Title: Review: How to Handle a Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy
Cowboys of Decker Ranch Book One
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
His Rodeo Days May Be Over…
Sidelined by a career-ending injury, rodeo cowboy Ridge Cooper feels trapped at his family’s remote Wyoming ranch. Desperate to find an outlet for the passion he used to put into competing, he takes on the challenge of teaching his roping skills to five troubled ten-year-olds in a last-chance home for foster kids, and finds it’s their feisty supervisor who takes the most energy to wrangle.
But He’ll Still Wrangle Her Heart
When social worker Sierra Dunn seeks an activity for the rebellious kids at Phoenix House, she soon learns she’s not in Denver anymore. Sierra is eager to get back home to her inner-city work, and the plan doesn’t include forming an attachment in Wyoming—especially not to a ruggedly handsome and surprisingly gentle local rodeo hero.
How to Handle a Cowboy is a beautiful story about two people who find love despite their troubled pasts and the five rambunctious yet lovable boys who steal their hearts. This first novel in Joanne Kennedy’s Cowboys of Decker Ranch series perfectly balances heartache with hope and the resulting story is a little poignant and exceptionally heartwarming.
Sierra Dunn escaped her unhappy childhood through hard work and determination and she pours all her energy into her career as a social worker. Now a foster mom at a group home, she is trying to make a difference in the lives of the five boys in her care and hopefully, the small Wyoming town too. Needing a positive male influence in the boys’ lives, Sierra reluctantly teams up with local cowboy Ridge Cooper after he agrees to mentor the kids. Their relationship takes a personal turn when the two give in to their surprising attraction but their future remains uncertain.
Scarred by her own unhappy childhood, Sierra pours her heart and soul into giving her foster sons all the love and care they have been missing in their lives. She is hoping the small town will accept the disreputable boys, but so far, she and the kids continue to be outsiders. Her experience with volunteers has been disappointing so she does not have high hopes that Ridge will prove to be the help the boys need. Their first encounter is absolutely hilarious, but they both agree that Ridge is not the mentor Sierra has been searching for. But a little manipulation from an unexpected source brings Sierra and the boys to the Decker Ranch where Ridge begins to work a little magic on the kids… and Sierra.
Ridge has spent a lot of successful years on the rodeo circuit but after a career ending injury, he returns to the ranch he shares with his brothers Shane and Brady. Without a clear goal of what comes next in his life, he is at loose ends when he meets Sierra and her foster sons. Recognizing kindred spirits in all of the young boys, Ridge enthusiastically introduces them to ranch life and in the process, he heals some of the wounds from his own troubled past.
Sierra and Ridge are reluctantly drawn together and although they do not see the possibility of a future together, they begin a passionate affair. They share an easy camaraderie as they get to know one another and both Sierra and the boys blossom under Ridge’s tender care. As Ridge’s feelings for Sierra deepen, he comes out his shell and is stunned when he discovers what he wants next in life. Despite her growing attachment to Ridge and her foster kids, Sierra remains focused on her career until an insightful comment from one of her most troubled boys makes her reconsider what is most important in life.
I absolutely adored all of Sierra’s foster sons. They are fragile and damaged by the pain inflicted by their parents but they are surprisingly resilient. Each one has a unique personality and Ridge is quick to pick up on their individual strengths. The relationship between Ridge and the kids tugs at the heartstrings and I love how quickly they begin to flourish under his guidance.
Delightfully funny yet full of deep emotions, How to Handle a Cowboy is a riveting novel with charming and appealing characters. The storyline is realistic yet hopeful and the romance is a wonderful blend of sexy and sweet. With intriguing glimpses of brothers Brady and Shane Joanne Kennedy leaves readers eager for the next installments of the Cowboys of Decker Ranch series.