Interview with Joanne Kennedy – & giveaway!

Joanne KennedyLast year I made a resolution to read all of the novels that had been nominated for a RITA in the contemporary romance category, and I discovered a few new favorite authors. Joanne Kennedy was one. Her stories of ranch life in Wyoming are full of heartbreak and joy, laughter and tears – exactly what I want from romance novels!

I’m so happy she’s here today, and she’s giving away a copy of her latest release, Cowboy Crazy. Welcome, Joanne!

Thank you! I’m happy to be here, too. Your blog was a great discovery for me, too. You seem to like the same authors I do, especially in contemporary romance. And I loved your review of “Cowboy Crazy.” Of course I always like positive reviews, but you seemed to really “get” the book in a way that made me feel like I’d succeeded in what I was trying to do with the story.

Tall Dark and Cowboy1. Many of your stories feature a character who has been transplanted from somewhere else – or who’s been away from home for several years – and has to get used to life in Wyoming. I know you’re not originally from the West, so what took you to Wyoming, and what was the biggest culture shock for you?

I guess you could say I ran away from home. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but I definitely found it in the West. The biggest culture shock was a good one; I was surprised at how much tradition and history are blended into modern life here. There are still cowboys and ranchers, and people are very friendly, with old-fashioned manners and values. Out on the back roads, there are still small towns with no chain stores, just mom-and-pop businesses and a real sense of community.

2. I have to confess, the cover of Cowboy Crazy is one of my all-time favorite romance covers. Give me a man full of good-humor any day over a sultry, unsmiling hero. Do you have a favorite cover?

This one comes very close to being my favorite! But it might have been eclipsed by the new cover for Cowboy Tough, which is coming out in February. There’s something about a man in a white T-shirt…and the chaps don’t hurt. He’s not smiling, but the Sourcebooks art department did such a good job of finding my hero that I know there’s a sense of humor under that hat!

Continue reading “Interview with Joanne Kennedy – & giveaway!”

Contemporaries to covet in June – and giveaway!

Spring in our local park
Spring babies in our local park

Happy Memorial Day to my U.S. readers! And happy Pentecost Monday to European readers! Yes, today’s a holiday in many countries, including the Netherlands, and I’m about to celebrate the end of a bad head cold by snoozing among the ducklings in our local park.

Anyhoo…It’s that time of the month again! Time to gab about the contemporary romance releases we’re most looking forward to.

Every month, I tell you which contemporary romance novels I’m looking forward to, and I ask which new releases you can’t wait to read. I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a $10 gift certificate for herself AND for the contemporary romance author she recommends.

Ready? Here are the June releases I’m loving!

Cowboy Crazy by Joanne Kennedy

Cowboy CrazyShe kicked the country dust off her boots a long time ago…

Sarah Landon’s Ivy League scholarship transformed her from a wide-eyed country girl into a poised professional. Her job at the Carrigan Oil Company has given her the sophisticated life she longed for, but when she meets her boss’s black-sheep brother, she realizes her roots are showing.

But he’s ready to remind her she’s a cowgirl at heart.

Rebellious rodeo cowboy Lane Carrigan is determined to save the Wyoming community of Two Shot from the ravages of energy development, but Sarah’s convinced her old hometown needs a swift kick in the pants from the march of progress.

When a lapsed cowgirl collides with rodeo royalty, it’s bound to be a wild ride—and somebody’s going to end up in the dirt.

My two cents:

I’ve got such a soft spot in my heart for Joanne Kennedy’s cowboys. They’re sweet (though I’d never say that to their faces!) and totally devoted to their heroines.

This novel is a great read – you can find out more in my recent review of Cowboy Crazy.

Release date: June 1, 2012

Buy Cowboy Crazy on Amazon
Buy Cowboy Crazy at Barnes & Noble

Continue reading “Contemporaries to covet in June – and giveaway!”

Review: Cowboy Crazy by Joanne Kennedy

Cowboy Crazy by Joanne Kennedy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An emotional read about the dangers of hiding the person you really are

Cowboy CrazySarah Landon escaped from tiny Two Shot, Wyoming, to go to an Ivy League school. But her sister’s hard times have brought her back – well, to a small city an hour from Two Shot. Tragedy after tragedy haunted her teenage years, and she’s traded in her spurs for heels and a suit.

Working in public relations at Carrigan Oil Company soon means that she has to relate to the public she was desperate to get away from. And it also means relating to the boss’s brother, rodeo cowboy Lane Carrigan, a rich man who’s more cowboy than most cowboys.

Lane’s brother wants to drill for oil on his ranch. But Lane’s so attached to the land he can’t stomach the thought of it being polluted or spoiled. He’s also seen what those kinds of projects do to small towns – bringing in transient workers who ruin them before leaving.

But Sarah’s determined to change his mind. In fact, her job – and her sister’s survival – depend on it.

I’ve only read one other Joanne Kennedy book (One Fine Cowboy, and I find the themes she explores really fascinating. In Cowboy Crazy, we have two characters who have fought against their own upbringings, only to discover who they really are when they’re faced with losing everything they thought they valued.

I love characters who have deep-seated secrets that they’re running away from. Sarah has rebuilt her life and strives to become a woman she thinks she should be – until Lane comes along and shows her that the only woman she should be is herself.

This is a truly touching story that will grab any reader who’s struggled to be comfortable with who they really are.

Have you read any of Joanne Kennedy’s books? What did you think?

View all my reviews

Eleven romance authors I “discovered” in 2011 – & giveaway!

Mistletoe Madness 2011This post is part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. If you’re here for the first time, welcome! I blog about contemporary and historical romance, and I have weekly giveaways. (This one is an added bonus.) I hope you’ll consider subscribing and visiting again sometime.

I’ve heard some lovely stories about parents who mark their children’s growth by writing them a letter every birthday and recounting all the things they’ve learned to do.

I’m a bit too old for my mom to do that, so I measure my own growth in my own ways. One of my favorites is by reflecting on much-loved authors whose books I hadn’t read a year ago. These are authors who gave me the thrill of discovery and inspiration – what more could you ask for?

Here are 11 romance authors I “discovered” this year. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of them, and I’m making it my resolution to interview the others in 2012.

1. Shannon Stacey: Heartfelt, funny contemporary romance

2. Jane Graves: Contemporary romance that tugs the heartstrings

3. Catherine Mann: High-octane military romance (Catherine will be here the week of December 26 giving away Hot Zone!)

4. Brenda Novak: Romantic suspense that’ll keep you up all night!

5. Katie Lane: Quirky, hot small-town Texas romance

6. Laura Lee Guhrke: Stunningly beautiful historical romance

7. Shana Galen: Absolutely fantastic historical adventures

8. Suzanne Brockman: Her contemporary romance Infamous made me cry.

9. Vicky Dreiling: Wickedly witty historical romance

10. Sarah MacLean: Laugh-out-loud-funny Regency romance

11. Joanne Kennedy: Fun and poignant contemporary cowboy romance

Giveaway!

Since this is part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop, there are a few ways you can win cool stuff.

1

Win a $10 book gift certificate and some chocolate on my blog. (Open internationally)

Chocolate stars ornamentLeave a comment below telling me an author you became a fan of this year. On December 23, I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a $10 (or equivalent in your currency) gift certificate to an online book retailer. I’ll also send you this ornament filled with chocolate stars (fake tree not included), which will hopefully arrive in time for you to share them at a New Year’s party!

2

Enter to win a Nook! (U.S. only)

If you live in the U.S., you can also sign up for the Nook giveaway on PJ Schnyder’s blog, as part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. The Nook is loaded with books, so you can discover lots of new authors in 2012.

3

Visit other bloggers giving stuff away.

On PJ Schnyder’s blog, you can find links to all the other bloggers giving away cool stuff during the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. Go give ’em some love, and you could win cool stuff from them!

Who are your favorite new authors that you’ve discovered in 2011?

Who will win the RITA for best contemporary romance?

Since the Romance Writers of America announced the finalists for the RITA award back in March, I’ve been reading all of the nominated novels in my favorite category: contemporary single-title romance. Some of the authors are old favorites of mine, and some were new to me.

The winners will be announced on July 1, and I’m lucky enough to be in New York for the party. They’re fantastic novels, and I can’t wait to see who wins.

Best of luck to their authors!

Not That Kind of Girl by Susan Donovan

Not That Kind of Girl coverRoxanne Bloom launches a man-hating blog after overhearing her ass-hat boyfriend denigrating her bedroom skills to his friends – men she has to work with. Her now-ex breaks into her house and threatens her, until her man-hating pit-bull-Boxer mix nearly rips his throat apart. Roxie finds herself being sued and fighting to keep her dog alive. The only person she can count on is Eli Gallagher, the hottest dog whisperer around.

Eli’s used to being top dog, but can he help both Roxie and her dog feel secure enough that they let go of their angry aggression?

Read more about Not That Kind of Girl

The best parts

Susan Donovan does an amazing job of creating emotional intensity between her hero and heroine. Almost all the novels of hers I’ve read feature couples who spark immediately, and the flames grow hotter and deeper as the story develops. Plus, this novel contains the canine equivalent of a Regency rake: a pit bull most people think is irredeemable but who turns loving and loyal thanks to a woman’s devotion.

Still the One by Robin Wells

Still the One by Robin WellsWhen she was 17, Katie Charmaine had a summer fling with Zach Ferguson and ended up pregnant and boyfriendless. She gave her newborn daughter up for adoption – a heartbreaking experience she never revealed to anyone except the man she ended up marrying. But after her husband dies in Iraq, leaving her childless and grief-stricken, Zach returns to town with their 17-year-old daughter – a girl who’s pregnant and desperately needs parents.

The best parts

I cried. No, I bawled. The tenderness and conflict between each of the characters is realistic and satisfying. I loved that the author allowed Kate to have a wonderful relationship with her late husband, and that Kate struggles to overcome her grief before falling in love with Zach.

And One Last Thing… by Molly Harper

And One Last Thing coverWhen Lacey Terwilliger discovers her husband Mike is screwing his artificially enhanced secretary, she doesn’t just get mad; she gets online. Having sacrificed her own career to support his business, she writes one last email newsletter to his clients, family and friends, telling them exactly what a dickless wonder Mike is. Her revenge backfires, though, and she flees to her cabin to get away from her nagging, gossiping neighbors.

Fortunately for her, a hot author named Monroe lives next door. Can she convince him she’s not another psycho divorcée like all the others who’ve thrown themselves at him?

Read more about And One Last Thing

The best parts

Molly Harper’s voice rocks. She’s like a twisted version of Kristan Higgins. Her characters are witty and clever – except for the morons you’re not supposed to like. This novel is funny, tender, sweet and sexy, so it hits all the right spots. If you have a thing for Hugh Jackman, read this book. That’s all I’m sayin’.

One Fine Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy

One Fine Cowboy coverPsychology grad student Charlie Banks is sent to observe a horse whisperer in Wyoming. Unfortunately, the horse whisperer, Nate Shawcross, has no idea his ex-girlfriend took people’s money and promised them Nate would run a horse clinic. He’s shocked when cute Jersey girl (and PETA activist) Charlie shows up on his ranch, hauling her attitude with her. Nate’s ranch is in trouble, though, and he can only save it by putting on a good show for the group of greenhorns that arrive for his clinic. And he desperately needs Charlie’s help to make the clinic a success.

Read more about One Fine Cowboy

The best parts

This novel is the closest I can remember coming to a hero who was abused by a former partner. Although Nate’s ex-girlfriend didn’t hit him, she manipulated him so severely that his personality and confidence are shot. His insecurity when it comes to women is so endearing, and I loved the scenes written from his point of view. He wants to please Charlie, but he struggles hard to find ways to do so. Massive kudos to Joanne Kennedy for such a daring—and well-written—portrayal.

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Simply IrresistibleIn one week, Maddie finally gets rid of her abusive boyfriend, loses her job because of it, and finds out her mother has died. Though she and her mother were estranged, Maddie and her two half-sisters inherit a falling-down inn on the coast of Washington.

Maddie’s learned that trusting men can be a dangerous thing, but when she hires the sexiest contractor for miles around, she learns that love starts with that trusting herself.

The best parts

The hero, Jax, is among the best contemporary heroes I’ve ever read. He’s strong without being obnoxiously alpha. He’s supportive without being a pushover. And he’s thoroughly addictive. For the last couple of months, I’ve returned to this novel over and over, rereading my favorite parts. It’s so high up my keeper shelf no one will be able to touch it.

Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl

Lead Me On by Victoria DahlJane Morgan is the ultimate professional woman, but she hasn’t always been. In fact, she has completely turned her life around from the chaos she experienced growing up. She’s full of secrets—like that most of her relatives are convicts and that she earned herself a reputation when she was far too young—but there’s one thing she can no longer deny herself: hot sex with a tough-looking man.

But as her perfectly composed life begins to unravel, William Chase proves he’s a hell of a lot more than a working class stud service.

The best parts

Victoria Dahl’s contemporary characters break all the molds, and it’s truly a joy to see their layers peeled away to reveal people who are unlike any others I’ve seen in romance. Jane’s shame over her past decisions is gut-wrenching, and her growth over the course of the novel is painful to experience but all the more satisfying because of that. Chase may look like an ex-con, but he displays the stalwart character of superman as he supports Jane through her struggles. This is such a beautiful, sexy, funny story that I took the bus to work because I couldn’t bear to put it down.

Nothing but Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Nothing But Trouble by Rachel GibsonHockey player Mark Bressler made his living on the ice, but when his Hummer hits a patch of black ice and flips, Mark’s career instantly ends and he’s left in excruciating pain to watch his team win the Stanley Cup. No wonder he’s pissed at the world.

But when failed actress and assistant to B-list celebs Chelsea Ross is hired to nurse him back to health, Mark’s pity part is over. With her bossy manner, she soon has Mark frustrated in altogether more pleasant ways.

The best parts

The sex. Rachel Gibson writes very hot contemporary romance, and her hockey players are among the sexiest professional athletes in the genre. Mark Bressler and Chelsea Ross have such a strong connection that it’s explosive when they get together.

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Happy Ever After by Nora RobertsFour friends run a wedding business. They plan a lot of weddings.

The best parts

This is the last in a quartet about women who run a wedding business. There’s at least as much focus (if not more) on the women’s friendships as there is on the romance between Parker and Malcolm. The hero doesn’t even feature in the back-cover text. But if you like reading about wedding details—from cakes to flower arrangements—you’ll probably like this book.

Have you read any of these? Who do you think will win?