Books

The Man from Shenandoah

Book 1: The Owen Family Saga, a series of novels set in post-Civil War times, that tells about the lives of the Owen family of Virginia and their neighbors. If you prefer to read in sequence, buy this one first. However, each book can stand alone.

Carl Owen doesn't intend to lose anything—not his land, not his cattle, and certainly not his girl—ever again!

The young cavalryman returns from the Civil War to find the family farm destroyed, his favorite brother dead, food scarce, and his father determined to leave the Shenandoah Valley to build a cattle empire in Colorado Territory. Crossing the continent, Carl falls in love with his brother's fiancée while set to wed another girl, but he might lose everything if the murderous thug Berto Acosta has his way. Carl battles a band of outlaws, a prairie fire, blizzards, a trackless waterless desert, and his own brother—all for the hand of feisty Ellen Bates.

Review from Western Writer's Newsletter: This is a book to prize, and not only for its gritty realism, exciting action, and compelling characters. The story further engages us by examining the ties that hold family and community together. Not many Westerns do that. Heartily recommended! - C.K. Crigger

Review from Midwest Book Review Reviewer's Bookwatch: Whatever happened to good, old fashioned westerns? If you've ever gazed over the shelves wondering this, then Ms. Ward has a book for you. The setting is very well done, capturing the flavor of pioneering. The many setbacks the group have, including one where the very cattle meant to sustain them are killed by an unexpectedly bad winter, make the triumphs they share all the more uplifting. This book is a pleasant journey indeed. - Cindy Lynn
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Ride to Raton

Book 2: The Owen Family Saga

Will a journey to Santa Fe for a young man and his unintended bride end in marital bliss or disaster?

Estranged from his family, James Owen leaves home to make a new life for himself. The turbulent world of post-Civil War Colorado Territory is fraught with danger and prejudice that increase his bitter loneliness as personal setbacks threaten to break him. Then James's journey brings him into contact with another wayfarer, beautiful young Amparo Garcés, who has come from Santa Fe to Colorado to marry a stranger. Through a twist of fate, their futures are changed forever when their lives are merged in a marriage of convenience. James and Amparo undertake a hazardous horseback trek over Raton Pass to Santa Fe, battling their personal demons, a challenging language barrier, and winter's raging storms.

Review from Roundtable Reviews: Ride to Raton is a pure western, complete with bad guys and broken hearts and even a dog. The sequel to The Man from Shenandoah features James Owen, the younger brother. Marsha Ward writes a fantastic romance against a vivid southwestern backdrop. James begins this book as a hurt, young man, but by the end of the book, I really could see him grow up and become a man. Made tougher by circumstances he has no control over, James realizes that the love he thought he had lost was nothing compared to what Amparo shows him. Amparo is a young Mexican lady, forced to leave her home in Santa Fe to marry a stranger in Colorado. She bravely faces her uncertain future, relying on her faith to get her through. She is sweet, loving and she provides a great contrast to James’ rough exterior. With an ending that surprised even me, Ride to Raton is not your usual romance. However, I do recommend it for western lovers—even the cover is wonderful! Marsha Ward once again shows us her gift for old fashioned storytelling! - Jen Hill

Review from Romance Junkies: I was enthralled, and sitting on the edge of my chair, as I read Ride to Raton. This is an exciting, quick paced, heartwarming, and heartrending story! James and Amparo are wonderfully "real" characters, with the emotions and interactions between them touching my heart. The secondary characters were fantastic: from mean and drunk, to kind and generous, they added extra life—and spice—to the story. The first one of Marsha Ward’s books I’ve read, I am highly impressed. A western in the true sense of the word, yet with plenty of romance, this one is definitely worth your time if you are a lover of westerns or romances, or both. - Teresa Henson
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Trail of Storms

Book 3: The Owen Family Saga

Jessie Bingham put heartbreak away to tend to her sister's needs, but when she settled for second best in love, she didn't foresee that James Owen would come back into her life.

The aftermath of the Civil War creates cruel circumstances for the Bingham family. A brutal attack on Jessie's sister, Hannah Fletcher, drives the extended family to flee to the West. They are soon joined by Heppie Bingham's beau George and his brother, Ned, who bring news that the Binghams are being pursued by cronies of Hannah's attacker. Even after they fight off that onslaught, poverty, bad weather, and Hannah's frightful secret plague their journey. Nursing her battered heart when she hears James Owen took a wife, Jessie accepts Ned's offer of marriage. But a stop on the trail holds surprises that launch Jessie into a bewildering tangle of values, emotions, and high adventure.

Shirley Bahlmann, author of the "Odds" pioneer series, says: Marsha Ward has the uncanny ability to transport readers back in time. You feel the characters' sorrows, hate the villains, cheer the heroes, and sit on the edge of your seat as one adventure after another unfolds. What a satisfying story this is, with real, believable trials and heart-warming conclusions. I recommend it to everyone, from history buffs to adventure lovers to romance readers.

Review from Meridian Magazine: Trail of Storms is not a romance, but a nitty gritty Western. It is the historical details of Colorado and New Mexico and the writer's understanding of both the American and Hispanic cultures of this place and time period that are superbly done. The author portrays vividly the lingering hatred that existed between Confederates and Yankees for years following the war, the bigotry between races, and the minimal rights of women. Historical and Western fans of either gender will enjoy this series, from the compelling covers to the last word of this third volume. - Jennie Hansen
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Spinster's Folly 

Book 4: The Owen Family Saga

Marie Owen yearns for a loving husband, but Colorado Territory is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors, so a future of spinsterhood seems more likely for her than wedded bliss.

Her best friend says cowboy Bill Henry is a likely candidate. Marie knows her class-conscious father would not allow such a pairing. When she challenges her father to find her a suitable husband before she becomes a spinster, he arranges a match with a neighbor's son. Then Marie discovers Tom Morgan would be an unloving, abusive mate and his mother holds a grudge against the Owen family. Marie's mounting despair at the prospect of being trapped in such a dismal marriage drives her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers. This fourth book in the Owen Family Saga is infused with potent heart and intense grit.

Johnny D. Boggs, six-time Spur Award-winning author of Camp Ford and Legacy of a Lawman says: With a great sense of time and place, crackerjack dialogue and rich characters, Marsha Ward delivers Spinster's Folly, a romance, Western, and historical novel rolled into one—and one fun read.

Irene Bennett Brown, award-winning author of Before the Lark; the "Women of Paragon Springs" series and "Celia Landrey" mysteries says: The harrowing experiences in early-day Colorado of 18-year-old spinster, Marie Owen, the result of her simple wish for a husband, held me spellbound from start to finish. I couldn't put the book down. An incredible story, Spinster's Folly is one of the best women's novels of the west I've had the pleasure to read. Ever!
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Coming this year: Gone for a Soldier

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