From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Time was when Tim McGraw's love life had the makings of a bad country ballad. The low point came at a dance at St. Frederick High School in Monroe, La., back in 1984. "My date said, I have to go to the bathroom,' " recalls McGraw. "She left and never came back. The only thing was, she left her purse in my car. So at 1 o'clock in the morning, I'm sitting on the hood of my car—the only one in the parking lot—waiting for her to come get it."

Bad move, sister. With 13 chart-topping singles—and a smile that could light Nashville at night—McGraw, 32, is one of country music's most coveted cowboys. Few women seem bothered that he's already married to country star Faith Hill. "Don't get me wrong," says fellow crooner Patty Loveless. "He's nice to look at, but love is the sexiest thing, and he wears it well."

It's not the only thing that looks fine on McGraw's 6-ft. frame, which he keeps trim with regular workouts at a home gym. Though still partial to Levi's 501s, he also favors Armani jackets and Richard Tyler suits. "Tim combines this really rugged look with sophistication," explains his hairstylist Earl Cox.

Along with a healthy dose of modesty. Growing up in Start, La., McGraw was so shy that he had his sister ask her friend to be his prom date. "Even when he started touring, he'd have his road manager ask girls out for him," says his mother, Betty Trimble, who became pregnant with Tim at 19 after a brief affair with his father, Tug McGraw, then a minor league pitcher who went on to play for the New York Mets. (Tim now sees him only occasionally.) "Faith," adds Trimble, "thanks me all the time for his softer side." And for encouraging him to cook. "When he was courting me, he showed up at my doorstep with his homemade chicken and dumplings," Hill says. Today, McGraw is chief chef at the three-acre Brentwood, Tenn., spread that the couple share with their first two releases, Gracie, 2, and Maggie, 1. Eventually, he hopes there'll be more mouths to feed. "Ideally, we'd love five kids," says McGraw. "I always wanted boys, but in a way I want it to stay this way. Just keep having girls. That way I'll always dress good."