Official Review: The Dark River Secret by Gayle Siebert

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Vickie Noel
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Official Review: The Dark River Secret by Gayle Siebert

Post by Vickie Noel » 17 Dec 2018, 20:54

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Dark River Secret" by Gayle Siebert.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever had a life-changing experience borne out of one seemingly insignificant decision? Astrid Ingebritson would ponder over the outcome of her choice to run an unfamiliar trail in years to come. The Dark River Secret by Gayle Siebert is a fictional story about love, trust, loyalty, misconceptions, betrayal, and survival. Published in 2018 by Tellwell Talent, it is listed under the C/T/M/H genre.

A man drives into the forest. Heading into his secret cabin lightly armed, he tries to open up the locks, fussing over them while contemplating their replacement with a deadbolt. The nude girl is huddled in a corner, chained, and in tears. She wouldn’t be getting out alive. Such was the fate of a number of females in Dark River, whose mysterious and unsolvable disappearances serve as sexual stimulants for depraved members of the “gentleman’s club.”

Meanwhile, somewhere in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, a young bartender is completely smitten when a handsome cowboy walks in, commanding attention. Unfortunately, Astrid is blindsided by Jennifer who throws herself directly in Cowboy’s (Denver Danielson) path, obscuring the emotional connection about to be made. Little does she know that they would cross paths again, becoming enraptured in a blossoming romance that will be challenged in circumstances beyond their expectations. However, presently dismayed at her longstanding inability to find love, Astrid decides she needs a change of environment.

After a car mishap, and a rumbling stomach forces her road trip to a halt in Dark River, she ends up getting hired as a waitress. As Hank Hazen Junior, the “star boy” of the town, ogles her unabashedly; Astrid feels that her spur-of-the-moment decision to move was the ideal solution to her loveless life. To top it off, she accepts a money-saving opportunity to serve as a live-in caregiver to Bridey, Hank’s rich but vulnerable mother, on their remote “Double H” ranch. Hank Hazen Senior is, every bit, the cultured man his son isn’t. Fletch lives there too, but Astrid’s not so thrilled about that because of his uncanny ability to materialize out of thin air, saying nothing, and giving her the “heebie-jeebies.”

Life with the Hazens is quite expository for Astrid. She learns of the history behind the ranch, and some strange happenings in the town. But when Astrid thought she’d just about had enough of Fletch’s “stalking,” she tries to ditch him by jogging through an unfamiliar trail in the ranch. She sees an “abandoned” cabin, and decides to poke around. Old schoolbags, handbags, purses, and newspaper clippings dating back to the 50’s tell Astrid she’s stumbled upon the Dark River secret. Guess who comes in at that precise moment. Will she end up like Claire? Is there more to the gentleman’s club than meets the eye? How does Astrid survive getting lost in the forest-like ranch with nothing but her wits? Does her travails finally end when Buster, the cute dog on the ranch, practically licks her back to life? Let Gayle Siebert fill you in!

With the settings alternating between the ranches of the Hazens and the Danielsons in northern British Columbia, the plot of The Dark River Secret is breezy, easy to follow, yet suspense-filled. Focusing mainly on Astrid’s sojourn as a lost escapee, the female protagonist’s resilience and survival skills was nothing short of amazing. I was so impressed with the ingenious manner in which she maneuvered a way out of the cabin. I held my breath several times when she was at other decision-making crossroads.

Written in present tense, the language is quite straightforward; however, the cowboy lingo used in varying parts of the book resulted in altered spelling patterns. This, I believe, was the author’s intention. Despite this distinction, I observed some errors which couldn’t hide under the umbrella of western speech. Some of them included punctuation errors, wrong word usage, and wrong spellings like “dat” instead of “that,” among others. These errors were somewhat distracting, and they could easily have been sorted out with another round of editing. The author also used abbreviations and acronyms without providing a clue as to what they stood for in the context of the sentence. For example, on page one of chapter four, Siebert uses the initials, “b.o.” in “…she gets a whiff of b.o.” It took me awhile to figure out that it probably meant "body odor."

The characters, though, were well-developed as well as believable. Astrid and Denver made a cute couple while Hank Junior and Trisha deserved each other. Nonetheless, I felt like there were some loose ends the author could have tied up. For example, as strong as the emotions were between Denver and Astrid, the former never really explained his complicated relationship with his ex-wife, Trisha, to the latter. Surprisingly, Astrid didn’t raise the issue up, either. In matters of the heart, this nonchalance didn’t feel realistic. I also wished the relationship between Fletch and the Hazen family was expounded in more details than the few lines provided with partial exposure. For instance, when he said, “Too late, Dad, ” a flashback would have cleared things up at that point. Lastly, I can’t seem to understand why the story ended the way it did, especially on Astrid’s angle. After her horrifying experience, and Denver’s role in the saga, I can’t say I was totally satisfied with the final conclusion. Of course, this is based on individual preferences, but to a large extent, I believe a lot of people would share my sentiment after reading.

There were no graphic scenes of romance and violence, but a bit of profanity was present. As a result of this, I think the story would have been better classified under the “Other Fiction” genre. The steady pace at which Denver and Astrid’s relationship developed was quite appealing to me; it didn’t feel rushed. I equally admired Astrid’s never-say-die attitude to life. Therefore, The Dark River Secret earns a 3 out of 4 stars. The errors and loose ends earlier mentioned, unfortunately, prevented a perfect rating. Being a lover of fast-paced, action thrillers, this tale started a bit too slow for me, but anyone who enjoys loyalty, determination, and survival stories is welcome to pick this up.

******
The Dark River Secret
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Post by Erika Thomas » 18 Dec 2018, 18:53

This sounds like a fantastic read! The errors certainly take away from it, but I can't wait to pick up Astrid's story. I love romance, and I love crime, action, and thriller novels, so this sounds like it's right up my alley. Thanks so much for not giving away any spoilers, and thanks for the read and review!

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Post by Vickie Noel » 18 Dec 2018, 23:18

Your enthusiasm is certainly contagious, Erika! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Please do share your thoughts when you read the book!
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Post by kandscreeley » 19 Dec 2018, 08:56

I'm actually quite surprised that there weren't any graphic scenes based on the premise of this book. It takes a strong author to be able to tell a suspenseful story without adding that kind of content. Kudos to him! I might have to actually pick this one up. Thanks!
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Post by Vickie Noel » 19 Dec 2018, 16:25

kandscreeley wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 08:56
I'm actually quite surprised that there weren't any graphic scenes based on the premise of this book. It takes a strong author to be able to tell a suspenseful story without adding that kind of content. Kudos to him! I might have to actually pick this one up. Thanks!
I quite agree with you, and I'm happy it's got you interested! I'd love to "hear" your thoughts when you're through with it too. By the way, the author's a woman.

Thanks for reading!
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Post by Ice dragon » 21 Dec 2018, 14:19

It puts the picture in my head, of being dark and suspenseful. The storyline sounds quite bland to me, though.
Great review.

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Post by Vickie Noel » 21 Dec 2018, 16:19

Thanks for reading and commenting, Ice dragon.
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Post by Shrabastee » 27 Dec 2018, 00:50

Thanks for this thorough and insightful review, Vickie! The premise sounds quite promising. I am definitely going to add this to my to-be-read list.

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Post by Vickie Noel » 27 Dec 2018, 03:22

Shrabastee wrote:
27 Dec 2018, 00:50
Thanks for this thorough and insightful review, Vickie! The premise sounds quite promising. I am definitely going to add this to my to-be-read list.
I appreciate your feedback, Shrabastee, thanks for stopping by!
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Post by Kajori50 » 27 Dec 2018, 14:48

I really like the premise. The idea of a well written book with elements of romance and thriller seems to be tempting.

Thank you for the detailed review.

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Post by Vickie Noel » 28 Dec 2018, 01:50

Kajori50 wrote:
27 Dec 2018, 14:48
I really like the premise. The idea of a well written book with elements of romance and thriller seems to be tempting.

Thank you for the detailed review.
I appreciate your stopping by, Kajori50. The book sure is tempting. Thanks for the feedback.
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 28 Dec 2018, 04:05

When I read the story's synopsis I could help blur it out: you got to be kidding me? I could help but wonder how the author came up with these ideas. Impressive work! Thank you for your valuable critiques!
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Post by Vickie Noel » 28 Dec 2018, 05:08

Sahani Nimandra wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 04:05
When I read the story's synopsis I could help blur it out: you got to be kidding me? I could help but wonder how the author came up with these ideas. Impressive work! Thank you for your valuable critiques!
I thought so too! I'm glad you found the review impressive. Thanks for your encouragement!
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 07 Jan 2019, 09:30

I love those scenarios where protagonists are in seemingly impossible situations and have to use their wits to get out. I feel this book could be quite scary, but maybe it's not too heavy. Thanks for your thorough review.

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Post by Vickie Noel » 07 Jan 2019, 13:01

ButterscotchCherrie wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 09:30
I love those scenarios where protagonists are in seemingly impossible situations and have to use their wits to get out. I feel this book could be quite scary, but maybe it's not too heavy. Thanks for your thorough review.
Yes, they're quite exhilarating to read. I wouldn't exactly call this one scary though, so feel free to plunge in! Thanks a mil, ButterscotchCherrie, for stopping by.
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