3 out of 4 stars
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Peter Silverman's Red Creek follows the relationship between Kay Cosgrove and Alex Dunhaigen. Nearly five years have passed since the tragic circumstances that separated them in the prequel, Hancock Hill. Set in a small Pennsylvania town during the racial tension of the early 1960s, the story resumes after the couple reunites.
This historical fiction reflects the political unrest and racial tension that affected the country in the 1960s. In love since high school, Alex and Kay have experienced personal losses that affect them both physically and emotionally. As they seek to rebuild a life together, Alex struggles to protect his invention--a device that could have a transformational impact on the world but also puts them in danger. Meanwhile, with mounting racial tensions across the country, Alex learns some disturbing news about his sister, Maureen. With the help of their families and friends, they must overcome wealthy and violent adversaries who seek to harm them.
The most engaging aspect of the story is the author's evocative portrayal of Alex's creekside sanctuary behind his parents' home. Whether quietly reflecting on the past or celebrating exciting news with Kay, Apple Creek becomes his place of solace. The author's picturesque descriptions such as "Alex clearly saw in his mind glistening rocks and slanting sunlight and felt on his face the early breeze carrying the scent of fresh greenery..." conjure images of the peaceful retreat. I could almost hear the sound of the creek trickling over the rocks.
On the other hand, instead of striking a romantic chord, I found the descriptions related to the couple's intimacy repetitive and bordering on syrupy. Though Alex and Kay are both flawed, their characters lack depth. The contrast between Alex wrestling his inner demons and Kay's practically perfect responses to his brooding wasn't realistic. Of the characters represented, I found Alex's sister, Maureen, most relatable. I admired the way the author balanced her disturbing reactions to racial conflict with her tenderness and affection for her brother.
The book is exceptionally edited as I didn't note any errors. Even so, it would be strengthened by more attention given to character development and fewer flowery romance scenes. Since both of these issues detracted from my overall reading enjoyment, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who appreciate leisurely-paced romance novels. It will also appeal to fans of historical fiction related to the racial tension of the 1960s. Due to the language, sexual content, and plot-related violence, I recommend the book to mature audiences only. It's likely that readers who prefer a plot that moves at a quicker pace would not enjoy this one.
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