Book Review: That Darkest Place

In Book 3 of her popular Riverbend series, Marcia Meara, author of Wake-Robin Ridge, A Boy Named Rabbit,and Harbinger, takes another look at the lives of the Painter brothers—Jackson, Forrest, and Hunter. While Hunter is home again and on the mend, the same isn’t true for his oldest brother. Jackson’s battle has just begun.

That Darkest Place“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
~Hunter Painter~

The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.


My Review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Evolution of the Painter Brothers

I was so glad to read this third installment of the Riverbend series. It picks up right where the second book left off, so I never missed a beat. And those Painter brothers aren’t men you want to turn your back on. I was on the edge of my seat for every detail.

The author’s use of multiple POVs let us delve into the very different worlds of the Painter boys. Jackson, the eldest, is used to being the strongest. Watching him become dependent on others and how he responds to the challenges his situation presents is powerful. Meanwhile, Forrest, the quintessential middle child who feels lost and inconsequential, really comes into his own in this novel. His character arc was a joy to watch.

We’d left book two with a lot of negative feelings toward Jackson. It was nice to finally understand the motivations behind his actions and to get to know the real Jackson Painter. It was also refreshing to see strong female leads in the story rather than damsels-in-distress. That doesn’t mean these ladies don’t feel pain or need support. It just means they can give as good as–actually, much more than–they get.

This novel is a frank and realistic portrayal of a family who has had more than their share of tragedies and has come out on the other side better, stronger, and closer for it all. The best part is there’s no candy-coating or false happily-ever-after. These types of problems don’t go away in a few weeks, and Meara shows that reality in a compassionate and unidealized manner.

I loved this book, I loved this series, and I love having the opportunity to recommend this author to you.

Book 1: Swamp Ghosts | Book 2: Finding Hunter | Book 3: That Darkest Place

If you are interested in more information, visit Marcia Meara’s website for purchase, newsletter, and social media links.

Published by Staci Troilo

A writer fascinated with interpersonal relationships, the importance of family, and the relevance of heritage. Learn more at

12 thoughts on “Book Review: That Darkest Place

    1. Thanks so much! How smart was I to become best friends with a graphics designer, way before I decided to start writing? Nicki is a graphics goddess! I tell her why my idea is, and she comes back in no time with a proof that takes it, and improves on it! She’s amazing, and I thank you on her behalf. 😀 Have a great day!


  1. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    A 4th of July surprise was waiting for me today, as Staci Troilo posted her review of my latest Riverbend book, That Darkest Place. SO happy to share this one with you, and hope you’ll pass it along, while TDP is on sale. THANKS!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful review of That Darkest Place, Staci. Sharing this one, for sure!

    I would have to say that this story presented some of the hardest challenges I’ve faced yet as a new writer. Dual romances between two very different couples for one thing, but the main issue was, of course, the physical and emotional problems suffered by Jackson Painter. I will leave one of them as, I hope, a surprise to new readers, but can tell you that learning to walk again was a big hurdle. Combine that with survivor’s guilt and depression, and you have a man in trouble. Once he was a big deal in his little town, and suddenly life is upside down, as he learns what really matters. I’m so glad you enjoyed going along for the ride.

    And don’t even get me started on Bailey and Mel, two very different women who were so much fun to write. Some of my favorite moments in the book occurred watching Forrest the Ladies’ Man become Forrest, the First Time in Love Schmuck, and all his bumbling around in that (to him) alien world.

    As in all my books, there is an underlying message about the redemptive and healing power of love, and I hope some of your readers will enjoy this one.

    Back to work on my novella, now. No rest for the wicked–or the senior writers who want to get a whole lot more done before they forget what words are. 😀

    Have a wonderful Independence Day, Staci, full of red, white, and blue! Have some BBQ and watermelon, and write your name against the sky with the glowing tip of a sparkler, right before it goes out. Celebrate! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Almost forgot to mention That Darkest Place is on sale for $1.99, today, tomorrow, and Thursday, as a 4th of July special. Now’s the time to save $3 on this one. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m so glad you liked the review. Hearing your story behind the story is also enjoyable to me. I can see why this book would present challenges to you as a writer; I think you handled it all with great success.

      Liked by 1 person

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