River’s Redemption by Anne Rainey

River’s Redemption by Anne Rainey
Blackwater Book 5
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story (121 pages)
Other: M/F, Anal play/Intercourse
Rating:4 Stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

He’d make her his future…if only he could rewrite his past.

Before his adoptive parents stepped in, River’s childhood was little more than hellish misery. He still has the demons to prove it. Too bad he can’t seem to convince Jeanette Munroe that he’s damaged goods, and anything beyond friendship is an act of futility.

He’s done everything in his power to keep his ugly past from touching her sweet, innocent heart. Yet when he learns she’s been mugged, nothing will keep him from her side. And soon all he can think about is stripping her bruised body naked.

Ever since she tripped over her clumsy ninth-grade feet and into his life, Jeanette has been secretly crazy about her best friend. To her frustration, he’s never seemed to notice—until he comes to her rescue like the white knight she’s always believed him to be.

River never realized how deep and hard he hungered for Jeanette until her kiss, her touch sets his desire free. But as the heat between them rises to fever pitch, his secrets threaten to shatter any chance for a future.

Warning: Contains a green-eyed devil of a man with a tortured past, and a woman more than capable of chasing his nightmares away—one scorching kiss at a time. May cause an uncontrollable desire to give or get a hickie.

For Jeanette it was love at her first sight of River Jennings and those feelings haven’t diminished in all those years since high school. In fact, it’s only gotten harder to simply be his best friend, with no benefits. She isn’t sure what’s held River at arms length all these years except that it has something to do with his time in a foster home. She’s slowly been putting distance between them but even that doesn’t drive him away when her safety is in danger.

Jeanette had my sympathy and I was firmly in her corner to win River over from the first time I met her because she’s stronger than even she knows. I could see it in the way she handled herself after being mugged and the tenacity she showed in proving to River that she was more than his childhood friend. When she finally saw herself as I saw her, he didn’t stand a chance. It was funny to watch River try to step in and protect Jeanette and yet be determined to keep her at arms length. Obviously, it doesn’t work and once he realizes it their relationship takes a decidedly different and smoking hot direction.

Of all the Jennings boys who where forced into foster care as young children, River seems to have had it the worst. Besides being separated from his twin and older siblings he was put into an abusive home and forced to defend himself as well as his foster brother. The nightmares he has are so poignant and detailed it broke my heart to relive them with him but I can see how it was necessary to garner sympathy for this hero. River isn’t the most sociable of people but the love of his adoptive parents, his brothers and Jeanette have kept him grounded. It wasn’t difficult to believe that he was mentally scarred from his ordeal in foster care. What happened to him and his foster brother, Joey, is horrific and evil.

This is a story that easily drew me into the lives of these characters even though I hadn’t read the other Blackwater books but there were a couple of plot threads that didn’t feel like they were fully fleshed out. For River’s sake I wanted complete closure to his nightmares about his foster father. It just seemed like that would have helped begin the healing for him to know that the man could never hurt another living soul. Also, the mugging that brought River front and center back into Jeanette’s living room was kind of anti-climatic. After a menacing phone call I guess I was expecting the mugger to be more of presence in building tension for the story but then that part of the story was resolved with a simple phone call. I understood that the point of the mugging was to give River a reason to step in and admit he wanted Jeanette for more than a friend and it’s possible story length constraints kept Ms. Rainey from drawing out that line of thinking. It didn’t make or break my enjoyment of the story it was just noticeable.

As I mentioned, I haven’t read the other books in the Blackwater series but that will be remedied very soon. This story piqued my curiosity to read Sam, Brodix, Vance and Reilly’s stories. This family is very fascinating and I really want to know about how the other brothers fared in foster care compared to River. This book stood alone just fine without having read the others but it also sent me looking for those stories to round out the series.

Readers who look for the broody broken heroes and spunky, smart-mouthed heroines will surely love River and Jeanette’s story. River is indeed redeemed in this book it was beautiful to witness. If you love a close knit family series, check out the Blackwater books!

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