About the Book
Title: A Desperate Hope
Series Info: Empire State #3
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Book Info: Paperback & eBook, Released February 5, 2019, 352 pages, Bethany House Publishers
Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she believes is finally behind her. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.
Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.
Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them.
What a fantastic introduction to new-to-me author, Elizabeth Camden. Camden’s voice is lovely. She paints scenes beautifully for the reader and her prose flow effortlessly through the novel carrying the reader on a delightful journey back in time.
Camden’s heroine, Eloise Drake, is smart, efficient and logical. Unfortunately for Eloise, the man who makes her heart pound, Alex Duval, is a romantic dreamer with a larger-than-life vision to save his beloved town of Duval Springs before its flooded to make a reservoir to provide water to New York City. Everything in Eloise’s play-it-safe, number crunching, CPA mind knows it’s an impossible task, but she longs to live an adventure like the ones she’s spent her whole life reading about. Of course this is exactly the kind of opposites-attract-chemistry that will leave the reader with great angst wondering when these two will finally mange to get together.
As a helpless romantic, I was drawn to Alex immediately. I loved his “nothing will keep me down” attitude. I thought Eloise was the perfect balance for Alex, providing just enough sense and responsibility to keep Alex on track to achieve his dream of saving the town—his perfect “ballast.” Just like any good couple, Alex’s risk-taking nature helped draw Eloise out of her protective shell and encouraged her to not only take a chance on his crazy scheme to relocate Duval Springs, but to risk her heart on Alex himself one more time.
I was mesmerized by the historical facts and technical details that Camden wove into the story. Everything from accounting details like evaluating the value of condemned properties and project costs to the mechanics of raising a building from its foundation. While Duval Springs is a fictional town, Camden was inspired by true life events that occurred in upstate New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Instead of allowing their towns to be flooded, residents painstakingly relocated their towns board by board, building by building to higher ground.
The author also wove many suspenseful elements into the story. I do not want to give any spoilers here but I must say that I was surprised as to the motives of those involved in sabotaging the town’s relocation efforts. Once the guilty culprits came to light, I realized the author had skillfully laid the trail of tiny bread crumbs leading me right where she wanted to me go, clues I hadn’t put together. I was delighted to not have figured out “the who and why” ahead of the story.
As for the setting, Duval Springs is the type of quintessential fictional town you’d like to be real. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Walnut Grove or Jan Karon’s Mitford, Duval Springs leaps to life filled with secondary characters that become your friends and have you routing for them to overcome every obstacle that this seemingly impossible task presents. Of Duval Springs Camden writes, “…get to church on Sunday morning to thank God for the blessing of being born in a place like Duval Springs, where we laugh, work, and cry together.”
When I signed up to read A Desperate Hope as part of its tour with Prism Book Tours, I didn’t know it was third book in the Empire State series. In fact, I had read more than a hundred pages before I saw the advertisements in the back of the novel for the previous two books. The story flowed that well that I can highly recommend it as a stand alone.
I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Throughout the story, Camden’s characters trust in God and rely on His providence every time a new impediment to their progress occurs. Just as the title suggests, hope is the central spiritual theme of this book. Hope in God, His faithfulness, and also in the inspiration and the dreams He places in our hearts. Nothing is impossible with God.
My one criticism would be the handling of the premarital sexual encounter between Alex and Eloise that occurs off page and long before the story begins. My issues is not that the characters are flawed in this way. To the contrary, I think it makes them relatable to many modern readers. My issue is that Eloise seems more embarrassed by their past actions than sorry that she sinned. Although Alex does not come across as cavalier, he doesn’t seem to have any regrets either, except that he wished he’d married Eloise before her guardian whisked her away upon his discovery of their trysts. I recognize that the transgression mentioned occurred long ago, their reunion stirs up old memories and I can’t help but feel the author missed the opportunity to paint a beautiful picture of God’s grace and redemption for the reader.
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Other Books in the Series
About the Author
Elizabeth Camden is the author of twelve historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida.
Book Tour Giveaway
- One Grand Prize winner will receive print copies of all three books in the Empire State series: A Dangerous Legacy, A Daring Venture, and A Desperate Hope
- Two additional winners will receive a print copy of A Desperate Hope
- US only
- Ends March 1 2019
Enter the Rafflecopeter giveaway here.
A Desperate Hope On Tour with Prism Book Tours
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