Joanne Kennedy ~ Don’t Mess with Perfection

Thank you for inviting me to Petticoats and Pistols ! I’m flattered that so many wonderful Western writers want me to come play at their house—even though my heroines are more likely to wear Wrangler jeans than petticoats. A first-time guest should always bring a hostess gift, so I brought two copies of Cowboy Fever along to give away.

What I really want to talk about is cowboys, but since this is my first visit, I should probably introduce myself first. My name is Joanne Kennedy, and I write contemporary Western romance for Sourcebooks. My books include Cowboy Trouble, Cowboy Fever, and 2010 RITA nominee One Fine Cowboy. My next release, Tall, Dark and Cowboy, hits the bookstore shelves November 1st.

I’m not a native Westerner, but I should have been. I figured that out twenty years ago and ran away from home to the Wild West. I’ve always loved Western history, horses, and wide-open spaces, and I was thrilled to discover that real cowboys still walk the streets of Cheyenne. My new hometown’s surprising blend of past and present is the inspiration for my books, which are light contemporaries set in the traditional worlds of ranching and rodeo.

There aren’t as many real-life working cowboys here as there used to be, but the ones that are left still wear the same clothes, talk with the same deliberate drawl, and ride with the same grace they did back when the West was wild. While other occupations have been mechanized and modernized, a cowboy’s work has stayed the same.

Partly, that’s due to the stubborn and cussedly unchanging nature of cattle. Though a lot of ranch work is done with pickup trucks and other machines, you can’t cut a mama cow and her calf from the herd with a four-wheeler. A modern Black Angus or Hereford might carry a lot more beef than an old-time Longhorn, but a cow is still a cow, and bovines tend to get riled up when they’re set upon by a roaring, growling machine.

But the main reason cowboy culture sticks to tradition is that there’s no reason to mess with perfection.  Watching a true cowboy work cattle from horseback, it’s obvious that the best techniques for doing the job were perfected long, long ago.

True, some ranchers wear John Deere caps instead of Stetsons—but a little sunburn on the back of your neck provides a quick lesson in the proper design of a cowboy hat. And while Western boots have become a fashionable accessory for city folk, they were designed because you can catch a stirrup on that pointy toe, and the slanted heel keeps your foot from getting trapped in the stirrup if (or in my case, when) you fall off your horse. Denim jeans, chaps and chinks, and all the other tools of the trade have remained unchanged for the same reason – they work.

The only way cowboys have changed is in the way they break and train their horses. Rather than riding broncs to a stand-still and forcing them to perform through aggressive training methods, modern horsemen have learned to form a true partnership with their animals. It takes a certain sensitivity to work this way, and a man who doesn’t embody the virtues of patience, sensitivity and understanding doesn’t last long in the contemporary cowboy business.

So while I love the world of the Old West, I think today’s cowboys are even better than history’s tough cowpokes and sexy outlaws. They still have old-fashioned values centered on  land, love and family, but they have tighter jeans, more opportunities to bathe, and pickup trucks. You’ll see in Tall, Dark and Cowboy just how much I love pickup trucks and how handy that bed in the back can be!

I want to know all about your ideal cowboy. Is he historical or modern-day? A clean-cut hero or a sexy outlaw? Does he drive a pickup truck or a covered wagon? Tell me all about him in the comments and I’ll send two commenters free signed copies of Cowboy Fever.

Guest Blogger
Updated: August 12, 2011 — 1:38 pm

73 Comments

  1. Joanne this 4 books are going on my list of must be found and read. They all look great. I’m sorry I hadn’t found them before.

  2. My ideal cowboy is an historical, clean-cut hero, on a horse (no wagon), but it’s nice to hear cowboys are still around. What a shock in the changes 20 years made in Denver.

  3. I like the clean cut hero,,my ideal cowboy is Tom Selleck an Sam Elliot,,even as they got older they look sexy

  4. My ideal cowboy would be the horse riding, honorable, hardworking cowboy of golden old days who will drop everything to save the day or the woman! I think of Bushman James Craig in Man From Snowy River.

    Tall, Dark and Cowboy’s cover cowboy has a fantastic cowboy body! I’ll take him!

  5. My ideal – Trampas!!!! I’m about 1/2 way through reading your book Cowboy Fever and am enjoying it very much.

  6. I love a cowboy no matter where in time he is.

    Your books sound great can’t wait to check them out.

  7. Hi Joanne, I love cowboys past and present. In a truck or on a horse! Clean cut or with a little dirt on him (I mean come on, right off the range with some dust and sweat that’s a nice picture). :o)

    I was raised in, and go home often, Wyoming! So it’s good to hear you’ve come to love the Cowboy State as much as I do. :o)

  8. Hi Joanne,

    I love cowboys. The virtues of the past cowboys and the virtues of the modern one, well it would be hard to pick.

    I love a cowboy on a horse. I want to visit Wyoming one day. Never been there be its a beautiful state

    Thanks for sharing

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  9. Thanks, Cathy! You can find the books at any Barns & Noble, Borders (I think there are some left!) and most independent bookstores. I hope you enjoy them!

  10. Liz, you’re so right – Denver has changed into a big cosmopolitan city. But Cheyenne hasn’t changed much – especially the downtown area. It still has that Western vibe.

  11. Vickie, you picked some great cowboys – they do age well, don’t they? Tom Selleck will always be one of my favorites, and I love Sam Elliot’s low, sexy voice.

  12. A cowboy is my ideal with principles, values, strength and determination. He is a hero and is to be revered. On a horse, in a truck he is special and hopefully admired by all. He is a real man.

  13. Laurie, that sounds like my kind of cowboy, too. And I agree – I love that cover cowboy on the upcoming book. Keep your eyes open, because I have a fifth book coming out in the spring that has the best cowboy yet! I’ll be posting him on my website soon, and you’re all gong to swoon when you see him!

  14. Sue, I haven’t had anyone mention Trampas in a while! Love “The Virginian.”
    I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying “Cowboy Fever.” That book was fun to write because I volunteer at a therapy riding program here in Cheyenne and I got to put in some of my favorite kids:)

  15. Sherry, thanks! I mentioned bookstores but forgot to say you can also get the books online at all the usual places – they’re on Kindle and Nook and all the other formats too. Hope you enjoy them!

  16. Kristen, I agree – a little dirt never hurt a cowboy’s appeal, and I love the smell of old leather and horses.
    It’s great to meet a Wyoming native! Where in the state are you from?

  17. Melinda, I highly recommend a trip to Wyoming. There’s no place like it – to me it’s the true cowboy state (although I know Texans will disagree). Thanks for your comment!

  18. Thanks for all your comments, and keep ’em coming! I’ll be checking in all day to answer questions and hear about your ideal cowboys. I’ve always enjoyed “Petticoats and Pistols” and it’s great to be here.

  19. Hi Joanne! Thank you for visiting P&P today 🙂 It’s a pleasure to have you with us. My ideal cowboy is a guy I saw in a coffeeshop in Oklahoma. He was tall, late 30s, dark-haired with a moustache, and wearing wranglers and a chambray shirt. You know those games where you use a joystick to steer a claw and grab a toy? This guy had it down pat. He was cleaning out the machine and giving the toys to the kids in the Denny’s. Totally charmed me 🙂

  20. Joanne these are such great looking cowboys, that it make me want to have a glass of cold sweet tea and sit on the porch a spell and have my fill of gazing at them while they do their thing.. I have not had the opportunity to read any of your books, but I have put you on my tbr list…

  21. thanks for this wonderful post about cowboyw who deserve recognition. The historical cowboys and the modern ones all represent consistent, important and hard working virtues which are so meaningful in this day and age. What a great compliment to these men who are rare indeed.

  22. Ellie, thanks! You’re clearly a true cowboy aficianado!

  23. Victoria, what a wonderful story! That guy sums up all the best qualities of a cowboy – quiet capability and good-natured generosity. I can just see him from the way you tell it, too!

  24. Kathleen, thanks for putting me on your TBR list – I know those can get pretty long so I hope you get to them soon! My cowboys are waitin’…

  25. Thanks, Diane! I don’t think many people realize how much the cowboy is still a part of our culture.

  26. “don’t mess with perfection”
    Absolutely love it! And that’s the reason for writing about cowboys. They’ve got it all! And you do an absolutely fantastic job of putting it all on paper for us!

  27. I only recently started reading historicals and westerns, so my mind is still on modern-day cowboys in trucks. I imagine that will change once I read some more covered-wagon stories.

    I too enjoy their “old-fashioned values centered on land, love and family, but they have tighter jeans, more opportunities to bathe, and pickup trucks.” OMG, you nailed it on the head, so to speak.

    Clean-cut hero or sexy outlaw? Jeesh. I guess there aren’t that many outlaws today, but I like both.

    I love learning about various authors on this blog. You are a new author to me, and now you have hooked me on reading your books. Mission accomplished!

    As for Cowboy Fever, I am definitely looking forward to meeting Teague – up, close, and personal, don’t ya know. Yum!

  28. Joanne, we’re so thrilled to have you blog with us here at the Junction. I confess that I’ve never read any of your books but I’m going to have to remedy that. They look and sound amazing.

    I have no preference when it comes to what century my cowboy is in. I’ll take historical or contemporary as long as he’s kinda scruffy and not looking like something out of GQ. And I like for him to be tough and maybe a bit of a bad boy.

  29. Cowboys of any era hold a special place in my
    heart! My earliest reads were Louis L’Amours
    and Zane Greys that my Dad shared with me.
    Your covers have me wanting to find the nearest “Cowboys R Us!” (If there were such a store, we
    can be sure that there would always be a run on
    their “product!”) Thanks for visiting with us
    today!

    Pat Cochran

  30. Hi Joanne, Haven’t read your books, but I have put them on my TBR list.
    Cowboys are a breed all to themselves. Each era that they have been in, has bee the best. Right now it is the pick-up truck/rodeo cowboy.
    However, here in California, outside of any city, we have our cowboys. Working ranchers and rodeo. We also have Mule packers that consider themselves cowboys!
    I love them all!

  31. I like them both.

  32. I’m from Riverton (it’s in the central part of the state). But I had family down in Cheyenne for a time, so I spent many weeks down there (especially during Frontier Days, but actually enjoyed the trips more when it wasn’t so crazy).

    I’m looking forward to reading all your books. But I have to say the cover of Tall, Dark and Cowboy makes me think November will find my especially thankful. :o)

  33. My ideal cowboy is a modern day cowboy who is a throwback to historical times. Pretty much the best of both worlds. He is a gentleman who speaks proper English with a slight drawl and is infuriatingly well-mannered. There is nothing dull about him because underneath the Stetson and the slightly disheveled crisp white shirt that is rolled up to reveal muscular arms he is steel. He’s a Harley-riding man who can ride horses with the best of them. Cowboys rules!

  34. I love cowboys modern and historical. I am going to look for your books. Where do they sell them. I usually look for books at Wal Mart or Books A Million.

  35. Cowboys!!! Love them all! I love reading about them no matter what era they are from…

  36. I love cowboy no matter what time period they come from. They are my favorite read. Cowboy always seem to really take care of their women and most always hard workers. To me they are the most perfect man. Gotta love them boots and hats.

  37. I forgot to congratulate you on the recent RITA nomination. That must’ve been really exciting. That’s the ultimate dream I think for romance writers other than being on the Times Bestseller list.

  38. Hi Joanne, and welcome to P&P today! So nice to have you with us. Your books look totally awesome, and believe me, I will be getting them SOON. I love Tom Selleck, too.
    Cheryl P.

  39. Joanne, I really enjoyed COWBOY TROUBLE and have ONE FINE COWBOY waiting to be read. Your hero in COWBOY TROUBLE was an example of good cowboy. Honest, capable, had a sense of humor, protective (the last two he really needed with the heroine), a hard worker, caring, and a good son. Just the kind of man any girl would want to bring home to her parents or go home with. Whether this type of man lived 150 years ago or today, those traits make him a man anyone could love.

    Keep writing those good cowboy stories.

  40. Hi Joanne. Your books sound good. I love cowboys. Either a historical cowboy or a contemporary would be awesome. 😉

  41. I love a cowboy no matter the time frame!
    Am putting your books on my to buy list.

  42. Hi Joanne and welcome to the Junction! My “ideal” cowboy is the one I’m reading about. I love cowboys!! And congrats on the RITA nomination!

  43. I love so many of the Hollywood cowboys but my ideal, real life cowboy would have to be George Strait. The man can sing. He has an AWESOME smile 😀 and he knows how to wear a pair of Wranglers. I don’t know if he is still doing rodeo but I would love to see him on a horse! 😛

    Smiles,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

  44. Cowboys, historical or modern day, I’ll take them either way!

  45. Carolyn, thank you so much! I love to hear that – I sure try to do them justice!

  46. Laney, thanks! I think Teague is my hottest cowboy in print. There are a couple coming up that give him a run for his money, though – Chase in “Tall Dark and Cowboy” and Lane Carrigan in “Once a Cowboy.” Stay tuned!

  47. Linda, I’m thrilled to be here! It sounds like Teague in “Cowboy Fever” is the cowboy for you, too. He’s a little rough around the edges – I like them that way, too:)

  48. Pat, if you can find that “Cowboys R Us” store, we need to take a group shopping trip!
    I’m so glad to hear someone else likes those Zane Grey cowboys. My first crush was Lassiter in “Riders of the Purple Sage.” I still love that book and that strong, silent cowboy.

  49. Hi, Mary – you put that so well–every era has their own type of cowboy and their all great. I agree with those mule packers, though – mules are fantastic and can do just about everything a horse can do!

  50. Kristen, I’ve been through Riverton! And I know what you mean about Cheyenne during Frontier Days. It’s kind of hard to get around – it’s the one time we have traffic jams. Thanks for stopping by! And yep, that cover is really something, and so is the cowboy himself!

  51. Na, I love your description – especially the “infuriatingly well-mannered part.” I like the Harley twist, too. And the muscles…

  52. Goldie, I think my books would be at Books a Million, although we don’t have those here so I can’t check. They’re also at Barnes & Noble and Borders, and online at Amazon. You can find links on my website at http://www.joannekennedybooks.com. Thanks for asking!

  53. Colleen, thanks for commenting! One of these days I’m going to write an historical cowboy!

  54. Hi, Quilt Lady! *big wave* I love the boots and hats too – and everything in between:)

  55. Linda, thanks! The RITA nomination was such a thrill. I’d dreamed of it, of course, but never really expected it. I couldn’t breathe for a minute when I got the call! And I’m so glad it happened for “One Fine Cowboy.” The hero and heroine in that book have always been really special to me – I don’t know where they came from but they’re so real.

  56. Cheryl, thanks. I’m so glad to be here and I feel so very welcome! I’m honestly excited about meeting so many new friends. You’ve made it a very happy day for me with all your fun comments!

  57. Patricia, thanks for the compliments on Luke in “Cowboy Trouble.” He is based pretty closely on my husband. Especially the patience and the sense of humor! Trust me, he needs it with me as much as Luke needed it with Libby!
    I hope you’ll enjoy “One Fine Cowboy” and I’d love to hear waht you think.

  58. Crystal, I agree – contemporary or historical, I’m not too picky about my cowboys. It’s the man under the hat that matters…

  59. Estella, thanks! I hope my guys live up to your expectations:)

  60. Tracy, thanks! And thanks especially for all your help getting the post up. You are awesome, and I can’t wait to read your books. I just might spend a little time staring at the covers, too…:)

  61. Cindy, I love George Strait too, and his deep, sexy voice. *swoon* He’s been to Cheyenne for Frontier Days a couple times, but I never met him.

  62. Hilltop Farmwife, I just love that handle! Sounds like you might have a cowboy of your own!

  63. I love modern-day cowboys who ride horses and work the land.Of course, it is fun to read about the Old West cowboys whether they were in a covered wagon or on a horse.

  64. C ute, cadrismatic,caring country -loving
    O ld boots and well-worn jeans
    W alks with pride and a swagger
    B est booat-scooter on the dance floor
    O utstaning roper on the ranch
    Y ‘all are always welcome

  65. Oops I forgot to spell-check

  66. I think that I would have to say that my ideal cowboy would be a combination of both past and present, Tall, dark and handsome, clean cut with a bit of the devil in him.

  67. Jackie, I agree – but old or new, I like my cowboys on a horse!

  68. Joye, spell-check or no spell-check, that was cute! Thanks – I love it!

  69. Joanne, absolutely wonderful blog! I agree with you 100% on cowboys!! Love your books, just can’t wait for the next one to come out!

    thank you!

  70. Connie, I like that bit of the devil too;)

  71. Deborah, thanks! I’m so glad you enjoy the books. “Tall Dark & Cowboy” will be out November 1st! It always seems like it takes forever for the books to come out, so I can’t wait!

  72. These all look great. I’ve never seen them. Do you have to read them in order as I can’t afford all.

  73. CathyAnn, the books aren’t a series. Each one stands alone and is a story complete in itself. (Although once in a while a character from another book will show up in a little cameo just as a surprise for regular readers.) So you don’t have to read them in any particular order.

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