Tempting Skies: Book Three, Beyond the Wood Series by Michael Roueche


Reviewed by Teri Davis

Tempting SkiesHow would you like to read your ancestors’ journals about their lives while living through the Civil War? Would you be able to understand the perspectives of both sides?

Just recently in the year 2012, while searching through the attic of a mansion in Lexington, Kentucky, scheduled for demolition, a manuscript and letters revealed the history of this estate beginning in the 1820s. These documents are the foundation of the third book of this trilogy.

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Betsy Richman Henderson Gragg appears to have a charmed life. Born as a privileged daughter of a slave-owner and beautiful, she married a Southern gentleman who fought for the Confederacy. When he dies in battle, who quickly remarries. Fortunately, Betsy finds love again and this time marries a Union soldier, Their love quickly has her carrying their child.

Now Betsy is in Washington waiting for word of her husband on the battle lines. Unknown to her, he is nearby, in a hospital.

Also in the city is a former slave from her family’s estate. William has taken the last name of Richman since he is now a freed man. He is married to Victoria and enjoys being a father to her son, Adam.

How will former slaves and their previous owner react when then meet at her husband’s hospital?

Unfortunately, another person has plans to change their happiness. Although known by many names, one man sets on his personal mission to possess Betsy. His obsession endangers everyone in his quest.

Tempting Skies is the third book in Roueche’s trilogy entitled, Beyond the Wood Series. The first book, Beyond the Wood, won the 2012 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award, and the second in the series won the the 2014 Drama Laramie Award for Western, Pioneer, and Civil War fiction.

Can anyone read Tempting Skies and understand the characters without having read the previous two books? Definitely. Each character continues in their development with a quick, but not distracting background established in the previous books. By reading the third book first, I found myself wanting to know more about each person’s past when mentioned.

Michael Roueche masterfully reflects on his upbringing in Virginia for being the foundation of this series. Now that his home is in Colorado, he realizes his view of both sides of the Civil War has given him insight into the perspectives of the period.

Tempting Skies is a brilliant novel revealing the day-to-day, unglamorous existence during the Civil War. Showing everyone has some losses during a war, the characters become realistic through Roueche while exploring the sites, smells, and sounds of Washington City in 1864, as well as the dangers.

Michael Roueche is a masterful storyteller creating a Civil War masterpiece in Tempting Skies.