ARC Two-Fer Review – Cowboy Tough by Joanne Kennedy

Ms. Kennedy wrote a love story with a twist and it was a fantastic journey through the lives of several people who would have never crossed paths outside of the Boyd Dude Ranch. ~ Guilty Pleasures

She’s hardly a cowgirl…

Cat Crendall left a successful advertising job in New York to teach art workshops in the wild west. The Boyd Ranch is hardly her dream destination, but if the outing’s a success, the company will send her to more exotic locations.

But once a cowboy…

Mack Boyd was in the middle of the best bronc-riding season of his life when his mother asked for help with an artists’ retreat at the ranch. Mack might be able to ride a wild stallion to a standstill but he can’t say no to his family.

Cat and Mack are complete opposites…but when the ranch is threatened financially, can they set aside their differences and work together?



I’m pretty lucky as a reviewer to be given a chance to read advance copies of books by authors I love and Joanne Kennedy happens to be one of them. Cowboy Tough is her latest western romance and she is one of those authors who know how to create that feel of a setting that you want to go there and live it for yourself. Each one of her stories is unique and they stand alone which makes it interesting to me because you never know what you are in for.

Cat Crandall is a graphic artist who is suffering a bit of burnout from her Chicago advertising job and needs a change. She accepts a temporary job with Art Treks to teach water coloring at a dude ranch in Wyoming and hopes that this will become permanent and allow her to travel and pursue her art. She is also using this excursion to reconnect with her niece Dora, who recently lost her mother, Cat’s sister. She wants to live life to the fullest in search of life’s fulfillment and a chance to reconnect with her grief-stricken and troubled niece. She’s putting all her hopes into this 2 week class to give her what she wants and isn’t going to let one good-looking wrangler of a cowboy derail those plans no matter how much she feels an attraction.

Mack Boyd has returned home because the family ranch is in financial straits. His mother has resorted to turning their cattle ranch into an art destination in order to make money after her second husband took the ranch’s money and ran out on her. Mack has put his bronc riding career on hold in order to help out his mom and will do whatever it takes to make the art instructor happy. Mack came across as a smart individual and let his past experience with his ex-wife and teen daughter help him with both Cat and Dora. He may not think he knows what he is doing but it is exactly what Cat needs. Sometimes it takes a third party to show when to back off or make an effort, and Mack cared for Cat very much. He figured this is one way he can show how much he cares.

I love opposite attract stories because you wonder how they could ever make it work and what kind of compromise they each have to make to be with the other. The author takes a citified girl and puts her out in the West and watches her adapt to her surroundings one day at a time. Cat may see a rundown ranch when she arrives but soon it grows on her and she wonders if she can return to her life in Chicago. She’s a bit of an independent hippie in my opinion and doesn’t react like I thought she would but could use the support of a man once in a while. I like that about her. She has the best intentions of taking this time to reconnect with her niece Dora but I wonder if she really is doing it for Dora or for herself. Over time you see her priorities change and with that you see her grow as a person. And when she finally gives into the attraction for Mack there are some beautiful love scenes aren’t too explicit but definitely you can feel the intense heat between the two lovers. Mack falls for this woman who is so unlike anyone else he’s known and somehow has to make Cat sees that they belong together and has to make her see it too.

Cowboy Tough is a story with an emotional journey of moving past grief and trying to find what truly can make one happy.

Relationships are complicated and getting answers to life’s questions aren’t always easy ones to face and Cat and Dora have to face some hard ones. There are other colorful characters and subplots to go along with the main plot that add to the story and move it along. I truly like Ms. Kennedy’s writing style because she writes real people with real life situations and I begin to care for them. She writes great western stories that shouldn’t be missed so go check them out.

4silverstars (1)


Cowboy Tough was an inspiring and hot read. Anyone who is a little insecure about themselves, has a teenager or just doesn’t know if or when true love will ever find them, will totally relate to this book.

Cat Crandall is an artist stuck in a dead-end job in Chicago. She just lost her sister and is reevaluating her life. She couldn’t stand the thought of returning to the advertising job she had so signed on with “Art Treks” in an attempt to see the world and get back to being a real artist. Maybe she could get her niece, Dora, to open up and become the artist she thought she could be.
Mack Boyd had a dream of being a champion bronc rider in the rodeo. He was living that dream until his life fell apart. His father passed away; his ex-wife won’t let him see his daughter and now he has to act as the “wrangler” on a dude ranch in order to save the ranch that was almost bankrupted by the con-artist his mother married.

Dora is a very angry 15 year old. She had issues before her mother passed and her issues became increasingly worse. She’s mad at God for taking her mother. Mad at her mother for not fighting the cancer harder. Mad at her Aunt Cat for still being alive. Now she’s thrown into this trip to Wyoming with her and fighting her every step of the way. She doesn’t want to paint, she doesn’t want to be with Aunt Cat and she really doesn’t want to be loved by her. She really wants to tend to the horses and made a point of telling Cat every chance she got.

The above are the three main characters in the book and what is bringing them together. But, the full cast of characters is what makes “Cowboy Tough” such a wonderful, fun read. Such an eclectic group you will never find. They are all brought together through “Art Treks” to learn how to paint in a “rustic” setting. Well, they get rustic; they learn different painting techniques; they scheme to bring Mack and Cat together; they fall in love with Dora; and, in the end, they come to the rescue of the ranch and it’s owners in one of the funniest scenes I have read in a long time.

I have to commend Ms. Kennedy for the realism she brought to this book. Her description of Dora and how a 15 year old would act was spot-on. You are put on the Dora roller-coaster and you go through all her emotions with her. From hate to love to gratitude. We see it in all of our teenagers and it’s nice to know that we aren’t the only ones confused as to how to handle them. She brings Cat and Dora together with the help of Mack and his love for Cat. And what a wonderful journey that was. When Cat finally realizes that she can have fun with Mack and help Dora, sparks fly! And the “roll in the hay” was … well let’s just say that he was gentlemanly enough to put a blanket down before, as Dora would say, they did the “nasty”. Then there are all the back-stories, from the stalker to the biker with the lizard tattoo, that ties this book together and makes it come to life. They bring real life to the book and you’ll fall in love with just about all of them. Trevor, well, not so much – you will want to string him up.

I absolutely enjoyed the writing of Ms. Kennedy. It was crisp, fun and very realistic. She wrote a love story with a twist and it was a fantastic journey through the lives of several people who would have never crossed paths outside of the Boyd Dude Ranch.

4silverstars (1)


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6 thoughts on “ARC Two-Fer Review – Cowboy Tough by Joanne Kennedy

  1. Thanks for the reviews – I love how each reviewer gets something different or unique from each reading

  2. This is another new author to me & I have recently been getting into cowboy romances (Carolyn Brown & Lori Wilde). This sounds like a great story & I am putting it on my list. Thanks for the review!

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