“The Virginian?” you ask.
This 1902 novel by Owen Wister, “almost single-handedly established the cowboy archetype” (Recorded Books Classic Library).
While today’s readers may be disappointed that scenes of hanging and shooting don’t occur until three-quarters in, some might appreciate the story’s deep philosophical character study. BUT what female can resist the romantic hero? Why the cowpuncher’s three-year courtship of high-spirited Molly Wood of Vermont is more tender than even Jane Austen could have imagined.
Interestingly, Wister’s description of the handsome hero did not make me envision Gary Cooper or James Drury, but rather my great-grandfather, a once-living ringer for the fictional character.