Dear Reader,

Happy Holidays!

Here we are in November already – in Canada, Thanksgiving is a pumpkin scented memory and in the US it’s just around the corner. Where I live, snow is now a distinct possibility and many evenings are spent with the fireplace keeping things cozy in my family room. Most nights you’ll find me there, maybe with a glass of wine and a book, or perhaps watching a dvd and knitting on my latest project.

This November also marks my very first Christmas release. Last year this time, I was putting the finishing touches on my novella, A Bride For Rocking H Ranch, which is paired up with Snowbound Cowboy in Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage with Patricia Thayer. These stories are about two sisters trying to make things right for the people they care about. They are about trying something different, stepping out of comfort zones and doing something as risky as falling in love. And it all starts – and finishes – with a little boy’s Christmas wish.

I adore Christmas. In particular, I enjoy the lead up. There’s something so warm and affirming about the holidays, don’t you think? And the parts I love are when I spend time with my family – driving around looking at the lights, wrapping presents together, making homemade ornaments or perhaps watching a Christmas movie with my girls, with mugs of real hot cocoa and warm cookies. These are things my cowgirl heroine, Kelley, and my hero, Mack, haven’t really done before. It was such a pleasure to have them experience a true family Christmas together.

Mack is a chef, and I had tons of fun with his character because I really enjoy cooking (even more if someone else will do the clean up!). I thought I’d share a recipe with you that I’ve loved since I was a girl, and that is a little unusual but is so incredibly tasty! We only ever made it at Christmas, so every year it’s like tasting a childhood memory.

I hope you and yours have the merriest of Christmases, filled with love and warmth and laughter. And don’t forget the hot cocoa.



Excerpt from A Bride For Rocking H Ranch

(part of the 2-in-1 novel Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage with Patricia Thayer)

© Donna Alward

Mack tugged the toboggan behind him, making tracks that Kelley stepped in, following him to the edge of the pasture to the tree line. The cloud ceiling was high, and snowflakes fell around them, cocooning them in a shushing sound. For a few precious minutes, it was like they were the only two people in the world. The flakes floated to the ground, laying gently on the white blanket already there from the previous blizzard. He paused for a moment, and Kelley came up beside him, the clouds of their breaths mingling in the cold air. Fat snowflakes landed on her hat and stayed there, while her hazel eyes appeared even more green against the flush of her cheeks. He inhaled, his chest expanding, while the valley lay below them, Christmas-card perfect.

He was tugging a toboggan and carrying an axe to cut down a Christmas tree. It was inconceivable. He turned from the scene and began pulling again.

There had been an awkward moment when they’d gone to the main house to ask to borrow Jesse’s sled to haul the tree back with. He’d said hello to Mrs. Hughes - who’d acted like nothing was out of the ordinary and insisted he call her Ruby. But Amelia had given him a speculative look he wasn’t sure he’d liked. He’d felt under a microscope, as he had many times as a boy. Like he was being measured and found wanting.

“So who was this Boone guy anyway?” Mack called back to Kelley, who was clumping along in her boots.

“Some guy that rescued Amelia and Jesse during the blizzard, and stayed on to work. But he’s gone now.”

“You didn’t like him.”

When the footsteps stopped behind him, he paused and looked over his shoulder. Kelley had stopped, her hands on her hips.

“I didn’t trust him. That’s all. He wasn’t exactly truthful about his reasons for being here. He pretended to be the hand I’d hired on. And Amelia hasn’t always shown the best judgment.”

He bit his tongue. Guilt trickled through him. He hadn’t been completely truthful with Kelley this morning either. But he’d already revealed more than he had planned on telling a woman ever again.

Kelley had stopped, put her mittened hands into the pockets of a grey wool coat. A pink knitted hat covered her ears, but her blonde curls cascaded over her shoulders. She looked like a winter angel.

“Maybe you should trust her more. We all made mistakes when we were younger.”

“I’m just looking out for her. I’m her big sister. Jesse’s father hurt her deeply. Am I wrong for not wanting that to happen again?”

“She’s a big girl, Kelley. Old enough to know what she wants. Old enough to live with her own mistakes.”

Kelley scowled. “That’s what she said.”

He laughed, turned around and started pulling again. “So what would she say if she knew about you and me last night?”

He kept his back to her, kept pulling even though he’d liked to have seen her face. After several more steps in silence, she answered.

“She does know. You were parked in my driveway all night. And she said be careful.”

He stopped, dropping the cord to the toboggan and turned. She was only a step and a half away, her eyes gleaming in the brightness of reflected snow. There was a relief in not sneaking around.

“And are you? Careful?”

“It sure doesn’t feel that way.”

He took the extra step and put his gloved hands on her arms. “Then don’t be careful for a little while longer, okay?” He wanted her this free, this unexpected, for a bit longer. Guileless and open. The holiday would be over soon and he didn’t want to ruin it for her. Christmas Day was a day to be borne, that was all. Kelley was a balm against all of it.

He dipped his head and kissed her. She was soft and sweet and yes, even innocent, despite what had transpired between them last night.

“We can talk about her later,” he murmured, his lips close to her cheek. “Right now, I’ve found you the perfect tree.”

Amazon Barnes & Noble eHarlequin

Recipe for Top Hat Balls

½ cup mashed potatoes
3 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
3 cups unsweetened coconut
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavouring (optional) **

Mix all ingredients until moist and shape into 1 inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and put in the freezer for an hour.
Melt: 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate (or chocolate chips) with ¼ bar parowax in a double boiler. Keep the dip hot while dipping coconut balls, and let set on waxed paper.

** we never used the almond flavouring


To celebrate the release of her 2-in-1 Holiday Romance novel, Donna Alward is giving a Holiday tote bag full of goodies to 3 ASR NewsWire readers!

To enter this contest, visit Donna's website and find the answer to the following question -

What recipe does Kelley burn?

Then email us at with your answer by midnight on November 23rd, 2009. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and please mark the subject heading as 'Rocking H Ranch'.

Winners will be announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck!

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