#ThrowbackThursday ~ Swamp Ghosts (Riverbend Book 1) by @MarciaMeara #Suspense with some #Romance


Swamp Ghosts was the first book I read by Marcia Meara and I’ve enjoyed every one since. It was published in 2014 and is a romantic suspense novel, with the emphasis on suspense.

My Thoughts

Maggie Devlin, after a horrendous and violent marriage, has been happily single for the last eight years. She owns and skippers an eco tour boat, the Undine, taking tourists out on the St John’s River and into the Florida swamps, to check out the varied plant and animal life. Along with the boat, her father left her a battered old truck and his heavily mortgaged house. The business is virtually bankrupt and that’s why, when local photographer, Gunnar Wolfe, shows up at the quay one day wanting to hire Maggie as his guide, against her better judgement, she accepts. 

Gunn’s passion is wildlife photography and his dream is to find and photograph the rarest of creatures. The ones people don’t generally see. The ones that might snag him the cover of National Geographic. To do that he knows a canoe would have to be the mode of travel, but he also knows he would never be able to navigate the tributaries and waterways off the river. He would need a guide. There was only one problem. Gunn had never been in a canoe before, being on the water is completely out of his comfort zone and a daunting prospect.

Twenty minutes later, I was still staring at Gunnar Wolfe. My first reaction to his idea was that he was crazy. My second reaction was that he was really crazy. But I let him talk, and slowly, I began to realize he was serious. He wanted to seek out the wildest and most pristine areas in the various wetlands of Florida, and document them through photography….

And then he told me what he was really looking for.

“An ivory-billed woodpecker? Are you crazy? The last proven records of ivory-bills were clear back in the 1930s, weren’t they? The entire scientific community believes they’re extinct!” I was disgusted with myself for having begun to like the idea. This guy was living in a dream world.

The prologue sets up the chilling and disturbing mystery/suspense aspect of the story, and I like how I was lead one way only to feel uncertain the more the story progressed. And yes, I was completely wrong. The narrative switches from Maggie’s first person point of view to other third person perspectives throughout, which is different but works well.

A great cast of characters which include Maggie and Gunn, easy to picture and like, as is Willow, Maggie’s best friend. Maggie, strong and independent, not needing or looking for romance. After the horror that was her marriage she is rebuilding her life and is white-alligator-326071_640content with her best friends and going home to Bogey, her Quaker parrot. Gunn, an easy-going, decent man who loves his work and hasn’t yet found the woman of his dreams. Lester, the strange loner with the hobby which is the stuff of nightmares –  for me anyway. And Billy, the boyish charmer, first mate on the Undine. 

The scenery is described in beautiful and vivid detail and really gives a feel for the area. Suspense and tension are built gradually after a grisly find by Maggie and Gunnar lead to more discoveries, and the realisation there is a serial killer on the loose in Riverbend. The romance didn’t overwhelm the story and there’s a great twist at the end.

About the Book

Wildlife photographer Gunnar Wolfe looked like the kind of guy every man wanted to be and every woman just plain wanted, and the St. Johns River of central Florida drew him like a magnet. EcoTour boat owner Maggie Devlin knew all the river’s secrets, including the deadliest ones found in the swamps. But neither Maggie nor Gunn was prepared for the danger that would come after them on two legs.

On a quest to make history photographing the rarest birds of them all, Gunnar hires the fiery, no-nonsense Maggie to canoe him into the most remote wetland areas in the state. He was unprepared for how much he would enjoy both the trips and Maggie’s company. He soon realizes he wants more, but before he can win her over, they make a grisly discovery that changes everything, and turns the quiet little town of Riverbend upside down. A serial killer is on the prowl among them.

23 thoughts on “#ThrowbackThursday ~ Swamp Ghosts (Riverbend Book 1) by @MarciaMeara #Suspense with some #Romance

  1. Another one that sounds very tempting! I’m a little concerned that I always thought St John’s River was in Canada – I know my geography is bad but even for me that’s a pretty big mistake! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m so glad the book sounds interesting to you, FictionFan. I’d like to think, even though it was only my second novel, that folks enjoy it. Requests for more encouraged me enough to turn it into Book 1 of a series. Two more books, Finding Hunter, and That Darkest Place are out, and I hope to be working on #4 very soon.

      The St. John’s River originates in Indian River County, Florida, and is one of a mere handful of U. S. Rivers that flows north, heading through central Florida and emptying into the Atlantic at Jacksonville, in north Florida. It is truly a wild and beautiful river, with an amazing population of birds and other interesting critters, including alligators. I highly recommend an eco-tour for those visiting the state. You’ll be amazed at the things to be seen. 🙂

      Hope you get a chance to check out Swamp Ghosts, and that you’ll enjoy it! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • It’s possible she was thinking of the St. Lawrence River, which IS in Canada. Don’t know if they also have a St. Johns, though. My geography is terrible. Ask me about animals, instead. 😀 😀 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy, what a happy surprise to find Swamp Ghosts being featured here today as part of your #ThrowbackThursday series. Thank you so much for reminding me what a lovely review you’d given it. Things have been upside down for me the last year or so, but hopefully, are beginning to straighten out. I’m trying to finish my work on The Emissary 3, and then I’ll be heading back to Riverbend for the 4th novel in this series. There will be a whole new focus, I think, though all of the characters you’ve met so far will pop up here and there, of course. It’s a small town. Everybody knows everybody else. 😀 You might even find out what’s happening with everybody’s favorite white alligator, Big Blue. 😀

    Thanks again for starting my morning off great!! 🙂 ❤ Have a super Thor's Day! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re very welcome, Marcia. Glad to know there are more books on the horizon and I’m intrigued… Have a great day and hope you’re fully back on track very soon 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Cathy! I’m feeling better every day! 🙂 Even back on track (and then some) with my FitBit. I walked 4.25 miles yesterday, a new record for me, I think. 😀 And ALL of it inside, too! 😀 Haven’t been out of the house in 11 weeks, but hopefully, that will be changing before too much longer. Lucky I’ve become a bit of a hermit in my old age, anyway. Still, I prefer it when staying home is MY choice. 😀

        You stay safe and stay well!! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • I really miss not being able to get out and about, just one local walk a day. Yes, much better when it’s your own choice 😁Stay safe and well too 💚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Marcia is excellent at characterization and description. Places become tangible as she describes them, and her voice is so unique and memorable. I, too, enjoy her writing and am happy to see Swamp Ghosts getting some love here today.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Swamp Ghosts is a wonderful read. All the characters were excellent and I loved the oddness of Lester’s hobby. Big Blue really stood out for me, too.
    It’s great to see this book in the spotlight today. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Mae. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and Big Blue was a treat to write. People who didn’t read my Author’s Notes often think I made him up, but nope. I never make up anything about real wildlife, just when I’m doing the legends in my other series, which is full of ghosties and thingies. 😀 Riverbend is set in the real world, as you know. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by today! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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