Author: Henry McLaughlin
Series: Riverbend Saga #1
Release Date: January 24, 2011
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewer: Jessica Higgins
A Christian western with a lot of gunslingers, kidnappings and much more to enjoy.
After unsuccessfully trying to stop the hanging of a man, Michael Archer has a mission. He promised Ben Carstairs that he would find his father for him and try to reconcile with him, even though he is being hung for a crime he didn’t commit. Michael tried to stop it but couldn’t get the evidence he needed. Now Michael must travel to the town of Riverbend to find Sam Carstairs, a ruthless business man that kicked his son Ben out and isn’t likely to give Michael the time of day. As he arrives in Riverbend, Michael meets and quickly finds himself attracted to Rachel Stone who is running from her past and is hesitant to start any kind of relationship. Sam Carstairs isn’t in town and Michael waits for him. Soon word gets to town that Sam has been kidnapped on his way home and Michael feels led to join the search party to find Sam and bring the news of his son. It is a dangerous road ahead and not everyone will make it home alive.
This was the winner of the Christian Writing Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. The writing is well done and the characters are very relatable. I did feel that it had some unneeded content, especially in the last third where the action needed to pick up speed and instead stalled. There were a lot of characters, that is a hard thing to pull off and I think it could have helped to cut out about half of them, especially with the search party scenes. The overall concept of the novel was good, having the characters consider the actions they take and the consequences to their choices. Even though this is a historical novel, these concepts can be applied to everyday life and we can all learn from the characters and how they deal with their actions and the consequences. As a debut novel, this was very well done and I recommend it to lovers of historical fiction with a good message.