Michael Archer is nothing if not a man of his word. Though he was unable to save Ben Carstairs, Michael is determined to carry out Ben’s dying wish: to be reconciled with his father. Unfortunately, Sam Carstairs, one of the most ruthless businessmen on the frontier, has no use for his own son, much less a man of God seeking reconciliation.
Soon after arriving in Riverbend, Michael meets and falls for the stunning Rachel Stone while waiting for Sam to return from a business trip. Beautiful yet guarded, Rachel seems to be running from a past as dark as Michael’s.
When word reaches town that Sam has been kidnapped on the stagecoach home, Michael offers to join the search party formed by the local sheriff. With a budding romance behind him and a dangerous rescue ahead of him, he sets out on the trail, determined to complete his journey no matter the cost.
This one was a hard one to put down. I’ve always got a soft spot for a good western and this exceeded my expectations.
McLaughlin is a suburb writer and wove a handful of characters together to create memorable stories and faces. There are many different messages portrayed and realistic situations—nothing in the plot feels constructed or forced. In fact, it is a bit slow at times, but so realistic that I didn’t have any trouble with it. Everything fit so well with the time period, where sometimes authors take liberties that stretch the limits of even fiction.
The main hero and heroine have an interesting relationship and I enjoyed their interaction. McLaughlin also did a great job of humanizing the antagonists and making them dynamic beings rather than the evildoers.
While this is the author’s debut novel, it is easy to see how it won the prestigious Jerry Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild Operation First Novel Contest—I look forward to McLaughlin’s next book as well!
Disclosure: I received a copy of “Journey to Riverbend” through publisher Tyndale in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
See Henry McLaughlin’s “Story behind the Story” here and learn what inspired his award-winning novel!