Title: Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 353 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.
Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. Now she’s home again–with a floundering farm to run . . . a tragic secret . . . and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives–including their own.
Hope Harbor is an absolutely outstanding Christian romance that touches on numerous relevant topics that will resonate readers. While this terrific novel has an all star cast of likable characters and an engaging storyline, it is how seamlessly and naturally Irene Hannon works lessons of faith into the plot that makes it a truly delightful and thought-provoking read.
Michael Hunter’s heart is heavy with grief and regret when he begins his vacation in the picturesque town of Hope Harbor. Michael is still deeply mourning the loss of his late wife Julie when he decides to take a two month leave of absence from his job at a non-profit to visit the small seaside town. His trip is off to an inauspicious beginning when his hotel unexpectedly closes for repairs and in his distraction, he causes a bicycle accident. But his luck is about to change when Charley, a popular food truck owner, asks Anna Williams to deliver a bag of tacos to the downhearted visitor. Anna, a closed off recluse, reluctantly acquiesces and she is stunned by Michael’s uncanny resemblance to her estranged son, John. As the two enjoy their impromptu picnic, Anna surprises Michael (and herself) by offering him a place to stay while he is in town. This unexpected act of kindness marks the beginning of a long overdue healing journey for both Michael and Anna.
Tracy Campbell, the woman from Michael’s bicycle wreck, is also shouldering a heavy burden. She, too, is widowed and in addition to her grief over her husband’s death, she carries a great deal of guilt. She is also trying to keep the family owned cranberry farm afloat. She and her uncle work many part time jobs to supplement the dwindling income and they do most of the farm work themselves. Although Tracy is already burning the candle at both ends, she is also a volunteer for her church’s Helping Hands program.
Eager to make amends with Tracy, Michael begins going to church in hopes of finding the elusive cyclist. Despite her assertion that he is forgiven, Michael is eager to do something to make up for causing the accident. She suggests he volunteer his services for the Helping Hands program but once he discovers she could use extra help on the farm when her uncle falls ill, he fills in there as well. A reluctant friendship forms between them, but it soon becomes apparent they also share a mutual attraction.
The romance between Tracy and Michael is incredibly sweet and slow growing. Both are very leery of marrying again but surprisingly, Michael is open to exploring the possibilities of a relationship with her. Tracy takes some convincing, but she agrees to spend time getting to know one another. Michael moves through the healing process quicker than Tracy and once he renews his acquaintance with God, he regains his lost faith. Tracy has carried her burden of guilt and recrimination for so long that she finds it nearly impossible to confide in Michael. However once she works up the courage to tell him the circumstances of her husband’s death, she feels hopeful about a possible future together.
Hope Harbor is a truly captivating novel of love, reconciliation and faith. The characters are quite charming and multi-faceted with realistic problems to resolve. The storyline is fast-paced and believable. The spiritual aspect is well-written and Irene Hannon incorporates lessons of faith into the plot in a thoughtful manner that is easy to relate to. I highly recommend this riveting character driven novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary inspirational fiction.