In Cheryl J. Corriveau’s novel The Demanding River, protagonist Jordan, unhappy in the real estate business, decides to take the leap and run her own boat dealership in Florida, but she has no idea of the ups and downs in store.
This is a realistic, detail-driven story about a woman trying to succeed in a male-dominated business environment. Jordan faces multiple challenges over the course of 15 years: She’s defrauded, patronized, robbed, and bereaved. The highs of business successes and peer recognition are overshadowed by an economic slowdown and a long-running court case. Yet she remains a largely optimistic character, ready to learn new skills and make new friends.
While there are romantic overtones in the story, and typical elements are present, this is not a conventional romance novel. Jordan, a widow with a grown-up son, could have her pick between her best friend and mechanic John, and wealthy local businessman Rick, but will Jordan’s hyper-focus on her business endeavours trump all other considerations?
The Demanding River is an episodic rather than plot-driven story, and Corriveau fails to exploit opportunities for narrative drama. For example, when a friend of Jordan’s dies in a boating accident, his story takes up only one chapter, and he’s never mentioned before or afterwards. Another friend, Linda, appears in the novel’s opening chapters but disappears for large parts of the book altogether. When she does reappear, a health issue is raised but never resurfaces.
Multiple characters come and go with little introduction, and even Jordan’s personal life and character development get lost in the minutiae of the running of the boat business. Chapter headings about plot developments, for example “Lawsuit Served,” further take away opportunities for tension.
Overall, accuracy and detail about the boat industry abounds at the expense of plot and character development, resulting in a readable but undramatic story.
Also available as an ebook.