Publication Date: January 2011
Publisher: Tydale House
Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical/Western/Romance
(Received for review from Tyndale)
Excerpt from Journey to Riverbend
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
Sometimes the journey is only the beginning...
Michael Archer might not have been able to save Ben Carstairs, but he vowed to carry out Ben's dying wish: to be reconciled with his father. What he doesn't know is that Sam Carstairs - the most ruthless businessman on the frontier - has no use for his own son, much less a man of God seeking reconciliation.
Soon after arriving in the booming town of Riverbend, Michael meets the stunning Rachel Stone while waiting for Sam to return from a business trip. Beautiful yet guarded, Rachel is running from a past as dark as Michael's, and the last thing she expects - or thinks she deserves - is a chance at love.
When word reaches town that Sam has been kidnapped on the stagecoach home, Michael joins the search posse. But the trail ahead is more dangerous than any had imagined, and making it back alive will require Michael to face his past and overcome his deepest fear.
Henry McLaughlin isn't what you'd expect a romance author to look like. How many men write romances? Not many! McLaughlin's straight forward style and beautiful descriptions of the old west will grab the attention of the reader from the first page. Told from the viewpoint of the hero, Journey to Riverbend is a tale of forgiveness and putting the past in it's place.
Michael Archer journey's to Riverbend on a mission. When Ben Carstairs is hung for a crime he did not commit, Micheal honors his dying wish to return his mother's locket to his father, Sam and to tell him how sorry he was to have disappointed him. When Michael reaches Riverbend Sam is away on business. While waiting for his return, Michael meets a beautiful woman, Rachel Stone. Both he and Rachel have a tortured past and both found forgiveness in God. Now all that's left to forgive themselves. Feeling attracted to each other, yet unworthy of love, they do not realize the extent of there emotions until Sam and kidnapped and Michael joins the posse to rescue him. Will Micheal succeed in his mission? Will Rachel and Michael be able to forget the past and move on together?
This is a really interesting change for Christian romance readers. I was somewhat skeptical that a romance written by a man would be something I would find enjoyable, but I really liked this one. It really gave a different feel to the book. In my opinion men think differently from women in some things. They are more logical and less emotional. McLaughlin shows that, that may not necessarily be so. He writes with a very straight forward style that gives the reader a love story from a man's point of view. Every women at some point wonders what her man is thinking, how things are affecting him, what really goes on in his head. McLaughlin does an excellent job of giving us idea of what may be going through his mind.
The characters in Journey to Riverbend are very well developed. Michael as a man of God is loyal and honorable. Having a troubled past has only made his faith in God stronger, but he is still a man. He has the same feelings that other men have. He wonders if his past will cloud his future. If he can be worthy of the love of a good woman. He is a little insecure and that seems to go a long way to showing that even as a man of God he isn't perfect, just held to a higher standard. Rachel's past is also filled with some very hard experiences. Being used by her uncle and then sold in prostitution she is looking for a new start in Riverbend, but she isn't expecting to fall in love with a preacher. She feels unworthy even though she knows she has been forgiven. Both are such great characters and I fell in love with them instantly. This is really a love story about moving on from the past and leaving it there.
The supporting cast added a great deal of local flavor to the story. McLaughlin's portrayal of Sam Carstairs was a surprise to me. I expected him to go a very different direction with this character. But it was really amazing to see how he used Sam within the story to show someone who just really would not yield to God. The Christian aspects of the story were well done and not overbearing. Sometimes we don't need to be hit over the head, a gentle nudge will do. Issues of faith fit well in the story of these two people with tortured pasts.
I recommend this one to readers who love Christina romance. It's definitely different from the average Western romance you'll read, being written from a man's perspective. Who knew? LOL!
Journey to Riverbend is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag! A Christian Fiction must read!
Henry McLaughlin is the 2009 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. He has a master's degree in social work and spent many years working in the public child welfare system. Henry and his wife, Linda live in Saginaw, Texas.