Sunday, January 30, 2011

Journey To Riverbend by Henry McLaughlin

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.
My review:
Henry McLaughlin is the 2009 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest. The winner wins cash and their first book published for free from Tyndale Publishing. This is his first novel, the result of winning that contest.
For a debut novel, this was a great one. It is set in the Old West, though I wouldn't call it a western, though it could be considered one. I liked his characters. They weren't perfect. The main two had had bad pasts, done their share of sinning.
The main theme of the story was reconciliation. A man trying to reconcile a man with his dead son. This novel is definitely  Christian, yet showed the imperfections and flaws of the characters. This may not be intended to be a story of hope, but it is. Though the characters are fictional, it brings home the truth that God can save anyone, no matter what their past was like, and make them a new person.
I enjoyed the novel, and got caught up in the story. I would liked to have seen some loose ends tied up at the end, but it still had a good ending. Though written by a man, and it is a book that men would enjoy, I think a lot of women would enjoy it also.
Read the first chapter here.

About the author:
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. It was in this role that he first honed his writing skills in preparing concise and accurate court reports and petitions. He retired from that career in 1999 to work with Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

To improve his craft, Henry belongs to several Christian writer organizations; attends writers conferences, workshops, and retreats; and participates in online and local critique groups. He completed the Christian Writers Guild Craftsman course in April 2010.

Henry and his wife, Linda, have been married for over forty years and live in Saginaw, Texas. They have five children, the oldest of whom is in heaven, and one grandchild. Visit his website at

Journey To Riverbend is available from Tyndale Publishing

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.