Tag: Joanne Kennedy

Guest Review: Tall, Dark, and Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy

Posted November 17, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Judith’s review of Tall, Dark and Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy

Stunned by the discovery that her lux lifestyle was funded by crime, runaway trophy wife Lacey Bradford is desperate to escape from her ex’s criminal cronies and start a new life, so she heads west to find an old love.

But rugged rancher Chase Caldwell has changed, hardened by bitterness and loss. The last thing he’s looking for is romance with the first woman who broke his heart…
Regret is an inevitable part of human living. I doubt there is a person on the planet over the age of 18 that doesn’t now or hasn’t felt regret in the past. Everyone makes mistakes or makes decisions that end up being less than helpful or positive, thinking short time or possibly refusing to consider the long term ramifications of decisions. We have all be there. Joanne Kennedy has crafted a novel built around two characters who are filled with regret–lost love, lost hope, a sense of being betrayed by people and life in general. Loneliness seems like a close companion and friendship is almost non-existent except in the most facile sense. Yet there is something about the indomitable strength of the human spirit that lives underneath the obvious aspects of this story and the people who populate this fictional space.
Broken hearted and feeling betrayed by what were once alluring possibilities for a happy future, Chase literally takes up space in his world, spending his time at the used car lot, knowing that there won’t be much business in this small town where he knows everyone. He closes up shop every night and winds his way home to spend another lonely evening taking care of his ranch, watching TV, and wondering how he is going to survive the flat life with which he is now saddled.
Lacey remembers her life and the man she walked away from. Now she is aware that the husband she thought was an upstanding guy is really a criminal, a person who pays her bills and clothes her body and provides a roof over her head by feeding drugs to kids, loans money and beats up people when they can’t pay, whose “associates” are all deeply involved in every kind of criminal activity. The simple life of her growing-up years calls out to her as a possible refuge from people who shame her, and she manages to get just far enough that she can land on Chase’s doorstep. And what does she find? A warm, welcoming smile, a sense of coming home, or a close embrace? Not on your life!!
Yet underneath the disappointment and the crush of hopes unfulfilled are two people who still resonate when they are in each other’s presence. That’s what makes Chase so angry. Lacey was out of his system, right? Wrong!! Yet she has changed, too. This story is another example that somehow people manage to stubbornly seek second chances, work so hard to find a bit of ease and emotional “coming home” when it almost seems hopeless.
I have to own up to liking stories like this. There is something in me that responds to the hopeless with that deep desire to see people find a way to put their lives back together, this time in a way that can bring fulfillment and purpose to each of them as well as forming a relationship that is, in itself, a positive testimony to the power of love to heal and rebuild lives that have, for all intent and purpose, hit bottom.
Ms Kennedy is a writer who really manages to tell a good story. Her tales are based in reality and her characters smack of people you and I know really live somewhere in the real world. Even her secondary characters bring color and reality to the scenario that forms the back story and backdrop to the story. And while I’m at it, I congratulate the editors for publishing a piece of fiction that is not laced with grammatical errors, misspelled words or verbal tenses that don’t match the rest of the sentence. A good author deserves good editing.
Most of us know people who struggle with the burden of feeling that they can’t quite manage to get where they want to be because of bad choices, unwise relationships that have caused residual damage, or emotional baggage that won’t go away. We want to help, but few of us know how. Perhaps reading stories such as this novel can not only entertain but manage to expose the reader to some possible choices and solutions–expand the reader’s consciousness to understand others better. I find that good fiction can do just that. It is a part of the joy of experiencing an author’s creativity.
If you like people stories that are set in real life, this will be a good reading experience for you. If you haven’t read any of Ms Kennedy’s stories you owe it to yourself to experience her expertise at least once.
I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr. J’s Book Place
This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: One Fine Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy

Posted October 4, 2010 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Ames‘ review of One Fine Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy

When brilliant, beautiful graduate student Charlie Banks comes to Wyoming for a conference on horse communication, the last thing she expects to get is a lesson in love from sexy horse trainer Nate Shawcross. While Nate’s always had a way with horses, it’s the women in his life who have left him with romantic scars. But when Nate enlists Charlie to help him rehabilitate an abused stallion, she can’t help but be wooed by his soft touch and gentle voice. And though he’s been burned in the past, Nate is finding it harder and harder to hide his heart from the sexy greenhorn.

I picked up this book because of the cover. I’m a sucker for horses.

Unfortunately, I’m not a sucker for people, especially annoying heroines. *sigh*

Charlie is a graduate student in psychology and her student advisor is sending her to Wyoming from New Jersey to study interspecies non-verbal communication.  So she’s carted off to a horse whispering clinic for some objective observation.  Except PETA-member Charlie is anything but objective when it comes to animals and her perceived mistreatment of them.  When she sees Nate riding his horse – she thinks he’s the worst kind of human, forcing animals to do things they don’t want to do.  I like Nate’s explanation to Charlie.  He points out the horse’s teeth and size (over 1,000 lbs, thank you very much) and says there’s no way he’d get this horse to do anything it didn’t want to do.  I just felt that Charlie’s attitude went a bit far.  And hello – girl from New Jersey, where do you get off judging cowboys?

Once Charlie makes it to the ranch with Nate’s help (he rescued her from a flat tire in the middle of nowhere), Charlie quickly realizes that she’s been had.  Nate, our horse whisperer, is not even aware that he’s supposed to be teaching a bunch of people.  His ex-girlfriend set the whole thing up with a fake brochure, took all the deposits and ran with the money (and something else important to Nate).  But Charlie has quickly come to like Nate and decides to stick around and help him out – at least until someone pays the rest of their fees and Nate can give her the money to head back to Jersey as quickly as possible.

I don’t know where to begin with this book.  It definitely had potential to be a cute story, but I was just annoyed by it in the end.  Charlie is annoying – her initial bias towards cowboys notwithstanding, she does something stupid with a stallion and she liked to run away from things.  Her and her mother had The Plan and I get where her mom is coming from but Charlie is an adult.  Ok, first The Plan.  Charlie’s mom had Charlie really young and so gave up all her dreams to raise her baby girl because the father ran off.  Fine.  So Charlie grows up and refuses to let any man get close because she doesn’t want to be abandoned like her mom.  Issues, much?  It’s called protection but Charlie took it too far.  She was going to throw everything away because of The Plan.

Then there’s the ending.  Nate is the strong, silent type.  He doesn’t waste words.  But it’s to the point where he doesn’t tell Charlie some pretty important things (like that he loves her) and just assumes that Charlie is going along with his plans – when he hasn’t even told them to her in the first place!  Then Charlie and Nate like to jump to conclusions.  Annoying!  I get that Charlie does it to protect herself from hurt – she’d rather see the worst in people because she’s already looking for it anyway.  But for Nate?  It didn’t fit – and for thinking the woman he loves is driving away, he’s pretty complacent with it.

Despite all these annoying, niggling details, I enjoyed the story at the heart of this book.  A city girl in the country, a wounded man more comfortable with animals and not quite sure how to talk to women?  Nate was totally endearing.  And the thing that was taken from him?  Awwww!  I like how Charlie made him a better person.  He was kind of a doormat to his first girlfriend but being with Charlie showed him how things ought to be between two people who love each other and that gave him the guts to fight for what was his.  And she showed him his potential.  He’s the kind of guy who lives in a ranch house that his grandmother decorated and things still look the same.  He doesn’t embrace change – but he welcome the whirlwind called Charlie into his life.  And yes, once Charlie got over herself and saw how Nate worked with the animals, she wasn’t too bad, really.  She was a real help to Nate and made him believe in himself.

One Fine Cowboy gets a 3 out of 5 from me.

This book is available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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