In At River's Edge by Mariah Stewart, after dumping her cheating boyfriend, Sophie is taking a much needed break from the big city and her job as a DA to go visit her brother and his fiancee in St. Dennis, Maryland. Her plan is to spend a couple of weeks in St. Dennis before her brother's wedding, and at the same time to think about where she wants to go with her life and career.
Her brother is a lawyer also, working at the family law firm, the solo lawyer there since her Grandfather retired. He is kept very busy, and between him and Sophie's Grandfather, they are working hard to convince her to move to St. Dennis and work at the family law firm. Sophie is beginning to have other ideas though. Exciting ideas. She's thinking about what would make her happy, what she's always wanted to do. She likes being a lawyer, but she doesn't love it and it doesn't really make her happy. And while in St. Dennis, she begins to realize that her dream of opening her own restaurant and cooking might actually come true...especially when she finds the perfect (although run down) building right in St. Dennis. Is it even possible though? The last thing Sophie wants to do is disappoint her Grandfather, who she has only really gotten to know as an adult...but is her happiness worth the price? Or will she finally be able to do what she's always wanted to do, even if it's not what's always been expected of her?
In the midst of all this, Sophie meets Jason. He's a newer resident of St. Dennis, a landscaper with his own business, and with his own ties to St. Dennis and Sophie's family. They both feels something when they are together and slowly this builds into a relationship that neither was looking for. Just as the relationship seems real and things are heating up, a disagreement between then and falling out about their separate businesses threatens to keep them apart. Will they be able to move past their business differences and keep the flame alive between them?
In At the River's Edge, the romance of Sophie and Jason is really secondary to Sophie's quest to find her niche in life. The romance is strong, but even stronger is Sophie as she tries to find herself and her happy place. Mariah gives us a real small town feel in At the River's Edge...with all the neatly interwoven characters in a tightly knit community. I can picture St. Dennis in my mind's eye - even the run down building Sophie would love to purchase, Mariah's descriptions are so well written.
Sophie and Jason are both great main characters that you can love! They are surprisingly similar in nature, both are friendly, thoughtful, and want to make other people happy. They both have family issues to deal with, very different, but very emotional all the same. I saw some great character growth between Sophie and Jason, and Mariah gives us enough time in At the River's Edge that nothing is rushed, but you don't feel bored or that the story is dragging out.
Mariah throws in a touch of paranormal that leaves you wanting more of that part of the story and I'm hoping we'll get more in future books. This leads me to Sophie's grandfather and a host of other secondary characters who really add zest to At the River's Edge. I have read all of the other stories in this series, and do believe you will have a better understanding of the relationships and all the people if you have read them also before you read At the River's Edge. It can be read alone, but the character's might be a bit harder to follow without the background. The journalling that Grace (from the newspaper) does throughout At the River's Edge (and all the other books in this series) really bring a neat perspective to the story and help explain a few things. I did enjoy catching up with character's from previous books. I also really like the multi-generational aspect in At the River's Edge.
Mariah gives us another wonderful romance and life message in At the River's Edge. As you read she will make you think about love, life, and self fulfillment.
I'd recommend At the River's Edge to any romance reader!