My Thoughts: While reading this historical work of fiction, I was surprised to learn that Elizabeth Ludwig has published novels prior to this since I’ve not yet uncovered the gem that was her style of writing. Under the assumption that Ludwig was another of the fabulous debut authors from 2012 (in my defense, this is her first pairing with Bethany House), imagine my further surprise when I realized I actually own one of her novels from the “Love Finds You” series. Before I reveal what I thought of this story, here is how the story goes: New to America by way of Ireland, Cara Hamilton is searching for someone. The man she meets on the docks upon arrival at Ellis Island wants to know who. Rourke Walsh has been driven by revenge for his father’s death for so long that he has forgotten what it’s like to live with peace – to be God’s servant… to accept love again. He desperately wants to learn the whereabouts of Eoghan Hamilton and Cara is his only lead. He knows that the man who killed his father had a twin sister but the more he gets to know Cara, the more he wishes she had nothing to do with the man whom Rourke has promised to visit his revenge on. Will there ever be truth between Rourke and Cara?
Historical prose is a tricky business. There’s a fine line between “accurate” and downright boring. Sometimes historical novels do bore me because of their “dry,” overly-detailed capacities but with this novel, I was thoroughly enchanted. It reads like a “dark” story – because the protagonist is driven by hatred – that includes some interesting history tidbits but uses each of its characters to the full advantage of the story. I loved the bustling boardinghouse chatter – with exception to one or two of the “bad apples,” I wanted to know more about each of the inhabitants, characters that Ludwig dropped bread crumbs into their pasts, teasers that I suspect will someday become a full-blown novel (Anna is already being given voice in the sequel). The characters are empathetic but we aren’t given much room for Rourke and Cara to develop a “solid” relationship, something that doesn’t detract from the overall story – one that’s touching and a sweet example of God’s grace. Through Cara, Rourke remembered what it meant to forgive and in that, he found love.
In Summary: Sometimes a bit slow-moving, ‘Harbor’ is nevertheless a wonderfully paced, exciting, and poignant story.
Synopsis: Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend–Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother’s warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.
She’s then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother–but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.
With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke… a man she’s grown to love? – via the publisher
With thanks to Litfuse and the publisher, Bethany House for providing a copy of this book for reviewing purposes