Tuesday, February 14, 2023

COUNTERFEIT HOPE by Crystal Caudill, Reviewed by Rebecca, Winnie, and Paula #ReleaseDay

"This was the last time. After tonight, she and Oscar would be free from the den of thieves they called family."

And then the bottom dropped out, yet again, for Lu Thorne . . . the U. S. Marshall that she had counted on to be an escape hatch was dead, and so was his deal. Now her life and the life of her young son was clearly in mortal danger; if the Thornes ever found out that she had agreed to become a confidential informant against them, the consequences would be swift and painful.

When undercover Secret Service agent Andrew Darlington and his partner encounter a flirtatious bar maid upon arriving in Landkreis, Indiana, Andrew knows exactly what she's up to, and remains unaffected . . . sort of. But his fellow agent's wallet isn't so lucky. The little thief has skills, he'll grant her that, but it's her last name that scares him to death. What in heaven's name has he gotten himself into?

The initial introduction in the town saloon is only the beginning of Andrew's encounters with the lovely young widow Thorne. Perhaps she might be of some assistance? Never would he have imagined how God was going to do that . . . his reputation for sporting "sour, dour faces" was about to undergo a rather dramatic transformation, Andrew Darlington was going to become charming . . . a young woman's life depended on it. But the final cost? . . . was in God's hands and in God's hands only. Lu Thorne desperately needed hope . . . here and now, and for all eternity.

A celebration of redemption story! A powerful faith story! An appropriately passionate love story! There's nothing counterfeit about the hope that abounds from the pages of this book. Readers will find it quite satisfying to observe crotchety Andrew Darlington squirm beneath the power of affection, albeit mixed with a nearly lethal dose of action and adventure.

"For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. " Romans 8:24-25

*I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher but was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars

Set in rural Indiana in 1884, Counterfeit Hope stars Andrew Darlington, a Secret Service operative who is hunting counterfeiters, and widowed Lu Thorne who is trying to take her son and escape from her lawless in-laws. With a stellar supporting cast of colorful, interesting characters, some law-abiding and many with no regard for laws, this story takes the reader on a wild ride. Andrew and Lu spend quite a bit of time trying to decide whether they trust each other, while they each harbor secrets from the past. I enjoyed seeing their relationship change over the course of the tale.

“With time and nurturing, a deep and lasting love could develop. That was, if the requirement of arresting her at the end of the case didn’t destroy their tentative partnership.

With plenty of intrigue, suspense, action, a budding romance, and a sprinkle of inspiration, this book has something for everyone. Messages of hope, forgiveness, and redemption give extra depth and meaning to it. The author has added some interesting historical notes in the back of the book and a triggers warning in the front.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author and Kregel Publications. All opinions are my own.
4.5 stars 


“No matter what you have been through , God has been right by your side, grieving every sin committed to you and by you. Sometimes the sound of His love is drowned out by the evil in this world, but it does not mean He is not speaking words of love and hope to you. It just means you have to listen harder to hear it.” 
Lu Thorne, a widow, and member of a counterfeiting ring, has had a heard life and has a false hope that she will never escape the evil clutches of the gang.
Andrew Darlington, a Secret Service agent, was a member of the Thorne family a lifetime ago. Now he is trying to infiltrate the family in order to arrest them.
This story is full of the degradation and evil that sin can bring but a light of hope shines that shows God in His mercy can lift people out of despair. The story somewhat parallels Hosea and Gomer from the Bible, calling on Andrew to love the seemingly unlovable. The hope is realized in the salvation of Lu and the good things God can accomplish in spite of evil men.
There was the tension of danger throughout the book. But there were bright spots of humor and the gentle wooing and romance rounded out the story.

* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel on behalf of the author. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*4 stars and a strong faith thread

BackCover Blurb:
Trapped by their pasts, is there hope for a future?

When Secret Service operative Andrew Darlington is brought in to support a US Marshal case involving counterfeiters in rural Indiana, he thinks it's simply the next rung on his climb to the top of his career. But liars can only climb so high--and Andrew is keeping a dangerous secret he doesn't ever want to get out. When he clashes with the criminal family that took over the town of Landkreis and killed the Marshal he was sent to assist, his past life is in danger of being exposed.

Widow "Lightning Lu" Thorne has only one goal: escape the clutches of the Thorne family with her son. Her decision to be an informant and testify against the Thornes looked like the perfect answer. Until the Marshal ended up dead. Now the tether keeping her tied to her felonious family is tightening, and a forced marriage to someone else in the Thornes' clutches threatens to kill any hope of escape.

Andrew and Lu find themselves on the same team--unwillingly. They each believe the other to be the enemy to their future plans. And even if they could learn to work together, the secrets they hold could shatter all hopes and dreams. Despite the encouragement of the local preacher, they're not even sure God can be trusted--much less other humans. Can either of them escape their past--and the family that is willing to kill their own when they smell betrayal?

On the heels of her smashing debut, this second entry in Crystal Caudill's historical series maintains the excitement that readers of Michelle Griep, Liz Tolsma, and Elizabeth Camden will love.

Kregel Publications, February 14, 2023
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