REVIEW: Chasing River by K. A. Tucker
An intriguing modern day novel set in Ireland, CHASING RIVER drew me in by its scenic location. Political unrest is part of the conflict that faces a couple from two different worlds who find themselves falling in love. Can an American sheriff’s daughter and an Irish Republican’s brother find common ground to bind them forever?
Future pub owner River Delaney follows his brother Aengus into a park in Dublin, Ireland. River is suspicious of Aengus’ intentions due to his affiliations since his release from prison. Aengus is carrying a satchel that River believes is a bomb, so he follows him, hoping he can stop Aengus from doing something stupid. Aengus isn’t in the mood to listen to River. Twenty-five-year-old American Amber Welles, a sheriff’s daughter, is running to catch her bus for a tour when she’s knocked down by a man intent on smothering her. That’s what she thinks until she realizes he has just protected her from bomb shrapnel. Injured, the man runs off before Amber can properly thank him.
Questioned by the gardai (police), Amber knows they suspect her involvement with whoever set off the bomb. Amber fears her father will insist she come home if he hears the news. At the beginning of her several month international tour, her first week in Ireland isn’t going so well. Convincing the gardai to keep her name out of the papers isn’t easy, but neither is lying to them about what she eventually remembers. Determined to find the man who saved her life, Amber tracks him down at Delaney’s, his family’s pub, by the logo on his t-shirt.
One of the things I loved most about this novel were the places mentioned that I recognized from my own trip to Ireland. Delaney’s has been in River’s family for almost two-hundred years and River’s inner thoughts mentions a pub that has roots back to 1198. I was in that pub and can visualize Delaney’s because of it. Also mentioned were the cliffs of Moher, another favorite place we visited.
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Since I’ve been to Ireland and attended lectures on the conflicts, this novel touched me with familiarity and empathy for the characters. I’m a firm believer that we bring some of our own experience to each novel we read and this book affected me because of my love for this beautiful place and its people.
Even though I would have preferred more detail on the places Amber visits just due to my fascination with travelogues, the overall setting was realistic. The culture seemed true-to-life for what I know of it from my brief stay in Dublin. There are a few mentions of discussion shared between the characters that weren’t actually part of the novel and made me wonder if I missed something. Sometimes I felt like sections of their day were skipped, which might have developed a deeper point of view. Especially since this novel took place during a short amount of time, the missing hours distanced me from the story. The pub setting was always visually pure in my mind but the inclusion of a modern space for Amber’s vacation residence seemed off kilter.
Although Amber seems innocent and naive throughout most of this novel, I connected with her. Her internal conflict of how she was raised and what she wanted for her future was realistically portrayed. River was a bit harder for me to connect with and I think that’s because of the first person narrative. He just never came across to me as virile as I thought he would be. His dialogue was sometimes masculine and as colorful as you would expect in a pub run by brothers, but his internal thoughts didn’t always seem true to character. Because of this, I was often confused whether I was reading Amber’s point of view or River’s since they alternated chapters. About halfway through, I realized the chapters were titled by character which helped keep me better focused. I wanted to feel River’s tough Irish background within his personality, but he was more sensitive than I expected. I thought he would be a bit harder based on his experience. His personality just didn’t jive with how I envisioned a male would act within his circumstance and experience. I did enjoy River’s interaction with his brothers and felt they were more realistically portrayed than his relationship with Amber.
I had a tough time reading this novel quickly based on my issues with the point of view techniques. I can usually read first person fairly easily but when it’s back and forth between two characters, one of them male, it seems much harder. I never considered putting the novel aside over this, because I did enjoy the story and wanted to know what happened next. It just slowed me down and I had to restart several chapters to focus better. Considering that I read an uncorrected proof, many of my quibbles could have been ironed out in the final copy.
CHASING RIVER is the third book in K. A. Tucker’s BURYING WATER series. There were a couple sections where I didn’t understand the reason for Amber’s thoughts on some unknown-to-me characters. I didn’t read the first two books so I’m assuming those tidbits will be important to fans of the series. If you’re planning on reading the fourth book in this series, SURVIVING ICE, I suggest you read CHASING RIVER for more insight on tattoo artist Ivy’s background. She was a fun character and I suspect her story will be just as intriguing.
In conclusion, I was engaged by K.A. Tucker’s storytelling skills. I was surprisingly satisfied with the novel’s conclusion, which I didn’t think was possible based on this couple’s convincing conflict. I especially enjoyed two of the scenes with Amber and Ivy as they become better acquainted. Coming from the same hometown, yet total opposites on the surface, made for some amusing situations. Ivy’s tough girl persona showed off Amber’s girly tendencies and made them an entertaining pair. Ivy pushed Amber to grow beyond her good girl persona and yet, respected her enough to have her back when she believes Amber is in trouble. I also enjoyed the slow build for the romance between River and Amber. I was halfway through the book when the sparks started flying which lends a realism to their relationship. I appreciate it when an author takes her time exploring each personality before allowing their attraction to consume their senses.
CHASING RIVER is a good opposites attract story in a beautiful location under unusual circumstances. If you’re looking for an intriguing contemporary New Adult romance with strong family values under conflict, CHASING RIVER will satisfy, entertain and enhance your understanding of some of Ireland’s history.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of Romance Junkies and The Zest Quest. Photos copyrighted by Dorine. Print ARC provided by the publisher.
Chasing River by K. A. Tucker
Series: The Burying Water Series, Book 3
Category: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Publisher: Atria Books (July 7, 2015)
Rated 4 out of 5
This is the first book I’ve read this year for the Contemporary Romance 2016 Reading Challenge ( #ContRom2016 ).
Do you enjoy books that incorporate travel into their plots?