No Safe Harbor

Written by Elizabeth Ludwig
Review by Jan Steen

Cara Hamilton arrives in 1897 New York alone on an immigrant ship from Ireland, looking for her brother Eoghan, who fled to America after becoming mixed up with Irish nationalists. She is helped by Rourke Walsh, and the pair fall in love but, unknown to Cara, Rourke also wants to find Eoghan—for revenge.

Setting a romance against the fragmented politics of Irish nationalism is a bold move, and at times I feel Ludwig overestimates the reader’s familiarity with the Catholic/Protestant divide and the distinctions between northern and southern Irish. This impression is not helped by every character’s tendency to speak alternately in proper English and an improbable brogue; I would like to have seen more differences between them.

The highly figurative language that Ludwig employs keeps the tension high, but many phrases sail too close to purple prose for my liking (“He added admiration to the growing list of things he liked about her, then carved it free with an inward snarl.”) But the novel delivers the sweet love story sought by readers of inspirational romance, and Ludwig does not over-preach the spiritual aspects.