I received a copy of DOWN BY THE RIVER through Net Galley to review. It looked like a nice story line: widow starts over by taking on a bed and breakfast in the Smoky Mountains. Apparently this is the sixth book in the Smoky Mountain (Christian) series, though I haven’t read any of the others. It can be read on its own.
The story line is fairly straightforward: widowed Grace Conley feels ready to start over. Her children are grown and her former life no longer holds her since her businessman husband passed away. She sells her large house as she is no longer entertaining or helping with his family business, and takes on a beautiful little bed and breakfast in a small town. Grace is learning to rediscover herself and her emotions. There is an interesting cast of characters along the way.
The following contains SPOILERS – beware!
So here’s the thing — I didn’t dislike this book, however, I didn’t really love it. The setting and the characters of Grace and her daughter Margaret and the young twins: yes, I liked them a lot. I liked the underlying Christian themes and messages. Jack grew on me but I found him intolerable at the beginning. (Yes, he changes – predictably – over the course of the book). What I really did not like was the “crazy man” story line. It was odd and disturbing and then suddenly there’s a hasty wrap up of the situation near the end that involves rape, murder, and mental illness. Also the two characters who moved the plot along through their clairvoyance, or whatever you want to call it, bothered me, too. How handy to have a gift that you can know the future and know, according to this story, what God wants from you and what you should do. And there were two characters like this! I don’t know – didn’t work for me.
So – at the end of the day – if I don’t like a book, I don’t finish it and I don’t review it (hence the overwhelming positive “voice” of my blog). I liked it enough to finish it, just not enough to want to gush about it. I would read another one by Ms. Stepp, though, and I do like reading Christian books as they are “clean reads” with positive messages.
Find it at an indie bookstore near you — I am an indie bound affiliate: