Interview with A.J. Pine (Exclusive Giveaway!)

Interview with A.J. Pine

For our latest All About Cowboys interview, we spoke with romance author, A.J. Pine. For those who don’t know, A.J. recently released her book Tough Luck Cowboy and her hero from that book, sexy rancher/bull rider Luke Everett, is the Cowboy of the Month over at Forever Romance, which includes a fantastic character interview of Luke and an excerpt from the book so be sure to go check that out. Right now, though…let’s talk cowboys with an author who writes them so well.


Author of Tough Luck Cowboy

A librarian for teens by day and a romance writer by night, A.J. Pine can’t seem to escape the world of fiction, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. When she finds that twenty-fifth hour in the day, she might indulge in a tiny bit of TV [HL1] to nourish her undying love of vampires, superheroes, and a certain high-functioning sociopath detective. She hails from the far-off galaxy of the Chicago suburbs.

You can learn more about A.J. Pine at, as well as follow her on Twitter and  Facebook


An exclusive interview with A.J. Pine

We often hear about “the cowboy code,” what do you think it is and how do you think it pertains to romance heroes today?

AJ: Hi Deanna! First, thank you for inviting me to the blog to talk about one of my favorites—cowboys!

I think the cowboy code boils down to three main ideas: honor, respect, and loyalty. Put those three together in a modern romance hero and put that same hero on the back of a horse, and it’s one heck of a sexy package.

What part of that code do you think appeals to romance readers and why do you think it resonates the way it does?

AJ: While cowboys who keep to the code possess many admirable qualities, I also think the code helps boost the conflict in a romance, and I mean that in the best possible way. A cowboy who wants to respect and do right by the woman he loves may distance himself from her if he doesn’t think himself worthy of her. A loyal cowboy may harbor feelings for his best friend’s ex but knows he can never have her because he’s loyal to his friend, so he pretends like he can’t stand her. And there’s your perfect enemies-to-lovers scenario. I might be speaking from the experience of writing a cowboy hero or two, by the way. But I think what resonates here is that we get introduced to these men we know have their own strict set of rules, and they’re sexy because of their adherence to these rules, yet we want to see them happy, which sometimes means bending or breaking the code. But of course the romance cowboy redeems himself when he does.

How do you think this code of ethics helps you in creating the emotional entanglements the heroes in your stories face?

AJ: Ha! I think I spoiled question 3’s answer in question 2. See above for great conflict, thanks to the code!

Have you ever intentionally written a hero that went against “the cowboy code” and if so, why did you choose to take that route and what kind of impact did it have on your hero’s emotional journey?

AJ: Yes! Book three in my Crossroads Ranch series, which will release in early 2019, is Walker’s book. He’s a hero we’ve seen throughout the other novels, and he is not your typical keep-to-the-code kind of guy. He’s been living with tremendous guilt from something that happened with him and his brothers when they were teens, and because of that experience (and likely heredity), he became an alcoholic. For the first two books, when he was a secondary character, Walker was so far from the code, he couldn’t even see it. In his book, after a New Year’s Eve bender that ends pretty badly, he finally decides to try to regain control of his life. Of course, that’s right when he meets the woman he never knew he needed in his life—the one person who never knew him before that New Year’s Eve night and the one person from whom he can keep his past a secret.

I chose to take this route with Walker because it was his natural progression. All three of the Everett brothers (Jack in book 1, Luke in book 2, and Walker in 3) are contending with a tumultuous past in their own ways. Jack is the strong, silent type who feels unworthy and keeps his distance. Luke is the one hell bent on not breaking the loyalty part of the code. And Walker—well—he has to relearn the code and be willing and able to live by it after so many years of living otherwise.

What do you think is the major appeal of the cowboy romance hero?

AJ: Aside from looking good in a Stetson and a worn pair of Wranglers? I think there’s something super sexy about a man who lives by a code and who works with his hands—well, his whole body, really.

If you could choose one trait that defines a cowboy romance hero in your mind, what would it be and why?

AJ: Stubborn. Haha. And just like I said above with the code causing conflict, I mean stubborn in the best possible way. A cowboy romance hero lives his life on his own terms, which means when the right woman comes along, that whole way of living gets thrown so out of whack that he fights it at first. The best romance novels are full of tension, and we need that conflict to drive that tension. Thanks to the code, it’s always there with our horseback riding romance heroes.

Who is your ultimate cowboy hero and why do you love him?

AJ: Oh, to choose one wouldn’t be fair, so how about my cowboy of the moment? A recent read is Carolyn Brown’s new release, Cowboy Bold. I’m a mom, so I’m pretty partial to heroes who are good with kids, and Cade Maguire is a rancher who turns his ranch into a camp for underprivileged kids each summer. I mean, talk about a man keeping to the code. If that doesn’t make you swoon, I don’t know what will.

Do you have a favorite cowboy book or cowboy quote to share? (We’ll take cowboy-themed recipes, too!)

AJ: Oooh, recipes are fun! How about some super easy crockpot chili? I love this recipe (for which I cannot take credit…it’s from a friend), and it lends itself to modifications based on whatever your personal tastes are. I bring this to an annual chili cook-off every year, and it’s always a hit. Warning—I don’t really measure ingredients. I just add to taste. But the bonus? It basically cooks itself!

Dump in the crockpot and let simmer:

  • 2-3 cans of Hunts Garlic and Herb tomato sauce
  • 2 small cans of dark red kidney beans (don’t drain…just dump right in)
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • Chili powder (I do this by taste, adding a few shakes to start and then more as it cooks)
  • Cumin (about half as much as the chili powder)
  • 5-6 shakes of chipotle pepper

Brown two pounds of ground beef/turkey/etc. (I make mine a turkey chili). Season with garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Brown, drain, and add it to the crockpot. Cook on high for two hours, and enjoy!

***I’m super hungry now after writing this out. 😉


Crossroads Ranch #2

From this “fabulous storyteller” (Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author) comes a sweet western romance between a rodeo cowboy and his best friend’s ex-wife.

What’s the saying, bad luck comes in threes? If so, Lily Green is due for something good. First, her divorce is finalized—on her birthday, no less. Then the first job she lands for her catering company turns out to be for her ex-husband’s wedding. To top it off, she’s stuck working the event with Luke Everett, the sexy-as-hell best man who’s never been able to stand her. When can a girl catch a break?

For years, Luke has kept his feelings for Lily safely hidden. Hitting on his best friend’s ex-wife would definitely break the cowboy code of honor. But ever since an injury sidelined his rodeo riding, the two of them keep getting thrown together. It’s only a matter of time until his true feelings come to light. When that happens, it will either be the biggest mistake of his life, or a sign that his luck is about to change.

320 Pages

Forever Romance

Published Aug. 28, 2018

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Interview with AJ Pine


For U.S. and Canada residents only!

Enter to win one of three print sets of the Crossroads Rance series by A.J. Pine—Second Chance Cowboy and Tough Luck Cowboy. Winners will be chosen at random from all entries received. Make sure we have your name and a reachable email address so we can contact you should you win.

* This giveaway is sponsored by Forever Romance *

Leave a comment below about your favorite cowboy romance hero and you’ll be entered to win one of three print sets of the Crossroads Ranch series by A.J. Pine.

Deanna | OkieDreams

Deanna Lynn has been a substitute teacher, a baker, a website designer, a ceramic artist, a business co-owner and a sales and marketing manager for a ceramic shop in Oklahoma. She reads widely, laughs often and loves to talk about writing, books, and this confusing thing called life.

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