by Dani Collins
Our boxed set of Christmas stories, A Montana Born Christmas, comes out October 20th. This has started me thinking about the holidays and that all important task: Christmas baking!
Over the years, I’ve learned to pace myself when it comes to Christmas baking. I bake it, I eat it. I know you know what I mean.
But gingersnaps must be baked for Christmas. For some reason, they only happen as Christmas approaches. I don’t know why I don’t make them in February. I think I’m the only person in the house who truly loves them. Oatmeal chocolate chip, or its fancy cousin, Cowboy Cookies, are the mainstay in the cookie jar for the rest of the year.
My kids adore decorating sugar cookies, of course. That also has to happen and I fully expect my daughter will come home special, even though she’s now twenty, and rope her seventeen-year-old brother into an afternoon of sprinkles and icing.
Sugar cookies are their thing, gingersnaps are mine. It is safe to say that I dedicated a number of years to finding the perfect gingersnap recipe and this one is pretty darned good. If you have a better one, I’d love to try it.
1 1/2 c white sugar
1 c butter or marg
1 c molasses
Sift together in a separate bowl:
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
4 c flour
1 tsp ea: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, all spice
Stir dry ingredients into wet (can use electric mixer)
Roll dough into balls 1 inch in diameter
Dip top into white sugar
Place on greased cookie sheet – Do Not Press
Bake at 350F for approx 12-15 mins
Tops crack when done
Cool on wire rack
Are you feeling the Christmas spirit yet? Maybe you need to sample this sweet and spicy collection of Christmas stories, up for preorder at only 99c!
Ready to two-step under the mistletoe with a hot cowboy? How about a gorgeous tycoon? Spend a white Christmas in Montana with eight heartwarming, contemporary romances. This limited edition collection features sweet and sexy holiday stories from bestselling and award-winning authors. You’ll find eight romantic heroes to fall in love with in A Montana Born Christmas boxed set. And all for less than a dollar!
“The air smells good out here,” Liz told him, straightening away from the warmed sheepskin against his back, so she could properly drink in the pure Montana air. It was cold enough to make her nostrils sting, but she’d never encountered anything like this. No pollution. No dumpsters or dank storm sewers or even the humid tang of the ocean.
“I’ve heard people say before that they could smell snow and I always thought they were joking, but I can smell it. It’s sweet. And it’s so quiet.”
She spoke in a hushed voice, listening to the brush of the horse’s legs through the snow and the squeak of his hooves with each step. The air was still, the world silent to the point of reverence. The saunter of the horse rocked her gently, like a mama with a cradle, lulling her.
As they moved into the trees, a chilled pine scent closed around her. Drifts of snow slid from branches with almost musical notes and percussive thumps. Powder poofed in clouds that sparked with rainbow colors in the weak sunlight.
“The other reason I bring the horse,” Blake said, “is to drag the tree. They’re heavy.”
She let herself cuddle against him again, just because she liked it. “I’ve been using the same fake one for years. This is definitely better than digging a box out of the attic.”They wandered the grove of trees for a while, debating shapes, eyeing rabbit tracks and a deer path. All these years, Liz had thought the accouterments of Christmas a bit phony and clichéd, but today she saw the reality that inspired all of it. The holly tree with its bright red berries, the snow-frosted pine cones hanging like baubles. She could have stayed out here forever, drinking it in.
Christmas might come once a year, but this one—she realized like an epiphany—would never be here again. She had to savor every second and tuck the precious memories somewhere safe.
But the window of milder temperatures was short. Within the hour, clouds had gathered to hide the sun and a snap grew on the air. A few tiny flakes drifted around them.
“This one?” Blake said, circling the horse around a tree.
They agreed on its perfection and both dismounted. Liz stretched her legs while Blake chopped, axe ringing and releasing a pitchy, wood scent into the air.
“I’m warm,” he said as he wiped his brow and roped the tree.
Looking around the little clearing they occupied, she had a feeling both peaceful and awed, yet wistful and melancholy.
“You know how lucky you are to live here, don’t you? It’s genuinely a wonderland.”
“I do,” he said, taking a moment to gaze upward at the cathedral like treetops. “I hope I can keep it. Stay here forever. Might need a Christmas miracle, though,” he said with a wryness that wasn’t as light as it could be.
A few minutes later, he mounted Rocky and looked down at where she still stood on the ground.
She puzzled her brows. “No fence out here, partner. How do I get up there?”
“I’ve done this before you know.” He kicked his foot free of a stirrup and pointed at it. “Put your foot in there.”
“When you say you’ve done it before, do you mean you’ve brought other women out here?” she asked, not sure she liked that.
“I’ve doubled,” he clarified. “But yes, I’ve brought women out here to choose a tree. My mother and sister.”
“Okay then,” she said, sheepish under his amused grin, then making a face as he dragged her up from her high step into his stirrup. “Oof. That wasn’t nearly so graceful as from the fence,” she said after she’d gathered herself into position behind him.
But she was more comfortable up here now. She snuggled into him for warmth, not worried she’d take a tumble. She’d never felt so safe as she did with him.
“This has been fun. Thank you for bringing me. This is shaping up to be the best Christmas of my life,” she told him.
“Me, too.” His hand covered hers where she’d slid it under the fold of his coat into the heat against his stomach. “I talk a good game about not letting things worry me, but I’d be brooding if you weren’t here, keeping me thankful for what I’ve got.”
She inched a little closer to him, saying nothing. Just holding onto him and what they had. For now.
Award winning author, Dani Collins writes Harlequin Presents, romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, erotic romance, and small-town rancher novellas for Tule’s Montana Born. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter. (You’ll get a free short story romance as a welcome gift!) Or visit Dani on social media here:
A MONTANA BORN CHRISTMAS can be purchased in eBook format for/from: