Monday, November 15, 2010

Journey to Riverbend by Henry McLaughlin

 Reviewed by Ginger Simpson

Modern-day characters don't have a corner on dysfunction. Michael Archer and Rachel Stone both have secrets that haunt them, and author, Henry McLaughlin, has demonstrated their inner turmoil very well in this upcoming release.

It’s 1878, and Michael is about to witness the hanging of a young man who swears his innocence.  Michael believes Ben Carstairs and vows to travel to Riverbend to deliver a message of amends to the boy’s father, Sam.  The senior Carstairs is a powerful man, but not a forgiving one.  He sent his youngest son packing as soon as he was old enough to fend for himself, blaming him for the death of his beloved wife. As his last act in life, Ben presses a silver cross into Michael’s hand.  The necklace belonged to his mother and he wants his father to have it back.

Rachel Stone’s past as a saloon whore plays havoc with her ability to fit into a normal life in Riverbend.  Backed by Sam Carstairs, she opens a dress shop and hopes to find peace she never enjoyed before.  Men still leer at her with hunger and attempt unsolicited advances…the worst, another of Sam’s sons, Mark, a habitual drunk.  Slowly, through church-going folks, Rachel begins to fit in. She’s immediately attracted to Michael, who has also turned to God.

There are more secondary characters than you can shake a stick at, but each play a vital role in the story.  When Sam is kidnapped for something he did in his past, Michael joins the posse in an attempt to bring him home.  The result…pages and pages of tension and suspense when the good guys meet the bad and eventually someone wins…sort of.

Journey to Riverbend is an inspirational historical novel coming in February 2011 from Tyndale Publishing.  If you enjoy lots of internal thoughts peppered throughout the book, then you’ll feel very connected to the characters. Lots of prayer and introspection included as well.  The back cover of the book indicates that the author is the 2009 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest.  This review is based on an unedited advanced reading copy, so one can certainly see why this first time author so impressed the judges. 

The book will be available in both print and download on the Tyndale Website or via Amazon.