“Marsha Ward has one foot in the 21st century and one in the 19th. Her characters hew closely to those wild days, portraying their lives and times. Readers love her for that. Other writers marvel at her use of the most modern of means to present her stories.”
~Gary Svee, two-time Spur Award Winner, and author of The Peacemaker’s Vengeance.
Western Writers Newsletter, September 2003 issue
“Marsha Ward has the ability to grab readers by the lapels, yank them into her stories, and make them care deeply about her characters. In her newest novel, she combines joy and pathos with revenge and redemption, adding enough satisfying action and surprises to keep readers breathlessly looking forward to the next page. I thoroughly enjoyed RIDE TO RATON.”
~Phyllis Dugan, former President of Wyoming Writers, Inc.
Westward News, September 2003 issue
“When James Owen’s fiancee up and marries his brother, James’s rage drives him from his home. He sets out for [Northern] Colorado, looking to work in the mines. He makes the mistake, however, of stopping in Pueblo City where trouble finds him. Set upon, shot, then jailed, he is bailed out by an old family ‘friend.’ The help is not free, and James must work himself clear of these entanglements.
“On his way over the mountains at last, he finds the body of a wealthy Mexican. A letter explains that the dead man was going to Leones to claim a bride. James has found an expensive bride gift on the body and determines he must take it, along with an explanation, to the woman.
“At the same time, events have sent Amparo Garces y Martinez on a journey from Santa Fe into Colorado where an arranged marriage awaits her. Arriving at the mission, she waits there for her husband to claim her. However, it is James Owen who arrives. In a moment of chivalry, James marries the girl with the intention of taking her back to Santa Fe. Naturally, his plans go awry. First, although he fights his feelings, he falls in love with her. Second, Amparo willingly, joyously, returns his love, and somewhere between here and there, James decides they should go home to his family.
“…upon reaching Trinidad, they are swept up in a fight between Mexican and white warring factions. Barricaded in the mercantile, they hope to avoid the trouble, but trouble comes to them….
“RIDE TO RATON is the action packed story of a conflicted man who strives always to do the right thing. It will catch at your heart and stay with you long after you put the book down. Highly recommended.”
~Carol Crigger, author of Liar’s Trail, The Prince’s Cousin, and The Gunsmith Series
Western Writers Newsletter, November 2003 issue
“I just finished RIDE TO RATON by Marsha Ward. It is a great read! Don’t miss it, but start with THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH.”
~Judith R. Parker, Author of Winter Kill, Ride a Cold Wind and Cato Wahl
“RIDE TO RATON is as enjoyable as THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH—maybe more so. You are a wonder at developing your characters, and their dialog is so natural.”
~Pat Nipper, Author of A Life Within a Life: The Story and Adventures of Libbie Custer, Wife of General George A. Custer
“Marsha Ward must have a door to the past. She steps through it to the Old West, watches, listens, then comes back and writes about it vividly.”
~Robert J. Randisi, Editor, Mystery and Western Author of Invitation to a Hanging
“Marsha, thank you for RIDE TO RATON. Not only do you share the continuing story of the Owen family, with compelling characters, intriguing story line, and well researched historical facts, you also open your heart to your readers and invite them to participate in your love of the old West. It’s hard to wait for a copy of TRAIL OF STORMS.
~Connie Jo Wolfe
“Marjie and I recently finished reading THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH and RIDE TO RATON. We enjoyed both books very much, and feel that they are extremely well written. It is evident that the books are enriched by the extensive research behind them. Your characters came alive. In RIDE TO RATON, we liked the way Amparo and James learned to bridge the language barrier. We know just enough Spanish that we never had any trouble understanding Amparo’s dialog. James’ character, and how he came to be loving and forgiving, was very pleasing to us.
~Frederick Granger Johnson, Jr.
“I read THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH and RIDE TO RATON back to back. I appreciated the way Marsha Ward used some of the same characters to continue the family story. I have spent some time traveling in the areas in which she set her two books and felt at home during those captivating story settings. I am looking forward to reading her next book, TRAIL OF STORMS.”
~Gerald W. Foster
“My husband is a voracious reader of Westerns—has read almost every one in our nearby library. However, when he discovered RIDE TO RATON, he realized how great writing can bring stories to reality. Now he anxiously awaits the next one that his favorite writer, Marsha Ward, writes!”
“Marsha Ward’s western novel, RIDE TO RATON, reminded me why I swore off reading fiction a long time ago: I can’t put the story down. I let housework, bookwork, writing, visiting teaching, and all my routines slide because I absolutely have to know what happens next. Luckily I no longer have children at home to neglect while I read that one last chapter.
“I’m just one generation removed from the ranch. Or is it two? My mother was born on a homestead in New Mexico, and I have two uncles who worked cattle all their lives. The title of Marsha’s book resonated with me, because I remember the title town from conversations in my grandmother’s living room when the old cowboy stories were circulating. Since Raton is northern New Mexico and we lived in the south, it probably had to do with rodeos, as my uncles competed in the 1930’s.
“Another thing Marsha’s book reminded me of was the old adage that there are two sides to every story. In her first novel, THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH, we’re introduced to the Owen clan and follow their trek west after the Civil War. We also follow Carl’s romance with Ellen and sigh when he gets the girl. It matters not that Ellen is promised to his brother James, because she loves Carl. All ends well.
“Except for James. RIDE TO RATON opens with Carl and Ellen’s wedding, and we see what we didn’t see in the first book: their happiness is James’s open wound. Unable to stay and witness their wedded bliss, James leaves everything he has in the world and sets out, penniless, to find someplace where he can make his fortune while he heals.
“Marsha Ward has the ability to put you in the time and place. The west during the mid-1800s was not a hospitable region, and she doesn’t romanticize it. I was particularly moved by how Marsha described the treatment of a gunshot injury James receives, first by the local doctor and then by an old friend from back home.
“Marsha does a good job of setting up the adventures that James has and making them believable, and she carries those adventures through to the very end. She also makes communication between James and Amparo (a young lady from Santa Fe) believable as they travel alone together. He speaks no Spanish; she speaks no English.
“Marsha’s use of imagery is a treat. For instance: ‘…she had slipped from his grasp like quick-silver chased across a tabletop.’ Those of us who grew up before knowledge of mercury poisoning know how hard it is to pick up a dollop of quicksilver. It’s a very elusive metal. Here’s another: ‘Only much later did sleep lay a quilt of blackness over his exhausted body.’ And one last one: ‘…with the November sun pouting on the breast of a hazy sky.’ Don’t you love it? The book is littered with similar gems.
“You don’t have to read THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH first. RIDE TO RATON stands on its own very well, and it leaves us caring about James Owen and wondering what will happen to him next.
~Liz Adair, author of the “Spider Latham” mystery series, The Mists of Quarry Harbor, and Counting the Cost
Mom Said Blog, October 25, 2008