Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Hope Harbor

Hope Harbor
By Irene Hannon
Hope Harbor #1
Revell, 2015


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.

My thoughts

Hope Harbor is very different from Irene's popular suspense novels, and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Although suspense isn't my favorite genre, Irene Hannon is one of the few suspense authors that I do enjoy - yet it's her contemporary romances that I enjoy most. Rather than being action packed, Hope Harbor is a heartwarming story, poignant, uplifting - and, as the title suggests, filled with hope. It is a character-driven story with sweet romance, charming setting, and characters so real that they could live in any of our neighborhoods.

The story is set in the fictional small town of Hope Harbor, Oregon - and I could so easily visualize an evening walk on the beach with the famous sea stack rock formations in the distance. The small-town, coastal setting and close-knit community brought Macomber's Cedar Cove to mind. Tracy's family cranberry farm also featured prominently and I enjoyed learning about the methods and hard work that go into the process.

Tracy and Michael's growing feelings for each other are first based on friendship, which is something I love to see in a romance novel, and the chemistry between them feels real. Michael's landlady, Anna, has a strong role, and all three of these characters are burdened with guilt and devastating regret over past actions. Who of us can't relate to that in some form or fashion, having discovered that guilt has only one cure. And then there's Charley, with his much sought-after fish tacos, who has an almost supernatural insight into people's deep, unspoken needs. I suspect there's some spiritual symbolism embodied in this beloved character.

As I reflect back on Hope Harbor, I'm impressed at the way Irene brings these characters into each other's lives, using both their natural talents and spiritual giftedness to help - all in a way that begs the question, coincidence, fate . . . or God? I loved Charley's pointed words to Anna that coincidence is "God's way of remaining anonymous."

The spiritual theme of forgiveness is unmistakably, but gently, woven throughout - forgiveness not just of others, but of self. This story made me step back and reflect on how I treat loved ones, impressing upon me how essential understanding and empathy are, and how crucial being willing to take that first step to initiate reconciliation can be. Above all, Hope Harbor is a story of hope.

By the way, there's only one thing missing, and that's the Harbor Point Cranberry Nut Cake recipe! (Sorry, couldn't resist, Irene.) I have become invested in this community and eagerly await the next Hope Harbor book, coming in summer 2016. Highly recommended to all readers.


Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five novels, including That Certain Summer, One Perfect Spring, and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, three HOLT Medallions, a Daphne du Maurier Award, two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers' Choice Award, a Booksellers' Best Award, and a National Readers' Choice Award. In addition, she is a two-time Christy Award finalist, and Booklist included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Missouri.

Find Irene online at, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts Carole. Great review! About the cranberry nut cake . . . . I found a recipe on the web that I think fits the bill. I have to wait til cranberries make an appearance in my grocery store to make it though. Check it out here --

  2. Great review Carole! One of my favorite books this year

  3. Terrill Rosado (trosado)September 1, 2015 at 3:43 AM

    I play around with many genres within Christian fiction, but I prefer contemporary romance and I have been wanting to read this one. I, actually, had it in my little hands on loan from the local library, but was unable to get to it before it needed returning. I'm usually a voracious reader, but slow down considerably in the summer. Kids go back to school this week, and my reading should increase at the same time. Yay for positive reviews!