Title: No Safe Harbor
Author: Elizabeth Ludwig
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Genre: Christian Historical Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback 336 pages | Kindle 786 KB
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America
Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.
I feel like I need to preface this review by saying that I had no idea that this was Christian Fiction. I got this book directly from the publisher and while I do have in my Review Policy that I will not review Christian fiction, I will review books from Bethany House in the future. I really did enjoy the story and it was a nice change of pace for me.
This is one of those books that I was able to read really quickly once I had a little time with no interruptions. It captured my attention right off and kept me turning the pages until the very end. This isn't a book that I would even put in a strictly romance category, it's more of a suspense novel with a thread of romance in it. The romance is definitely not the focus of the story, it's more of an inevitability of the mystery aspect, if that makes any sense!
After two years of believing her brother Eoghan to be dead, Cara Hamilton receives a letter from him. She sails from Ireland to America to find him. On the crossing she is befriended by Mr. Healy who is able to send her to a friend who runs a boarding house for women. She ends up in a houseful of strangers, most of whom are other women from Ireland. She is able to find work in a candle shop and has met and become friends with a man named Rourke despite her brother's warning not to trust anyone. She doesn't trust anyone enough to tell them that she has a brother and that she's looking for him. She keeps hoping that Eoghan will come looking for her, but he's fallen into a bit of trouble himself.
I really liked Rourke even though there were times when I wondered if he would end up being the good guy that I believed him to be. He was constantly struggling to do what he knew was the right thing. It's clear that he's a good man who is in a situation that has gone beyond what he is comfortable with. He is caught up with what he believes to be an obligation to his family, but he is clearly not vengeful like some members of his family.
Cara's character grows quite a bit throughout the story. At the end of the story she is not that some naive girl that stepped of the boat onto Ellis Island. She goes through some pretty intense situations that help to mold her into the woman she is by the end. She struggles some with her faith and reaches a point where she just has to let go and trust that she is doing the right thing. It did bother me that both Rourke and Cara lie to each other throughout the course of the book, though.
This book is really well written and is full of really wonderful descriptions of the life of Irish Immigrants in 1890's New York City. I don't know much about Irish Immigrants or the Fenians, but I am fairly certain that the facts are historically accurate. Ms. Ludwig is really a fantastic storyteller and I wouldn't hesitate to read another of her books. She was able to weave a story full of twists and turns that leave you guessing at what will happen next.
If you like Historical Romance/Suspense then his may be a book you will enjoy, but keep in mind that it is a Christian novel. It's not heavy on religious content, but it's clear that it's faith based. I enjoyed it and like I said, I wouldn't hesitate to read another of Ms. Ludwig's books and I will definitely read more Bethany House books.
*Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book courtesy of Bethany House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.*