Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The River Queen by Stephenia H. McGee

Posted October 6, 2023 by meezcarrie in 5 stars, Book Review, Christian, giveaway, historical, romance, Stephenia McGee / 6 Comments

The River Queen book review

The River Queen by Stephenia H. McGeeTHE RIVER QUEEN by Stephenia H. McGee
River Romances #1

GENRE: Historical Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: By the Vine Press
RELEASE DATE: October 10, 2023
PAGES: 352

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.


“God’s timing puts us in the places He intended us to be.”

As a young teenager, I spent a few days on a houseboat with nine other members of my family and quickly decided that life on a boat was not for me. BUT… that feeling doesn’t carry over to reading about river boats and/or showboats and the people who call them home. On the contrary, I find it fascinating to follow their stories and the adventures they encounter. Something about the magic of a showboat beckons me to hang out for a while … just so long as my real-life feet stay grounded firmly on land haha!

“Welcome, welcome,
To The River Queen,
Where every moment is but a dream.”

I was enchanted by Anola and her delightfully eccentric family from the moment she stepped to the railing and began her welcome song. For The River Queen truly is a family affair. She lives and works there with her quirky grandparents (an endearing captain who isn’t really a captain and a dramatic Lady who really isn’t of the peerage) and her parents who are only slightly less unconventional. I adored this foursome – and Anola – and I know I was grinning anytime they were on the page. They are people you’d want to befriend, people you’d trust with your life, and people you’d shake your head about fondly. And Anola is all of their best personality facets rolled into a fabulous mix of drama and sunshine and a big heart. I’m smiling just thinking about her and their family banter.

“What’s not to love about this lot?”

Emmett Carter is more of a conventional sort, an accountant, a person who rarely takes risks. Yet he finds himself thrown into the Mississippi River where he emerges, dripping wet, onto The River Queen where in a whirlwind of unexpected events he’s shoved firmly out of his comfort zone. I loved watching his ‘fish-in-the-water’ adjustments to life on a showboat, and I especially loved watching him fall in love with Anola. This sentence in particular had me all kinds of grinning and swooning:

And just like that, he knew he’d be spending the rest of his life on a boat.

Ahhhhh!!! I’m always absolutely besotted when the hero falls in love to his own surprise, quickly and completely, no looking back. Emmett and Anola may at first glance seem like an unlikely pair but the more time you spend with them the more you easily see how perfect they are for one another. He keeps her grounded (sort-of lol) and she keeps his eyes on God. I adored this exchange between them:

Emmett peeked at her from the corner of his eye, finding her peaceful face smiling again. “Do you have a Bible verse for everything?” Apparently even thoughts he hadn’t voiced?

She beamed, either not noticing or not caring about his disgruntled tone. “I hope so. That’s what they are there for, after all.”

The suspense plot involving Emmett’s brother and all manner of nefarious people kicked the tension up a notch, yes, but also gave us more insight into Emmett’s character that we might not have known otherwise. It took some intriguing turns, and while the main thread is wrapped up in this book, the door still feels open for some of the loose threads to be revisited in future stories.

Bottom Line: River pirates. Smuggling. Showboats. The Roaring 20s. Romance. All of these adventures and more await you on board The River Queen by Stephenia H. McGee! The delightful characters leave your heart lighter for time spent with them, and Anola is going on my list of ‘adorable heroines’ post haste! Emmett is a man of integrity with a brother who unfortunately is not, and these layered nuances to his story made me embrace him as Anola’s perfect match even more. Their romance is sweet and swoony, and the two of them together made me smile! Loved the epilogue and the promise of what’s to come. Another fabulous and engaging read by this author!

(I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book which I purchased for my own collection. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 5 stars / delightful in every way!

KissingBook Level: 3 / may forget to breathe on occasion

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Stephenia H. McGee

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

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6 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The River Queen by Stephenia H. McGee

  1. Megan D Hamsher

    I LOVE Stephenia’s books!
    I’m always learning something along the way.
    And who wouldn’t want to jump aboard a river boat with a pretty gal?

  2. Stephenia H McGee

    Eeeek! I’m thrilled you loved Anola and her quirky family like I do. Thank you so much Carrie for this amazing review. Totally happy dancing over here! =)

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