cover image Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas

Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas

Joanne Kennedy. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-1-4926-1695-5

A couple struggles to overcome their traumatic histories in the over-the-top second installment to Kennedy’s Blue Sky Cowboy series (after Cowboy Summer). Army veteran Griff Bailey returns to his family’s Wyoming ranch hoping for some alone time—only to discover that his parents are converting the place into a dude ranch and have hired contractor Riley James, a recovering addict with whom Griff shared a single, steamy night just before he shipped out. When the judgemental sisters of Riley’s boss turned surrogate father, Ed Boone, come to town for Christmas, Riley moves into the half-renovated ranch house to avoid their subtle cruelties—and she quickly falls back into bed with Griff. As Griff, who suffers from PTSD, burns through his days playing video games, Riley projects intentions and feelings onto him without giving him the chance to speak for himself. Both the subplot about the Boone family and Riley and Griff’s frustratingly prolonged communication issues come to a head at the town Christmas party. Though the conflict is drawn out and convoluted, Riley’s fractured self-image even years into her recovery rings true. Readers looking for a Christmas romance that doesn’t skimp on steam will be pleased—but they should be prepared for a winding road to the happy ending. Agent: Elaine English, Elaine P. English Literary Agency. (Oct.)