Civil War Novels Beyond the Wood, A River Divides, Tempting Skies


Historical Fiction Author Michael J. Roueche

Amid a picturesque birthday hike, the author, whom Midwest Book Review calls “an impressively gifted storyteller,” takes a break to enjoy the view from atop 14,195′ Mt. Yale in Colorado’s Sawatch Mountain Range.

Michael J. Roueche writes Civil War novels meant to be fun reads with plots that fit in historically accurate settings. While they include battle scenes and sneak in a few war facts, they’re balanced with heavy doses of civilians, adventure, romance and enough trials to challenge even the most tenacious character.

He also blogs, writing about anything that catches his interest (except politics)—including the Civil War; the natural beauty and animal life in Colorado; and Shakespeare.

He is recipient of the 2012 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award for Southern History for Beyond the Wood. A River Divides, the second book in the Beyond the Wood Trilogy, has been named drama winner of the 2014 Laramie Awards (Western, Civil War, Prairie, and Pioneer Fiction).

We are pleased to announce that Vesta House Publishing has just released the final book in the series, Tempting Skies. It has been named a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  

We hope you enjoy the books, and thank your for your support.

Beyond the Wood Series: American Civil War Novels

Beyond the Wood Series: Civil War Novels 

Book One: Beyond the Wood, Award-Winning Historical Adventure and Romance

Intrigue, love and treachery . . . amid a small Southern Rebellion

Romance has faded, and shame weakened resolve. Mystery has shrouded the truth, and pride matured into a world enveloped by rage and war. The only constant is betrayal—and at times he is your sole companion. Yet, hope lingers . . .

Praise for Beyond the Wood

War, romance and mystery collide in this deeply researched Civil War novel . . . .

A tale of personal intrigue and a unique brand of romance, recommended. . . . A fine addition to historical fiction collections.

An interesting and different Civil War novel.

Roueche tells the struggles of two individuals separated by past mistakes as well as two armies at war. This is a story of betrayal and hardships, but also one of forgiveness, perseverance, and love. Hank a Union solder promises a dying Confederate officer that he will hand deliver a letter written to his wife. The wife lives in Virginia, behind enemy lines, the state Hank had called home until shortly before the war. In detailing Hank’s adventures in Virginia as well as that of the Widow Henderson, Roueche demonstrates the difficulty families had who lived in the Border States. Families were often torn apart as brothers fought on opposite sides, they had to struggle with their own ideas of loyalty to the old nation they loved and the new one they now found themselves in, bands of deserters and criminals looking to take advantage of the chaos, and lastly the problem of two armies in close proximity. Throughout the story, Roueche gives an accurate and intriguing glimpse into the soldier’s life, from the excitement to “see the elephant” to the boredom of camp, to loss soldiers felt as comrades died. Roueche captures the Civil War in a well-told exciting adventure and romance.


Reviews from Goodreads

A River Divides, Book Two of the Beyond the Wood Series, Civil War Novels

Book Two: A River Divides, 2014 Laramie Fiction Award Drama Category Winner

The widow faces new challenges that grow rapidly from Beyond the Wood’s last scene. And while the Eastern war machine slows for the winter, the swirl of conspiracy, treachery and mystery accelerates.

In Kentucky–one of two states where slavery was abolished only by the ratification of the 13th amendment–slaves, freed slaves, abolitionists and slavery’s supporters mingle in foreboding uncertainty.

Oh, and did we mention there’s more romance.

Praise for A River Divides

A sober, thoughtful, and expertly researched Civil War novel. Highly recommended.

Like the first book in Beyond the Woods Series, the second, A River Divides, offers a complex view into life during the Civil War era. . . .

Author Michael J. Roueche does a great job introducing esoteric terms while giving them proper context, thereby helping present-day readers immerse themselves in the historical tapestry he’s created. All the characters in this story demonstrate authentic shades of good and bad, making their choices (and their consequences) even more intriguing. . . .

Roueche’s beautifully written imagery and ability to immerse readers in place and time will delight and hook readers from the very beginning to the very end.

If you’re interested in finding out more about some of the “real” people and dog who appear in the book, visit our Civil War Stories page.

Reviews from Goodreads

Tempting Skies Civil War Novels

Book Three: Tempting Skies

Four decades after the war ends, a former slave passes away. Among her belongings, her bereft family finds a narrative she’s written of the suffering of the summer of 1864, capturing the fury, hope, sorrow, dread, love and hate infused in the lives that intersected hers. In Tempting Skies, she chronicles the end of the journey that began Beyond the Wood.

Tempting Skies is now available in trade paperback and ebook.

Praise for Tempting Skies

This concluding volume of a truly outstanding Civil War era trilogy…is as extraordinary and consistently entertaining a read as his first two novels. … Highly recommended

  • The US Review of Books, which reviews small and large publisher books, gave the book its “Recommended” rating, “used less than 10-20% of the time.” US Review indicates recommended books of fiction “are compelling and lasting reads.” Dylan Ward of US Review wrote of Tempting Skies,”

Roueche’s third installment in the Beyond the Wood Series completes a well-researched and interwoven narrative of the American Civil War. It once again demonstrates the award-winning author’s notable contribution to the genre. His novel, while at times complex, is nevertheless engaging and nothing is wasted. It boasts a large cast of characters who are all essential to the whole of the saga. Their strengths and weaknesses are portrayed in realistic light, each facing their own past in moments of trial and tribulation. As the novel nears its finale, surprising revelations encapsulate a tale of drama, romance, and suspense. Through it all, Roueche expertly highlights the plight of soldiers, discrimination, politics, and violence set against the backdrop of the waning days of a war-torn America. It is a worthy read.


Tempting Skies is a brilliant novel revealing the day-to-day, unglamorous existence during the Civil War. . . . Roueche is a masterful storyteller creating a Civil War masterpiece. . . .


Reviews from Goodreads

Beyond the Wood Trilogy Reviews, Awards and Media

Beyond the Wood Reviews, awards and media

Charles H. Smith, chairman of the Literary Committee of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, left, presents the Cooke Fiction Award at the Order’s 2012 annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.


2012 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award

Civil War novel Beyond the Wood received the 2012 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award and Prize, given annually for “effectiveness of research, accuracy of statement and excellence of style” in depicting Southern History. It is given by the Military Order of the Stars and Bars at its annual convention. The organization’s other literary awards are the  Douglas Southall Freeman History Award for “the best published book of high merit in the field of Southern history beginning with the colonial period to the present time,” and the General Basil W. Duke Award given “to encourage the re-issuance of out-of-print books that accurately present” Civil War history.

 Additional Awards

Chanticleer-Badge-Laramie-1st-for-A-River-Divides1st Place in Category, 2014 Laramie AwardsA River Divides. Chanticleer Book Reviews (CBR) named it a CBA Best Book. “The Laramie Awards recognizes emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Western, Civil War, Prairie, and Pioneer Fiction….”


Tempting Skies was named finalist by 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards

● Finalist, 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Tempting Skies. These awards are presented by Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group and Marilyn Allen of Allen O’Shea Literary Agency. It is “the largest not-for-profit book awards program for indie authors and independent publishers.” 

● Finalist, 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Beyond the Wood. A non-profit awards program, it is “judged by leaders in the indie book publishing industry to identify indie books that deserve to reach a wider audience.” It is sometimes considered “the Sundance of the book publishing world,” says Catherine Goulet, Chair of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards program.

● 2011 Silver Medalist, Historical Fiction, eLit Book Awards: Beyond the Wood. A global awards program, it is “committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.”

● 2012 Merit Book, EVVY Awards: Beyond thBeyond the Wood Book Reviews, CIPA EVVY Merit Award Winnere Wood. An award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

Reviews and Media

The Parker Chronicle highlights experiences that prompted the book.

Civil War News announces Cooke Fiction Award.

Loudoun Times-Mirror announces the John Esten Cooke Fiction Award.

Virginia Newspaper announces literary award.

Denver Post shouts out: “War, romance and mystery collide in this deeply researched Civil War novel….”

The US Review of Books includes Tempting Skies on its Recommended list–a rating given to “compelling and lasting reads,” less than 20 percent of reviewed books.

●Midwest Book Review’s Small Press Bookwatch finds Beyond the Wood ”a tale of personal intrigue and a unique brand of romance, recommended. …A fine addition to historical fiction collections.”

●Midwest Book Review’s Book Reviewer’s Bookwatch judges A River Divides “a sober, thoughtful, and expertly researched Civil War novel. Highly recommended.”

Midwest Book Review finds the author “an impressively gifted storyteller,” noting that Tempting Skies the ”concluding volume of a truly outstanding Civil War era trilogy by Michael J. Roueche is as extraordinary and consistently entertaining a read as his first two novels. …Very highly recommended for community library Historical American Fiction collections”

Civil War News Beyond the Wood review calls it “an interesting and different Civil War novel.”

The US Review of Books calls Tempting Skies “a tale of drama, romance, and suspense. . . .It is a worthy read.”

Blog review of Beyond the Wood advises ”historic romance lovers read this book.”

Bestsellersworld.com calls Tempting Skies ”a brilliant novel.”

●Chanticleer Book Reviews, a literary affiliate of the Historical Novel Society, judges A River Divides “rich in detail and exceptional in development.”

Officer’s Call Magazine highlights Beyond the Wood.

Denver Post’s Your Hub publishes blog on Colorado Civil War Re-enactment.

Blog on Hasan Davis Portrayal of Civil War Soldier posted on Denver Post’s Your Hub site.

● Robin Nolet blog about Beyond the Wood records, “Imagine my delight that it was such an engaging story!”

Denver Post announces A River Divides release.

● An interview about writing with Ink and Fairydust Magazine posted online. The every-other-month publication brings “wholesome and interesting content, focusing on the arts, to the young Christians.”


Book Clubs

Book Tour Book Club

With new book club friends.

We love book clubs. If you would like us to join your book club meeting in person or via Skype or Google’s Hangout to chat about Civil War romances Beyond the Wood, A River Divides or Tempting Skies, we’re delighted to oblige, schedule permitting. Write to us, and we’ll get back to you quickly.

Signing books at Wrought'n Apples.

Signing books while wearing wife’s favorite sweater.

We offer book club members discounts for trade paperback copies.

It’s a great time to read Beyond the Wood, A River Divides and Tempting Skies now that the series is completed.


Signed Copies of Civil War Novels

If you want signed copies of Civil War novel Beyond the Wood, A River Divides or Tempting Skies, let us know. We can usually offer discounts for them.