Learning to Fly Again

When my new duet was in the conceptualization stage, I knew that my heroine was a social worker. I knew that because she showed up in an earlier book, PROUD RANCHER, PRECIOUS BUNDLE, as the case worker who helped Wyatt and Elli as they cared for Wyatt’s niece. She intrigued me.

I had an idea for a women’s shelter – a place that Angela would be personally invested in and something she’d believe in passionately. And I got thinking – so many times we think of shelters as a place for women to go when they leave an abusive situation. But then what? How does a woman rebuild her life when she’s left her old life with, perhaps, nothing more than the clothes on her back?

The shelter in the story is what we call “Second Stage” housing. It’s for women who are at the point where they need a helping hand getting started – finding a job, finding housing, taking those last steps to independence.  Like Clara Ferguson, for example. Clara is a sweet, strong woman and Angela’s first resident. Clara’s focus is on finding a job and saving enough money to afford a place of her own, growing emotionally stronger as she goes.

When it came time to name the house, I really struggled. I’m not good at that sort of thing. In the end I settled on Butterfly House. Why? A few reasons. It’s a place where its residents can grow and change, to gain their confidence again and feel whole and beautiful and worthy – not unlike a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly. And while they’ve been injured and had their wings clipped, Butterfly House is a place where they can put their past behind them and learn to fly again.

In THE LAST REAL COWBOY, Angela has to move beyond her own past to accept both Sam’s help and his love.  It’s harder for her because she knows she’s got to set the example as the director, and yet she has her own issues that she hasn’t addressed.  Good thing Sam is strong and patient – but not too patient, of course!

And in the second book, out next month (THE REBEL RANCHER), Clara meets Ty, Sam’s adopted brother. Ty is trouble – and also surprisingly gentle – just the kind Clara needs to restore her faith in men – and in herself.

You can find out more about my Cadence Creek Cowboys duet at www.donnaalward.com/LastRealCowboy.htm and www.donnaalward.com/RebelRancher.htm

Welcome to Cadence Creek!

I can’t wait until May. Why? Because in May my readers get to visit a brand new town in a duet I have coming out called Cadence Creek Cowboys (yeehaw!). This duet was the most fun I’ve had writing in a while. Why? Well, take a brand new Alberta small town setting, throw in some sexy, confident cowboys, and pair them up with a couple of damaged but unbelievably strong women and poof! A joy to write from start to finish.

That’s not to say there’s not a bit of seriousness involved. For those of you who know me at all, you know that my characters are usually facing some pretty big personal challenges. In book one, THE LAST REAL COWBOY, Sam Diamond is dealing with his father’s illness and what that means to the family, as well as butting heads with Angela Beck, social worker and Executive Director of Butterfly House – a special shelter for women who have escaped abusive relationships. Angela feels a lot of pressure to make the project a success, but she also has to face her own demons. Not necessarily light stuff. But throw in a ankle-biting escape artist called Morris (the cat), Sam’s warm and welcoming mother, Molly, and the shelter’s first resident, a sweet woman name Clara, and things balance out just right, I think.

Book 2, THE REBEL RANCHER is out in June – Clara gets her own story and you get to meet the legendary Tyson Diamond – and his reputation has definitely preceded him. Ty was one of my favourite heroes to write – EVER. A rebel by reputation but underneath he puts the gentle in gentleman.  And Clara, despite being sweet as chocolate pie, has a spine of steel. The girl’s no pushover.

In some ways it was a challenge to write both Angela and Clara. Both have a lot of baggage to get past, a lot of trust issues and downright fear. But I also felt very strongly about giving them their happy-ever-after – because I truly believe that there is always hope. That even after the worst has happened, there can be someone out there for all of us who has patience and gentleness and strength.  That everyone is worthy of being loved.

So the good news is you can buy THE LAST REAL COWBOY a month early here at harlequin.com. And if you’ve got a hankering for more, I have a reprint out right now too – my second-ever Harlequin Romance Marriage at Circle M is out in THERE AND NOW, by Linda Lael Miller.

Now, let’s hope those April showers kick in and bring some May flowers – up here in Canada we’re REALLY ready for winter to be done!