Donna Alward and Rodeo Royalty

When I lived in Calgary, there was always talk of rodeo royalty.  Lovely, accomplished young women who represent the best things of western life.  But that’s not the kind of royalty I’m going to talk about today.

I write traditional type stories, mostly with a “girl next door”, comfort food kind of feel.  It’s a voice that lends itself well to westerns, which is why I enjoy writing lots of them.  I’m a farm girl.  I know about loving the land, putting down roots, the code of honour and integrity and hard work.  I think it comes through in everything I write.

But there’s something else I like too.  I like the fairy tale quality of a good royalty story.  Princes and Princesses, Kings and Queens, lands real and fabricated – I love ‘em. 

The royalty stories generally fall into two camps – the silver royaltiaraspoon in the mouth prince or princess that longs to be ordinary, or the commoner that suddenly is thrust into the royal spotlight.  Two of my favourite Harlequin Romances demonstrate this – Liz Fielding’s THE ORDINARY PRINCESS has a Prince for a hero that needs a dash of the every day,   and Marion Lennox’s recent release A ROYAL MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE has a European prince, and an princess heir that happens to be a widowed, small county veterinarian. 

When my editor asked me over a year ago to write another cowboy, I had an idea, but had no clue how it would work, or if it would even be approved.  We’re talking two very different worlds here.  We have an Alberta ranch.  And a Mediterranean Princess.  Could I possibly put both things into the same book?  My mind was whirring, trying to reconcile backstories to make it plausible.  Who is Luciana?  Who is Brody?  What can possibly bring them together at the same place and at the same time, each trying to get what they want?

I had to decide which camp Lucy would fall in:  the silver spoon princess, or the ordinary girl-turned-royal.

I sent my editor a one line e-mail.  It read:  “An accident of birth made her a princess, but it took a cowboy to steal her heart.”

The reply read, “Yes!  Write it!”

So I did.  I set the book at Prairie Rose Ranch, just outside my fictional town of Larch Valley, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. 


 Brody Hamilton needs an alliance to put Prairie Rose on the map, and King Alexander of Marazur is just the ticket.  King Alexander sends his stable manager, who also happens to be a long lost daughter.  That’s right.  A reluctant princess.  I put them together and sparks flew. 

The whole idea hinged on a single scene.  We’d taken the kids camping that summer in the area where I “put” my town.  It was a fun few days and I had a very romantic moment with my husband as we danced beneath the stars.   I knew that at some point, Brody and Lucy would relive that moment.  And I knew that it would change everything between them.

I loved writing this book.  I really fell for Brody and empathized so much with Lucy it was ridiculous.  When I wrote the ending, I cried, and cried, and cried.  It’s not even that sad, to be honest.  I think it might be the most upbeat thing I’ve written.  But there is something about Lucy’s vulnerability and Brody’s strong shoulder that just GOT ME.

And the final scene?  I think it had fairy dust on it, because it nearly wrote itself.  My fingers were the medium; I just saw the pictures in my head and translated.

THE RANCHER’S RUNAWAY PRINCESS is out this month, and is the first of several books that will be set in the Larch Valley area.  Romantic Times called the setting “gorgeous”.  For me, it’ll always have that little touch of down-home magic.

You can visit my Larch Valley site for lots of fun, including recipes, puzzles and more.  And have a peek at what’s coming your way in the months to come!



I’ll be giving away an autographed copy of my book this weekend, so please leave a comment, and your name will be entered into the drawing!    


 To order Donna’s book from Amazon, click on the link:    


   The Rancher’s Runaway Princess (Harlequin Romance)

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35 thoughts on “Donna Alward and Rodeo Royalty”

  1. Donna,

    I haven’t read a “princess” book in a long while, and yours sounds wonderful. I write stories set on ranches in Texas and Oklahoma generally. I can’t imagine what life must be like out on the range in Canada, as cold as it gets up there. Those must be some tough cowboys.

  2. Hi Donna!
    Your story sounds very unique. It sounds like you came up with a great way to incorporate the two ideas. Since I live in the suburbs I do enjoy reading about stories set in wide open areas.

  3. Oh my, two of my favorites. Royalty (always wished I were) and cowboys (always longed to meet a real one)and sparks, this should be a great read!

  4. Good Morning Donna

    Great story line. It has a cowboy and that is a great start. I love an type of happy ever after story so this will be a must read.

    Brings to mind the movie “Prince and Me” (not a cowboy but pretty great). When he proposes on his and opens his hand with the butterfly in it makes me cry everytime.

  5. Hi Donna, I am glad you came to visit us at P&P. I have been hearing a lot about your new book and am looking forward to reading it. It sounds like a fabulous story, because it going to be a little different.

  6. Thanks everyone! I admit, it’s a little different, but I think the barriers kind of break down when you realize these characters are just ordinary people, you know? With pasts and hopes and hurts.

    It felt a bit Princess Diaries to me in some ways, but with a western touch. All I know is that there was something magical about it for me!

    I’m not sure why but the cover for the amazon link is for Hired By The Cowboy! LOL

  7. Oh, I have heard great things about this book! Would love a chance to win a copy! 😀 Love cowboys and enjoy reading royalty.

  8. Hey Donna, nice to see you here. Please don’t enter me in the draw for The Rancher’s Runaway Princess since I already have an autographed copy.

    Yes, all you P&P friends, I won Donna’s book and 18 others from a variety of authors in a big contest Donna had in Dec. I’m still happy dancing over that one!

    I’ll be reading Princess in a couple days – finally – and let you know how I like it. But you know Donna, after reading 3 of your books already, I haven’t found a boring one yet. 🙂

  9. Good morning, Donna! Thank you for coming back to visit us here in Wildflower Junction!

    First off, I must apologize about the Amazon cover link. A glitch on their end–the title brings up Hired by the Cowboy. But I’ve added the text link and that seems to work. I’m so sorry–the Fillies want to get the right book up for our guests!

    Royalty appeals to all of us, doesn’t it? It must come from all those fairy tales we read and loved while we were growing up. And adding a western touch, well, that just makes them even better!

  10. Hi Donna,

    Welcome to P&P! We’re delighted to have back with us.

    I love the name of your hero, Brody Hamilton! It’s pretty close to my own name. In my third book, I named my hero Brodie Yates, trying to capitalize on my name and also the way my name is spoken with an “ie” sound at the end. Kinda neat. I’m glad you made Brody a cowboy. Can’t imagine him as anything else. And I’m glad you gave him a princess. Very cool.

    Hope you enjoy your day and come back to visit often.

  11. Pam – no worries. Purchasers would be disappointed though – because HBTC isn’t available anymore!

    It’s always fun coming over to visit.

    You know what Linda? Brody is the kind of hero that sticks with you. Even now, two heroes later, I still mistakenly type his name. Good news is he is making an appearance in the current WIP, which is the next Larch Valley book. 🙂

  12. Hi Donna,
    Your book sounds amazing. I love it when you fall in love with the story. It doesn’t always happen, but when the books writes itself, as in your ending, it’s nearly miraculous and makes us glad we’re writers and readers! I enjoyed your blog today!

  13. That sounds like a wonderful idea. And I agree about the two choices. I’m not so much interested in royalty that stays royalty unless their’s something exceptional about it.

  14. Hi Donna! This book sounds royally dreamy! (Sorry, that just popped out!) The location sounds beautifula and I like the Larch Valley site… How interesting that music plays a part in your writing! Best wishes for a successful release.

  15. I meant to ask too – what do y’all think of the hero on the cover? I took one look and just thought…gah, he’s hot! In fact, he looks more like Brody than the casting I had in mind when I wrote it. They did a good job with him.

  16. Looking forward to reading your book – I love the
    addition of royalty to the western tale!

    Pat Cochran

  17. Love love love the hero on the cover, so hot!!! I love the cover of this book, its so heart warming. Can’t wait to read it. I love them cowboys anyways.

  18. Hi Donna! The Rancher’s Runaway Princess sounds wonderful! I love the unique blend of cowboys and royalty. Your cover is gorgeous! I can’t wait to read this one! Thanks for blogging here today!

  19. Sounds like an exciting book and an unusual book. I would sure like to review it for you. You know me as I visit your site monthly. God Bless. Enter me to win.

  20. I like the unique idea of American royalty. Also, I’m glad that the cover matches your description of Brody.
    It’s a pet peeve of mine when they totally don’t match. I’m currently reading a book with a petite, dark haired heroine. The cover shows a tall, red head!!??

  21. Sounds like an exciting book. I love the name Brody. Your book is currently in my shopping cart. The cover caught my attention.

  22. Well gosh Laurie, I could have used that heroine because this one looks nothing like Lucy, but I was so pleased with Brody I didn’t let it bother me much. Besides, what are you gonna do? The hero and the scene are very close to the book, and the feel of it is dead on.

    Jane – nice to see you here! And Greta – thanks!

  23. I read books that are set anywhere and in any period, as long as it has romance in it and of course a happy ending.

    Yours sounds like a great read that I have to put on my TBB list.

  24. Hi Donna! Great to see your blog today!
    The story about Brody and Lucy sounds great and I can’t wait to read it. They sound like wonderful characters to get to know! I’m glad you had as much fun writing it as I will reading it!!

    Thanks for sharing your story today!

  25. What a lovely setting, if only a fictional one.

    I think deep down, every woman would love to be a princess or at least treated like one.


  26. Hi Donna! Your book sounds so exciting! I love how you’ve combined royalty and cowboys. It must have been a joy to write and I’m sure it will be a joy to read.

  27. Donna & Linda,

    Thank you! I’m so eager to read this book and find out the details of Brody & Lucy’s relationship!

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