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Donovan Family Saga #1

Whispers in the Canyon

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Damaged almost beyond hope, a young woman is offered safety—by the man who killed her brother.

1880s Arizona Territory: Shunned by the village for her outlaw brother's deeds, Jesse is not sorry to hear he's been killed while robbing a bank. Strangely enough it’s Adam Donovan, the man who shot him, who brings her the news. Even more strange is this newcomer’s offer to help put her ranch back on solid footing.

Traumatized by years of abuse, Jesse doubts she can trust any man—especially this Irish immigrant with his volatile temper and gunfighter’s reputation. But a profound love for her canyon home outweighs her trepidation, and she accepts his assistance.

As they work together to improve her ranch, Jesse begins to believe that Adam’s true nature is far removed from his notoriety. She feels the first stirrings of love―an emotion she's never known before.

But her nascent dreams of romance turn to nightmares when she discovers that not all of her brother's evil deeds died with him.

Deceptively simple and poetic, this heartfelt historical western will tug at your emotions, make you laugh, cry, and even get a little angry, as it handles difficult topics with a sensitive touch.

302 pages, Paperback

First published September 18, 2019

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About the author

Gifford MacShane

4 books134 followers
Gifford MacShane is the author of historical fiction that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

Her novels feature a family of Irish immigrants who settle in the Arizona TerritoryWith an accessible literary style, MacShane draws out her characters' hidden flaws and strengths as they grapple with both physical and emotional conflicts.

Singing almost before she could talk, MacShane has always loved folk music, whether it be Irish, Appalachian, or the songs of the cowboys. Her love of the Old West goes back to childhood, when her father introduced her to the works of Zane Grey. Later she became interested in the Irish diaspora, realizing her ancestors must have lived through An Gorta Mor, the Great Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800s. Writing allows her to combine her three great interests into a series of family stories, each with a central romance, traditional song lyrics, and a dash of Celtic mysticism.

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5 stars
29 (63%)
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13 (28%)
3 stars
3 (6%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews
7,157 reviews85 followers
April 1, 2021
This is a well written historical western set in the late 1800's Arizona. The author brings a cast of strong characters centering around Jesse and Adam. She does a great job building the story and pulled me in from page one to the last. She does a fantastic job painting her scenes ,taking you back to the day with her detailed and descriptive writing. She brings some strong issues and handles them well ,showing all the emotions along the way. I loved this story and would highly recommend reading.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book. All opinions in this review are my own and freely given.
Profile Image for Joshua Grant.
Author 23 books237 followers
November 2, 2021
Gifford MacShane brings us a heart-pounding and deep love story set in the late 1800s with Whispers in the Canyon! With the deaths of her deadbeat father and outlaw brother, Jesse is left to manage a dying ranch all on her own. But when Adam, the man who killed her brother, shows up to give her the news, he offers her a helping hand on the ranch. I loved the growing sense of trust and affection MacShane built in the characters. Their story and chemistry feels very natural, and I was drawn in by their realistic struggles! If you love a good Western romance with plenty of depth and really likeable characters, definitely come spend some time on the ranch in Whispers in the Canyon!
570 reviews2 followers
July 1, 2020
There were parts of this story that were really well written and had brought tears to my eyes. Characters experienced real trauma and their continued fight to live despite the barriers they faced was touching.

I did enjoy this story but there were some parts that went on a little long and the ending was not as satisfying as I had hoped. Yes, admittedly, I like happy endings. This one was not a sad ending...it had hope... but I wanted more.

If you like historical western romances this book has potential.

I received an ARC through VRO for review.
Profile Image for Mary Yarde.
Author 6 books137 followers
December 3, 2019

"I didn't want to kill him..."

But Russell Travers had already shot one man while he attempted to rob The White's Station Bank, how many more would he have shot if Adam Donovan had not stopped him? Nevertheless, it does not take anything away from the fact that Adam killed a man, and now he has to break the news to Russell's ailing father and wayward sister.

The dilapidated state of the Travers' ranch comes as a surprise to Adam, as does the scrap of the girl who threatens him with a dirty Whitworth rifle. Adam had been led to believe that Jesse was a violent woman, but the reality in front of him, even if she did hold onto that rifle, negated the rumours. Jesse was not what he had expected, and that rifle looked so old and abused that he doubted it could even fire. No, Jesse was not what others said of her.

Jesse had cried when Adam told her that her brother was dead. But they were not tears of grief. They were tears of relief. For years, Jesse had suffered at the hands of her brother. At last, she was free of him, but his death hastened that of her ailing father, and Jesse finds herself all alone in a cold and unforgiving world, with a ranch that was falling down around her.

Adam cannot stand by and do nothing in the face of Jesse's dire needs. His family rally around Jesse and help her to not only rebuild the ranch but make it profitable. And the more time Adam spends with Jesse, the more his heart tells him that this is the woman he was destined to be with.

Jesse had learnt long ago how futile hope was. She fears that as soon as Adam discovers what had befallen her by the hand of her brother, then he would leave, and she would be all alone again, and that she could not survive...

Whispers in the Canyon by Gifford MacShane is the emotionally evocative story of a young woman who learns how to trust and how to love after years of insufferable abuse at the hands of her brother.

Set during the 19th Century in Arizona, Whisper in the Canyon appals, impresses and makes a reader swoon at the romance in equal measures. It has everything one could want from a historical romance and then some.

Adam is instantly drawn to Jesse. He admires her bravery, but he also sees past the gossip and the rumours. He is a man who is confident enough to come to his own conclusions, and he has been taught to listen to his heart. I thought Adam was a wonderful hero. His patience and understanding were precisely what Jesse needed. Adam becomes Jesse's constant in a confusing and terrifying world. I thought Adam was really rather wonderful.

Jesse is as broken as any soul can be, and yet her strength of character, her determination to rebuild her life, makes her one of the strongest heroines that I have ever encountered. The stigma that Jesse may have come across is tempered by the protective shield that the Donovan household wrap around her. Slowly, but inevitably, Jesse learns to trust her feelings, and to trust Adam. Adam is nothing like her brother, and often Jesse finds the difference staggering and somewhat confusing, as anyone would coming out of a very unhealthy and abusive relationship. Jesse and Adam's story is a sweet and slow romance, with Adam ever mindful of what she had suffered. It was an enthralling love story that made this book wholly unforgettable and next to impossible to put down. Kudos, Ms MacShane.

Another character that deserves a mention is Katie. While Adam shows Jesse what real love is, his grandmother Katie helps to heal the scars that Adam cannot. I adored Katie, she is this wonderfully knowledgable lady who has a tremendously large heart. She takes Jesse under her wing, and along with Adam and the rest of the Donovans', helps Jesse to heal. I thought Katie's portrayal was marvellous.

The historical detailing of this story has to be commended. MacShane has taken considerable care to research the history of this era, and it shows through in her writing. MacShane has captured the very essence of 19th Century Arizona. Brilliantly written and fabulously executed.

Whispers in the Canyon by Gifford MacShane is one of the most compelling and moving historical western romance novels that I have ever read.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Profile Image for Pam.
Author 2 books5 followers
December 3, 2019
I really enjoyed this book! Have you ever been to a new friend's house and fell in love with their family and wished they were yours (sorry Mom and Dad!)? That's what this book did for me. This large, close-knit family overflowed with love, humor, empathy, loyalty and more.

Author MacShane not only gives us a wonderful character-driven story based with characters to root for, but tackles difficult topics like physical and sexual abuse with a sensitive touch based on emotional reaction rather than graphic detail.

I always love a good historical novel where I feel I learn something about a time period, culture, or country after reading. In Whispers in the Canyon readers get to learn about Ireland with a vivid description of the Donovan's homeland, why they immigrated to America, and even some Celtic words. I want someone to start calling me mavoureen! :)

My only disappointment was the ending. It left me wanting for more, but I have a feeling MacShane might have a sequel or series in mind. I hope so!
Profile Image for Jean Holtof.
415 reviews2 followers
October 22, 2021
A very well written story. A saga with all the elements of drama and social interactions that are sometimes brutal and sometimes heartwarming. Jesse Travers is a survivor and a woman who is dealt a very tough hand in life until she encounters Adam Donovan who is immediately drawn to her beauty and feisty manner. The Donovan family is an amazing mix of personalities, strong, persistent in the face of hardship, and loyal to a fault to their family members. A wonderful portrayal of human tenacity in this story that has its origins in Ireland where Patrick and Molly were faced with the severe consequences of the potato scourge that ravished the Irish people and continues in the beautiful land od Arizona. An engrossing tale that touches the heart and spirit in many ways. Gifford MacShane has captured the essence of human existence in this amazing story. Not for the faint of heart but definitely worth the time. Wonderful imagery throughout.
Profile Image for Ingrid Vermeulen-Quakernaat.
1,151 reviews6 followers
April 25, 2021
A long story without getting boring or collapsing somewhere.
A story with a lot of pain, regret, shame but also with redemption and a lot of love from all sides.
A story in which a lot of emotion is given a place, a story that starts from a protagonist but also from a family and its values.

A great story about Jesse who remains alone after her brother is killed and her father dies. She has endured a lot since childhood but was never broken. Adam who respects her and loves her unconditionally, but breaks through his own thoughts that he is failing her.
His family that is touched by her strength and wants to protect her from all the misery that the harsh world brings her. Jesse showing her strength and showing the family that she values ​​everything that has been brought to her

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
2 reviews1 follower
June 8, 2020
As far as historical romances go, this one stood out in a few ways. First of all, the family dynamic is so special and highly enjoyable to witness. Second, I absolutely adored the female friendships in this book! In a lot of romances, women are pitted against each other as rivals, but there's so much support and understanding in these relationships.
No spoilers, but another interesting thing is that the main villain is almost internal as opposed to external. This structure is unique for romances as well.
Overall, very fun read. It did end a bit abruptly--I wished there had been more resolution but maybe that's me just wanting more interaction with the characters.
4 reviews
August 2, 2020
I enjoyed this book very much. The characters roped you in and made you feel all the feels. It broke my heart and made me smile. Many different emotions throughout and the story captivated your attention. The editing was on point. I only noticed one oops throughout the whole thing. 4 stars. Would have given 5 stars but I was hoping for a more indepth ending. Overall it was a good read. Will read this author again. I received a copy of this book via Vorocious Readers Group and this is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Jess Workman.
38 reviews3 followers
May 21, 2021
A feel good, wholesome story about a young girl deep in the canyons of Arizona. Jesse’s life has been tragedy after tragedy. Failed to be protected by the ones she’s loved the most she must figure out a way to survive.

Jesse meets Adam in the most unlikely of ways. With his stoic patience he becomes her lifeline in the dark.

Author Gifford MacShane writes a compelling, well written story about love conquering all. Deeply rooted in Irish traditions, this book makes you remember the unwavering love of family and survival.
4,598 reviews31 followers
August 11, 2022
I admired Jesse
This book reminded me of historical western dramas I would watch and read when I was younger. Only this one is better because of the depth of story and characters in this well written historical. When I can get lost in a story within a few pages then I know I am in for a treat. Plus this is a new author for me but it will not be the last book I will read by them. If I could give it more than five stars I would it is an excellent book. I did receive a free copy of this book from Booksprout and voluntarily chose to review it.
Profile Image for Barbara Thompson.
461 reviews7 followers
July 15, 2020
Whispers in the Canyon held my attention from the very beginning. The author wrote a storyline that made me feel I was involved and knew each character. Each character was fabulous and unique in each of their parts. I enjoyed reading Author Gifford MacShane's book and I'm sure others would also enjoy reading Whispers in the Canyon.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book from Voracious Readers Only. This review is one hundred percent my opinion.
Profile Image for Barbara.
17k reviews8 followers
April 3, 2021
This is a story of an Irish family and everything they go through it is an emotional story that I found I had to have a tissue close by. Adam Donovan is a man who feels deeply, but does not know how to let others in when he needs them. He marries Jesse Travers they will have a lot to overcome. This is a new Author to me. I recommend this book. I received a copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
185 reviews2 followers
April 23, 2022
Absolutely wonderful book!! It's got a little bit of everything from history, murder and DV to a beautiful love story! There's a few triggers in the story so be aware!! Excellent characters with a really well written story. I wasn't happy with the way that the story adruptly ended though!:( The copy I received kept repeatedly throwing in the title all willy nilly throughout the book, but maybe it's just in the review copy I received. Other than that I highly recommend this book!
31 reviews
June 18, 2020
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is not just a romance but a story of deep enduring love that is tested by doubts and fears. You are able to get to know all the characters due to their thoughts and interactions with others. The Donovans are a loving, caring family. I hope there will be future books about them.
43 reviews
June 29, 2020
Absolutely breathtaking. A fabulous story of human struggle and how love can help us heal from life’s deepest troubles. I felt every range of emotion reading this book, love, joy, hope, grief, anger. I felt a part of the family and felt myself missing them when the book was finished. Utterly perfect and definitely a book I will be revisiting again and again.
Profile Image for R.L.S..
Author 4 books30 followers
March 15, 2021
Western Love

Jesse has been deeply hurt by her family. She's been gossiped about and neglected by her neighbors. But when Adam Donovan has to deliver news of her brother's death, he falls in love...and everything changes.

A bit slow moving, but very sweet. I like the excellent characters and the family/small town drama.
Profile Image for Kat M.
2,880 reviews19 followers
August 2, 2022
this was a great start to Donovan Family Saga series, I enjoyed the use of western elements and getting to know the characters in this world. I love the whole story and am looking forward to more in this series.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
28 reviews
July 31, 2020
Loved this book with a capital L. The story and characters are filled with so much love i can't imagine anyone could feel any differently. It brought me to tears more than once and I will look forward to discovering more from this author.
313 reviews3 followers
April 2, 2021

Love this story. Excellent characters that you can’t help but fall in love with them. I went through the full range of emotions with this one. Truly a great story!

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
145 reviews
April 30, 2022
I've to read

Awesome! Wonderful!! The most wonderful book I've read in years. What a loving family. I even learned some historical things I never knew about. Everyone should read this book.
Currently reading
July 18, 2020
I was really absorbed in the characters. I enjoyed the book, but the end was an anticlimax.
Profile Image for K.D. Bissonette.
Author 6 books3 followers
September 4, 2020
Book received from Voracious Readers Only. This was a beautiful and touching story filled with a family people would cherish!
Profile Image for Lois Weaver.
16 reviews
January 5, 2021
Late night read

Like the wonderful love felt between the family. How each one though different melded into the family and the story. How love was shared and held I to.
1,907 reviews6 followers
October 29, 2021

Its a long saga to start but oh so worth it. The love of family and of life so evident and so awe inspiring. You might gain the meaning of love.
Profile Image for N.L. LaFoille.
Author 2 books14 followers
November 5, 2019
While Whispers in the Canyon is a romance, I was impressed as much by the thread of family that tied everything together. The Donovan clan is a big Irish family and every personality is unique and has their special place within the family dynamic.

The book is a very soft, sweet, character-driven narrative, so the pace can be a little slow, but I liked that about it. While poor Jesse is really put through the wringer (poor, poor Jesse!!!), her strength of spirit and the support of the Donovans carries her through, then she gets the chance to be a pillar of strength for others.

The friendships that develop between Jesse and the Donovans was cute, and she relates differently to each of them. Gifford did a great job of fleshing out each character and staying true to their individual voices. The relationships among the Donovans made me laugh out loud at times. She perfectly captures the eternal love of siblings and the deep, deep annoyance. I could read another book just of Brian and Adam razzing each other.

I really loved Brian and Daniel. And Evelyn. I would have liked a little more depth from Adam, since he was our leading man. But all the rest of the family was so great.

The writing was wonderful. Everything flowed smoothly and scenes were painted vividly without being overly flowery. Historical accuracy was on point. She weaves historical details into the narrative seamlessly. There was one instance where the characters had knowledge and insight that seemed a little too contemporary, but it didn't take me out of the story.

Ultimately, this is a journey toward healing for Jesse, who had been abused pretty much her whole life. (Trigger warnings: mentions of past rape and physical abuse, but nothing graphic.) And it's a story about family, how sometimes it takes a village, about kindness and generosity and patience. And a whole bunch of twangy, sexy Irish cowboys.

*I received a copy of this book free for an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Mary Higginson.
124 reviews7 followers
November 17, 2019
A different historical romance.

To me this book is an elegy to times past and the people who pioneered them. It is an elegy and a love story for the old country and the new. Deceptively simple and poetic it tells the tale of the Donovan family, in particular Adam Donovan and the love of his life, Jesse Travers.

Immigrants from Ireland, the Donovans have settled in the United States and made a good life for themselves. They are a large family filled with different characters and a great love for one another. Jesse, on the other hand is ostensibly poverty stricken and as the sister of an outlaw largely outcast from society.

At the beginning of the story her brother is killed by Adam who then comes to her to bring the news of his death. That meeting, strained as it is, sets them on their life’s path.

The narrative proceeds at a slow burn which suits the tone of the story, echoing the way of life of the characters. All the characters are well drawn and engaging. The sense of Irish mysticism, the joys and sorrows of them all is well played out.

I enjoyed this book. As well as being a good read it taught me things I was not aware of. I did think towards the end there were times when it was a little overly sentimental but having a husband from Irish stock I think that fits in well with the Irish psyche.

Well worth a read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews

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