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 spoon 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: