Whispers In The Canyon

Donovan Family Saga Book 1

Romance - Historical
301 Pages
Reviewed on 11/29/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

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 Territory in the late 1800s. With 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, spirituals, 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, having realized 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 including romance, traditional song lyrics, and a dash of Celtic mysticism.

Having grown up in a large & often boisterous Irish-American family, she is intimately acquainted with the workings of such a clan and uses those experiences to good purpose (though no names will be named!)

MacShane is a member of the Historical Novel Society, and is an #OwnVoices writer. A self-professed grammar nerd who still loves diagramming sentences, Giff currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Richard, the Pied Piper of stray cats.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Whispers in the Canyon by Gifford MacShane is an emotionally charged love story. Adam Donovan is deeply rooted in his Irish heritage. He and all of the Donovan clan live by a heartfelt code of conduct. “A man without a family has no one, but a man who is a bad neighbor is no one.” Persecuted, the Donovans fled Ireland for America and have become well-known and respected ranchers in Arizona. In the spring of 1885, Adam rides across the canyon toward the lonely Travers ranch; he is the bearer of bad news. Regardless of how Adam feels, he knows this is the neighborly thing to do. As he approaches, he sees a battered and bruised young woman standing outside. Adam tells Jesse Travers her brother, Russell, is dead, and he is the one who killed him. This is the beginning of a rare and unlikely relationship between Adam and Jesse. Destitute, Jesse strangely finds comfort and refuge in the presence of the man who killed her brother. Day by day, Jesse’s fragile beauty bares its soul, and every day Adam is there, proving he is trustworthy. Yet, the haunting past refuses to let Jesse go; it will take the entire love of the Donovan family to break the yoke and set love free.

Gifford MacShane pens a heartwarming, yet gut-wrenching romance novel in Whispers in the Canyon. This novel is one of the most well-written and well-developed books I have read in a long time. The characterization is above reproach. The characters are written with refined and defined eloquence. As a reader, you sense their despair and devotion, and you feel the longings of their heart and soul. Penned with transparency, the characters' secrets, hopes, thoughts, silent pleas, and even fear-ridden nightmares are exposed. Both of the main characters undergo a dynamic character growth; the fragility of the heroine matures into a woman of astounding inner strength, while the rugged, brawny, extremely masculine hero discovers freedom in vulnerability. Their growth is only realized, however, through the haunting, relentless foreboding of the antagonist.

MacShane delivers Gaelic tradition and folklore effortlessly, and proverbial sayings and meaningful metaphoric descriptions enlighten the time and setting. Written with poetic imagery, the narrative pays homage to both Ireland and Arizona. The plot is driven by a passion for love not realized, and with each turn of the page, you are drawn further into the hope that it will somehow come to pass. Gifford MacShane reveals, “Love is not earned, nor deserved. It is a gift.” Whispers in the Canyon is an inspirational love story. I wait in anticipation for book two in the Donovan Family Saga.

Trudi LoPreto

Whispers In The Canyon by Gifford MacShane centers on Jesse, a frightened young girl, who has been abused by her outlaw brother, known poverty, and known much unhappiness. Adam is the son of the Donovan family, the neighbors living next door. When her brother is shot and her father dies, she finds herself isolated and alone in her run-down cabin. The Donovan clan quickly steps in and tries to offer help, but Jesse is timid, shy, and afraid of contact with the opposite sex. Adam and his twin, Brian, slowly and painstakingly win her trust by quietly being there for her and helping to fix her cabin and barn. They bring her into the fold of their large family, offering her a lot of love and support as each of the children, grandmother, and parents offer Jesse their own special gifts of love. It does not take long for Adam to fall in love with Jesse and vow to take care of her for the rest of their lives. Together they learn the meaning of love and being there for each other as Jesse also begins to fall in love with Adam.

Whispers In The Canyon: Donovan Family Saga Book 1 is a touching romantic historical western story that will capture your attention from the first words and hold you until the last. I could not help but feel the love, joy, pain, and sorrow as I read and was pulled back into the 1800s in Whispers In The Canyon. Gifford MacShane did his research well, painting a picture accurately and with a great understanding of abuse, love, hard times, and family devotion. I cannot say enough good things about Whispers In The Canyon. I am anxiously awaiting book 2 to continue following the Donovan clan.

K.C. Finn

Whispers In The Canyon is a work of fiction in the historical, romance, and interpersonal drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Gifford MacShane. Written as the opening novel to the Donovan Family Saga of books, this work is largely suitable for all readerships, although it does lightly touch on the subject of recovering from abuse. We find ourselves following the tale of Jesse Travers out in the old west, where the death of her abusive brother sets her free at last. But when she begins to get to know Adam Donovan, the man who shot him, Jesse realizes that her trauma did not truly die with her brother, and there’s a long way to go yet on the road to healing.

Author Gifford MacShane presents a beautiful and heartfelt piece of fiction that goes beyond the simple western romance to deliver a tender, emotional and psychological tale of one woman’s bravery in a time when few people really cared or appreciated such strength. As the opening novel to a series, we are introduced to the Donovan clan and their Irish roots, setting a great historical grounding for future books and more characters. One of the things which I found most striking was the author’s ability to take a pertinent contemporary issue like abuse, which is much talked about now, and represent it accurately within a historical context whilst still making it highly relatable to us. Overall, I would certainly recommend Whispers In The Canyon for fans of realistic historical romance and emotionally accomplished fiction.

Edith Wairimu

Whispers in the Canyon: Donovan Family Saga Book 1 by Gifford MacShane is a moving story about how love and community heal a woman from a past fraught with cruelty and abuse. When Jesse is told about the bank shooting that left her brother dead, she sinks to the ground as tears of overwhelming relief flow down her face. Adam Donovan, her brother’s killer and the man who breaks the news to her, is stunned at her fragility, a stark contrast to the reputation of violence that she is known for. Noting her fear and withdrawal, he begins to feel the need to protect and shelter Jesse from what is plaguing her. As he uncovers a heartbreaking trend of abuse in her life, he is unsure whether he is capable of helping her heal and accept his love.

Whispers in the Canyon is filled with many moving moments not only of loss and abuse but of persistent acts of kindness and love that help restore and reassure Jesse. Many aspects of the Irish culture and history are explored through the Donovans. They survive numerous hardships that instill crucial principles such as the importance of community and the need to extend kindness to neighbors. The themes form important lessons in the novel. Though brought together by tragedy, Jesse and Adam develop a powerful connection. Their patience and love towards each other serve as a source of empowerment as each struggles to move past their trials. Whispers in the Canyon by Gifford MacShane is a profound novel that explores love as an undeserved gift and its power to heal.

Bernadette Diane Anderson

Gifford MacShane begins his story Whispers In The Canyon with two people who are forced together by bad news of the death of a family member. Adam Donovan is the bearer of this news and Jesse Travers is the recipient. For Adam, it's bad news but for Jesse, it is a relief. Jesse’s response is, to say the least, strange and perplexes Adam greatly. Here begins a love story that takes your breath away. The tiny woman Adam sees before him is astoundingly strong and he very soon comes to love her deeply. As her story unfolds and tragedy, cruelty, and harshness become known, his admiration and love grow. In an effort to spare Jesse more pain as a result of a cruel event, he marries her to hopefully bring some security into her life. Read along as Jesse finds love, commitment, admiration, and devotion among the Donovan clan of which Adam is the oldest son. She learns the true meaning of the word 'family' and how to both accept and give true love.

A wonderfully written story that has many beautiful yet complex characters, well-described with both the good and bad characteristics being brought out in the plot, while you, the reader, are helped to build up your own picture of each character. Gifford MacShane allows you to understand the complications found in being part of a large, well-bonded family with all its joys and fears. Whispers In The Canyon draws your attention to the many diverse roles each family member adopts within its circle and then extends this to members of their community and how they interact with the Donovan family. The story really brings your emotions out as you learn details of the family’s history, its beginning, and current events. This is one book you will not want to end, one which leaves you wondering what the future holds for the ever-changing Donovan clan. A fabulous story that left me wanting more.