Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Review: Hope Harbor

I love this book cover!  It's so pretty!  And well reflects the story. :)
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. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

About the Author:
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 two 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. Learn more at

My Review: 4 stars

“’If only.’ Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” - Mercedes Lackey

This review is going to be a bit different from my usual MO, as you can probably already tell. I’m not including this quote because it’s found in the book, or because the author used a variation of it, but because it came to mind while I was reading this book and I feel it sums up one of the main themes of the story quite well. Much of the focus of the story is regret. All of the characters feel it in some way, a few have many regrets. This is also a story of redemption, in more ways than one. This is definitely a theme that is done often, but Irene does an excellent job of bringing life to this sometimes over-used topic.

As I’ve probably stated in previous reviews, I’m a huge fan of Ms. Hannon’s, particularly her suspense books. That being said, I’ve also discovered an affinity for her contemporary books. There is definitely a different depth to them. I will confess, that she almost made me cry a few times, at the gravity of the emotions found among the pages. I also think I get to know the characters better, without the mystery driving the story. It is more character driven, something I really enjoy. As always, Irene does an excellent job with the details and descriptions. I will confess that it took me a while to get into the story, but once I did, I didn’t want to put it down. I loved the imagery she used, bringing Hope Harbor to life.

I really liked all of the characters and appreciated the depth I found in them. They came off the page and I was able to easily relate to them. Tracey is a hardworking lady with so many plates balancing in the air that I was half waiting for them to come crashing down. She is strong willed and doesn’t let life get her down, for the most part. I loved her caring attitude and desire to be generous with her time, even though she didn’t have much to spare. She has her own grief and regrets, which actually brings me to my biggest sticking point with this story - I felt they were glossed over, when we finally did find out what held her back. It seemed so much time was spent with her holding back for some then unknown reason, then within a page or two, her issues were mostly resolved.

I also really liked Michael. This book felt like it was more his, than Tracey’s, which was interesting. He had more things to overcome, more grief and regret to deal with. I appreciated seeing a “hero” that wasn’t this macho, fearless, always in control guy. Before I make him sound like a sissy, he isn’t. He’s simply wounded when the story starts out and is trying to figure out how to move forward when he is afraid to make the same mistakes twice. Beyond that, he is also strong, confident, and kind. I loved his relationship with Tracey and following them as they both learned to learn from the past, but to also let it go.

My only other sticking point is the spiritual side of the story. While God is mentioned several times and prayer is relied on, there are several things that happen which are chalked up to providence. It is questioned whether it is a coincidence or God’s work, but we’re left with kind of a gray area, as it’s never completely clarified one way or another. One character makes a rather clichéd comment about coincidence being a moment when God chooses to remain anonymous, but beyond that, there isn’t much resolution to the question. This bothered me a bit, because while I understand Irene is attempting to reach out to the secular crowd, I really wanted her to clear it up, one way or another.


Nitpicking aside, I would like to add that I really enjoyed the redemptive storyline and the reminder that it’s never too late to reach out to someone. I also appreciated the emphasis on making sure you don’t leave this life with a pile of regrets trailing behind you. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a thought-provoking summer read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

*Please note: I own no rights to the quotation used within my review. No infringement intended.

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  If you'd like to look into the book further, perhaps read some other thoughts on it, here are some links to get you started. :)
Have a wonderful day!


Barnes & Noble

Christian Book 

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