It’s my great pleasure today at My Written Romance to host this next stop on the book tour for Tess Thompson’s River Valley series – comprising of Riversong, Riverbend and Riverstar.
So, tell us a little bit about The River Valley Series:
Riversong (The River Valley Collection #1)
When Lee Tucker’s husband commits suicide, he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother’s dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh start. Lee’s resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband’s debt as her business blooms.
Riverbend (The River Valley Collection #2)
Just as Annie Bell’s reputation as one of the best chefs in the Pacific Northwest grows to new heights, she receives a threatening phone call from her abusive ex-boyfriend. Marco is out on parole and hungry for revenge, blaming her for his ten-year imprisonment. Fearing for her life and that of her young son, Annie reluctantly accepts help from Drake Webber, a cold and wealthy recluse hiding a dark history of his own. Supported by the gang of misfits from their restaurant Riversong, Annie forges ahead despite her growing terror that Marco will appear at any moment and make good on his threats.
Riverstar (The River Valley Collection #3)
After ending an affair with a married movie producer, feisty Hollywood makeup artist Bella Webber finds herself back in the quaint Oregon town of River Valley, the location of a famous director’s latest film. Despite trying to distract herself with work, Bella is unnerved by the proximity of Benjamin Fleck – a man who once so expertly made love to her she’d temporarily forgotten everything painful about her life. But now Ben sees her as nothing more than a heartbreak waiting to happen.
When an actress is found murdered after she’s seen leaving the restaurant Riversong with Ben, he is accused of the crime and arrested. Convinced of his innocence, the River Valley ‘gang of misfits’ band together to find the real killer, and Bella must face her biggest fear to ensure the truth is revealed.
Sounds pretty interesting, eh? Here’s my review of the series:
Riversong – 4 out of 5
We’re first introduced to the town of River Valley in Riversong. Reading Lee’s backstory just about broke my heart – she’d struggled through her childhood with an drunken indifferent mother, been left broke, alone and pregnant when her husband commits suicide…no wonder she finds it so difficult to trust people. Returning to River Valley was never high on her list of priorities, but it seems to be the only way out of the mess her late husband left in his wake.
What was only ever seen as a temporary move by Lee takes on a much more permanent feel when she is taken in by the rag-tag band of folk from the restaurant – especially by the almost too-good-to-be-true Tommy.
Tommy is the kind of guy that you want by your side in a pinch – sweet, patient, giving, kind. A musician who doubles as an EMT, Tommy’s need to protect Lee and have her in his life is strong and ultimately quite romantic. Occasionally, he came across as a little preachy and veered ever so slightly into inspirational territory, but it wasn’t too much of an issue as it didn’t begin to dominate the story.
The guilt Lee feels when she acknowledges her attraction to Tommy feels real, but never becomes a device for her to punish herself. Even despite the situation he left her in (broke with loan sharks on her tail), I liked that Lee didn’t devalue the entire relationship she had with her ex-husband. She understands that there were reasons behind his actions, and that hurting her was not his intention.
Riversong is a tender, heartwarming story, and an excellent debut effort from Tess Thompson.
Riverbend – 4 out of 5
Riverbend was probably my favourite of the three books in the series.
We met Annie in Riversong, and I just knew that there was more to her story than just what I saw there. Like Lee, Annie’s early life was never easy. A indifferent, careless mother and a cruel and abusive ex-boyfriend litter her past. She fought back and has made a wonderful life for herself and her son, enjoying the success of her role as the chef at Riversong. But it is this success that brings the past back to haunt and endanger. The ex has found her, and is determined to make her pay.
Drake is a mysterious, brooding man – a wealthy recluse who is hiding away in his big house with his own secrets. He hires Annie to prepare meals for him, however with the appearance of this awful ex on the scene, Drake becomes the pseudo-protector for Annie and Alder.
The relationships in this book are really well done. The interaction between Drake and Alder, Annie’s son is great, real and helps to draw Drake out of his shell. However, the real strength is the romance that develops between Annie and Drake. Both are damaged and have secrets in their past that make them believe neither is good enough for the other. But their romance was thoroughly compelling and believable.
The supporting characters are part of what has made these books so good. In Riverbend, my favourite supporting character has to be Alder. Not often do authors get the children just right, but Tess Thompson has in this instance – he comes out with some bizarrely adult turns of phrase, however you never doubt that he is a real kid.
Riverbend has the wonderful sense of community and friendship I found in the first book, Riversong, with some real suspense and swirling emotions thrown in for good measure.
Riverstar – 3.5 out of 5
Out of the three books in the series, I’d have to say this is the one that I found to be my least favourite. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it – I did enjoy it quite a lot. It is just that I found that I enjoyed the first two books more.
Bella is the sister of Riverbend’s hero, Drake, and we met her in the last book. She is back in River Valley, working on a film alongside her still married and now ex-boyfriend. On a previous visit to town (on a break from the ex), Bella met and had a hot and wild fling with Ben, Drake’s right-hand man. The connection between the two was immediate and electric, but at the time, Bella still believed herself in love with this other guy, so the relationship between them ended before it began.
However now that Bella is back and Ben is in River Valley full time now, they quickly discover that what brought them together upon first meeting was no fluke. But just as they are getting together, Ben is suspected of the murder of a troubled actress who was working on the film.
It was the investigation and detective stuff to do with trying to clear Ben’s name that appeared to me to be the main focus of this story. The relationship between Bella and Ben wasn’t focused on enough for me. This was a pity because it was a very strong and passionate relationship that was developing between them.
With regard to the investigation, it was clear to me fairly early on who the real nasty was. However, that being said, Tess Thompson did a really good job keeping the reader interested in staying with the story to see how this person will get their comeuppance.
Riverbend is a great read with twists and turns, romance and wonderful characters. As with the first two in the series, it is so lovely being able to visit with the weird and wonderful collection of folk in River Valley.
Now for the giveaway!
The lovely author of the series, Tess Thompson has decided to give away a $10.00 Amazon or B&N gift card, as well as a digital copy of her previous title, Caramel and Magnolias.
Simply complete the Rafflecopter form below to be in with a chance.
Here’s a little bit about Tess!
Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright with a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. In 2011, she released her first novel, Riversong, which subsequently became a bestseller.
Like the characters in the River Valley collection, Tess is from a small town in Oregon. She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her two young daughters, Emerson and Ella. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window.
Tess is working on her next novel and regularly blogs about her journey as a mother, author and friend at www.tesswrites.com.
Where can you find Tess on the web?
Note: I was provided with advance reader copies of the books by the publishers, author and Tasty Book Tours. My thanks to them.