Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

by Sandra Merville Hart

Book 1 in the Hope Harbor Series

Tracy Campbell’s days are filled with shared ownership and the never-ending duties of running a struggling cranberry farm. She tries to supplement finances with accounting jobs yet it never seems to be enough. Time is in short supply for the widow, as she also works for the area’s charitable organization, Helping Hands.

Widower Michael Hunter spends a well-deserved leave from heading up a Chicago charitable organization on Hope Harbor. His wife had often vacationed here as a child. He’d promised her they’d come together. Now that opportunity was gone.

Guilt plagues both of them for past mistakes in this contemporary romance.

Miracles seem to happen in Hope Harbor, a place where I, as a reader, wanted to spend some time. Authentic characters with realistic struggles drew me into the story. Secondary plots strengthen the novel’s impact.

The story is told in multiple viewpoints. Many interesting characters are introduced along the way, hinting that they might have a bigger part to play in upcoming novels.

Looks like it will be a great series. I’m looking forward to reading more of Hannon’s books!

Carolina Carpenter Brides

Four couples find tools for Building Romance in a Home Improvement Store

I loved that all four of these romances begin with a connection at the Home & Hearth Superstore.

In Janet Benrey’s How to Refurbish an Old Romance, the romance begins when both Brianna and Zach take a course on “How to Repair Bad Decisions Made Years Ago.” Brianna had signed up to learn how to wallpaper. The last thing she expected was to see Zach, the man she’d been engaged to years ago.

When Kaitlyn Ferrer’s boss asks her to write a feature story on the dating scene at a hardware store as her first reporting job, she thinks he’s crazy. Chris Taylor also works for a newspaper with a similar assignment. Things go awry when they both go undercover in Once Upon a Shopping Cart by Ron Benrey.

Valerie Bradford, high school teacher, plans to install cabinets herself but Austin Hodges figures she’ll need help no matter which style she chooses. She reluctantly accepts his help in Can You Help Me? by Lena Nelson Dooley.

Marc Goodson is the head of security at Home & Hearth Superstore and has reason to suspect Laurel Jones, a new employee in the flowers and plants department, of theft. On the other hand, Laurel believes he’s a stalker … not the best way to begin a romance in Caught Red-Handed by Yvonne Lehman.

I enjoyed this collection of light-hearted, easy-to-read romances!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Love You, Truly by Susan Tuttle

Harlow Tucker isn’t interested in dating Blake Carlton as part of a reality show where he dates several other women. No matter how handsome and famous he is, Harlow has more important things on her mind—like starting her sister’s charity and her nursing career. She already has little time to pursue photography. Yet Mae was the one who suggested she participate in the show … and she’d do anything for her sister.

Blake only agrees to the show to help his mother’s career. He’d do anything in his power to save her from his dad’s fate.

Harlow fights her attraction for him, knowing he is dating a dozen others at the beginning of the show. On the other hand, taking photos in exotic locations fulfills her longing to travel.

The novel gives an inside look at “reality” shows where so much is planned to give the reaction the producer desires. It also demonstrates how hard the competition is on the emotions of the contestants.

Believable characters plunged in the middle of unreal television scenes may be an eye-opener for some readers. Harlow’s strong faith and Blake’s search for authentic love is a strong theme in the story, strengthening the appeal for me.

This contemporary romance kept me interested from beginning to end.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

On Cue by Bettie Boswell

Elementary school teacher Ginny Cline has written a musical set in her city and hopes to raise money for the local historical museum.

Professor Scott Hallmark’s experience in the theater makes him the perfect person to help Ginny with this massive undertaking, but she can’t trust him. James, her college sweetheart, had broken her heart by betraying her and she’d learned she can’t trust men. She won’t give Scott a chance to repeat the past.

In this light-hearted novel, the two of them overcome their differences for the good of the play … and the romance that’s growing.

The characters were likeable. The action sometimes dragged a bit, but I still enjoyed this inspirational story.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Southern Gentleman by Yvonne Lehman

Book 2 of Finding Love in the Low Country series

Norah Brown just lost her sister in a tragic accident that also claimed the life of her sister’s boyfriend. Grief for both of them pales in comparison for their infant daughter, who must now grow up without them. Norah vows to take care of sweet Camille as she has done since the baby was born three months ago.

Thornton Winter lost his brother in the accident and he’s not about to shirk his duty to the niece he learned of as his brother lay dying. The beautiful Norah isn’t the type of woman his brother typically dated. No matter. He takes both of them into his home until custody is awarded.

Sparks fly as neither wants to give up Camille. Thornton believes Norah is the baby’s mother … why not allow him to keep believing it?

This story is tragic because of the real needs for the care of a little baby who will grow up not knowing her biological parents. It’s also thought-provoking, as both families want to raise her.

The characters are believable and likeable. There are twists and turns that kept me turning pages.

I’ve read other books by this author and she’s become one of my favorites.

-Sandra Merville Hart


A Heart Surrendered by Joy K. Massenburge

Sharonda Peterson is almost engaged to someone who travels constantly for his job at church so she rarely sees him. All she has to do is set the date for their wedding for their engagement to be official. Yet, as her thirtieth birthday approaches, she hesitates. Her heart yearns for Carl, a gifted man who left her behind years ago to pursue a singing career.

Carl is recovering from a difficult surgery that nearly claimed his life. He wants to get right with God … and Sharonda. He takes a job at the church where he tries to make up for past wrongs to her.

Sharonda has spent so many years trying to please her parents—especially her difficult mother—that she resists her heart’s pleading to reunite with Carl, the only man she ever loved.

Honest, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. I was so into the story that at times I wanted to shake some of the characters when they made bad choices.

The struggles of the main characters tugged at my heart. Secondary characters also wrestle with difficulties. The author skillfully weaves a story where the struggles of the secondary characters enhance the pain of the main characters. Very well done.

Massenburge also beautifully illustrates how the pain of one generation can be passed down to the next … and then the next.

I will look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas


Practically Married by Karin Beery

Ashley moves to Michigan to marry her best friend though she’s a little miffed Tom has stopped returning her calls. She learns of the accident that claimed his life when she arrives on his farm.

There’s a good reason no one thought to inform her. Tom didn’t tell his family about their upcoming marriage.

Russ, Tom’s cousin and business partner, had lived on the farm with him—Ashley’s only home since she sold her Ohio property. Russ doesn’t know her but it’s just like Tom to keep his relationship a secret. Then he learns that Tom left the farm—Russ’s livelihood—to his fiancé.

Tom’s accident recalls the fatal accident of Ashley’s parents and she struggles to cope with all the tragedy in her life. Though she can’t deny her attraction to Russ, she’s reluctant to rob him of his family home. What can be done?

This contemporary romance snagged my interest immediately. There are twists and turns throughout that kept me turning pages. This romance doesn’t follow the normal pattern, making the story more intriguing. I loved the honesty of the characters. I felt that I knew them by the end of the story.

I’ll look for more books by this author!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Call of the Mountain by Yvonne Lehman

Book 3 in Finding Love in the Blue Ridge Mountains Series

Beth tries to talk her younger sister, Carol, out of having an abortion. The father doesn’t want the child and does not support her. Carol gives Beth an ultimatum—Beth must raise the baby as her own or she ends the pregnancy. She has two weeks to decide.

Stranded by a snowstorm, Beth meets the Logan family. Josh Logan is certainly a handsome and compassionate bachelor and catches Beth’s eye, but she already has a boyfriend. She worries about Randy’s reaction to her raising her sister’s child and begins to understand the emotions and fears of an unwed mother.

My interest was captured right away by a young single woman’s plight of the cost of potentially raising her sister’s child as her own. The romance also snagged my attention and I was pulling for “the best man” to win her heart.

I’ve read many books by this author and Lehman has never disappointed me. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

-Sandra Merville Hart


The Nanny’s Secret Baby by Lee Tobin McClain

Arianna Schrader has a terrible secret. She takes a job as nanny to be close to the child that she had to give up for adoption to her sister. Now her sister, who had sworn her to secrecy, is dead and her brother-in-law knows nothing about Arianna’s true relationship with his one-year-old son.

Jack DeMoise, a ranch veterinarian, doesn’t know what to make of his sister-in-law. The artist does not fit into his neat, ordered world … but she is good with Sammy. She seems to understand Jack’s autistic son.

When Arianna begins to fall in love with Jack, she knows he deserves to know the truth. Yet her promise to her sister binds her to silence.

But secrets in a relationship are never a good thing.

Jack, whose rocky marriage with her sister left deep wounds, doesn’t know whether to trust his feelings for Arianna.

I found myself pulling for these wounded characters and for a toddler who desperately needs them both. This book was a page turner for me.

A tender story that tugged at my heart. Recommend.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade

Celia Park meets her former high school crush, Ty Porter, after one of his bull riding events in Las Vegas. Sparks fly in a whirlwind vacation romance that ends with a wedding at one of the city’s chapels. Celia is devastated to learn the next morning that Ty loves someone else he’s dated for two years.

Five and half years later, Ty hasn’t contacted Celia—about a divorce or anything else. She has a good reason to contact him but can’t trust the man who broke her heart. How can she trust him not to break the heart of his daughter, a little girl he doesn’t know exists?

A trip to Las Vegas with friends for a bachelor party takes him by the old chapel where he married Celia. He hates the way things ended. Despises himself for the way he treated her. They are still married. He needs to contact her.

But when he does, sparks fly—the angry kind … especially when he meets Addie, the daughter he never knew he had. Celia should have told him.

The story has several surprising turns that kept my interest. I loved Addie and Ty. After a while, I was frustrated with Celia’s continued lack of trust despite Ty proving himself as dependable and trustworthy over and over again. I felt that part dragged on a bit.

Interesting secondary characters added to the plot. Forgiveness is the underlying theme. I enjoyed the story.

-Sandra Merville Hart