Do I have a fun book to share with you today! Stephenia McGee writes the BEST stories, and today’s is no exception to that rule. Plus I’m happy to have her here today talking about the Flynn family. Always a pleasure to have her here. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! 🙂
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About the BookThe River Queen
Author Stephenia H. McGee
Published by By the Vine Press
on October 10, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Christian / Historical, Fiction / Christian / Romance / Historical
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads
River pirates, a stolen steamboat, and a deadly chase down the Mississippi—but falling in love might be the real adventure.
When river pirates attack and steal his steamboat, Emmett Carter barely escapes. Rescued and transported to a magnificent world of glitz and showbiz aboard a flashy showboat, Emmett is immediately captivated by something more than recovering his lost inheritance—The River Queen’s beautiful, but quirky, songbird.
Anola Flynn, the star singer on The River Queen, is struggling to keep the business running as attendance dwindles during the 1923 season. With her dreams of saving the family legacy—and the only life she’s ever known—slipping away, she forges an alliance with Emmett to keep her family afloat.
Now, to outsmart the gangsters chasing them, Anola and Emmett must wade through a dark current of deception and betrayal to save not only their dreams, but everyone they care about, from sinking deeper into the Mississippi River.
Pirates. Showboats. Family. Mystery. So many things to draw your interest in The River Queen. To my knowledge, I have not read a book with a showboat in it before, or at least not anytime in the past few months (my mind can sometimes fail me ha!). It was so intriguing to me and I enjoyed learning more about it. Side note – you can tell McGee does her research. There’s a ton of history tucked in the pages of this book.
I think what I liked most about this book was the pacing. I know that seems odd, but it was great. There wasn’t a dull moment, but it wasn’t overwhelming fast either. You got to know the important characters pretty quick, and there wasn’t too many of them. The romance was spot on – and oh that first kiss. Perfect placement and had me giddy. The mystery was great too – had me on the edge of my seat seeing everything unravel. It’s all a testament to how well McGee writes. Plus when you have Anola and Emmett as your lead characters, it basically doesn’t get any better than that.
Here’s the bottom line – historical romance fans will adore this book for it’s romance. Historical mystery fans will turn the pages as fast as they can to see it all play out. Historical fiction fans will love all the history McGee has included in the novel. Basically, if you like to read you will like this book. Ha! So take my recommendation and go get your copy today.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
Stephenia H. McGee is a multi-published author of stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. She lives in Mississippi, where she is a mom of two rambunctious boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Her novel The Cedar Key was a 2021 Faith, Hope, and Love Readers’ Choice award winner. A member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), she loves all things books and history. Stephenia also loves connecting with readers and can often be found having fun with her Faithful Readers Team on Facebook. For more on books and upcoming events and to connect with Stephenia, visit her at www.StepheniaMcGee.com.
Meet the Flynns
Today I’d love to introduce you to my favorite family I’ve ever written (and we are 20 books in, y’all!). The fun and quirky Flynn family brings the 1920s showboat era to life. They are close-knit, loyal, and well…you’ll see. Let’s take a peek and watch as Anola, star of The River Queen, witnesses the interesting fellow who came to her show—soaking wet, no less—meet her family.
They entered her grandparents’ rooms without knocking, finding the trio already out on the wide porch.
The first part of the season allowed her grandparents to enjoy a river view on the portside of the boat, and Lady Marie took great pride in the abundance of plants she kept alive with drawn river water.
This late into the evening, the finches caged on the porch were subdued, their cheerful twittering calmed. Voices drifted through the open doorway.
“Are you a member of the peerage, ma’am?”
Peerage? What was the man talking about? She and Mam exchanged an amused glance as they passed through the apartment decorated with the odd array of mismatched furniture her grandparents had acquired. Vases from China, wicker chairs most people would have put outdoors, rugs from India, and a massive carved table that had taken half the crew to disassemble and bring inside. The store owner had regaled Lady Marie with a tale that the table had once belonged to George Washington—something none of the rest of them believed—and Lady Marie had to own it.
“Peerage, you say?” Lady Marie nodded her greeting but spoke to their guest. “There’s no peerage in Ireland, lad.”
Anola stopped stock-still. She covered her lips with her gloved hand. And here she’d been worried about wearing her comfortable clothes.
Lady Marie dressed this fellow in a mismatched costume—as if she’d taken two hundred years of history and mashed it all together.
He wore a pair of flight pants from that time they’d put on an airplane special, which fell three inches too short above a pair of boatman’s shoes. As he stood to greet them, the billowy shirt from their medieval play hung past his waist and to midthigh, though he had pulled the laces at the neck up tight instead of leaving them open to reveal his upper chest as Paul had four summers prior.
His hair tumbled over his forehead in a charming disarray. Despite his appearance, however, his face remained serious. “Good evening.”
“Good evening, Mr. Carter. So kind of you to join us.” She turned her back to him and mouthed to Lady Marie, “What did you do?”
Anola should have known better, as any sort of secrecy did not exist for Lady Marie. She crossed her arms over her beaded dress with a neckline far too low for her age. “I did the best I could. That’s what I did. He flat refused the Greek toga, though it would have been the best. Would have allowed for the quickest drying.”
Mr. Carter made an oddly strangled noise. Perched in the chair next to his wife, the captain grinned. Anola lowered her eyebrows at her grandmother. This wasn’t the time for one of her pranks. The fellow had been through enough. Was she testing him to see how he reacted to unfamiliar circumstances? Why?
“And there was that adorable aviator’s suit we had, complete with the jacket. You remember that, don’t you? Well, anyway, he rejected it as well, save the pants. Then the entire thing crumbled into finding the first dry thing he fit.” She rubbed her temple and sighed. “There’s nothing to be done with a man when he decides to be stubborn.”
Over her shoulder, Anola regarded the mortified gentleman. “Ah, well. At least you are dry, yes?”
He returned to his chair, looking as uncomfortable as one of the crewmen might if they’d been asked to dance a jig in front of a full theater.
Anola settled into a rattan chair by a robust fern, right next to their guest, when Da stepped out to join them.
“So here is the man who wanted to cause a ruckus on my boat.” Humor seeped into his voice. “One does not call for a lawman at a performance, lad. Makes the showgoers too anxious to purchase candy for the walk home.”
Mr. Carter rose and extended a hand. “My apologies, sir. I am most grateful for your family’s hospitality on what has proven to be a rather trying day.”
“A bit of excitement does us all good now and again.”
Poor Mr. Carter looked aghast, but Da planted his hands on his hips and rocked back on his heels the way he did when announcing the show to an audience. “Did any of you remember to make introductions?”
The captain shrugged. “I reckon he got the gist of it. But if you want it done proper-like, we’ll oblige. I’m the captain of this operation.” He gave a nod to Lady Marie. “My fair lady wife.” He thrust his chin to Da, then Mam. “Our son and the piano player we expected to be a man who turned out to be a slip of a girl he married less than eight weeks later. And, of course, their daughter, the gem of The River Queen.”
Anola beamed. She loved when her grandfather called her his gem.
Da chuckled and, with a flick to smooth his trousers, sat next to Mam. “If I may?”
The captain turned out his palms as though to say repetition was unnecessary, but Da could do as he wanted.
“I am Stephen Flynn. My father, known affectionately to all as the captain, bears the name Allister Flynn on a scrap of birth papers misplaced sometime during their journey to America. His wife, who will go by no other name than Lady Marie, though she has not a drop more of noble blood than the captain.”
Anola’s grandparents both held their heads high under such a declaration, undiminished by the ousting that they were neither an actual boat captain nor lady. In the world they had created, it hardly mattered. Though she could see how the pet name might be confusing to others.
“My dear wife”—Da grasped Mam’s hand and kissed its back—“is Jocelyn and our daughter, Anola.”
“So the river queen has a name.” Mr. Carter’s bangs swayed with a rueful shake.
The family exchanged glances. Didn’t he know that was the showboat’s name? Perhaps he’d swallowed too much silty river water. They should probably feed him.
“A unique name for a unique woman,” Mr. Carter mumbled.
Did he mean her? No one else seemed to have heard him. Had she not been sitting so close, she might not have caught the words. Warmth gathered in her center. He found her unique, did he?
She caught his gaze and winked.
Just as she’d hoped, he turned the most charming shade of red.
This was becoming the most fun evening she’d had in quite some time.
Enter to win the following:
Autographed paperback of The River Queen
“The only people I want to see today are fictional characters” sticker
Premium organic free trade coffee
Glass serving bowl with spoon
Mississippi made “Land and Sea” candle
Southern made “Bless your heart” candle
Potential international winner will receive a paperback of The River Queen with personalized inscription of the first name of the winner and a $25 (US) Gift Card to Stephenia H. McGee’s Bookshop.
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