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>Joanne Kennedy & Hot, Dark and Cowboy!

>Today I’m happy to welcome Joanne Kennedy!  Joanne’s newest cowboy romance, Tall, Dark and Cowboy with Sourcebooks released November 1st and is available everywhere books are sold (links below).  I’ve got my own review for you and an interview from Joanne. 

As always, we’ve got some great giveaways as well!  Danielle at Source has generously offered 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy for giveaway today and I’m giving away five custom handmade bookmarks!  So get out there and tell us what you love most about cowboys! YUM!

She’s looking for an old friend. . .

In the wake of a nasty divorce, Lacey Bradford heads for Wyoming where she’s sure her old friend will take her in. Bit her high school pal Chase Caldwell is no longer the gangly boy who would follow her anywhere. For one thing, he’s now incredibly buff and handsome, but that’s not all that’s changed. . .

What she finds is one hot cowboy. . .

Chase has been through tough times and is less than thrilled to see the girl who once broke his heart. But try as he might to resist her, while Lacey’s putting her life back together, he’s finding new ways to be part of it.

Available at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Booksamillion | iTunes

My Review:There are three things I’m a sucker for: A tortured hero, a reunion story and, yes, a hot cowboy. And while it may seem like this predisposes me to fall for Hot, Dark and Cowboy before I ever opened the pages, believe it or not, I’m not that much of a pushover. While those story lines may initially hook me, they don’t keep me if the writing’s weak or the pacing’s sluggish or the characters’ are lack-luster.

Which means my love for Hot, Dark and Cowboy is genuine.

I always enjoy a strong heroine, and while I don’t like where Lacey has been—acting as a trophy wife for a wealthy older man, I do appreciate that’s she’s learned from her mistakes and is now standing on her own, bent on making a new life for herself. I love her smart mouth and the way she holds her own with the sexy, Alpha cowboy she’s paired with.

Chase’s past is more heartrending—the farm boy turned mouthwatering cowboy. His longstanding infatuation and unrequited love for Lacey makes him the instant underdog we root for and shows the reader he’s got the staying power for a lifetime. He is endearing, pleasant and entertaining throughout.

The chemistry between Lacey and Chase is hot and grows hotter with each encounter. The love scenes are steamy and passionate – have something cold to drink nearby.

This is one of those books I love to hate…those, “Okay, just one more chapter…” books that have me up until two in the morning when my eyes are burning and I can’t keep them open any longer.

This is the first of Joanne’s books I’ve read — it definitely won’t be the last! Joanne’s writing is clean, her dialogue is fun and witty and her pacing is fast.

Tall, Dark and Cowboy is a fun, fast, entertaining read!

Now, more from Joanne:

Joanne, tell us about Tall, Dark and Cowboy.
“Tall, Dark and Cowboy” is about Lacey Bradford, an ex-trophy wife who flees a dangerous divorce and runs to the one person who’s always cared about her. But her old friend Chase Caldwell has changed from a gangling farm boy into a sexy, muscular cowboy, and the loss of his family turned him into a bitter and resentful man who’s not about to help the woman who broke his heart. Lacey decides it’s time to end her habit of letting men take care of her and begins to build a new life of her own in Chase’s adopted Wyoming hometown. But when her ex’s criminal cronies turn up, the cowboy can’t resist helping a damsel in real distress.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today?
I love the characters. On the surface, Lacey is different from most of my heroines. She was raised to privilege, and she’s a little spoiled. But deep down, she’s a strong, resilient woman—and Chase brings out the best in her. As for Chase, he’s a good man struggling to rebuild his life and overcome bitterness and sorrow.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?
Lacey doesn’t realize that her ex-husband cheated Chase’s family out of their property. He lost the future he’d always counted on, and he thinks it’s Lacey’s fault.

What is your strategy in creating antagonists/villains?
I think antagonists are the hardest characters to create, because they so easily devolve into stereotypical villains. I was struggling with this in an earlier book when I went to a great workshop by agent Donald Maas. He pointed out that in the villain’s mind, nefarious actions are totally justified. Everyone thinks they’re the hero of their own story, so I try to see the plot from the villain’s point of view. It helps me see that they’re simply flawed people too, just like the hero and heroine. It’s just that their flaws are worse!

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
The book is about starting over, in your life and in your heart. Chase and Lacey both need to learn to put the past behind them. It’s about forgiving yourself and the people around you so you can be your best, truest self.

How does your family view your writing career?
My husband helps a lot with the website and newsletter, but more importantly he’s proud of me and very understanding about my occasional spaciness when I’m lost in a book and not thinking clearly about the real world (that happens a lot). He’s funny, supportive, and understanding. No wonder I write romance novels.

What is your writing routine?
I’m not really a morning person, so I take care of the business aspects of writing in the mornings. Creativity sets in around 11:00, and I work on and off for the rest of the day. There’s no set routine; I just write whenever I don’t have to do something else.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?
I love Facebook! I’ve met so many people online that I consider friends, and it’s so easy to keep in touch and share what we’re doing. It’s great that when you “click” with someone at a conference or writing retreat you can keep in touch so easily. And by the way, I’m listed on Facebook as “Joanne Kennedy Books.” I post lots of fun Western stuff and try to give readers a sense of what it’s like to live in Wyoming.

What are you reading now?
I just read The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring. I loved it; the characters are wonderfully real. Now I’m reading The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker, which is also fabulous and beautifully written. I read a lot of romance too – I’m just going through a literary fiction phase right now.

What would you like to tell readers?
Just thank you! It means so much that people want to share the world I write about and spend time with the characters I create. I love what I do, and I know I’m very lucky to have the support of readers.

What did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I’ve worked in bookstores most of my life. I owned a used and rare bookstore, and managed several independent and chain bookstores. It’s really a dream come true to have my own books on the shelves.

I’ve also been interested in animals all my life, and I’ve dabbled in everything from chicken-keeping to horse-training. That’s why my books always have animal characters that are as important as the human ones.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Stories are important, but characters matter most. When we think of the classics we loved, we don’t think of the plots; we think of Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, Heathcliff, Scarlett O’Hara. Strong, true-to-life characters create their own stories and make a book memorable.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I think it’s essential for writers to know as much as possible about the mechanics of putting a plot together and creating an arc for readers. I don’t do a lot of outlining or preparation, but that knowledge is a part of me now and definitely informs my writing. You have to study and learn until a sense of story becomes internal, something that’s automatic.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A comfortable desk so you don’t hurt yourself spending hours crouched over the computer. A space, however small, where you have a few personal talismans and touchstones that remind you of your true self. A willingness to accept and learn from criticism, and a desire to make every story the best it can be. Most important of all—a supportive family.

What do you most like about writing? Least like?
What I like is the way stories unfold and fit together. Sometimes different aspects of a voice “click” in a subconscious way and it feels like magic.

What I like least is sitting at a computer all day! I recently had neck surgery and it’s frustrating that I can’t stay at the keyboard as long as I want to.

What would you say is your biggest writing quirk?
Writing itself is just one big quirk. It’s never off my mind. Everywhere I go, I listen for snippets of conversation and look for events and people I can use in my books. It makes life brighter and more meaningful when you know you can save pieces of your experience and show them to other people.

Which is your favorite of the books you have written?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! I love Cowboy Trouble because it was my first-born and has so much of “me” in it. I love One Fine Cowboy because the hero of that story, Nate, has connected amazingly with readers, and because it won me an RWA RITA nomination, which was an honor I didn’t expect. I love Cowboy Fever because I admire the heroine so much and it’s about therapy riding, a cause very close to my heart. And I love Tall, Dark and Cowboy because while Lacey and I are very different, we had to learn the same lessons and find our strength.

What are your current projects?
I just finished my fifth book, Cowboy Crazy, which stars a rodeo cowboy. I’m very excited about it, and think it might be my best—although I love the one I’m working on now, which is called Cowboy Tough. It’s about a New York artist who comes to a dude ranch to teach painting workshops and butts heads with their outfitter, a former rodeo cowboy.

Where can we find you online?
My website is at www.joannekennedybooks.com, and I’m on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joanne-Kennedy-Books/114277591920110.

We’ve got 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy for giveaway and 5 custom handmade bookmarks! So get out there and tell us what you love most about cowboys!

About the Author

Joanne Kennedy is the author of three previous contemporary Western romances for Sourcebooks. She brings a wide variety of experience, ranging from chicken farming to horse training, to her sexy, spicy cowboy stories. She is a 2011 finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA© Awards, for One Fine Cowboy.

Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on her next book, Cowboy Crazy (June 2012). For more information, please visit http://joannekennedybooks.com/.