Having recently read Marsha Ward’s The Man From Shenandoah, and coming away thoroughly impressed (see my earlier review here), I expected a similar immersion in the world of the wild west in her second and third volumes, which continue the tale of the uprooted Owen brothers. I wasn’t disappointed, although I must say that I can easily see her continuing this series, should she so choose.
While her first volume focused on the family, in general, and one brother, Carl, in particular, both Ride to Raton and Trail of Storms turn our attention to the other (and, for me, much more interesting) brother, James. His path in life after the Civil War brings obstacle after obstacle. First, he has to leave the woman he loves back in the Shenandoah Valley, when his family strikes out for the west. So, he adjusts and learns to love another–the one chosen by his father. Unfortunately, she has eyes for his brother, Carl, who ends up with her by the end of The Man From Shenandoah. Another lady lost.
In fact, Ride to Raton begins with his brother’s wedding, a celebration so painful for James that he strikes out on his own immediately without even saying goodbye to his mother. Unsure what to do now with his life, he heads toward a possible future in mining, but circumstances cause him to cross paths with a young Mexican woman, Amparo. Gradually, he falls in love with this quiet, beguiling beauty, only to face tragedy yet again.
Trail of Storms brings James full circle and then beyond…to a new source of peace and comfort in his life. To be honest, my interest in this concluding volume didn’t really pick up until James entered the scene again. But taken all together, the three volume series is well-written and authentic, and Ride to Raton and Trail of Storms, in particular, piqued my interest for the ways in which the author shed light on the racial divide between whites and Mexicans back in those days in a part of the country where Mexicans had long been dominant.
My only remaining question: Will there be more of the Owen Family in the future? I certainly hope so. If you want to purchase any, or all, of the series, go to Marsha Ward’s website here.