Harlequin MIRA AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Savannah Smith hasn’t been living her life so much as merely existing in it. Ever since the accident that left her with terrible injuries and a limp, Savannah hasn’t been able to hold down a permanent job. She lives an isolated life in Adelaide until her brother Jaxon contacts her and asks her for help. Jaxon runs a houseboat business up on the Murray and Savannah’s future is tied up in it as well. When Jaxon disappears, saying he needs a holiday, Savannah is forced to head up to Riverboat Point and take over the business, despite not knowing anything about houseboats or how to manage them. Even more disconcerting is Jaxon’s vague warnings about watching out for one of the neighbours.
Savannah isn’t sure which neighbour he means but she’s forced to accept help from the mysterious Evan, who lives next door. Evan is a mechanic and he also possesses the license required to show the patrons how to reverse the boats out of the docks, something that Savannah doesn’t have. He helps with general maintenance work and has to be there each time a boat is ready to go out. The more time Savannah and Ethan spend together, the harder it is for her to deny the chemistry between them. Just as she lets Ethan into her bed and heart, she finds out that he definitely knew more about Jaxon’s disappearance then he was letting on. Shattered, Savannah is convinced that it’s all been a lie.
But there are bigger things for Savannah to worry about as she’s finally figured out who Jaxon was warning her about but it may be too late.
Riverboat Point is Tricia Stringer’s third novel for Harlequin and this time we head to the Murray River which is somewhere I’ve never been and always wanted to go. In fact I’ve wanted to hire a houseboat for as long as I can remember and there always seems to have been things to stop me. So I was immediately interested in this story and how someone who doesn’t really know anything about houseboats, would go running a business hiring them out. The answer is…pretty well, not without a few problems, but she has a lot of help!
Savannah is understandably annoyed at her brother for disappearing before she even arrives at his cabin, not even sticking around to help show her the ropes. She has to figure out every facet of the business herself including the banking, cleaning and stocking the boats ready for customers, not to mention the fact that she has to show them how to drive it, which you can only do if you have a special ticket – which she does not. It means she’s going to have to rely on Evan next door, who does which is not something Savannah is used to. She’s been alone for quite a while and she’s worked hard to get herself through her injuries and rehab. She’s very independent and a bit prickly – she’s not used to having to ask for help and it doesn’t sit well with her.
Despite her natural tendency to keep to herself, Savannah becomes quite a part of the Riverboat Point community as she makes friends and learns to call on people for help and provide it in return. She even manages to make friends with one half Jaxon’s other neighbour, the mysterious and flirtatious Belinda who is often popping over with bubbly. Despite a feeling of unease that there’s something a bit amiss, Savannah greatly appreciates the company and it reminds her that she hasn’t had a lot of it lately. Despite a rocky start with Evan on the other side, they come to be friends too, with the possible hint of more. Evan is a returned serviceman who twice served in Afghanistan and is still facing the demons that come as a part of that service. Both he and Savannah have their standoffish moments and their relationship seems to operate on a “two steps forward, one step back” pattern. There are several misunderstandings as well as both of their natural tendency towards isolation. However with the time they spend together, they are both becoming aware of wanting different things.
As well as negotiating the business and also Evan, Savannah ends up discovering something that’s going on nearby. She’s not sure who she can trust at first – her brother’s letter only warned her that one of the neighbours didn’t seem right. She didn’t even know if it might be Evan, despite the fact that he obviously occasionally helped her brother out. I didn’t really see coming what was going on, I’d had a few ideas and one was half right but the other was definitely a surprise. The tension was built very nicely as Savannah discovered exactly what was going on and ended up in a very dangerous situation.
I think that Savannah had quite a right to be furious with her brother, I would’ve been too to anyone who left me in that situation, no matter their motives (and to be honest, Jaxon’s motivation was a bit ridiculous). To risk not only his business but also Savannah’s financial security as his guarantor for anything less than a life-threatening situation struck me as careless and inconsiderate. Savannah wasn’t equipped to run the business single-handedly and having her rely on people could’ve gone horribly wrong, especially as Evan almost had to be in two places at once at some stages. It’s quite a large amount of pressure on Savannah and it could’ve gone wrong in quite a few different ways. Luckily Savannah’s determined and stubborn nature as well as her fitness served her very well both in the day to day running of the business and also when she finds herself in danger.
Riverboat Point is another highly enjoyable novel from Tricia Stringer and I’m really looking forward to her next release.
See more about Riverboat Point and read a chapter sample here
Book #250 of 2014
Riverboat Point is the 92nd book read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014