Author: Crystal Caudill
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age #1
Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves--or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he's been sent to track down?
After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name--and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors' threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn't all Grandfather was hiding. And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home--and the truth.
After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a notorious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiance is connected. Can he really believe the woman he loved is a willing participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career--but that's better than failing her twice in one lifetime.
They must form a partnership, tentative though it is. But there's no question they're both still keeping secrets--and that lack of trust, along with the dangerous criminals out for their blood, threatens their hearts, their faith, and their very survival.
Reviewer: Susan Feaster
Counterfeit Love is the first installment in the Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series. Written by a new author (at least new to me), Chrystal Caudill, it is a historical romance filled with action, intrigue, love, and second chances.
Theresa Plane had been engaged to Broderick Cosgrave, who has disappeared. She is now engaged to the wealthy Edward Graystone but is determined to clear her grandfather’s debts before she marries.
Meanwhile, we discover that the lost-and-presumed-dead Cosgrove is alive and well and working undercover for the Secret Service, trying to nab a notorious counterfeit ring. He discovers information that may implicate his former fiancé in the counterfeit ring. After getting over her shock at realizing her former fiancé is alive, Teresa and Broderick must work together to sort it out.
This is an intriguing story, very well written, and obviously well researched. I particularly enjoyed learning more about how the Secret Service operated in that era. The characters are well developed, although I never really connected with them. That lowered my rating a little bit. However, it is a really good read, filled with suspense and action. A strong faith element is woven throughout, as this is a story about redemption and second chances.
It’s my first experience with Chrystal Caudill’s work, and I look forward to more from her.
I received a copy from Kregel Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. The opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Erin Stevenson
The Gilded Age is my favorite historical period. That was the main thing (along with the beautiful cover) that piqued my interest in Crystal Caudill’s debut novel. With the promise of intrigue, suspense, and romance, I was prepared to be swept away.
Unfortunately, this didn’t happen—and from looking at the online reviews, I realize I’m in the minority. During the first chapters, I wasn’t clear on who all the minor characters were, and I had to keep going back to try to figure them out. The lack of clarity on Broderick and Theresa’s history was also distracting.
The story is very well written, and there were times when I was completely engaged, but then the pace would drag, or something would happen to take me out of the story. Not to give any spoilers, but what happened to Theresa’s grandfather and the story involving Broderick’s brother were too dark for my taste.
As I said, I’m in the minority on this one, and devotees of this genre will most likely have a much more positive experience. I see a bright future for Crystal Caudill and look forward to the next book in this series.
I received a review copy courtesy of Kregel Publications through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Billi Varela
This is a beautiful story of relinquishing all control of our lives over to God and a second-chance romance.
Broderick and Theresa both dealt with wanting to have control over any and every situation that they came across. Separately, they both realized that ”control” is something they do not have control over. They had to learn to trust in the One who really has control over everything.
This story is also about giving and receiving forgiveness, whether towards someone or themselves. Not everyone is perfect. We all make mistakes, but it is what we do afterwards that counts. This is also a beautiful story of learning not to let your past mistakes define you or get in the way of your future. We all deserve a second chance, and this book displays it beautifully.
There were a lot of positive and Christian messages, including stories from the Bible as a reference to the situations the characters were going through. You get a good story full of action/suspense and romance, plus a Christian message mingled in.
This is a clean book free of inappropriate behavior and language, which is a big thumbs up.
This story will interest anyone who loves history in the 1880s, action, and romance.
Overall, this was an amazing book. I can’t wait for her next ones.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Kristina Hall
Characters: Broderick and Theresa were both well-developed characters. I didn’t connect all that well with Broderick. But his position as a Secret Service operative was quite intriguing. I appreciated that he recognized when he messed up. Theresa was a stubborn character who tended to throw caution to the wind. I found that a little frustrating, but I liked how she stood up for what she believed. Nathaniel and Mrs. Hawking were complex, entertaining side characters.
Moral/theme: The theme of trusting God even if things don’t turn out how you expect or want was probably one of my favorite parts of this book. I thought Theresa’s struggle to trust was quite realistic and human.
Plot: I loved that this book was historical romantic suspense. I haven’t read many books in this genre because they’re in short supply in Christian fiction, but I’m a big fan. And Counterfeit Love had plenty of suspenseful moments as well as plenty of romantic moments. I also really appreciated how accurate the historical details seemed. I must admit I got a tiny bit lost at the end, but that could’ve been because I was reading with a cold.
Random comments: Theresa was engaged to another man for much of the book, but she was really in love with Broderick. This wasn’t presented as good, though. Broderick also spent some nights at a brothel to gather information. Nothing happened (he just had a rented room there), and it was presented as a wrong decision.
Romance: Clean. Just kissing.
Writing: Crystal Caudill’s writing style worked great for this novel, and I’m looking forward to reading more by her in the future.
Overall: Counterfeit Love was an entertaining read. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy Christian fiction and historical romantic suspense.
Disclosure: I received a review copy from Kregel Publishers through Interviews & Reviews. My opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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