the Pleasant family and the gang at Big Rock Ranch.
“I’m secret horse girl at heart, and I love a man who knows how to take care of a horse.”
A Cowboy to Remember uses and subverts the amnesia trope in such fun and interesting ways! What did you like about it as a trope, and was there anything you wanted to specifically avoid while using it?
It’s not actually a trope I’d thought about much before. I was thinking of how I could do a twist on "Sleeping Beauty," and a coma wouldn’t really work. Amnesia popped into my mind, and as I researched it more, I thought I could make it work for this story.
Zach tells Evie both the broad strokes of their fight and that he still has feelings for her fairly early on in the book. What did that choice open up for you, and did you ever think about putting those moments further into the narrative?
With the amnesia and Evie being isolated with all of the Pleasants, I knew there was a chance it would feel like Evie had no one to advocate for her. The only thing that made sense to me was honesty. I didn’t want to Zach to keep things from her.
You’ve said that this book is a play on “Sleeping Beauty”—and since A Cowboy to Remember is set in the fictional town of Charming, California, will the other books be fairy tale themed? And what is your favorite fairy tale?
Book two will feature Zach’s younger brother, Sam, and that will be a play on “Cinderella.” Book three, featuring their eldest brother, Jesse, will be a play on “Beauty and the Beast.” I think “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite fairy tale, followed closely by “Cinderella.”
Who are your biggest influences as a writer?
That’s a tough question. I admire a lot of writers, but when I read a good book it inspires me to keep writing in my own way. I can trace pivotal moments in my career to Stephenie Meyer and J.R. Ward because I was disappointed with the way people of color were treated or omitted from their paranormal work. Beverly Jenkins and Anne Rice inspired me to write happy stories and sexy stories.
"Beverly Jenkins and Anne Rice inspired me to write happy stories and sexy stories."
There were so many supporting characters that I adored and wanted to know more about in A Cowboy to Remember! Do you have a favorite? And did any character surprise you in how much fun they were to write?
I love Corie. Every family needs a loud play cousin. Miss Leona, because she’s the ultimate grandmother I never got to experience. Jesse was a surprise for me. I knew he was going to be there, but when I handed in my first draft I added a note that said I might add more Jesse. My editor came back with MORE JESSE!!!
Of all the incredible dishes made by Evie and Miss Leona in this book, which would you most like to sample for yourself?
I love a good carbonara. I’d eat that every day of the week.
What was the hardest part of this book to get right?
The hardest part was keeping it under 8,000 pages long. I could write about the Pleasants and the ranch forever. I had to limit myself to the pages of one book.
What’s next for you?
Sam’s book—If the Boot Fits (out 10/27)! He’s a sweetheart and I’m looking forward to sharing his story.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of A Cowboy to Remember.
Author photo © Kyle Skryker.