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Journey to Riverbend

Journey to Riverbend

4.4 42
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


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. Tyndale House Publishers

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Debut author McLaughlin writes a great opening line: "The crowd was small for a hanging." No writer can keep up that kind of tension for 400 pages, but McLaughlin offers a refreshing male take on a faith-based romance western. After young Ben Carstairs is strung up despite his protestations of innocence, preacher Michael Archer sets out to find Ben's dad, Sam. The two were estranged, and it was a last wish of Ben's for reconciliation. Unfortunately, Sam is a mean and very successful businessman who's made enough enemies that someone strikes back, kidnapping him. A second complication of Archer's mission to Sam is Rachel Stone, who, like the preacher, has a past. Attracted to her, yet conflicted, Archer joins a posse to rescue the businessman. The plot is action filled, considering how much of it consists of the posse on its long ride. Many of the supporting characters are well-done. McLaughlin earned the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel award he won for this; he's one to watch. (Feb.)
Library Journal
After Ben Carstairs is hanged for a crime he did not commit, preacher Michael Archer is determined to find Ben's estranged father, Sam, and pass along a message from Ben. When Michael learns that Sam has been kidnapped, he joins the rescue party, but not before falling in love with Rachel Stone, a newcomer to Riverbend with secrets of her own. VERDICT McLaughlin's book won the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild's 2009 Operation First Novel contest. It should be popular among fans of romances set in the Wild West as well as readers who enjoy Louis L'Amour and Tracie Peterson.

Product Details

Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt


a novel


Copyright © 2011 Henry McLaughlin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-3942-9

Chapter One

APRIL 10, 1878

The crowd was small for a hanging. Quieter than usual, as if they all knew justice would not be served today.

Michael Archer found it hard to look at the young man before him. Ben Carstairs, only twenty-two, stood like a boy grown too tall, too soon. Each strand of his sandy hair grew as if it had a mind of its own. Handcuffs encircled his fine-boned wrists in loops of heavy iron. His lips quivered. Fear raged in his brown eyes.

"You believe I didn't do it, don't you?"

Michael's throat tightened. He nodded. Many hours with the boy had convinced him of the young man's innocence.

Ben gulped air and sighed. His shoulders sagged. He lifted his cuffed hands and opened a palm. "Give this to my father when you see him. It was my ma's, and I wanted something of hers when he threw me out. Tell him I'm sorry."

It was the silver Celtic cross Ben had worn on a leather thong around his neck. Only slight traces of the delicate engravings remained. Michael rubbed the cross as he had seen Ben do hundreds of times and closed his fist over the treasured token. He slipped it into his shirt pocket, buttoned the flap, and patted the cross with his hand. "I will."

Sheriff Gideon Parsons spoke from behind Ben. "It's time, son."

Ben swallowed, then straightened. "Thank you, Michael."

Michael nodded, unable to speak.

Gideon stepped in front and slipped a black hood over Ben's head. The boy whimpered as Gideon put the noose in place and pulled it snug. He squeezed Ben's shoulder. "It'll be fast." His voice cracked. The trapdoor sprang down. Michael couldn't look. A short, muffled sound from inside the hood ended in silence. Michael opened his eyes. The body swayed in a gentle arc, the head at an unnatural angle.

Gideon stood on the other side of the trapdoor, his hand still on the release lever, knuckles white, eyes downcast. He shook his large head and slid his hand from the lever. Wiping his face with a red bandanna, he motioned to the under takers, who stood like vultures beside the gallows. They moved with well-practiced efficiency to free the noose, lower the body into a plain pine casket, and load it onto the hearse.

Gideon walked over and stood next to Michael. "I feel rotten about this. It shouldn'ta happened."

"I know. Thanks for asking the judge to reconsider." Michael gazed out past the town toward the fields and the low-lying hills in the distance. Heaviness enveloped his heart like a wet blanket.

Gideon snorted. "Fat lot of good it did. The judge wanted proof, and we didn't have any."

"But you tried. Thanks for believing me."

"Well, the whole thing never added up. It was either a frame-up or bad timing on young Carstairs's part, but I couldn't prove his innocence." He shook his head. "This is one of those times I hate this job."


Excerpted from JOURNEY TO RIVERBEND by HENRY MCLAUGHLIN Copyright © 2011 by Henry McLaughlin. Excerpted by permission of TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Journey to Riverbend 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the storyline very much. My only negative is the ending was a bit confusing to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh! Like to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
it takes place just as the Civil War ends in the western frontier.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had a LOT of violence in it. It reminded me of Lonesome Dove. It seemed to take forever to read the 303 pages. This has been described as a western romance, but I disagree with the romance part. There was not much romance in it. It was a western and was written as a Christian Inspirational. It left some sub plots unresolved and I was wondering if there was going to be a sequal. The characters seemed to be flat and uninteresting. The author needed to develop their personality more. The book had a good plot, and was belivable, the time frame was accurate and seemed well researched. It was extremely well written and edited. I would read other books by this author. Four stars instead of five because of the violence in an inspirational book.
Hill4kids More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love2Read5683 More than 1 year ago
I was a bit hesitant to read this book, only because I don't read romance or western novels as a rule. I decided to read outside my mystery/suspense box. I was rewarded with a pleasantly light read that was a bit predictable but which brought up some issues that many people deal with. Why do bad things happen to decent people, how can God love/use me after everything in my past are just a couple of them. This book also touches on a christian approach to abuse. I did enjoy it to some extent and found I identified with some of the quandaries Michael and Rachel faced. All in all, it was satisfying escapism with some life lessons intertwined. Good if you like romances
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kristen4mk More than 1 year ago
A solid first offering from new author Henry McLaughlin, this book had many things I enjoyed and only a few I perhaps didn't. Our main characters are Michael Archer (who has come to town solely to deliver a message from a dead man to his estranged father) and Rachel Stone (a former prostitute - she was essentially forced into the lifestyle following long term molestation and abuse), who has an incredibly close relationship with Christ. They are both well defined examples of redemption and forgiveness - I loved how really, the majority of the town embraced Rachel - and those who sterotypically judged her were frowned upon, interesting for that time period (1878). I also enjoyed learning more about the 'search posse' - I understood the concept, but the author clearly illustrated how people really stuck their necks out for others, because it was the right thing to do. I could have lived without some of the uber-descriptiveness of the, shall we say, romantic interludes and even the violence - some things (totally my opinion) would have been a bit better left to my quite active imagination. As a whole, although I can't say I LOVED it, found it to be a good read.
VicG More than 1 year ago
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."
AlaskanTebowFan More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JoyAnneTN More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time making it through this book. I found it to be lacking in character descriptions, I couldn't get to know them well and that's the thing that makes a good novel. There were scenes I didn't expect to find in a Christian novel such as the violence and especially the description of a woman about to be raped. Some of the events were a little hard to follow. The main characters must face their sins of the past. God is in the business or restoration and it's always good when people find their way.
kattrox More than 1 year ago
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.
Holly11 More than 1 year ago
Some books take me a bit of time to get into. This book is one of them. But once I was interested, I was hooked, and could hardly put it down. The book opens with an introduction to Michael Archer and Ben Carstairs. Michael works as a jail chaplain, and Ben is about to be hung for a crime he didn't commit. Right before he dies, Ben asks Michael to make amends with his father, Sam Carstairs, for him. Michael arrives in Riverbend, Sam's hometown, and discovers that Sam is out of town on business. He soon meets Rachel Stone, a beautiful girl with a less than reputable past, who lives with the preacher and his wife. Michael is able to relate to her because he has some things in his past that he would like to hide. Sam Carstairs is a ruthless businessman who will do whatever it takes to get ahead. His past shady business dealings come to haunt him, and he starts receiving notes from someone who wants him to pay for what he has done. He is kidnapped on the stagecoach on his way home, and the news gets to Riverbend. They put a posse together to find him, and Michael decides to join. I'm not going to give any more of the story away, but I can assure you this book will have you turning page after page. It's a very good story set in the old west. I really liked how the author painted Michael Archer as a strong man of God who is able to influence the men around him. I highly recommend this book.
jsslx More than 1 year ago
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.