Cover Image: A Desperate Hope

A Desperate Hope

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A Desperate Hope was written by Elizabeth Camden and takes place in the late 1800s-early 1900s. It is book three in the An Empire State Novel series.

Summary: Alex Duval is a fly-by-the-seat of your pants, creative, emotional whirlwind. But, he’s also mayor of tiny Duval Springs-the community in which he grew up-and he takes that job very seriously. 

After a five-year struggle to keep the town from being demolished to build a water reservoir, it now looks like the town he loves will be completely destroyed. 

Eloise Drake has had many disappointments in her past, but that is why she enjoys the predictability of her new life in New York City. Accounting isn’t an exciting job, but she is good at it. She enjoys being needed to solve others’ problems, and the fact that numbers don’t let her down. Yes, being an accountant for The State Water Board is the perfect stable job for her. 

Until, that is, she’s sent to Duval Springs to help with the demolition of the town. Now she must not only do her job, but face her past and Alex Duval-the man who betrayed her trust-and her heart.

My Thoughts: This book is wonderful. Elizabeth Camden is one of my favorite authors. She seamlessly weaves historical events into the lives of ordinary people to create fascinating tales-and this book is no exception. I truly enjoyed it, and it was one that I just didn’t want to put down. 

This book is well-written, entertaining, has unique and diverse characters, and is so descriptive, I felt like I could see the town of Duval Springs. 

It is not at all necessary to have read the first two books of this series. And, if you enjoy historical fiction, with plenty of plot twists and community spirit, you will like this book-it is definitely a keeper!
Was this review helpful?
A Desperate Hope was an interesting tale combining the woes of past broken relationships with the grief of the destruction of one's hometown.  I have read several books by Elizabeth Camden and enjoy her perspective and unique historical viewpoint through her characters.  Although I did like this book overall, there were several times when the storyline was lagging, making me want to skip past some chapters. However, sometimes this helped the reader empathize with the long struggles the characters were facing.  I enjoyed the characters, plot, and issues the characters faced in this work, but it didn't seem to have a good flow of storyline.
Eloise Drake is a precise, proper mathematical genius working in New York on engineering projects. She presents herself to the world with a very calm and calculated demeanor, yet her stoicism hides her difficult past which isn't as far behind her as she thinks. Eloise is shocked when she is given the task of helping deconstruct the town from her past---the past she has almost forgotten. But what scares Eloise most, is the man in charge of the town of her past, Alex Duval, her former friend and the one who broke her heart and made her retreat into cold calculations and stoicism.
Alex Duval is already dealing with a lot as mayor of a doomed town, but he is frozen in shock to discover the woman he loved and who broke his heart is part of the team tasked with demolishing his hometown.  The state has decided to flood the entire valley where Duval Springs rests in order to develop a water reservoir for New York state, but Alex comes up with some risky ideas to attempt to preserve his hometown.  Although Alex has the support of his family, neighbors, and friends, he desperately needs the help of his former love--Eloise.  Will she help him?  Can she move forward and forget their past? Can they work together to save this town? Will the town be destroyed, and all chance of restoration between Eloise and Alex along with it?
Was this review helpful?
Eloise Drake's past comes back to haunt her as she must return to the town so near where she spent much of her childhood and the man she fell in love with so many years before. Her relationship with Alex Duval ended badly 12 years ago, but Eloise is bound and determined to keep her heart safe and follow the rules as she works for the state on a project which will demolish the town Alex grew up in and is currently the mayor of.

I really wanted to like this book, but there were too many big problems for me. As a clean read fiction I'd give it a solid 4 stars. The characters are interesting, if infuriatingly hard-headed, and the emotions are definitely rampant with everyone involved. I don't think the characters really grew enough for my liking, but I had a really big problem with people overlooking big sins and character flaws.

I will preach God's grace until he takes me home, but if that's the only part of the gospel that you get then you're in big trouble. Eloise and Alex had some youthful transgressions which are more or less brushed off as just that. I don't want characters to live in guilt, but Alex, at least, didn't even acknowledge that what they had done was wrong. It seemed justified because they were in love. The same goes for Eloise's guardian. He's not a good man. He has some redeeming qualities and acts at the end, but there seems to be no repentance for any of the characters. They brush off their sins as everyone makes mistakes and as long as you do some good deed here and there then you're all right. A very works based religion.

So if you read the book as a clean read romance then you'll probably enjoy it. If you're looking for even a hint of biblically based spiritual truth then you will not find it here. The Christianity is sparse and seems thrown in to appease the publishing house, but it would have been better off left out all together.
Was this review helpful?
Elizabeth Camden is a wonderful storyteller. There is only one of her stories that didn't work well for me. Don't worry. I won't tell, but you can find all my reviews on Amazon. Anyways, A Desperate Hope finishes her first series. I have enjoyed all three novels. I love how her heroines are educated and don't mind helping the little man. In this book, Eloise wants a place to be needed, but she returns to her home and runs into Alex, her first love. It is tangled emotions at first sight, but eventually, they learn to grasp and control their emotions and allow love to blossom. I really enjoyed the plot. It was different than anything I have ever read. Camden kept me engrossed in the plot, and I finished the novel in a little over three hours. I had a hard time putting  it down. There is even a hint of a mystery in the novel, which I loved. Overall, A Desperate Hope is a wonderful ending to the series. I really enjoyed the characters and anxiously await what Camden comes up with next. If you are a fan of Camden's other stories, then I recommend you pick this book up. 

I received a complimentary copy of A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.
Was this review helpful?
This one will keep you up late, folks. I read the first book in The Empire State novels, A Dangerous Legacy, and loved it, so when this one came up for review, I was excited to take it on. And in true obsessive-reader fashion – especially with a book that has good tension – it only took me a few days to finish.

This series focuses on the Drake family, and with this newest installment, we get to know Eloise (with some revisits to Nick and Rosalind). She’s a fascinating character plagued by conflicting desires – one, to be logical and reasonable because following her impulses didn’t work out so well the last time. And two, to throw caution to the wind and join Alex on his mad crusade to literally move a town before the state has it demolished to make way for a drinking water reservoir.

And then Alex – Lord help us all – Alex is a gambler and a white knight and has a serious case of tunnel vision. As much as the sparks between him and Eloise make fantastic things happen, their biggest obstacle might be the fact that he’s slightly obtuse and she’s afraid. It’s comical, frustrating and rife with tension.

Characters aside, the history was fascinating! I was aware that building could be moved, but I didn’t realize they figured out out to do it by the early 1900s. There’s some great history in this one inspired by the very real relocation of entire towns. Once again, I recommend reading the author’s note when you get your hands on this book in February. It always makes the content so much more interesting.

I highly recommend this book with a caveat. While the story line does not take the reader into any inappropriate situations, pre-marital sex and its complications are discussed. The Christian themes are also light in some aspects and for Eloise, have a Catholic bent as she spent several years living in a convent, which may be different from what readers might expect. For some of you, this might be fascinating, for others, it might not be the right fit.
Was this review helpful?