A Desperate Hope

Eloise Drake is one of the few female CPAs in 1908. She's sought all her life to belong, and finally in the ordered world of numbers and figures she can earn her own rightful place. Unfortunately, her competence has landed her in the path of the one man who could undo everything - Alex Duval,  whom she loved wholeheartedly when they were teenagers.

Now mayor of Duval Springs, Alex has been fighting for his town's survival. New York City needs water, and the State Water Board has declared eminent domain on the entire valley, intending to remove all structures and build a reservoir to meet their needs. When the experts and accounts descend upon the town to begin evaluating property and distributing payouts, Alex is shocked to see Eloise again. He has never stopped caring for her, despite the way her guardian forced an end to their relationship.

Alex is determined to save Duval Springs despite whatever the state may say, and Eloise is the only one who can help him. For her part, she always loved his big dreams and risk-taking personality. But is his wild idea truly something that can be accomplished, or merely a desperate hope that will end with the disillusionment of the entire community? Is it foolish to work closely with the man who stirs up so many feelings from the past?

Determination, inspiration, and a large dash of intrigue lead the way in Elizabeth Camden's new release. I love how she found three truly fascinating water-related tales and wove them together in this Empire State series. I would recommend this story to all historical fiction fans! Click for my reviews of Book One and Book Two.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All thoughts in this review are my own.
 Historical fiction is my favorite genre, so which books claimed favorite of the favorite status?

Daring Venture

A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

In 1908 there are not many female biochemists, and none are catching more attention than Dr. Rosalind Werner as she seeks to prove that chlorine is safe for water treatment. You'll never read a more suspenseful or romantic book on eradicating waterborne diseases!

More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets The Eye by Karen Witemeyer

Logan Fowler is bent on getting revenge, until he meets gentle Evangeline Hamilton, whose mismatched eyes have made her a social outcast. How could he destroy her brother when he wants to protect this sweet young woman?

An Hour Unspent

An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White

Barclay Pearce is a fiercely loyal older brother and a reformed thief now working to help the British government during World War I. He's not going to let anything stop him from doing what he thinks is right... even if the woman he loves walks away from him.
With Every Breath

In another page-turning historical romance, Elizabeth Camden takes us to our nation's capitol in 1891. Kate Livingston is a savvy young widow who helps support her parents' boardinghouse. When she receives a job offer to work as an analyst in a research hospital, the last thing she expects to find is that the position comes to her by way of her old nemesis from school days, Trevor Kendall. She and Trevor battled their wits in the classroom for years, and he's the last person she ever wanted to see again.

Kate is intrigued by the research being done at the hospital and is anxious to get out of her current dead-end job. Even so, it's a bitter pill to see the emotionless, insufferable Trevor every day. As she begins to learn more about his work on curing and eradicating tuberculosis, Kate finds the work fascinating and the patients affable.

Things become unpredictable when they realize that someone is after Trevor, sending him reminders of failed medical experiments in the past and clearly wanting him to fail in the present. Kate becomes somewhat obsessed with finding out what Trevor has been doing in the twelve years since they graduated high school, and the way he keeps his personal life under a tight wrap only fuels her curiosity. When Trevor refuses to buckle under mounting pressure, the mysterious aggressor turns their attack on Kate and her family.

Tuberculosis research has never been so fascinating! I had a hard time putting this book down. At times Kate and Trevor both got under my skin, their dogged competitive natures and stubbornness far surpassing my own. Overall, however, I found this another thoroughly captivating and informative novel from an author I've come to trust as an authority in historical fiction.
A Daring Venture 

Dr. Rosalind Werner has worked very hard to become a respected biochemist in 1908. Not many people know she's female, however, as she prefers to go by her initials and keep out of the public eye. It's too easy for people to doubt her because of her gender, and also to cast aspersions on her character as a woman working in a male-dominated field. Rosalind lost her parents to typhoid when she was a child, which has driven her to specialize in finding a way to eradicate germs from drinking water.

Returning from his supporting role in A Dangerous Legacy, Nick Drake has a passion for getting clean and abundant water to every resident of New York City. He's seeking to further his political career with this in mind. Nick is skeptical that treating water with chlorine will make it safe, and although he is open to the idea, he feels there must be more research done before he makes any moves to implement this for the city's water supply. He agrees to meet with Dr. R.L. Werner to discuss the matter, and promptly falls in love at first sight with the lovely, opinionated, and brainy Rosalind.

For her part, Rosalind can't deny that there's an almost immediate attraction between them. She loves that Nick has a heart for the welfare of regular people and that he can work with his hands. She also feels that he is rash and sometimes loses control of his temper, though he's quick to apologize when he gets out of line. When Rosalind's coworker forces her hand on the chlorine issue, she isn't sure Nick will ever trust her again.

I love the obscure history that this series focuses on. I can't say that water filtration is something many people read about, but the toe-curling romance in this novel draws readers in and makes them pay attention. Camden's writing shines and also brilliantly sets up Book 3, which releases next February. Consider me already in line to read it!

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

Lucy Drake was born into a family with a legal dispute. A forty-year court case over the invention of a pressure-regulating water valve looms over her head. Lucy and her brother live humble lives and give all their spare time trying to stop their money-hungry Uncle Thomas, who has set the price of the valve so high that the common tenement owners in New York City can't afford it, and therefore thousands of people in those tenements live without running water. Working for the Associated Press as a telegrapher has allowed Lucy to tap into the line of her uncle's attorney, and that's the only way Lucy and Nick are staying ahead of Uncle Thomas's tactics.

A problem at work brings Lucy in contact with Sir Colin Beckwith, a British Reuters employee who has come to America in search of a wealthy bride whose fortune can help restore his ancestral estate. There's an immediate attraction between the two of them, despite the fact that they work for rival news agencies and Lucy has no money to help bring Whitefriars back to glory. Their friendship solidifies when Colin agrees not to expose Lucy's illegal tap and Lucy agrees to bury a society column about the jitters Colin suffers after his time spent covering the Boer War.

When a message comes across Lucy's hidden tap that appears to be about a planned assassination attempt on President Theodore Roosevelt, Lucy has no one to turn to except Colin. She tries to go to the police but they mostly scoff at her for having no evidence besides a vague telegram of questionable origin. Colin offers to act as a secret agent and go directly into the territory of the man Lucy dreads most - her nefarious uncle - to see what he can discover about the assassination plot. If he can meet wealthy and eligible young ladies on his trip upstate, all the better.

Through twists, turns, kidnappings, and senseless cruelty, Lucy and Colin are both about to discover what is important in life. Their reaction to this new understanding will lead each of them down paths they never expected - and readers will be surprised, as well!

This is a book that will have quite a draw for historical fans. There are so many wonderful things it digs into - telegraphs, tenements, the downfall of many British estates as the twentieth century arrived, Roosevelt's unpopularity as he was working towards the Panama Canal, even Victorian stuffed animal tableaux! I feel like it might be a little heavy on history for the average reader, but I was captivated and truly enjoyed every aspect of this suspenseful novel.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.
Beyond All Dreams

Is there such a thing as a book lover who doesn't like libraries? I think not! Elizabeth Camden has set her latest novel within the halls of the Library of Congress, one of the most famous libraries in the world. Set in 1897, when the Library moved out of the Capitol Building and into a home of its own, Camden has brought us a story rich with history and intrigue.

Anna O'Brien is one of the few female librarians employed at the Library of Congress, and while her life may look boring from the outside, she's proud of the position she has attained. Gifted with a passion for knowledge and exactness by her cartographer father, Anna is also determined to set the naval record straight about what happened when her father's ship went down. She has a little evidence and a lot of gut feeling that the official Navy report is faulty, but she isn't prepared for the amount of grief the military sends her way when she questions them.

Congressman Luke Callahan escaped a tumultuous upbringing to earn a berth in Washington, DC, and while he struggles with a quick temper, he's known for a charm that usually gets him exactly what he wants. When he meets Anna and finds in her someone who will stand up to him and see through his facade, he sees her true value and quickly falls in love with her. Anna isn't interested in a serious relationship because she knows marriage would require her to resign from her job, and she has too much to prove to explore her own feelings.

When Luke joins Anna's quest to find out what happened to her father's ship, he finds out information that must be kept from Anna at all costs. As world events hurtle towards the Spanish-American War, Luke makes a stand for peaceful negotiations which may cost him everything. Meanwhile Anna feels more lost and confused as she fights to find out what happened to her father and also come to terms with where her own life choices are taking her.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this novel was the characterization of Luke and Anna. The author really explored the issues of both of their pasts and how it influenced the adults they became. This added a nice depth and nuance to the story. The historical aspect was also extremely well done and I could hardly wait to finish the book so I could read the author's note at the end and find out how much of the story was based on actual events. That, in my mind, is the mark of excellent historical fiction.

This was my favorite of the three Elizabeth Camden novels that I have read. I'd like to thank LitFuse Publicity for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.
* * * * *

Travel back in time to the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress in Elizabeth Camden's newest release, Beyond All Dreams. From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?

Elizabeth is celebrating the release of Beyond All Dreams with a Kindle giveaway and Facebook party on February 17.


One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire

  • One copy of Beyond All Dreams

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/17. Winner will be announced at Elizabeth's 2/17 Beyond All Dreams Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Elizabeth and historical fiction fans, as well as for the opportunity to win some great prizes!



RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 17th!

When I gave a disappointed review of Elizabeth Camden's debut novel, I promised not to judge any further releases on the merit of that one alone. The author has gone on to publish three more novels, and I decided to give one a try. Would I alter my opinion with a further sample of her writing talent?

Our main character in this story, Libby Sawyer, has struggled with dyslexia and even as an adult cannot read. This has left her feeling inadequate as a person and withdrawn from society. She spends her time drawing up plans for her professor father's many inventions and playing with her young niece. She and her father are spending a summer at her brother's house when they receive word that a group of Romanian immigrants have moved into their house on Winslow Street, claiming rightful ownership by inheritance from the previous owner, who is long deceased. Libby and her father are outraged and begin seeking legal counsel on how to evict the meddling ragtag group from their home.

Michael Dobrescu has led this group of four adults and two children to America to claim the house his uncle left to him. Multiple tragedies forced them to flee their home country. He's convinced that once the proper authorities look into his documentation that they will be allowed to keep the house, especially since they are already occupying it.

Although Libby wants to see everything that her father has worked for restored to him, she also has compassion on these people who have nothing. She begins bringing care packages of food, and soon friendship blossoms. When Michael needs her help to procure something that will assist his family financially, his appreciation for her makes Libby feel whole and accepted like no one else has before. But how can they have a relationship with this house situation in between them? Who will the courts side with, and how will the other survive?

The premise of this novel is not bad. Unfortunately, though, the writing style made it hard to enjoy. You've heard of the writing adage "Show, don't tell"? Elizabeth Camden is very fond of telling, and in quite annoying ways. She beats you over the head with heavy descriptive phrases like "more powerful than a barrel of nitroglycerine." There's quite a bit of narrative hyperbole, such as when Libby believes she knows "the location of each loose cobblestone in the street." Every one, eh? The way Michael and Libby think about each other pushes the boundaries of that which is acceptable in Christian fiction, making me uncomfortable as a reader. The plot twists were often contrived, and the most obvious case of a writer not understanding and properly following through on a plot line occurred later in the story. The person currently living in the Winslow Street house discovers that there is an extra fireplace which has been boarded up and covered in shelves in the library, and he believes it necessary to completely remove that fireplace and chimney from the house. Just after removing it, he seeks to find additional ways to heat the house because they will be lacking now that they have one less fireplace. How would removing something you never used and were in fact completely unaware of in past winters change the way you heated a house in the present? This made no sense and was quite a glaring error.

I wanted to like this book and to be able to revise my opinion about the author. I am sad to report that although this story had its moments, it did not allow me to do either.

When reading an author's debut novel you never know if you'll have a hit or a miss. Nor can you predict their future success based on their first offering alone. Some have break-out first novels but can't seem to find their stide on subsequent tries (Ray Blackston). Others have rather mediocre debut stories but go on to become one of Christian fiction's most recognizable figures (Karen Kingsbury). Sometimes you find an author whose first novel blows you away to the point where you know you'll put their second one on your wishlist before you even know what the plot is about (Austin Boyd, Christa Parrish, Sharon K. Souza, etc.)

While reading Elizabeth Camden's new release, "The Lady of Bolton Hill," I kept being distracted by the cover. I had seen a very interesting blog post entirely dedicated to its creation and therefore paid a little bit extra attention to it. There's a woman looking somewhat longingly out a window (what a popular cover pose this is!) and you can see the cityscape behind her so you know the story is set in a town rather than in the country. The woman has her hands clasped together in front of her chest as though waiting and praying for an outcome out of her control to be determined. There is lovely silver scrollwork around the title, and from its nomenclature you would assume the heroine is a lady of privileged position who has always lived in this Baltimore, MD, neighborhood.

I found myself wishing as I read the story that the book was actually more like the cover and the title. From the plot itself, it seemed as though it should have been christened "The Worldwide Adventures of Clara Endicott" and showed a woman traipsing about for social justice rather than a pining figure in a window. I mean, I knew something was up the moment the story opened and Clara was in jail in England. Lady of Bolton Hill, indeed!

Not being a huge fan of the political scene (either social or governmental), I realized as I got into the story that I was not going to be able to really enjoy it. I'd give it 2.5 stars and ask that the author cut down on the runaway metaphors next time. But there were two things I'd like to highlight about the story:

1) We get into the advertised plot at a good pace. I hate it when the main plot point doesn't happen until you're half-way through the story and have spent every page wondering when it was going to arrive. Elizabeth Camden delivers you there with just the proper amount of build-up.

2) The scenes where one of the characters decides to turn his life over to Christ are very powerfully done. You can feel the liberation of soul and the inpouring of peace which only comes from the presence of Jesus Christ. Very fine job by the author!

This book would be right up your alley if you are interested in social politics and historical adventure stories. Unfortunately it isn't exactly what I enjoy but I could see its merits and won't judge other Elizabeth Camden releases on this one alone.

Note: I received this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for this honest review.



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