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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.

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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.

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