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Journey to Riverbend

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A great book!

Journey to Riverbend is an amazing book! I loved the plot, the characters, and everything about the book. The plot was perfect, the characters were perfectly described, and the book was just amazing! I love romances, so this book to me was one of the best. Romances are ...
Journey to Riverbend is an amazing book! I loved the plot, the characters, and everything about the book. The plot was perfect, the characters were perfectly described, and the book was just amazing! I love romances, so this book to me was one of the best. Romances are my big thing and this western romance was just great! A perfect read that anyone will enjoy!

posted by diana56 on August 1, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Not your usual Christian historical fiction novel!

Henry McLaughlin is an extremely talented writer, weaving a tale so vividly that I feel I could draw a map of the places traveled and could paint each character's portrait. At times it truly seemed that I was using all five senses while reading "Journey to Riverbend." ...
Henry McLaughlin is an extremely talented writer, weaving a tale so vividly that I feel I could draw a map of the places traveled and could paint each character's portrait. At times it truly seemed that I was using all five senses while reading "Journey to Riverbend."

Now, I'm not going to try and write a synopsis here, since anyone can just go and read the editorial review. Instead I'm going to focus on what made this book an interesting and unique read.

I said this is not a typical Christian historical fiction novel because its not filled with the fluff that so many of them are. "Journey to Riverbend" deals with the true, nitty gritty, and sometimes just plain horrendous parts of life, especially life in the "Old Wild West." The protagonists and heroes are flawed, dealing with their own pasts of lawlessness and sin, and are still plagued with their former lives, quite like reality. However, the truth of God's Gospel is just as, or perhaps even more relevant and life-changing, and the message of His grace and redemption is woven throughout.

One aspect of the book that was quite impressive to me, was McLaughlin's ability to create evil and despicable characters and yet show their humanity and the broken parts of their souls that made them who they were, enabling the reader to actually feel understanding and perhaps even sympathy for them.

*possible spoiler alert*
In conclusion, if you're looking for a story that is all sunshine and lollipops, with everything coming together at the end in a nice little package, without pain, heartache and sadness, this is NOT the book for you! I really appreciated Mr. McLaughlin's willingness to write out of the box, resisting the pressure to give the reader a "happily ever after", "everything coming up roses" ending that is so common in Christian fiction, but frankly so unrealistic in life and/or history.

posted by AlaskanTebowFan on July 22, 2011

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  • Posted December 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is a terrific inspirational western romance

    In 1878 in front of a small crowd twenty-two year old Ben Carstairs insists he is innocent, but is hung anyway. Only Sheriff Gideon Parsons and Preacher Michael Archer believed the lad was telling the truth but had no evidence to persuade the judge to delay the execution. Just prior to his hanging, Ben asked preacher Michael Archer to find his estranged dad Sam so in death father and son can reconcile.

    In Riverbend, Michael learns Sam is an avaricious affluent businessman who has made a zillion adversaries with his cut-throat deals. Someone took exception to being ruined by Sam and kidnaps the mean-spirited mogul. Michael and Rachel Stone meet and to their surprise and consternation are attracted to one another; however both have a sordid history that makes them feel unworthy of the other. Meanwhile Michael joins a posse intent on rescuing Carstairs.

    This is a terrific inspirational western romance told mostly by the lead male including when he rides with the posse. The story line is character driven more so by Ben seeking redemption for what he did yet and in regards to Rachel he feels unworthy of her; she has her haunting demons too. Henry McLaughin provides a strong faith-based historical in which one must confront personal demons with prayer, belief, and love.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013


    Oh! Like to read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2012

    Elders den


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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012



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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012


    Bree: im sorry i hit u but i just dont like u more then a friend. Gtg bye
    Lacy: u kno i hate hurting ppl. Gtg ttyl ily bye

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2012

    Great Read!!!!!!!

    it takes place just as the Civil War ends in the western frontier.

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  • Posted July 27, 2012

    I just finished reading Journey to Riverbend. I loved it. It k

    I just finished reading Journey to Riverbend. I loved it. It kept you guessing. I wished the author added some more pages at the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012


    Good story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    I really liked this book a great deal.

    I dont normaly write long reviews, Not a great typist but this book really requires more than a few words. It had me
    From the first page I cant tell you how the story of Archer and Rachel along with all the other charators touched my heart. I could really see God working in their lives through the tuff times they faced. I read in some reviews that they couldnot see how a discription of how a women was about to be raped fit into a christion novel well my answer would be life is messy and nasty, sometimes evil things come into play how can this author show that if not writing about it. God works past satins evil in or lives and sometimes uses it to strenghthen us and others in our walk with him. How could you write a true account of Gods faithful hand in our lives and not speak of the evil that he has to help us over come. My only problem with this book was it ended to soon I so wanted to see if Micheal Archer and Rachel got together and did he clear Bens name? Did lupay tell her husband about his father? So many unanswered questions. Please write a sequel. Read this book it is a worth while piece of literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012


    Loved it

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Western Adventure and Romance

    Henry McLaughlin in his new book, "Journey To Riverbendl" published by Tyndale House Publishers takes us to the town of Riverbend in 1878.

    Michael Archer is a jail chaplain who makes a promise of delivering a message to the father of Ben Carstairs, a prisoner, who is being hung, although he is innocent. So Michael makes the journey to Riverbend to see Sam Carstairs. He discovers that Carstairs is not a well liked man, it seems he treats people with disdain, using them for his own gain.

    While waiting for an opportunity to meet Carstairs Michael meets the attractive Rachel Stone and the two are drawn to each other. Then the unthinkable happens: Sam has been kidnapped on the stagecoach home by someone who seeks revenge. Now Michael joins the rescue posse which is not going to be easy as the kidnapper begins to play with them.

    Henry McLaughlin has written a compelling Western adventure filled with action, gun-battles and romance. "Journey To Riverbend" is a book that will draw you in as you seek to answer the questions: why must Michael find Sam? why was Sam really kidnapped? will Sam accept the message Michael has to deliver? And will the lovely Rachel forgive herself? I highly recommend it and am looking forward to more from Henry McLaughlin.

    If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand.

    To listen to 24 hours non-stop Christian music please visit our internet radio station Kingdom Airwaves

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent! Loved it!

    Michael Archer rides into Riverbend carrying a note addressed to the Sheriff. Michael has one mission, to deliver a message to a father from his son. The father does not think much of religion and has earned a reputation of being shrewd. Upon arriving in Riverbend Michael meets Rachel Stone, and is mesmerized by her. Rachel is staying at the home of the pastor and his family. Both she and Michael are held captive by their pasts.
    This unique western novel was a thrill to read and it captured my attention from the first chapter. Action + romance + faith = one fantastic hard to put down book! Lots of twists and turns! Excellent character development and scenic imagry, storyline flowed well. I highly recommend it.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Great journey

    I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about Henry McLaughlin's Journey to Riverbend. My skepticism mostly came from the cheesy cover. I even got made fun of by my sweet cousin while on the plane to Hawaii.

    "You are reading that book? From the cover, I thought that was a book that Grandma brought with her."

    I agreed with her that it was a dumb cover, and that I was a little hesitant to read it. The description on the back cover and the pictures on the front cover made me feel like I was being set up to read a cheesy Christian romance.

    Oh, was I wrong! This book had everything I was (secretly) hoping for: adventure, intrigue, (some) romance, growth, mystery, suspense. Michael and Rachel are both portrayed as beautiful examples of redemption, and their story carries all of the subplots throughout this lengthy novel. I was sad when it ended.

    While some of the bad guys seemed all bad, with no redeemable qualities, McLaughlin carefully wove humanity through all of his characters. It was an engaging and captivating read and I appreciated the redemption emphasized.

    A great debut novel; I look forward to reading more of McLaughlin's work as he continues his writing career.

    I was given this book (thank you!) by Tyndale and have expressed my honest opinions in this review.

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  • Posted May 31, 2011

    Delightful Page Turner!

    Jorney To Riverbend is an award winner of Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild which really perked my interest in reading this book by Henry McLaughlin. Award winners are usually a very good reads and "Journey to Riverbend" was not a disappointment. I found the book to be a delightful page turner, I would have read it from the beginning to end without stopping had I started reading it on a weekend. The characters come to life and you feel you know them on a personal level, you feel their joy and their sorrow you feel involved. This is a book I highly recommend you put on your must read list, it has some surprising turns that will keep your interest and is filled with action, faith and love. I found "Journey to Riverbend" intriguing and find Henry McLaughlin a well deserved award winner that I will enjoy following. Journey to Riverbend is a great read that you will enjoy start to finish!

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  • Posted April 3, 2011

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    I Also Recommend:

    I couldn't put it down!

    Well, it has been a very long time since I've been impressed by a work of Christian fiction and I was thus quite surprised to find myself enjoying this book very much!
    There are three main characters in this book. Sam Carstairs is all set to be the villain of the tale and winds up a victim of the consequences of his own evil choices. I flip-flopped between detesting him, and pitying him, and even occasionally admiring him. Rachel Stone struggles to continue being a new creation in Christ after being rescued from a life of prostitution. Caught in the middle between the townsfolk's unforgiveness of her past and the Redeemer's forgiveness, she strives to keep a right perspective. Michael Archer has a difficult past of his own but now he's on a mission to make amends with stranger Sam Carstairs on behalf of his estranged and now-deceased son Ben Carstairs. Michael arrives in Riverbend to find that Sam is out of town, and while he's passing the time until Sam returns he falls in love with Rachel. Rachel isn't sure if she has it in her to ever love and trust a man again. Sam doesn't arrive home on the stage- he's been kidnapped! Michael joins the search for Sam and the book takes a turn for the sinister and suspenseful...
    As I said I was quite impressed with this book. It keeps it's Christian focus. I find alot of Christian fiction novels throw God in there as an afterthought but this book does not. The main characters were a little less defined than I like and the who's who was a tad hard to follow at times. The story was gripping and I was up until 3am trying to finish this book because I couldn't put it down. There were a few parts that were a bit too descriptive and/or unnecessarily gruesome for me so I would not recommend this book for immature readers. Overall I liked it very much and give it 5 stars out of 5.
    I reviewed this book for Tyndale publishers in exchange for a free review copy of the book. No other compensation was received and I was not told what to say. My opinions, good and bad, are my own and have not been coached or influenced in any way.

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hoping for a sequel!

    When I picked up "Journey To Riverbend" I thought that it was probably going to be another historical fiction romance novel, but boy was I wrong. While there is a bit of romance between a few of the characters the author really gives us a true western novel filled with a hanging, an attempted stagecoach robbery, a kidnapping, a shootout and a posse searching for kidnappers. He rolls this together with a story about regrets and forgiveness, and faith in God.

    While Michael Archer couldn't save Ben Carstairs from being hanged for a crime he didn't commit, he is determined to try and fulfill Ben's dying wish, which was to make amends with his father Sam, to tell him that he forgave him for the way he treated him and return his mothers necklace.

    Michael makes the journey to Riverbend to deliver Ben's message to Sam but finds that Sam is out of town for business and will be gone for a few days. Michael decides to hang around until he returns, and he soon learns that Sam Carstairs is a ruthless man who has no use for God and uses people to get what he wants.While staying in Riverbend Michael meets Rachel Stone a young lady who has found refuge with the local preacher and his family. They feel drawn to each other but because of issues that haunt them from their past they are unsure that they are ready for a relationship, but that doesn't stop Michael from thinking about a future that might include a move to Riverbend.
    Sam Carstairs has wronged several people in his past, doing whatever he could to obtain more wealth but when he is kidnapped the town doesn't hesitate to form a posse to try and find him. Michael decides to ride along hoping that he can help, will they find Sam before its to late?
    What an interesting story, the characters in the story are well fleshed out. Rachel and Michael each have issues from their past that continue to dog them. Rachel is making great strides toward her future even though some of the townspeople won't let her forget her past. Michael was a strong caring compassionate character who was also dealing with demons from his past. While I really didn't like the character of Sam Carstairs by the end of the story I felt sorry for him. The ending of the story leaves me hoping that Mr. McLaughlin will write a sequel for this story!

    I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    So much more than a romance novel

    Journey to Riverbend is a historical romance to a certain degree, but could more accurately be classified as a western feud between evil and honor. Michael Archer is the new guy in town, and he has arrived to offer reconciliation on behalf of a young friend that was unjustly hanged for crimes he didn't commit. Rachel Stone has a dark past of her own, and trusting a man is not in her plans. Yet she finds herself strangely drawn towards Michael. Their short friendship is interrupted when Michael joins a posse of lawmen, farmers and cowboys to rescue one of their own who has been kidnapped. A great story of hope, forgiveness and God's provision even during the hard times, this book is written from a man's point of view. Some of the gunfights and violence were a bit much to handle, but in the midst of it all, the honor and faith of very strong characters influenced those around them. If you love an action-packed story about the rough and rustic times of long ago, you will enjoy this story.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Wonderful Novel of Redemption and Reconciliation

    This is not just nother western book. This is not just another romance novel. This is much more than that. This book is a superb story of redemption, of trust in God, of forgiveness and reconciliation. All those ingredients and much more in this wonderful book.
    The plot is simple but keep the reader turning pages. Michael Archer is our hero, that sometimes work as a prison minister and he promises to Ben Carstairs he would deliver a message and his dead mother's cross to his father when he was executed for a crime he claim he did not commited. After the execution, as a man of his word, Michael goes to Riverbend searching for Sam Carstairs, Ben's father. He is out of town in a business trip. While waiting, Michael meet Rachel Stone and fall in love with her, but both of them have obscure pasts and they think they are not worth the other's love. Sam is a grumpy man that blames Ben for his wife's dead, as she died giving birth to Ben. He is bitter and he manipulates the whole town where he lives. While on this business trip he is kidnapped for something he did also in his past and a search team is formed by the sheriff to search and rescue him. Michael makes part of this team. The story develops and all characters start looking to God for help and guidance.
    This is a wonderful book, very well written and full of detailed description of each character and scenary, that makes us participate in the story, cheering for our favorite characters. This book is a must have book in the permanent library of any serious reader and lover of western's and christian's book.

    This book was written by Henry McLaughlin. It was published by Tyndale Publisher House in January of 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program.

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  • Posted February 28, 2011

    Excellent Debut Novel

    Judging a book by its cover can often be a mistake and such is the case with Journey to Riverbend. Looking at the cover you would assume a light romantic entertainment set in the old west. This, however, proves not to be the case at all, for the auther has much more in mind and delivers admirably in this debut novel.

    The plot of this western novel contains numerous twists and turns that serve to build suspense throughout. Henry McLaughlin tells his story using multiple characters, presenting and expanding their stories in alternating chapters. This allows for solid character development as well as story movement as the reader wants to keep turning the pagers to find out what will happen next.

    His main characters are an interesting lot and the reader gets to know them all well, even minor characters are fleshed out nicely. Michael Archer, a prison minister with a violent past has come to Riverbend on a mission of forgiveness and reconciliation; Rachel Stone, a young woman living in Riverbend who hopes to redefine herself and leave behind a tainted history; sam Carstairs, an angry man who has negatively impacted his family and others with his bitterness and manipulations; Caleb Davis, Sheriff of Riverbend, a man who has seen his share of life yet remains caring, giving and open to possibilities; and John Higgins and his daughter Maria, wronged by Sam Carstairs and now out for revenge.

    Once the characters are introduced Mr. McLaughlin moves his major story forward; Sam Carstairs is kidnapped and a posse from Riverbend rides out to rescue him. Mr. McLaughlin alternates chapters with posse members, the kidnappers and those behind in Riverbend. The writing is crisp, concise and descriptive. The reader is easily engaged and involved int he character's lives and the situations in which they find themselves.

    In the book Mr. McLaughlin provides a brilliant description of an attempted stagecoach robbery which bears noting. I've seen stagecoach robberies in western films and they are generally just chases. This robbery begins with a chase and progresses to a long standoff. It is realistically presented giving the reader the experience of being with the stagecoach occupants amidst the heat, dust and fear.

    The posse chase that consumes much of the book from mid-point to end is extremely well done. Mr. McLaughlin places the reader with the posse as they attempt to track the kidnappers as well as with the kidnappers who are trying to elude and eliminate the posse. The reader feels their frustrations, the exhaustion of long hot days on the trail and the fear engendered as violence approaches.

    The action in the book is quick, harsh and real. Mr. McLaughlin does not glamorize the action sequences but presents them as brutal jarring violence. Often he describes the violence through Michael Archers eyes where it is shown to be scary and psychologically damaging even when necessary.

    In addition to his ability to handle both character and plot Mr. McLaughlin deftly interweaves a theological message. His characters look to God for guidance, strength, help and redemption. At times this message can slow down the pace of the book. However, he presents it not only as dialogue between characters but also as dialogue with the reader. As such it becomes a presentation of ideas and something of a challenge to the reader for thought. This novel successfully blends thrills with faith and a personal relationship with

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Journey to Riverbend

    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

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