Cover Image: A Desperate Hope

A Desperate Hope

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"Let's go change the world." In her latest book, A Desperate Hope, award winning author Elizabeth Camden has created an irresistible historical fiction story of faith, love, and resilience. A Desperate Hope is the 3rd book in Elizabeth Camden's Empire State Trilogy, but it can easily be read as a stand alone novel. Immediately, readers are drawn to the novel by its beautiful and captivating cover. 

The story takes place in small town Duval Springs, New York in 1908. New York State Water Board accountant Eloise Drake is selected as part of the team to oversee the demolition of the town of Duval Springs in order to build a reservoir to carry water to the residents of New York City. Eloise's journey back to Duval Springs forces her to face her first love Alex Duval, mayor of Duval Springs, and a town full of people not ready to give up their homes and livelihoods without a fight. "I wish I could say the next years are going to be easy, but sometimes it's the hard things in life that make us great." The hardships that the townspeople of Duval Springs faced and their determination never to give up demonstrates the strength and resilience of the human spirit. 

Readers will experience a range of emotions throughout the novel, while also rooting for Eloise and Alex to find their way back to each other. In Eloise Drake, Elizabeth Camden created an intelligent, well-educated female heroine who is not afraid to speak her mind. From the mistakes she made as a teenager and being forced to grow up too soon, Eloise becomes stronger as a person throughout the novel and uses her experiences to make a difference in other people's lives and to find purpose in her own life. This novel has a light Christian theme throughout, and the rich history of the New York water system was well researched. A wonderful novel by Elizabeth Camden and a must read for fans of historical fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Bethany House and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.
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I loved Nick and Rosalind's story in "a daring venture". So when I saw this I was quite eager to read this. Eloise is a bright woman just like Rosalind. And the setting is a time that didn't give women the best of opportunity academically or career wise. Alex has always loved Eloise so when she reappears in his town he is eager to win her back .We have mystery subterfuge, romance and all that. Unfortunately I didn't enjoy it as much as i thought i would. Perhaps I came to it with such high hopes.
3 stars for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this, This is my honest review.
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A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden is the third book in the Empire State series.  I love reading Camden’s works because she always has the most unique plots that teach you about forgotten pieces of history as they entertain you.

The focus of this novel is on the fictional town of Duval Springs in upstate New York.  The state of New York has declared that the town needs to be torn down in order to create large water reservoirs for the larger cities south of Duval Springs.  The people of the town are understandably upset, as their entire lives are about to be uprooted for the sake of the government and strangers in large cities.

Eloise Drake grew up outside Duval Springs, but always with an interest as to what was going on in the town.  Now that she’s grown up and mistakes of her youth drove her away from her hometown, she is proud to be an accountant for the state of New York.  When her job requires she access the value of property in the town of Duval Springs so that its inhabitants can be fairly compensated by the state, she wishes anyone else could go.  She has no desire to uproot the new life she’s just begun in New York city.

Alex Duval, mayor of the town of Duval Springs, plans to fight the demolition of his home town with everything in him.  What he doesn’t expect is to be fighting the flame of his adolescence, Eloise, after their relationship was abruptly broken up 12 years ago.

I adored and consumed this novel.  Within 24 hours I had discovered it was available for me if I chose to review it, downloaded it, and read it.  I love Camden’s works; I love that when I read her writing I’m always learning something unique and new, and my vocabulary is expanding.  I love the characters she creates and the cozy settings I’d never have found myself in otherwise when reading them.  I definitely recommend this book–and it works just fine as a stand-alone–and would recommend checking out other books by this author as well.

Thank you to Bethany House and Net Galley for providing me with an electronic copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.
I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion – which I’ve done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
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4.5 stars!
I've always enjoyed Elizabeth Camden's books and this is no exception.  I had not read the first two books in the Empire State series but was able to fully enjoy the book.  I had never given much thought to how NYC and the state of NY got their water supply in 1908 but this book made the history come alive with memorable characters, vivid descriptions of a small village struggling against change and loss, and a well-crafted plot.  If you enjoy historical romance and also want to learn a bit of NY history, you will totally enjoy this book.

Eloise, our heroine, is an accountant - straight-laced and follow-the-rules kind of mathematician with a soft, tender heart and a secret hunger for adventure.  She was once in love with Alex but they were torn apart by her guardian and her sense of shame.  Alex is loyal, stubborn, impulsive, passionate, brimming with optimism and also the mayor of a small village that Eloise and her team from NYC are sent to demolish, in preparation for a reservoir to supply the water demand to NYC.  They are complete opposites but make for a compelling team when they actually work side by side. 

This is a lovely story about dreams, hard work to achieve them, and how God gives us dreams to pursue even when others think it's folly.  I was given a copy of the book by Bethany House Publishers and the author and was under no obligation to post a positive review.  All comments and opinions are solely my own.
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Great ending by Elizabeth Camden to this series: A Desperate Hope (Empire State). I have loved all of Ms. Camden's book and this one was no exception! Set in upstate New York where state officials are set to flood the town to make a reservoir so the growing city of New York will have clean drinking water. Eloise Drake is a prim and proper lady who is sent to help calculate what it will take to flood the area. But in doing so it brings her back into the path of the mayor who had broken her heart as a young girl. Mayor Alex Duval has plans to save the town and hopefully save their former relationship. Will they be able to work together or will they take the safer path. Wonderful story. Can't wait for more from Ms. Camden.

I received this book from Bethany House through NetGalley and all opinions are my own.
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If you enjoy historical romance novels then Elizabeth Camden is one of the best. Her novels are full of history, character building, some suspense and romance. This third book in her Empire State Novel series can be read as a stand alone, but with reading the prior two books in the series you gain some extra background. She takes a dull subject of water rights for New York City and develops a wonderful read full of emotions, suspense and a story line to keep you till the very end. Ms. Camden is one of my favorite authors and have enjoyed all her books.
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I have followed this series from the beginning, and love it! Yet each book can be read as a stand-alone book as well. I love historical fiction, and this book captures the era of building a reservoir in upstate New York, which consequently meant having to dismantle several towns in its path. In real life, some of the smaller towns were able to relocate to higher ground. In A Desperate Hope, the fictional town of Duval Springs brings to life this particular time period. Elizabeth Camden paints of vivid picture of an idyllic small town losing its battle against the state and progress, and how they cope with the fact that their way of life will exist no more. The author also adds strong female characters, good guys, villains, mystery, past mistakes, family dynamics, and romance along the way. You don't want to miss the conclusion to Elizabeth Camden's Empire State series!
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I enjoyed this story a lot. It helped make a painful night better. It was easy to read and the story line seemed believable.
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Nick secured a job for Eloise after a situation in the 2nd book found her without one.  Her assignment, to head with the demolition team to Duval Springs to do a valuation on the buildings/properties there for state payouts.  Alex Duval is the mayor of Duval Springs, has fought a long battle with the state already and has been in love with her for years.  This book is filled with twisting sub plots that add a sense of intrigue/suspense and don’t let up til near the end as far as trying to guess who’s behind what.  Thoroughly enjoyed this whole series and learned a lot of interesting things about the advancement of water quality and water/sewer systems.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House and NetGalley.  A review was not required and all thoughts are my own.
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3.5 stars

A Desperate Hope is book three in the Empire State series by Elizabeth Camden. This series has followed the Drake family and this time, it was cousin Eloise's turn in the spotlight.

I really liked Alex. He had such a fiery determination to help, to try to make things better and it was so easy to root for him. It took me a little while to warm up to Eloise. She was very much a strict rule follower and came off a bit cold at times. Knowing her past though, it made her attitude more understandable. I will say that I was a tad disappointed in the romance. The chemistry felt a bit lacking and things felt forced sometimes.

I really felt for the residents of Duval Springs. What was happening to them, to their homes, to their town, was just heartbreaking. But their undeniable hope was endearing and inspiring. It was a great reminder that when things look bleak, there's always hope.

I've really enjoyed this series and while this book was probably my least favorite of the bunch, it was still good. I'm really looking forward to reading whatever this author comes out with next. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and comments are my honest opinion.
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Elizabeth Camden is an excellent writer and this has been a really enjoyable series. The previous books laid the groundwork for this one but are not essential to understanding and enjoying it. 

While it's well written, this installment is not my favorite. Alex is a great, fun loving guy. The heroines in this series have all been bright, capable women and Elois is no exception. But she's a little cool and harder to become enamored with. 

Since they had a previous relationship, there's not a lot of tension that leaves you hoping they'll figure it out. In fact, there's very little courting. We're told they spend time together and Alex is trying hard to win her over, but we don't see a lot of it. Rather, the focus is on moving the town and getting the people up to higher ground before the government deadline. 

Old familiar characters from previous books show up, which is neat. There are glimpses of a larger ominous problem festering but it only really comes to a head near the end and is somewhat disconnected from the main narrative of the town's move. After spending a great deal of time rooting for the residents and wondering if they'd get all of those buildings moved, we are merely told that in the end they were successful and the lens shifts suddenly to the flash-in-the-pan crisis. Again, it's all well written, but it would have been just as satisfying if the only crisis had been the town's move. It didn't need a contrived event that required some daring-do.

Some faith elements but they aren't glaring or preachy.
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Not what I was expecting and felt a touch disappointed by it. Although an enjoyable read with a bit of suspense throughout to carry you to the end.
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A Desperate Hope 
By Elizabeth Camden
This is the third book to Elizabeth Camden’s Empire State series. The characters from the previous novels are mentioned but do not play an imperative role in understanding this novel.
Duval Springs, New York, 1908. Secluded and alone most of her childhood Eloise Drake craves for the sense of family like those she watches in the valley of Duval Springs. Passionate and full of life Alex Duval is struggling with his school work. After coming upon Eloise lost in the woods the pair find what they are wanting in each other. Their chance meeting becomes a scheduled meeting as the two quickly fall in love. And they lived happily ever after… 
Rather Eloise’s guardian discovers the two in a scandalous way, sending Eloise away and sending his workers to teach Alex a lesson. Years pass as Eloise and Alex change becoming two different adults than their younger selves who fell in love. Alex is now the Mayor of Duval Springs and Eloise is a prim and proper accountant for New York City.  
The city of New York desires to flood the valley of Duval springs to create a water reservoir. Alex has been fighting for years to keep this from happening. Finally, he no longer has a choice but to accept defeat. The city has won and Eloise is coming on the appraisal and demolition team to determine the town's value for property payouts. 
No longer young and naive Eloise enters Duval Springs with business in mind but Alex who has been pining and waiting for Eloise’s return does not let his feelings go unknown.
Can this pair work together to save to save the town that sparked their love? 
I enjoyed reading this book and could feel the tension throughout. The ending came as a bit of a surprise for me. I felt the last bit was drawn out but the conclusion gave reasoning to why it was so. Overall this was an easy historical read. Since it was based on similar events it was all the more interesting. 
The Empire State series:
1.	A Dangerous Legacy
2.	A Daring Venture
3.	A Desperate Hope
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion which I share here.
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Alex Duval is the mayor of a town that's received its death sentence. The residents will all receive compensation from the government and then their homes will be demolished to make way for a large reservoir to support the city of 1908 New York. Having lost his lawsuit against the government, Alex is prepared to accept the inevitable--until an old flame comes to Duval Springs, and with her, a big idea!

When big-city accountant Eloise Drake shows up to assess the buildings and offer payouts to the residents, she finds herself back in the one place where she thought she'd never return. She and Alex have a past together, one that ended in him getting beaten up and her getting sent to a convent. She's not interested in returning to that phase of her life, especially now that she has a potential relationship with her boss, Fletcher Jones. 

When ebullient Alex and sensible Eloise make a plan to move the town instead of tear it down, they must work together to launch a municipal bond, galvanize the town's inhabitants, lay railroad tracks, prepare foundations, transport buildings of all shapes and sizes, and discover a mysterious saboteur who is out to stop them. Despite all the backbreaking labor, equipment failure, and opposition from the state, the hardest obstacle Alex must face is the one he cares the most about--winning back Eloise, the girl that never should have got away. 

This book had a unique setting and a lighthearted quality that made it a pleasure to read. Alex Duval is an optimist, a dreamer, and a man not afraid to cry, cheer, or tell the world that he's in love. Eloise Drake is a prim and proper mathematical wizard, nursing hurts from her mother, her father, and Alex himself. Together, they can, as Alex believes, do absolutely anything. I enjoyed their second chance romance and how Alex took the bull of small town gossip by the horns, declaring to everyone that he's doing what he should have done years ago--try to marry Eloise Drake. 

Although the town of Duval Springs is fictional, Elizabeth Camden based it on several historical towns near New York that were either demolished or relocated for the sake of the reservoir. Over all, this was an enjoyable read on a relatively obscure topic in American history. I didn't even realize that this book was part of a series until I looked it up on Goodreads, so clearly it can stand alone quite well. I am interested to read more books by Camden.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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This book is not what I have come to expect from Elizabeth Camden.  I love how she weaves history into all of her stories and I feel like I really learn something every time I pick up one of her books.  But, I did not feel the chemistry between the main characters.   There would be a spark of something they used to have, but then the next scene made me believe they didn't really care for each other all that much.  

I finished the book, but I found myself skimming it at the end, ready for it to be over.

I love books by Elizabeth Camden, but felt like this one was not her best.  She is still one of my "must read" authors, but if you are new to her, I would suggest one of her older works before reading this one. 

I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley.  All opinions are my own.
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This was a great conclusion to the Empire State Novel series.   Eloise Drake has worked hard to overcome her past by adhering to rules and regulations.  Her job as a CPA fits perfectly with that.  However, when she is called to work at Duval Springs, the sight of her first love and shame, things aren’t as cut and dried as she’d like them to be.  Alex is the complete opposite of Eloise.  He grapples with whirlwinds and casts visions and dreams.  He has never forgotten Eloise and needs her to help him with his latest grand scheme.  
I loved Alex.  It’s refreshing to see someone who cares for people so much, who is faithful to his first love, and is hopelessly optimistic.  It was hard to imagine how his plans could ever come to fruition but I was cheering him on. 
This is a story of dreamers and realists, courage and sacrifice, betrayal and skullduggery.  There is a beautiful picture of community that makes you long to be a part of it.  I would highly recommend this book and series.  Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a complimentary e-copy via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own. 

 Empire State Novel series
Book 1:  A Dangerous Legacy
Book 2:  A Daring Venture
Book 3:  A Desperate Hope
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A Desperate Hope 
By Elizabeth Camden
4 Stars

The third book in this trilogy comes to a close and I think I enjoyed this book the best out of the three.
The author is in a league of her own in the historical inspirational fiction genre when it comes to women in days gone by having interesting careers not usually given to women. 
Our main character is a certified accountant in the early 1900s. She loves rules and guidelines. It's not until she meets an old flame that all the rules go out the window and maybe a little adventure comes in. 
I enjoyed the townsfolk that we meet and the bond they all share in a town they all love.

I received this ebook through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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I enjoyed the story of "A Desperate Hope", although some parts of the story surprised me. I had to double check to make sure this genre was "Christian". The story was an excellent one, with mystery throughout. It kept me guessing until the final chapters! I LOVE that! The story begins with two young lovers, then jumps twelve years, when they are brought together because of a new reservoir. The interaction between the characters flows easily. An enjoyable book that definitely held my interest!
#AdesperateHope #NetGalley
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Eloise Drake has a good, safe job working as an accountant in New York City. She enjoys her job and the possibility that her supervisor might be interested in her--a good, safe man is exactly what she needs. When she is assigned to go to upstate New York to Duval Springs, a town which is going to be demolished in order to create a reservoir for New York City to have clean water, she doesn't want to go--because it will mean seeing Alex Duval, whom she hasn't seen since her guardian drove him out of town after finding out about Alex's and Eloise's clandestine relationship. Eloise goes to Duval Springs and sets about doing her work appraising the properties in the town to determine how much the City will have to pay; while running into the man she gave everything to isn't something she can avoid, she's certain that she can be mature and professional. When she actually runs into Alex, though, that becomes a lot harder than she expected. As the mayor of Duval Springs, Alex has fought long and hard to keep his home city intact; when that's no longer possible, rather than throw in the towel, Alex comes up with the crazy idea to relocate the town--he wants to move the buildings out of the valley and onto higher ground--but he needs Eloise's math skills to figure out how to make that happen. And while he's at it, he wants to win back the woman he still loves, but Eloise wants a safe life with few risks, not the risky, big dreams that Alex has to offer.

There were some really interesting elements to the plot--the idea of moving all of the buildings in town was so fascinating. I loved the fact that Eloise is a CPA at a time when few women were, and the mystery element, as someone is sabotaging the camp where workers for the reservoir are staying, was interesting. 
However, there were also some parts that were disconcerting to me. Alex and Eloise had premarital sex when they were teenagers, and while Eloise feels badly about it, it almost seems she's more embarrassed and worried about people knowing about it than she is about how than the fact that she sinned, and Alex doesn't seem to have any remorse about it whatsoever. From a Christian novel, I definitely expected more about grace and repentance, and it just was really odd to me that those things weren't there. (Side note: Eloise realizes her boss in NYC won't be compatible with her because he doesn't really believe in God, but I didn't see anything that demonstrated Alex believed, either.) If this weren't a book from a Christian publisher, that wouldn't have been a problem, but I really found myself wishing for it here--not to be preachy but as a beautiful affirmation of God's grace and how He forgives and redeems.
As for characters, I had mixed feelings about Alex. I liked his passion for his town and his big dreams, but there were times when he was just rude to Eloise and didn't even really apologize for it, and I hard time with that. I'm all in favor of a realistically flawed hero, but I couldn't get behind him 1oo-percent. 
Is it fair to judge a book differently because it's Christian? I don't know. If this weren't a Christian book, I'd say it's a 4-star book. As a Christian book, however, I didn't feel like there were actually enough Christian elements and even Eloise didn't really come across as more than a surface Christian, which makes it hard for me to endorse as a Christian novel. With those mixed feelings, I'll give it 3.5 stars and I hope I've provided enough information for readers to know whether the things that bothered me would detract from the book for them as well or if they'd be fine with it and thoroughly enjoy the story.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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#ADesperateHope #NetGalley 

Elizabeth Camden is a gifted author, she knows how to keep the reader interested. Eloise, dreams of getting married  and having children,  but is an accountant for the city of New York instead.  Alex is the mayor of the small town, of Duvall Springs, he still  thinks of Eloise and  the days when they were younger.  The city of New York is offering  a pay out, for those living in  Duvall  Springs, so they can build  a reservoir. Eloise doesn't want to fall for Alex all over again,  and she plans on keeping her guard up, There is an element of suspense. I had a hard time  with the reference to having sex. I usually  don't  have to worry about  content in Elizabeth Camden s books, there was no graphic details.
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