Spotlight & Giveaway: Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas by Joanne Kennedy

Posted September 22nd, 2020 by in Blog, Spotlight / 70 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Joanne Kennedy to HJ!

Hi Joanne gand welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas!


Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Battered and exhausted, Griff Bailey finishes a long deployment and realizes the one place he doesn’t want to be is the only place that will take him in—his father’s Wyoming ranch. With his family away, he’ll have it to himself at least until Christmas—and that’s a very good thing, because he needs time to recover, mentally and physically.
On arrival, he’s shocked to discover Riley James is living there through the holidays. A popular local renovation expert, she’s been installing bathrooms and repairing the porch, getting the place ready for its eventual debut as the Diamond Jack Dude Ranch.
She had no idea Griff was coming, and he startles her from a bath. She greets him in a towel, her eyes wide and terrified, and her fear of him breaks his heart and makes him realize how much he’s changed. Before he left for boot camp, he and Riley had a night to remember—but apparently, it’s a night they need to forget. Griff knows he’s broken by his war experiences, and not fit for any woman.

Unfortunately, Riley doesn’t have anywhere to go, either. She normally lives above Boone’s Hardware, but the owner’s family has moved in and they’re convinced Riley is a gold-digger taking advantage of their elderly brother. They point out that a woman with Riley’s history of addiction and poverty doesn’t really belong in the little town she loves, so she’s planning to move away once Christmas is over.

Fortunately, Griff and Riley have more friends than they realize, all of whom do their best to help them realize their love. Now the couple just has to learn they’re not broken as they believe themselves to be—and the love between them makes them stronger together.

Please share your favorite quote from this book:

I enjoyed writing a Christmas book so much! Some of my favorite parts are where I got to write about the magic of the holiday:

“As she handed out gifts and smiled for the photographer, she knew the magic of this night would get these kids through the year to come. For this one night, bullies would make peace with their victims, and their victims would forgive them. Hostilities in broken families would cease for the day, and parents who fought grinding poverty all year would somehow treat their kids to a family meal and a few treasured gifts. Quiet kids learned to laugh and even shout, while kids who couldn’t seem to do anything right sensed love and approval from Santa, from partygoers, and maybe even from their parents for once. Meanwhile, the carols made everybody feel clean and holy inside.”


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • Bruce is based on my big dog Jesse, who was happy to inspire the canine hero of a romance novel but didn’t want his real name used. He’s shy like that, and was worried about being mobbed by female stalker-dogs. Bruce follows me everywhere (parents of toddlers don’t get to pee along and neither do I!) and sleeps with my cats. Check out my Facebook page to meet him and all the other critters who inspire my animal characters.
  • Quite a few characters from the Decker Ranch series make an appearance in this book. At the Christmas party, Brady Caine from How to Kiss a Cowboy is set to play Santa until he’s derailed by food poisoning; Sierra from Phoenix House is there with her brood of foster kids, too. I loved writing about Isaiah again!
  • The book is light and fun, I promise, but it has a serious side, too, in that it deals with Griff’s PTSD. I’ve had experience with it myself, so I did my best to get deep enough into his mind and heart to show how hard it is to get through every day when you’re haunted by the past.
  • Riley is my favorite heroine ever. She feels so real to me I wouldn’t be surprised to see her walking down the street in Cheyenne, or picking up ice cream at the mini-mart. I just love her, and hope you will, too!


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

Riley James was slight as a ballerina, but nobody who knew her ever asked her to dance. She preferred a tool belt to a tutu, and her walk, usually in steel-toed work boots, was an ungainly git-‘er-done stomp.
But rising from the steaming luxury of the Bailey’s jetted bathtub made her feel like Venus on the half-shell, or maybe Beyoncé at Coachella. She’d gotten herself profoundly filthy demolishing her client’s front porch, and while that always made her happy, it felt even better to be clean. Wrapping her long hair in one fluffy cotton bath sheet, her body in another, she hummed along with Johnny Cash—her father figure, her man in black, the patron saint of recovery. The Man was proof that a life can change, and his songs were her Bible.
Glancing at the polished pink marble walls of the Bailey’s elegant bathroom, she caught her rosy reflection staring back, all clean and serene. That serenity hadn’t come easy. Most of Riley’s life had been gritty and dirty and sad, but for the past few years she’d found sanctuary in the most unexpected place: small-town Wyoming. Here, the past couldn’t touch her.
Still, she needed to tamp down her excitement. She’d had high hopes for Christmas before, only to have them dashed, so she had to keep her expectations reasonable—as in low. But her heart wouldn’t settle down, so she spun away, twirling to Johnny Cash and nearly levitating on joy—until something hit the house.
Holy cats, was somebody at the door? Any visitors had to get past the Baileys’ dog, Bruce. He was a big old love-bucket, but you couldn’t tell to look at him. Half-mastiff and half something undetermined—tiger, or maybe rodeo bull—he was a real guard dog who inspired fear even in dog-lovers, and she had no doubt he’d protect her if necessary.
Well, not much doubt. He did have a weakness for Milk Bones—and for any sort of human attention. The love bucket was never, ever full.
Clutching the towel to her chest, she tiptoed down the stairs, telling herself there was no need to worry. If anybody got past Bruce, Heck Bailey had shown her how to use the shotgun that hung above the door.
The door flew open, the knob slamming against the wall and knocking a sprinkle of chipped plaster to the floor. Clutching the banister, Riley saw a mountain of hulking male silhouetted against the starry, snow-filled night. Powerful muscles. Lowering brows. And beneath those brows, dark eyes focused and fierce as a beast spotting prey.
As for Bruce, he stood beside the visitor, grinning from ear to ear and dripping drool, utterly failing his first test as a guard dog.
Riley glanced up at the shotgun and realized she could reach for it or clutch the towel around herself. Not both.
Maybe she wouldn’t have that family Christmas after all.
Maybe she wouldn’t make it home.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

No matter how much others believe in you, you can’t move forward until you believe in yourself. Redemption comes from within. It’s a complicated journey, with a lot of surprises along the way.


Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: A paperback copy of Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas by Joanne Kennedy


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: In Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas, the holiday party at the Red Dawg goes hilariously wrong. What’s the funniest thing that ever derailed your Christmas celebration?

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Book Info:

There’s no place like home…

Weary from a long deployment, Griff Bailey has been dreaming of a quiet Christmas on his father’s ranch. But all his hopes of peace are upended when he finds his one-time fling, Riley James, has moved in.

Riley swore off dark, dangerous men a long time ago, but Griff’s emotional scars pull at her heartstrings, and she desperately wants to help him heal despite their complicated past.

It’ll take a miracle for these two stubborn former lovers to open themselves up again, but isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo |

Meet the Author:

Joanne Kennedy is the RITA-nominated author of ten contemporary Western romance novels. The first book in her Decker Ranch trilogy, How to Handle a Cowboy, was named one of Booklist’s “Best Romances of the Decade.” She lives with her retired fighter pilot husband in a secret mountain hideout on the Wyoming border.

Author Website:

70 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas by Joanne Kennedy”

  1. janinecatmom

    I have one thing that happened when I was a little kid, but I won’t be a Debbie Downer with it. Instead, another time that totally derailed my Christmas celebration was one year when I was a teenager and worked at a restaurant. Everyone was drinking (even though some of us weren’t old enough) and I had too much and ended up in the bathroom sick. They had to call my mother to come pick me up. I never heard the end of it from my mom.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      Oh, no! That sounds awful! I hope you didn’t have too much company. Plumbing issues are the worst! I once had my disposal explode… long story! I think that was Easter, though.

  2. Karina Angeles

    We showed up at my sister’s house for the Christmas celebration, but they were at our house. We got the location wrong. We eventually ended up at my parent’s house to celebrate Christmas. It was the best in-between place we could go to. They were surprised. My parents weren’t expecting us again. We already spent Christmas Eve with them.

  3. Amy Donahue

    I drank a few too many Alabama Slammers and ended up sick. The only thing I remember about the ride home was telling the driver “I’m sorry I smell so bad”.

  4. Lori R

    As a child I thought it was funny when a snowstorm happened during our party at my Nana’s house. Everyone was choosing a room.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      I don’t go to many anymore. I’m kind of glad I don’t have to go to work-related ones anymore; those could be stressful. Our local rural fire department has excellent parties, though!

  5. SusieQ

    My mother put potato peels down the garbage disposal (don’t do it), it backed up and flooded the kitchen.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      That’s how I made my disposal explode (see above comment). I was relatively new to having my own kitchen and I had no idea what a disaster that would be. I mean, it’s called a dispos-ALL, right? But I’ll second your advice. Never again!

    • Joanne Kennedy

      I’m so sorry to hear about the sad ones. Riley, the heroine in this book, has only had sad ones up until the book starts. Even though things go wrong, she finally has a good one–you’ll see when you read it!

    • Joanne Kennedy

      That’s the kind of Christmas I like, although I can’t call the grandkids “low key” (and wouldn’t want them to be!)

    • Joanne Kennedy

      Cats always make Christmas interesting! I got a kitten for Christmas one year, but it went missing Christmas afternoon. I was in a panic, worried it had gotten outside and would get lost. We finally found her sleeping deep inside the Christmas tree, all peaceful and sweet.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      You must be better at Christmas than I am, LOL! I always mess something up with the meal. 🙁 😀

    • Joanne Kennedy

      I’m starting to get a complex, LOL! I always mess something up. I figured everyone would have a story like this – now I wish I’d asked for your best memory.

  6. Glenda M

    When I was a kid, the dog stole the turkey off the counter and had it outside and mostly eaten before we noticed. My parents stopped keeping the back door open after that. LOL A few months later she stole my birthday cake.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      LOL – dogs and cats and kids, oh my! They make Christmas memorable. I always say ” the worse the party, the better the story!”

    • Joanne Kennedy

      That’s okay! It’s early for Christmas, but hopefully the book will help everyone get into the spirit!

  7. Pamela Conway

    At the moment I can’t think of any funny Christmas stories but thanks for the chance!

    • Joanne Kennedy

      It’s cracking me up how many of these things have happened to me! Maybe I’m a little accident-prone when it comes to Christmas. My husband would say I’m accident-prone every day… and he just might be right!

  8. Patricia B.

    The only thing I can think of was when our girls were about 2 and 3. My husband was on alert. He was Air Force and on a fighter bomber crew. On alert, they are restricted to an area near the planes ready to take off for war at any minute. There is a family visiting area. Anyway Christmas that year was about 3 days before he would come home. The girls were too young to know the difference, so we waited to do Christmas until he got home. I let them open one present on Christmas morning, the one from his mom and stepdad. They were baby dolls almost as big as they were. Better yet, they laughed when they were held and cried when put down. Having the attention spans appropriate to their age, the dolls spent more time on the floor crying than they did being held and laughing. We brought them with us to visit Daddy and the noise really annoyed him, and likely the other families there. I did turn them off. Back home the girls continued to leave them crying on the floor or wherever. At first I was turning them off when the girls put them down, but I stopped that and just let them cry. By the time Daddy got home, the batteries had died and there was blissful silence. We were happy and the girls never seemed to really notice. The batteries never did get replaced.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      LOL – that sounds like the kind of story that isn’t funny at the time, but ends up being family lore your girls will tell their kids!
      Thanks to your husband for his service. My husband is retired Air Force, too!

  9. Ellen C.

    Never had our celebrations derailed by funny events. Postponed or cut short by inclement weather or sad events. Luckily, our family finds joy in just being able to get together.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      That’s the best attitude to take. I remember some sad Christmases, too, and they weren’t easy. 🙁

  10. Kay Garrett

    It would be having a house full of guest for a BBQ. Yes in the south we BBQ for Christmas. 🙂 Hubby was bringing in a big platter of burgers from outside and our three dogs must have thought he was calling them to supper because they all rushed up. In the confusion of dogs and trying to get in the door, he got bumped and half the burgers slide off the platter. The dogs instantly had food, but we only had 1/2 enough burgers per number of guests. Thankfully I had more hamburger meat and rushed to make more patties. It all worked out fortunately, but now we make sure a platter of meat is held with two hands.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    • Joanne Kennedy

      Dogs again! Happy dogs this time. 😀 I would love to have a Southern Christmas with barbecue. My husband’s family is from the South, and they have wonderful big family celebrations.

  11. Irma

    My mother never drinks, but she did that Christmas. She was a bit tipsy. And she’s a funny drunk. We were laughing so hard just by observing her.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      Something kind of like that happens in the book! There is some strategically administered eggnog!

  12. Lilah Chavez

    My daughter was making the turkey for the first time and she used the wrong mandolin thingy and she grated her thumb

    • Joanne Kennedy

      That baby in your photo is so cute! I’ll bet you have a very happy Christmas coming up!

  13. lovebachbooks

    Papa was not amused but the rest of the family thought it was pretty funny. The Christmas tree toppled over during the gift-giving. No one was hurt. Lots of ornaments were broken, most beyond repair, but they can be replaced.

    • Joanne Kennedy

      Oh, no! I’ve had the tree fall, but not right during the gift giving. Poor Papa! And poor ornaments. 🙁 But you’re right, they can be replaced. Memories can’t!

    • Joanne Kennedy

      Luckier than me, LOL! Although sometimes the mishaps make it memorable, depending on the people!

  14. Joanne Kennedy

    Thank you all so much for stopping by and commenting! I absolutely loved writing a Christmas book, and I hope it gets everyone into that happy, warm Christmas spirit. I love the feeling of Christmas so much, and have so many good memories that I’m hoping to write another one.

    I’ll be back to answer more comments. I chimed in a little late for unavoidable reasons (really, you don’t want to know!), but I always do my best to answer everyone. I appreciate you all so much, and love hearing from you!

  15. Diana Hardt

    Years ago at a relative’s house on Christmas the power went out and we ate Christmas dinner by candlelight.

  16. Terrill R.

    Snow. I started crying when I thought we were snowed in and not able to travel to my parents home on Christmas day. My husband was able to get our car out of the driveway and then it turned out that the snow was only around our home and everywhere else was clear. Melt down unnecessary.

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