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N. N. Light's Book Heaven presents Gifford MacShane #authorspotlight #historicalfiction #historicalromance #mustread

I'm the author of historical fiction that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. My novels feature a family of Irish immigrants who settle in the Arizona Territory. My characters always have hidden flaws and strengths that I draw on as they grapple with physical and emotional conflicts.


Singing almost before I could talk, I've always loved folk music, whether Irish, Appalachian, or the songs of cowboys. My love of the Old West goes back to childhood, when my father introduced me to Zane Grey. Later, I was doing genealogical research into my father’s family, I realized his ancestors, who emigrated to the US in the late 1800s, had lived through An Gorta Mor, or the Great Potato Famine. Writing these books have allowed me to combine my three interests into a series of historical romances, each with traditional song lyrics and a dash of Celtic and/or Navajo mysticism.


The Donovan Family Saga includes WHISPERS IN THE CANYON (Book 1), THE WOODSMAN’S ROSE (Book 2), RAINBOW MAN (Book 3), and WITHOUT THE THUNDER (Book 4), as well as THE WINDS OF MORNING, a prequel novella requested by my fans.


I’ve been a member of the Historical Novel Society since 2017. An avid gardener, I cultivate pollinator plants and grow tomatoes (not enough) and zucchini (too much). I’m a self-professed grammar nerd and I currently live in Pennsylvania with my husband and a house full of rescued kitties.


Some fun facts about me:


  • Though my name doesn’t sound like it, I’m female (it’s a family name).

  • My husband and I have rescued and placed more than 35 cats in the past 20 years. I often call him “The Pied Piper of Stray Cats”, as they seem to follow him everywhere. It’s gotten so that whenever anyone who knows us (and some who don’t) finds a homeless cat, they bring it over to him, knowing he won’t turn them away.

  • I love to sing, though I have to say my cats don’t always an approve.

  • Though I write historical fiction/historical romance, I usually read murder mysteries and thrillers. My favorite authors in this vein are Agatha Christie, J. D. Robb, and the late Dick Francis.

·       My first library was a Book-Mobile. My grandmother lived in a tiny hamlet called Herbertsville in Ocean County NJ, and my older sister and I would visit her for 2 weeks every summer. The Book-Mobile came every week and parked at the village grocery store. Granny (pronounced “Grah´-nee”) would bring us to pick up books for my bed-ridden grandfather, a voracious reader.

·       Tired of kids’ books by the time I was 10, I asked the librarian to recommend something, and thus became acquainted with The Virginian by Owen Wister. What a revelation! My own copy of the book finally fell apart, but for years it was one of my most treasured possessions. The hard-core Knight of the Range and the literature of that time, that place—both live deep inside me.

  • It usually takes me more than a month to put away my Christmas decorations. Anyone who knows me can tell you I get a “little” crazy with it.

  •  I still love diagramming sentences, and do it sometimes for fun.

·       When I was in the 7th grade, I won a puppy at the school fair—a long-haired border collie mix that I named Sam. I’m not sure who was more surprised, my father or myself. I do know who was happier!


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Title:  WHISPERS IN THE CANYON, Donovan Family Saga Book 1

Author: Gifford MacShane

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Publisher: Soul Mate publishing


Book Blurb:

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


Finalist: The Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Romance of the Year, 2019: An emotionally evocative story... brilliantly written and fabulously executed."


If you enjoyed THE TEXAN'S REWARD by Jodi Thomas, and DREAMING ON DAISIES by Miralee Ferrell, then you’ll love WHISPERS IN THE CANYON.


Can Jesse trust her heart and reveal the extent of her brother’s treachery to Adam? Can they build a future encumbered by the past, or will her confession destroy her one chance for happiness?



Arizona Territory, Spring 1885


The trail split the canyon walls, walls that loomed tall and close and only gradually fell away, clearing the gloom from midday. The rider lifted his hat and drew a sleeve across his brow.


It was much too hot for April. Too quiet. No breeze stirred the aspen leaves. No birds trilled, no squirrels scampered. Even the brook ran silently. His horse’s hooves, muffled by dust, sent up gray ghosts that hung in the air for an instant, then drifted back to earth. If he hadn’t known better, he’d have assumed this ranch was abandoned.


The walls continued to recede until they were close to a mile apart, and the ribbon of trail wound between meadows newly sprouted and already sere. Willows hid the brook from view here, and the aspens and sycamores grew thickly. But where were the cattle, the horses? Corrals or pens? He’d never seen a more desolate place.


Round the edge of a cottonwood grove, a ramshackle cabin came into view. And there, from the shadow of the sagging porch, the barrel of a rifle pointed straight at his chest.


Pulling the appaloosa up, he lifted his hands to show they held only the reins. A girl stepped out, gripping an old Whitworth rifle. Schooling his features to hide his surprise at her diminutive size, he said nothing, and made no move toward the dark gun that hung low on his left hip.


“Donovan.” It was more accusation than query.


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Title: THE WINDS OF MORNING, Donovan Family Saga Prequel

Author: Gifford MacShane

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance


Book Blurb:

Can a young woman save her family from starvation? She’s their only hope and desperate enough for anything.


1848: the third year the potato crop failed in Ireland. The Protestant landlords have absconded back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves, while the English feast on the massive amounts of Irish food they’re importing every day.


With two younger brothers to feed, Molly O'Brien takes her father's place on the road gang, building a road that runs from her tiny village to the river and no farther. If the authorities find out, they’ll demand that her job be given to a boy. Yet fifteen hours of back-breaking labor a day will not garner enough wages to buy food for her family.


She is beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood, she has decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread.


Will Molly be able to live with her decision? Or has she made the greatest mistake of her life?


Incipere Awards Honorable Mention: Historical Fiction 2022; Readers Favorite 5-star Award 2023; Author Shout Top Pick 2024


Based on true events in Victorian Ireland during the Great Irish Potato Famine, this novel is filled with characters you’ll never forget & historical events you'll wish you could. If you enjoyed THE SILENT PEOPLE by Walter Macken and THE KILLING SNOWS by Charles Egan, then don’t miss THE WINDS OF MORNING.



County Clare, Ireland

Late Summer, 1848


The afternoon sun played against the waves of the River Shannon, turning them silver, making them glint like thousands of small fish leaping joyfully upstream to spawn. The banks were lushly green, the sky brilliantly blue. High white clouds, soft as cottongrass tufts, tumbled away to the east.


A girl stood on the western bank, her hair glittering in the late summer sun. The breeze lifted it, teased it, made it fly around her head like a bright red halo—unkempt, untamed, yet somehow holy.


Brushing the wisps of hair away, she stared into the river. Her dress hung upon her in rags. She was thin—so thin the sapling behind her threw a greater shadow. She had no stockings, no shoes, no shawl or kerchief to protect her against a day that was growing cool. And she had no hope.


She was beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood that she’d decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread. At that moment, a voice behind her spoke.


Colleen bawn.”


Molly looked around, saw a man with dark hair and dark eyes, clean-shaven and well dressed. Her relief at his appearance was quickly eclipsed by shame. She could not speak.


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Title: THE WOODSMAN’S ROSE, Donovan Family Saga Book 2

Author: Gifford MacShane

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance


Book Blurb:

When a friendship is shattered, can a fragile young woman with the gift of insight heal the rift?


1880s Arizona Territory. Daniel Donovan wants two things: to get married and to restore his friendship with Alec Twelve Trees. It’s just not that easy.


Alec is raging about his mother’s murderer, whose identity Daniel knows but will not reveal, as the killer is dead and all proof died with him. Alec can’t recognize any needs but his own, so the conflict deepens every day.


Daniel’s fiancée is a delicate girl—her health frail, her future uncertain. Prone to vicious

headaches that can rock her to her knees, Annie accepted Daniel’s ring but hesitates to name a wedding date, as marriage and possible pregnancy might exacerbate her physical problems.


Annie inherited the gift of insight from her Welsh mother and digs into the past, searching for a way to help the men heal their relationship. She quickly realizes that Daniel is protecting the killer’s surviving family—part of the Donovan inner circle. And when she discovers the secret behind the murder, it’s more horrifying than anything she could have imagined.


Then a new enemy shows his face.


“There is enough swoon-worthy, though tender, romance to melt even the coldest of hearts, and there is plenty of action and adventure for those who enjoy novels that keep them on the edge of their seat.” -Whispering Bookworm


Though she may be fragile, Annie is fierce in spirit, but will her small strength and skill be enough to bring the friends together again without revealing Daniel’s secret? If the truth comes out, it may destroy their relationship forever.


Book 2 of the Donovan Family Saga, an adult Historical Romance, shares characters with the other books in the series, but can be read as a stand-alone.



Spring, 1885


It was a day of celebration. The eldest Donovan sibling, Adam, had married Jesse Travers, and the community had joined them in a wedding supper at the Donovan homestead. The toast was drunk, the gifts presented, music, dancing, and food indulged in beyond all reason. But one person was feeling little joy.


Annie Griffiths’ heart had been broken. Since childhood, Annie had worshiped Adam’s twin, Brian. And tonight it was obvious to all who knew him that Brian’s heart had followed Adam’s and now belonged entirely to Jesse.


As the first tear leaked from her eye, Brian’s younger brother Daniel took her hand and led her down the slope, away from the laughter and noise of the crowd. In the orchard, where benches were arranged among the trees, he sat beside her. She attempted to smile at him.




“It’s hopeless. I know. I guess I’ve known all along.”


She stood to go, but Daniel stepped in front of her. “Annie, there is a man who loves you.”




“Yes. Daniel.”


She’d listened in growing confusion as he told her of his love. Of the years he’d stood aside. She’d listened to the voice rough as emery on slate, listened for the first time to the Irish lilt twined around the southern drawl. And heard a music she’d never heard before.


Aroon, I love you.” He took her hands and kissed them with a tender passion she’d never dreamed him capable of. “Please give me a chance.”


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Save 25% off this week only! On sale for $2.99.





Title: RAINBOW MAN, Donovan Family Saga Book 3

Author: Gifford MacShane

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance


Book Blurb:

He’d follow her anywhere, regardless of danger, but her recklessness might lead to his doom.


1880s Arizona Territory: Renowned silversmith and accomplished woodsman Alec Twelve Trees is arrested and beaten by a rogue US Cavalry patrol. This act of blatant racism invokes the ire not only of his father, but of the entire village of White’s Station. While the town’s leading citizens try to force the Army out, Alec is nursed back to health by Irene Donovan.


A young woman ruled by her passions, Irene is a gifted herbalist. Indulged by her father and seven older brothers, she often lets her willfulness trump her better nature. But Alec understands her: he’s been her best friend since their school days, and loved her almost as long. He’s never revealed his feelings, certain her family will not accept him. It’s not the only thing he’s wrong about.


An intensely private man, Alec refuses to relive his torment at a court-martial of his assailants, but Irene begs him to reconsider. Alec honors her wishes, and realizes he is powerless to escape her charms, even though he believes she will never give him the love he craves.


As a parade of suitors marches through her father’s door, Alec’s agony is sometimes overwhelming. At the same time, Irene’s frivolous nature rears its ugly head again. She escapes one hazard with her honor barely intact. The experience leaves her shaken, but even Alec can't predict her next reckless act.  


With intriguing characters and meticulous period details, this novel reveals the best and worst of human nature, and will reaffirm your belief in the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit.


"Absolutely wonderful book! The story and characters are so well written I caught myself talking, crying, laughing and yelling at them! I highly recommend this book." - BookBub Review

Book 3 of the Donovan Family Saga, it shares characters with the other books in the series, but can be read as a stand-alone. If you've enjoyed Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon, and “The Redemption Mountain” Historical Western Romance Series by Shirleen Davis, you're bound to love this novel.

When Irene charges headlong into danger, will Alec risk everything to save her from herself, or has he finally had enough? 




Arizona Territory, 1886


John Patrick Donovan wore a frown to match his son’s. He was a man beginning to feel the effects of seventy years of hard work. His hair had long been gray, his shoulders had begun to slope, his hands to pain him in the cold and damp. Yet none dared to call him old to his face.


“Adam, the Army wants to see you.”


“They’ll have to wait,” Adam answered.


“Tell me why.” John Patrick’s deep voice was rich with the music of Ireland.


“They dragged Alec Twelve Trees home at the end of a rope.” His son lit a cigarette, blew a puff of smoke out. “I don’t know where they found him, but he said he’d been walking for two days.”


“Where is the lad now?”


“I took him home. I came to get Mother to see to him, but...”


“She’s gone already,” John Patrick told him.


“I know. Irene said she’d come instead after she pays for some things.”


“I’ll make sure the Army waits patiently. But not forever, you hear?”


“Thanks, Dad.”


The old man walked toward the Army’s encampment on the north end of town. The soldiers had arrived six weeks after the only serious Indian trouble in ten years had occurred. Six weeks after Annie Donovan had come home again, unhurt and unharmed. And they’d stayed, their commanders convinced the town was in danger from the small band of Navajo who’d lived peacefully in the mountains for that whole ten years.


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Title: WITHOUT THE THUNDER, Donovan Family Saga Book 4

Author: Gifford MacShane

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance


Book Blurb:

An outcast Society belle falls in love with a Navajo man. Can they defeat the woman who’s driven to destroy their happiness?

After falling from grace with her family in Philadelphia, Alicia Beaufort is shunted off to relatives in the Arizona Territory. Disturbed at first by the things she learns about the West, she gradually comes to realize that White’s Station has what she’s always longed for: simplicity and peace. Yet all is not quite as it seems in the tranquil village.

Alicia begins to keep company with Tommy Twelve Trees, a Navajo man and gifted blacksmith. But she soon finds herself in conflict with her aunt, who hates Tommy because of his race, and who is sending lie-filled letters to her family back home.


While Alicia does her utmost to save her reputation with those she left behind, the man who ruined her arrives in White’s Station. Alicia is terrified that her past will become known—that the villagers and Tommy, whom she’s come to love, will turn against her.


With her family relationships in chaos and past transgressions looming, Alicia knows she has to fight for the future she wants with Tommy, but she has no experience to draw on. Can she find the strength to take a stand against her family and former lover? Or will all her dreams come to naught?


 “The author moves the story fluidly with descriptive scenes and multiple storylines. I loved and would recommend this book.” - BookSprout Review


WITHOUT THE THUNDER is a multicultural age-gap adult Historical Romance set in the Old West. Book 4 of the Donovan Family Saga, it shares characters with the other books in the series, but can be read as a stand-alone. Fans of the “Sky’s West” novels by Richard S. Wheeler and the “Redemption Mountain” series by Shirleen Davies are sure to enjoy WITHOUT THE THUNDER.




White's Station, Arizona Territory


The stage was late.


It had been due at noon and no message had come through. It had left Gallup, New Mexico three days ago, expected to arrive in Fort Defiance, Arizona that evening. One of two things was possible: either the telegraph lines were down, or the coach had met some calamity far removed from a town.


Tired, hungry, increasingly worried, the liveryman watched the half-moon appear beyond the treetops. Seconds later, it was swallowed by clouds that had spit rain on and off all day.


“Whatcha think, Tommy? Think they’ve broke down? What should we do?” Tall and blond and built like a Clydesdale, Young Jim Callendar was never known to ask a single question when three would do. “They ever been this late afore?”


“Not in years,” Tommy Twelve Trees answered. “Not since Geronimo took his Apaches south.” Tommy was Navajo, a member of the tribe that lived peacefully in the mountains outside town. Rumors of Apache raids would come occasionally, but Tommy reckoned it was more than a year since trouble had materialized.


But that didn’t mean it couldn’t happen. He rubbed a hand over his face.


“Why don’ you go home, Jim? Have your supper an’ rest a bit. You’ll hear the stage when it gets in an’ you can come back then.”


“Ya sure, Tommy? I’ll stay if ya want. I’ll keep ya comp’ny.” Eager as a puppy, the youth almost convinced the liveryman to look for a wiggling tail.


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1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Apr 15

Thank you, Gifford, for sharing your writing journey and books!

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