Monday, April 7, 2014

Blog Tour Stop: How to Handle a Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy (Guest Post, Review and Giveaway)

Please join me in welcoming Joanne Kennedy to Debbie's Book Bag today. Joanne is here promoting the first book in her Cowboys of Decker Ranch series, How to Handle a Cowboy. Enjoy her guest post, along with my review of her book and a giveaway.

My Favorite Scene

I always love the “meet cute” in romantic comedies, whether I’m reading a book or watching a movie. It’s best in books, because you have the advantage of reading the characters’ minds when they first meet each other, and then you get to see how that perception changes as they get to know each other and finally fall in love. 

This scene from How to Handle a Cowboy is social worker Sierra Dunn’s first encounter with rodeo cowboy Ridge Cooper. She’s been informed by her boss that a local resident has volunteered to coach the foster kids she cares for, but she’s expecting a soccer or football coach—not a cowboy who wants to teach the kids to rope and ride.

Sierra headed for the front door, wondering what kind of sports coach Phoenix House’s owner had come up with. Mike Malloy was the son of a senator and an overgrown frat boy. His friends reminded Sierra of a bunch of overweight Labrador retrievers, falling all over the place with their tongues hanging out. They were rude but good-natured, handsome but a little soft in the gut. 

Swinging the heavy wood door open, she gaped at her guest. Surely, surely this wasn’t any friend of Mike’s. 

There wasn’t an ounce of frat boy in this guy. Not an ounce of fat, either. 

Just to make sure, Sierra let her gaze drift downward from the brim of his battered felt hat to his broad shoulders and muscular chest, which were both hidden—unfortunately—by a plaid Western-style shirt. He was wearing some kind of fancy belt buckle too, with a picture of a horse on it. Squinting, she tried to read the lettering around the edges but found herself distracted by the very obvious bulge beneath it.  The jeans fit just fine everywhere else but seemed a bit strained here. 

The hat. The hat. Look at the hat. And stop staring at his—his whatsit. 

She’d once heard a country song about how you could gauge the quality of a cowboy by the condition of his hat. Barstool cowboys had shiny new hats, but real cowboys had hats that had been through everything from snowstorms to stampedes. 

This guy was apparently the real thing, and the battered brim shaded the hard gray eyes of an outlaw. His jaw was darkened by stubble that made him look like he’d just come off the Chisholm Trail with Kevin Costner and Tom Selleck, though she suspected he could outride and out-rope both of them. 

“I’m supposed to talk to the manager,” he said. 

He didn’t sound like Kevin Costner or Tom Selleck. He sounded like Sam Elliott, all gravelly and masculine. His voice curled into Sierra’s ear and slid down her backbone, coiling up somewhere warm and making it even warmer. 

“The manager?” he repeated. 

Sierra sighed. At five foot next-to-nothing, with short, blond hair and dimples that popped into being if she even thought about smiling, she was rarely taken for authority. Certainly no one ever guessed she’d been a Denver cop for three years. 

Then a child abuse case inspired her to go back to school, majoring in social work and child psychology. When she’d returned to Denver as a social worker, she’d worked some hard cases in dangerous neighborhoods. It had been her oversized tough-girl attitude, born from a childhood on those same streets, that kept her safe.

It was her tough-girl attitude that got her the job at Phoenix House, too. These kids needed special protection, and her combination of a social work degree and law enforcement experience had made her the perfect applicant. 

So where was that tough-girl attitude now? 

Evidently it had taken a break to curl up in her belly with Sam Elliott’s voice. 

I hope you enjoyed the scene. Ridge and Sierra seem like total opposites, don’t they? But they have more in common than you think…

Book Information:

How to Handle a Cowboy (Cowboys of Decker Ranch - Book 1) by Joanne Kennedy

Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Imprint: Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
ISBN-10: 1402283660
ISBN-13: 978-1402283666

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Joanne Kennedy on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, goodreads

Excerpt from, How to Handle a Cowboy, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


His Rodeo Days May Be Over...
Sidelined by a career-ending injury, rodeo cowboy Ridge Cooper feels trapped at his family's remote Wyoming ranch. Desperate to find an outlet for the passion he used to put into competing, he takes on the challenge of teaching his roping skills to five troubled ten-year-olds in a last-chance home for foster kids, and finds it's their feisty supervisor who takes the most energy to wrangle.
But He'll Still Wrangle Her Heart
When social worker Sierra Dunn seeks an activity for the rebellious kids at Phoenix House, she soon learns she's not in Denver anymore. Sierra is eager to get back home to her inner-city work, and the plan doesn't include forming an attachment in Wyoming—especially not to a ruggedly handsome and surprisingly gentle local rodeo hero.


Joanne Kennedy brings readers the first book in her new Cowboys of Decker Ranch series. How to Handle a Cowboy is a heartwarming story about kids and adults who might be considered damaged. Kennedy shows how one person can make a difference in someone's life and readers will find both love and hope in this remarkable story. Readers who love a good cowboy romance will quickly fall for the resilient and protective heroine, Sierra and the big-hearted cowboy, Ridge. Their story is poignant and one readers won't soon forget.

What I liked:

There are so many things about this book that I could write about here. Once in a while a romance will come along that transcends the idea of what romance is all about. How to Handle a Cowboy is one of those few. It has not only the sweet and loving romance between the heroine and the hero, but it is also a story about loving the unloved. The five rowdy little boys that make this story so special and not only great secondary characters, but they show the spirit and resilience of children who have been put through the wringer. Kennedy gives readers two different kinds of love stories in this book and that makes it completely unforgettable.

Sierra, the heroine, is not without her own issues. She did not have the best of childhood experiences, so she has a kind of kinship with these boys that not many could understand. When she becomes their foster mother, she is determined to give them the love they so desperately need. But not only that she wants them to find acceptance and understanding in their community as well. A tall order for kids who come the kind of background these kids do. I loved Sierra's commitment to making the world a better place, to providing a loving home for these boys and her undaunted spirit. Kennedy gives readers a heroine with a true heart for service.

Ridge is the kind of hero that readers will quickly fall for. He had his life all planned out. The rodeo was in his blood and he so passionate about it. Readers could feel his untamed spirit, and need for the rush of the rodeo. When all that is taken away due a serious energy Ridge is more than just at loose ends, he is restless like the stallions he once rode. He is driven, but driven to what, now? He was a man who needed a new purpose and he found it in teaching and mentoring these boys about life and how to live it. What a remarkable character and the relationship that he fosters with these children was a testament to one person's ability to change the world. Especially the world of five troubled little boys.

The romance between these two characters, wasn't all about misunderstanding and break-ups and filled with all the angst of failed attempts to communicate. It was just a sweet and loving romance that builds from a searing attraction. When these two finally connect the situation is combustible. Both are passionate about different things in their lives and from the outside looking in are probably not a good match. But you can't help who you love most of the time and it's a good thing because they were meant for each other. Kennedy really impressed me with her ability to give readers double the love in this one. Can't wait to see how Ridge's other brothers find their own happy ever after's.

What I didn't like:

I thought Kennedy did a great job with this book. She balances the relationship between heroine and hero against their relationships with the boys with a deft hand. Being from Kentucky and being a former horse owner and rider, I thought the way the boys interacted with the animals was probably not as accurate as it could be, but that certainly did not take away from the story. Kennedy should be granted a little lee-way because of the scope of this amazing book. It's all about hope, not about which side of the horse you get up on.

Bottom Line:

If you love a good cowboy romance, this one is a cut above the rest. It gives the reader not only a feel good love story, but also gives them hope, that the world can be a better place, where people do show love and respect and help each other and those who need it. A fantastic book.

How to Handle a Cowboy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Joanne Kennedy's lifelong fascination with Wyoming's unique blend of past and present inspires her to write contemporary Western romances with traditional ranch settings. In 2010 she was nominated for a RITA award for One Fine Cowboy. At various times, Joanne has dabbled in horse training, chicken farming, and bridezilla wrangling at a department store wedding registry. Her fascination with literature led to careers in bookselling and writing. She lives with two dogs and a retired fighter pilot in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of How To Handle a Cowboy and a special gift from the author, Joanne Kennedy.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, April 21st.

1. Please leave a comment about your experiences with either foster children or the rodeo.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


Joanne Kennedy said...

Wow, Debbie! Thank you for the apples:) and the wonderful review. I'm so glad this book gave you a good reading experience. I'm happy to have written a book that might give people hope, and maybe even inspire them to make their own effort to change the world.
I'll be stopping by for the next couple days to answer any comments readers would like to leave. Thank you for hosting me, and I'll check in later!

Charlotte said...

I know do not know anything about either subject you asked about.

holdenj said...

I have attended one rodeo, but it was as part of a state fair, so I don't think it was quite as big as a real one. I thought roping looked like one of the hardest things.
Thanks for the review and chance to win! Congrats to Joanne on the new release!

Texas Book Lover said...

Can't say I have had any experience with either. My nephew used to love going to rodeos when he was little but I personally have never been. i've read a few series about them and loved them.

Joanne Kennedy said...

You're right - the roping looks hard to me, too. It's very precise, and not only does the cowboy have to be good with a rope; his horse has to be incredibly well-trained. I think roping horses are the smartest horses at the rodeo.
The other rodeo sport that looks hard to me is steer wrestling. That's where the cowboy throws himself off a galloping horse onto the horns of a running steer and wrestles the animal to the ground. It's just plain crazy!

Joanne Kennedy said...

The rodeo sports I like best are the traditional ones that have some relationship to actual ranch life. Bronc riding was actually the way they "broke" horses back in the day; now things are very different and horses are usually "gentled," thank goodness. Roping is also an essential ranch skill.
I find bull riding exciting to watch, but what working cowboy ever really needed to ride a bull? That's why I'm not a huge fan of bull riding.

Anonymous said...

I have no experience with either.
Love cowboy stories.

Natasha said...

I used to go watch the rodeo all the time when I was little. It was so much fun!
Thanks for the chance to win!

bn100 said...

none with both

RAnn said...

Do fishing rodeos count? We used to love to go look at the big fish.

Sue Farrell said...

When I grew up I lived near a large Indian reservation and those many, many years ago a lot of Indian children were taken from their parents and placed in white homes. I remember on family had 4 or 5 Indian girls as foster children and use them to run their resort---just free labor to them. Those girls always seemed so quiet, shy, and sad at school. Not a good memory for me.

Anita Yancey said...

I don't have any experience with foster children or the rodeo. I hope to go to a rodeo one day. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Elizabeth Schroedle said...

I have been to the Mesquite Rodeo several times. The calf roping and bull riding are exciting to me.

lag123 said...

I don't have experiences with either. I am raising my two grandsons however, because their mom passed away a couple of years ago and their dad chooses to not be present.
lag110 at mchsi dom

Anonymous said...

I have no experience with either.
Patty B

Anonymous said...

I also have no experience with either one.