The River Runs South: A Novel
Southern Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Setting – Alabama
Alcove Press (September 5, 2023)
Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639104577
ISBN-13 : 978-1639104574
Kindle ASIN : B0BP6BZPH1
When Camille Taylor’s husband dies unexpectedly, the carefully constructed life she worked so hard to build in Washington, DC, shatters. After struggling for almost a year, she reaches a breaking point, packs up her daughter, and heads for the Alabama coast where she grew up.
The salt air and slow rhythms of the coast soothe Camille’s spirit, but when she meets local fisherman Mack Phillips, she learns that things have changed in her hometown. Runoff from an abandoned development site is polluting the water, and Mack has brought a suit against the site’s owners—Camille’s father among them.
Battling her own fears for the fragile ecosystem of her beloved Mobile Bay, Camille joins her father’s defense team, but the more she learns, the more she wonders if she’s landed on the right side of the fight. Meanwhile, Camille is slowly drawn to Mack’s fearless resolve, his sterling ideals, and finally to the man himself.
Faced with blurred lines between right and wrong, Camille must decide for herself what the next chapter of her life will bring.
In The River Runs South, Camille Taylor’s husband, Ben, appears perfectly healthy when Camille leaves for work but shortly thereafter he suffers a massive heart attack and dies. Camille tries so hard to keep up with the life they had in Washington D.C. while raising their 6-year-old daughter Willa and trying to deal with her grief. After almost a year she finally admits to herself that she has reached a point where she can’t do it any longer. So she packs bags for herself and Willa and they head to Alabama and her parents, hoping to get it together and return to work in a couple of weeks.
Back on the Alabama coast, she feels better and the slower lifestyle soothes her mind as well. That lasts until she meets Mack Phillips, a local fisherman. Their first meeting was fun, thanks to Willa, who is quite a little girl. But later she finds out things in Mobile Bay are a little tense. A developer has cleared land for new homes but quickly abandoned the project when a lawsuit is filed. Their clearing of the land messed with an already fragile ecosystem and is now polluting the water. Sadly Camille’s father was a partner on the project so he is part of the lawsuit. A lawsuit brought by her new friend Mack Phillips.
Camille joins her father’s defense team to try to help him save his business, his reputation, and his home, all while being drawn to Mack. Her parents are livid that they keep running into each other but it isn’t always her fault.
Camille is so conflicted about everything happening in Alabama and her boss in Washington wants her back there as soon as possible. She has some big choices to make. She has to help her parents, do what is best for Willa, and try to figure out how to make a new life for herself where she is happy and fulfilled. None of that is easy.
My heart just broke for Camille and Willa. Camille is a strong woman, a lawyer with a high-pressure job. Willa is a precocious 6-year-old doing everything a child should do. In a matter of a second both their lives were turned inside out. Grief affects each person differently and I couldn’t believe Camille went back to work so soon and that she kept it up for almost a year before crumbling. Willa is a character that is larger than life. I loved that she wanted to visit and do everything her mother did while growing up in Mobile Bay. She innocently pushed her mother into crazy situations after meeting Mack. Willa really liked the man and couldn’t understand why her mother didn’t want to do everything with him that they could. It was such an emotional ride for Camille. I would love to bottle Willa’s enthusiasm for living life.
Mack Phillips was also a very strong character. A man always trying to do the right thing. His dedication to saving the ecosystem was commendable. His passion was fearless. He brought in a big gun law firm to take on a corporate giant and was apologetic that Camille’s dad was involved. He could have dropped the lawsuit because of the relationship he was trying to build with Camille but he didn’t.
Ms. Ingram did an excellent job of portraying true human emotions in a way that I could feel them in my heart. I have not lost my husband but I did lose an adult son to suicide and my emotions were raw just like Camille’s. I forced myself to get back to work just like she did. I didn’t last a year though. I didn’t have a place to escape to but having the right people around me like Camille finally did is what was needed to get our hearts and heads in the right space. In reality, that is an ongoing condition, no matter how many years have passed.
Camille and her mother had a difficult relationship. I am glad the author let their relationship develop realistically and did not try for a quick fix. That trying relationship made Camille’s relationship with Willa stronger. I was really drawn into this story by the multigenerational connections. The expectations and the dramatic tensions that played out really pulled at my heart.
The River Runs South is a moving, passionate story of love, loss, grief, healing, and moving forward. The characters were genuine and realistic. For me, Willa was the star, “and a child shall lead them”. I highly recommend this story. Audrey Ingram is an author to watch.
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About the Author
Audrey Ingram is a native of Alabama and a graduate of Middlebury College and Georgetown University Law Center. She practiced law in Washington, DC for fifteen years. When not writing, she can be found digging in her garden or hiking the Blue Ridge mountains. Audrey currently lives in Virginia with her husband and three children.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”