Review (and a Giveaway!): A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts

Posted February 8, 2016 by meezcarrie in Christian, giveaway, historical, romance, Sydney Tooman Betts / 13 Comments

A River Too Deep is a 274 page novel in the Christian historical fiction genre and was released on October 23, 2013. To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book


In the spring of 1817, Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long presumed dead; but instead of enjoying a loving reunion, they are plunged into treachery and deceit. Nothing is as they expected and little is what it seems. Even the man who helps her escape is not the reliable suitor he appears.

Alcy is caught between gratitude and fear, unable to avoid her rescuer’s attentions or understand the responses they stir. Neither can she tell what sort of man he is or what he intends to do with her in the strange place they are going. Will he keep her for himself or will he sell her to the highest bidder?

Of one person only is she certain, but will he come for her before it is too late?

Stonebridge Oct 2013 Historical Fiction

my thoughts

Before this weekend, I’d heard so many great things about A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts. A lot of people have raved over it in the “Avid Readers of Christian Fiction” group I belong to on Facebook.  So when the opportunity arose to join the blog tour with Celebrate Lit, I jumped at the chance to finally read this much-talked-about book for myself.  I can now safely say that I see what all the fuss was about.

A River Too Deep is almost an allegory of our relationship with God, though it stops just short of fully falling into that category.  Certain characters and plot points beautifully illustrate the concept of God as our Adopted Father, of Jesus as our Bridegroom. The history, the setting, the characters, the romance brought to mind Laura Frantz or Lori Benton but with a voice unique to this author.

In the first quarter of the book, I did think that some of the events/reactions felt a bit unrealistic. For example, after unexpectedly losing someone very close to her and then suffering some additional trauma of her own, Alcy didn’t have nearly the emotional reaction that I would have had, were I in her shoes. Maybe I’m just a wimp lol (entirely possible) but some of this first part fell flat like that to me.

On the other hand, the last three quarters of the book is stunning in its emotion, its richness, its characters. Alcy’s transformation into Eyes-Like-Water is poignant and bittersweet but “right”, highlighted by the power of the Creator and His Book to change lives. There was so much spiritual truth woven through these pages, not just what is blatantly expressed but subtle nuances that make it all the sweeter.

Bottom Line: A River Too Deep is rich with history and steady tones of faith, and while romance certainly plays a role in the story it is more of a subplot than the focus. Vivid characters gallop through the chapters, stealing your heart and carving out a permanent residence.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it!

KissingBook Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion, particularly in the last half

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About the Author


Sydney Tooman Betts and her protagonist-husband currently reside in the Shenandoah Valley near the extensive cavern system that inspired the setting for several early chapters of this book. While single, Ms. Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed) was involved in a variety of cross-cultural adventures in North and Central America. After marrying, she and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experiences span preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level and serving as the Sunday School Superintendent, Children’s Church Director, or Women’s Ministries facilitator in several evangelical denominations.

Before penning her first novel, A River too Deep, she ghost-wrote several stories for an adult literacy program.

Blog Tour Stops

Feb 1: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

Feb 2: Cassandra M’s Place


Feb 4: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

Feb 5: Lavish Bookshelf

Feb 6: Daysong Reflections

Feb 7: Mary Hake

Feb 8: Christian Bookaholic

Feb 8: Reading Is My SuperPower

Feb 9: Texas Book-aholic

Feb 10: A Greater Yes

Feb 11: Simple Harvest Reads

Feb 11: Through the open window

Feb 12: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

Feb 13: BukWurmzzz

Feb 14: For The Love of Books

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13 responses to “Review (and a Giveaway!): A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts

  1. I’ve been waiting for your day on the blog hop. I wanted to read your thoughts on this book. I’m A-OK with suspending reality in my reading. That’s part of the enjoyment for me. Any unrealistic elements don’t bother me unless it verges into fantasy when it’s clearly not supposed to be a fantasy book. I’m looking forward to eventually reading this one. Thanks Carrie. 🙂

  2. Sydney

    Carrie, I’m obviously not too good at the blog thing because I just now discovered how to leave you a comment here. I LOVED your review. Thank you for taking the time and giving your review so much thought. It was very encouraging.

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