Category: Contemporary Western


From Publisher’s Website

LET’S GIVE ‘EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT . . .

If gossip is the lifeblood of a small town, then Lizzy Logan has been its beating heart. After being dumped by her fiancé for another woman, she could have decided to crawl under a rock. But no, she’d rather really set tongues wagging by “moving on” with one of the hottest cowboys in Texas, who happens to live next door at the Lucky Penny Ranch. Those busybodies don’t have to know it’s actually all pretend. And just because Lizzy has no aim to tame her wild, blue-eyed neighbor doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy the ride of her life.

Toby Dawson never was and never will be the settling-down type. But what harm could there be in agreeing to be Lizzy’s pretend boyfriend? They’ll put on a show for a few weeks and be done. Yet the more he gets to know Lizzy-really know her-the harder it is for him to keep his hands off of her in private. Soon this rough-and-ready cowboy is hoping to heal Lizzy’s bruised heart and turn their fake affair into a true romance . . .

My Review:

Hot Cowboy Nights is the second book in Carolyn Brown’s Lucky Penny Ranch Series. So far, of this series, this is my favorite. I loved watching Lizzy rediscover her true self and realize how much of a controlling, emotionally abusive man her ex-fiancé actually was.

I’ve always loved stories with a heroine who knew her worth and was confident in herself and her skills, whatever they might be. Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that I also enjoy stories of heroines who either learn how strong they actually are or rediscover that side of herself, especially if that realization and change is helped by a man who values those traits.

I found myself yelling at Toby. One reason he didn’t want to settle down was because he wanted to always be able to flirt when he was out at the Honky Tonk. He just needed someone to take a 2×4 to the side of his head until he realized that he could still flirt at the Honky Tonk if he settled down. The only difference is that instead of flirting with any female in the bar, he would flirt with his other half.

Since I started reading and reviewing Carolyn’s books, there has been a definite improvement in the story telling. I’ve enjoyed the journey.

While I loved this book, I can’t quite give it 5 Horseshoes. There are some continuity issues in the story. I’m guessing that Lizzy named the kittens with Toby’s help instead of with her sister’s help. There is a conversation with Toby that starts with Lizzy saying she hadn’t named the kittens yet, but by the time they go to pick up Toby’s donkeys, she had. I’m surprised it hadn’t been caught during the final editing, but oh well.

I am really looking forward to the next book in the series, Merry Cowboy Christmas.

I give Hot Cowboy Nights a 4 Horseshoe rating.

 

 

Hot Cowboy Nights is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions. It is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

 

 

Publication Details:

Author Carolyn Brown
Title Hot Cowboy Nights
Format Ebook
Length 400 Pages
Publication Date May 31, 2016
Publisher Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 978-1-4555-3490-6

From Publisher’s Website

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendant of Ransom Canyon’s founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O’Grady…or that she has her own secret that no one living knows. 

Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand’s son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn’t imagined. 

Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn’t plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town’s weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car’s pedals, isn’t prepared for what he encounters.
In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.

My Review:

Overall, this was a good book. It was well written and there was good character development. However, I would not classify this book as a romance novel. A romance novel has a plot that is driven by the developing romantic relationship of two or more characters. This book more along the lines of Chick-Lit. While there is a Happily Ever After ending, this still wasn’t a romance novel.

This was an ensemble novel. Every few chapters (sometimes every chapter) was from the point of view of a different character. There six different points of view written in this book. All of them were written in third person, which was nice otherwise I would have been confused even with the beginning of the chapter having the character’s name. Eventually, all of the story lines collide at the end of the novel.

These types of stories are some of my least favorite to read. There are very few exceptions, but I don’t tend to select ensemble books.

There were only two story lines (which actually covers four of the characters) that I was interested in. I feel that each story line could have been it’s own story. The other story line, I’m not sure why it was included other than to give a uniting event for the climax and ending of the novel.

I give Ransom Canyon a 3 Horseshoe rating.

This book was provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ransom Canyon is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions. Also available from Barnes and Noble in Nook and Print.

Publication Details:

Author Jodi Thomas
Title Ransom Canyon
Format Print
Length 335 Pages
Publication Date August 25, 2015
Publisher HQN
ISBN 978-0-3737-8844-6

From Publisher’s Website

This cowboy is living a charmed life

Winning comes naturally to bronc rider Brady Caine. Ruggedly handsome, careless and charismatic, the rodeo fans adore him and the buckle bunnies are his for the taking. He’s riding high when he lands an endorsement deal with Lariat Western Wear that pairs him up with champion barrel racer Suze Carlyle.

Until one wrong move changes everything

A stupid move on Brady’s part lands Suze in the hospital, her career in tatters. Now it’s a whole new game for both of them. Brady is desperate to help Suze rebuild her life, but he’s the last person she wants around now. Suze’s got plenty of grit and determination—learning to trust Brady again is a very different matter.

My Review:

Thank you, Joanne! Finally a large busted cowgirl (like me) who knows the importance of keeping the girls from bouncing too much and the struggle of getting out of one of those $60 sports bras! Somehow, I’m able to ignore breast support in romance novels, but I absolutely love when an author gets it right, including the acrobatics it takes to put one on or take it off. 🙂

I swear Joanne was in my head when she wrote this story. Like Suze, I’ve always wanted a horse service animal, and I don’t know who said it to me as a child but cowgirls don’t cry (especially in public) is so seared in to my brain that I don’t think a mental health professional can remove it.

I truly love these characters; Brady with his hidden need to take care of others, and Suze with her hidden belief that she isn’t good enough for anyone. I understand the pain of feeling like you aren’t good enough for your daddy. Just like my Andy did for me, Brady shows Suze that she is good enough and doesn’t need to worry about what her father thinks (which works most of the time). It’s amazing how much love can heal.

I love stories of friends falling in love. Probably because that is how my marriage happened. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

How to Kiss a Cowboy is the second book in Joanne’s Cowboys of Decker Ranch series.

I give How To Kiss A Cowboy a 5 Horseshoe rating.

How To Kiss A Cowboy is available from Amazon in Kindle and Print editions. From Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

Publication Details:

Author Joanne Kennedy
Title How To Kiss A Cowboy
Format Print
Length 480 Pages
Publication Date February 2015
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-8369-7

From Publisher’s Website

Can a girl ever have too many cowboys?

No sooner does pint-sized spitfire Jill Cleary set foot on Fiddle Creek Ranch than she finds herself in the middle of a hundred-year-old feud. Quaid Brennan and Tyrell Gallagher are both tall, handsome, and rich…and both are courting Jill to within an inch of her life. She’s doing her best to give these feuding ranchers equal time—too bad it’s dark-eyed Sawyer O’Donnell who makes her blood boil and her hormones hum…

My Review:

Okay, Carolyn, my second favorite couple from your books is a three way tie! Trace and Gemma from Just a Cowboy and His Baby will always be my favorite but Lucas and Natalie from The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby , Finn and Callie from Cowboy Boots for Christmas, and Sawyer and Jill are in a very close second.

One of my favorite romance tropes is friends falling in love. While technically Sawyer and Jill are strangers who become friends almost from necessity, they do go from friends to a couple.

Like all of Carolyn’s heroines, Jill is smart, sassy, and isn’t afraid to kick ass. I love that being “dolled up” isn’t a priority. Like me, she is happiest in her Wranglers and boots. While very independent, Jill understands that being in a couple is about being partners and taking care of each other. It was a hard lesson to learn but she did. Sawyer needs a partner not a princess.

Jill came to Burnt Boot to help her two aunts out but quickly finds herself the center of attention in the the Brennan and Gallagher feud. One of her aunts, Gladys, has property that sits smack dab between the two feuding families, and has water rights that both families want. Bring on the hard core wooing and one up-man-ship. I’m sure Quaid and Tyrell are nice men but their courting skills need serious improvement. Hopefully they will find women, that they truly want, who will show these cowboys that money and land size doesn’t matter.

Sawyer is part of the O’Donnell clan that we met in the Spikes and Spurs series. He is the cousin of Finn and Gemma. This hard working cowboy comes to Burnt Boot originally to get away from his ex girlfriend, and to spy on his cousin Finn, but he ends up getting a foreman job on Gladys’ ranch. Because the feuding families want the ranch so bad, they each send a single lady after Sawyer so that Quaid and Tyrell have a shot at the heir of the property.

I was sad that we didn’t get to see Honey Brennan in this story. In Cowboy Boots for Christmas, Honey was sent after Finn. Her nemesis, Betsy Gallagher was in this story. I think the women in this feud spend more time fighting each other than actually wooing the cowboy they have been unleashed upon.

The feud between the Brennans and the Gallaghers crack me up. Probably because it is very easy for me to image a small town divided by one. Having grown up in a farming and ranching community that had one primary family, I’m sure that at some point in the history of the town there was a feud. But no feud will ever be as epic as the Brennan and Gallagher feud.

Sawyer and Jill make a great team. They truly complement each other well. Once they settle their minor dispute, they are a united front against the onslaught of wooing.

There were a few minor editing errors and the cover model doesn’t have the “soft black hair covering his bare chest”. (As Jill says: “… Little boys have bare chests. Men have hair. Hunky cowboys have just the right amount…”) Plus, I’m still baffled by the reasons the feuding families did a couple of things to Sawyer and Jill. However, this book deserves the rating I’m giving it.

The Trouble with Texas Cowboys is the second book in Carolyn Brown’s Burnt Boot series.

I give The Trouble with Texas Cowboys a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Publication Details:

Author Carolyn Brown
Title The Trouble with Texas Cowboys
Format Print
Length 332 pages
Publication Date January 6, 2015
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-9608-6

From Publisher’s Website

Tis the season for…
A pistol-totin’ woman who’s no angel
A tough rancher who doesn’t believe in miracles
Love that warms the coldest nights

After a year in Kuwait, Lucas Allen can’t wait to get back to his ranch for Christmas and meet his gorgeous Internet pal in person.

When he pulls in, there’s Natalie Clark right in his front yard with a pink pistol in her hand and a dead coyote at her feet.

Lucas is unfazed. But wait…is that a BABY in her arms?

My Review:

Recipe for a great Christmas season romance:
Ingredients:

  • Snow
  • Holiday Decorations
  • A Sexy Cowboy
  • A Gun Toting Sassy Cowgirl
  • An Adorable Baby

Shake until well mixed. Sprinkle in three ranchers who want to have babies around the ranch. Finally, enjoy the wonderful story that Carolyn Brown has written.

While Trace and Gemma from Just a Cowboy and His Baby are my favorite characters that Carolyn has written, Lucas and Natalie are not far behind. Actually I could easily see Natalie and Gemma being best friends (too bad it’s 300 miles between Savoy and Goodnight)!

Natalie is a handful. She is a woman who can handle ranch chores, raise a child alone, cook killer meals for the men on the ranch, and shoot better than most men. But she has been lonely since her best friend died in Kuwait. Luckily, Lucas was more than willing to fill those boots. After eleven months of chatting online, they are finally meeting. Lucas’s tour in Kuwait was done and he was coming home.

Natalie and Lucas thought they knew each other after all the hours they spent chatting online but they quickly learn that there are things you can only learn about a person when you are together. They learn to navigate through a meddling ex-girlfriend, Lucas’s male relatives, Natalie’s mother, and assistance from the ghost of Lucas’s grandmother to find love.

I loved this book. I’ve read bits and pieces multiple times since I finished it. This will be one that I will re-read regularly, not just during the holidays. I’m hoping that Carolyn will give us glimpses of these two in the other books of this series. Life for this couple will be filled with fireworks and love.

The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby is the second book in Carolyn Brown’s Cowboys and Brides series.

I give The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby a 5 Horseshoe rating.

The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions and from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook.

Publication Details:

Author Carolyn Brown
Title The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby
Format Ebook
Length 346 pages
Publication Date September 24, 2013
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 9781402280498

From Back of the Book

Being a cowboy is all he knows…

Bronc-buster Mack Boyd can ride a wild stallion to a standstill, but he can’t say no when his family prevails on him to come home and help run the ranch. The last person he expects to find there is a high-class Easterner like Cat Crandall.

But no cowboy can rein her in…

When Cat Crandall gives up a lucrative advertising job to follow her artistic dreams, she’s thinking Paris, Tuscany – not the vast and lonely Big Sky country of Wyoming. Her success at Boyd Ranch’s artists’ retreat could be her ticket to far more exotic places… but the rough and rugged cowboy she meets there is giving Cat a different kind of inspiration.

My Review:

I have read all six of Joanne Kennedy’s books and with each one she continues to improve as a story teller. Like Lori Foster, Joanne’s books quickly become comfort reads, even when you are reading the story for the first time. With every one of Joanne’s books, after I finish the story, I will go back to re-read a specific section but end up reading from that spot to the end of the book. I always find myself going back to her books.

One of my favorite things about Joanne’s story telling is that she always has a message to share. It isn’t an in your face message, but it is always there. In Cowboy Crazy, the heroine was torn between being a professional and being a country girl, and it also touched on the importance for corporations to help take care of the small towns they purchase natural resources from. In Cowboy Fever, Joanne reminds us that even people with disabilities deserve a chance at independence.

In this story, the two main messages are family first and it is never too late to follow your dreams. Sometimes I wonder if Joanne is spying on my life, and her books are her way of reminding me of the important things.

After the death of her sister, Cat finds herself stuck in a job she settled for, in a city she only likes because of the art galleries. She finally decides to take a chance on doing something she loves, art and teaching art. When she signed on with an artist retreat company, she figured she would finally see the world, but instead they sent her to a ranch in Wyoming. But Cat learns that she doesn’t need exotic locations to be an inspired artist or to be happy.

Mack, on the other hand, comes home to the family ranch to help with the artists and discovers how badly his mother was swindled by estranged husband. Over the years, Mack spent his time on the road. He used it as an escape from what was happening at home. During the two weeks he is helping with the artist retreat, he rediscovers the importance of family and having a home. The time off the rodeo circuit helps him put his priorities straight.

Those two messages are expertly weaved in to the story of romance between Cat and Mack. Just like all her other books, Joanne has a wonderful cast of characters in this book. From the emo teenager to the retiree who loves anything western. During their retreat, they all become a miss-mashed little family.

I wanted to point out that the cover art at the top of this page is not the cover art that the book was printed with. Sometimes between when I receive my Advanced Copy and when the book is actually released, the publisher will change the cover. When I discovered they changed this cover, it saddened me. There is a section in the book that this cover fits with better than the one they used.

Cat looked him up and down and decided she didn’t care as long as he wore those chaps. They might make him look like a cartoon cowboy from the funny papers, but they hugged his slim hips and emphasized his muscular thighs. The leather tie at the front reminded her of a bow on a very nice, very masculine birthday present, and it put his assets front and center….

I think of that section every time I see the cover on my Advance Copy. It always makes me smile. Anyone who has a thing for cowboys has always wanted to undo that bow… 😉

I give Cowboy Tough a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Cowboy Tough is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Cowboy Tough is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

Publication Details:

Author Joanne Kennedy
Title Cowboy Tough
Format Print
Length 371 Pages
Publication Date February 2013
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-6552-5

From Publisher’s Website

‘Tis the season for…

◇ A matchmaking grandma on a long-distance mission

◇ Mistletoe Temptation in every doorway

◇ A sexy cowboy with a killer smile

When Gran Presely agrees to sell Creed Riley the Rockin’ C Ranch for a song at Christmastime, he can hardly believe his good fortune. There’s just one little catch — her tantalizing granddaughter Sage is part of the deal…

My Review:

This was a fun holiday book. A plotting grandmother who wants to sell her ranch and see her granddaughter married to the man she is selling the ranch to. This had one of my favorite winter story tropes; boy and girl are isolated from everyone due to being snowed in. Their first night, Creed was a charming and accommodating cowboy, while Sage was being a shrew. Sage really doesn’t want her grandmother to sell the ranch and plans to do anything to run this cowboy off.

Sage is an artist and needs to create art in order to not go crazy while being snowed in. Ms. Brown did a wonderful job of describing Sage’s creative process and describing the paintings. Just from those descriptions, I would love to own some of Sage’s work. I enjoyed the regular appearance of mistletoe in the story. Each time we see the plant, it adds inspiration to Sage’s work and to her relationship with Creed.

Gran Presely really knows how to make a match that will last a lifetime.

I give Mistletoe Cowboy a 4 Horseshoe rating.

Mistletoe Cowboy is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Mistletoe Cowboy is also available from Barnes and Noble in Print and Nook editions.

Publication Details:

Author Carolyn Brown
Title Mistletoe Cowboy
Format Print
Length 333 Pages
Publication Date October 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casblanca
ISBN 9781402270154

From Publisher’s Website

She’s Got Her Eyes on the Prize…

Gemma O’Donnell wasn’t the first woman to win the ProRodeo buckle for bronc riding, but she was darn well going to be the second. What she didn’t count on was her main competition sweeping her off her feet.

He’ll Do Whatever It Takes To Win…

Trace Coleman isn’t really after a title—he needs the cash prize to buy his dream ranch. But one sexy, determined cowgirl keeps getting in his way. In his effort to take her out of the running, he risks losing both the title—and his heart.

My Review:

I have read many books by Carolyn Brown, but this one is my favorite. I have found that Ms. Brown’s writing improves with each book she writes. With this one, the writing is exciting, compelling, and makes the reader wish for more.

I have read this book three or four times. Only books that have a great story line, and characters, cause me to reread it many times. I love the characters in this story. Gemma has always been my favorite of the O’Donnell clan. I’ve loved her spunky, kick ass attitude and view on life. If something scares her, she tries harder. I was not surprised when she decided to chase the bronc riding dream. If any woman can do it, it would be Gemma. I wish she was a real person, because I would love to be her friend.

Trace is an amazing cowboy. He doesn’t want the national title for the ego boost. He wants the title just for the money so he can buy his own ranch. While competing, a woman he spent a long weekend with shows up with a baby saying it was his. Instead of signing paper work that would allow the woman to put the baby up for adoption, he took on the task of raising the child himself. But soon discovers that he needs Gemma’s help.

Gemma and Trace are amazing together. They are able to compete against each other but not hold the outcome of each contest against each other. Very few couples can do that. I’m hoping we will see some more of Gemma and Trace in future Spikes and Spurs books.

I give Just A Cowboy And His Baby a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Just A Cowboy And His Baby is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Publication Details:

Author Carolyn Brown
Title Just A Cowboy And His Baby
Format Print
Length 324 Pages
Publication Date December 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 9781402270185

From Publisher’s Website

From stable to boardroom…

Sarah Landon’s Ivy League scholarship transforms her from a wide–eyed country girl into a poised professional. Until she’s assigned to do damage control with the boss’s rebellious brother Lane, who’s the burr in everybody’s saddle. He’s determined to save his community from oil drilling, and she’s not going back to the ranch she left forever. Spurs will shine in this saucy romp about ranchers and roots, redemption and second chances.

My Review:

I think I have a new favorite cowboy. Lane is sexy, hardworking, and loves his life on the family ranch. Oh, and he rides bulls for fun. Gotta love those dare devil cowboys.

I’ve read this book three or four times since I got the ARC. Not just snippets, the entire thing. When I enjoy a book, it isn’t uncommon for me to re-read my favorite bits and pieces. But in this case, I would find myself re-reading the entire book.

Sarah reminded me a bit of myself, but I was never desperate to shed my country girl “skin”. But I did find that after I moved to Florida that I sort of lost that part of me. By going to the local rodeos, I’ve re-found that part of me. Just like Sarah does.

This book really spoke to the lost country girl within me and reminded me that I can still be a professional and a country girl at the same time.

I love how Joanne Kennedy doesn’t have a specific formula she uses for her novels. Sometimes it’s comforting to know that an author uses a formula but most of the time I find the redundancy annoying. Joanne has become my favorite contemporary western romance author.

I give Cowboy Crazy a 5 Horseshoe rating.

Cowboy Crazy is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.

Publication Details:

Author Joanne Kennedy
Title Cowboy Crazy
Format Print
Length 384 Pages
Publication Date May 2012
Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN 978-1-4022-6549-5

 

Linda Lael Miller is a multiple New York Times #1 Best Selling author for her westerns, contemporary and historical. Her first book was published in 1983 by Pocket Books. Since then, she has published over 100 books. She has written paranormal, suspense, and regular contemporary, but her love is western romance. In 2007, the Romance Writers of America awarded her the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. You can find visit her at her website, her Facebook Fan Page, and on Twitter.

Would you ever revisit some of the other genres you have written (paranormal, thriller, contemporary, historical)? 

 

I would definitely revisit those other genres—on one condition.  I would have to have a really, REALLY good idea.  I still write historicals—my Christmas books, “A Lawman’s Christmas”, “A McKettrick Christmas”, etc., are always set in the late 19th or early 20th century.  Time travel has always intrigued me, and I’m asked virtually every day when and if there will be a new Mojo book.  The answer: Yes.  Eventually.  I enjoy reading short stories and novellas by my favorite authors as ebooks, and I’m considering doing more vampire and Mojo stories in that format, though right now, I’m truthfully too busy with current projects.  Also, it’s important to mention that I LOVE writing about sexy contemporary cowboys and their smart, spirited women.

 

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Thank you to Ms Miller for coming to PonyTails today!

I am sponsoring a giveaway of 1 copy of the first book in this trilogy Big Sky Country. It is open to US and Canadian residents only. I will do a random selection from the entries for the one winner on August 10, 2012. To enter, please fill out the form at the end of the post.

BookTrib is the host for this wonderful blog tour.  Be sure to check out their website for beautiful western jewelry you can win during the blog tour!

About Big Sky Mountain:

With his rugged good looks, vast wealth and family name, hell-raiser Hutch Carmody is still the golden boy of Parable, Montana. But he’s done some growing up—making peace with his illegitimate half brother and inheriting half of Whisper Creek Ranch, which should have been all his. These days, Hutch knows there are some things money can’t buy: like the heart of loving, ladylike divorcée Kendra Shepherd.

Kendra’s quiet mansion reminds her of what she wants most—a devoted husband and the pitter-patter of little feet. She can’t get Hutch Carmody out of her mind. But a rough-and-tumble cowboy like Hutch, coming home for family dinner? Seems crazy! Then again, crazier dreams have become reality under the vast Montana sky.

Big Sky Mountain is available from Amazon in Print and Kindle editions.