Book Review: A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

About the Book:

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Series: Book 3 Empire State Series
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (February 5, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076423210X

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she’s finally put behind her–or so she thinks. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them before it’s too late.

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My Thoughts:

A Desperate Hope was the perfect ending to the Empire State series. While it can be read as a stand-alone, it’s more fun to follow the Drake family from the beginning. Bits and pieces of their stories carry from book to book, especially Eloise and Alex from book two, where we are first introduced to these characters. Elizabeth Camden’s books are masterfully crafted and the blend between the historical research and the fictional story is done nicely, though I will say that Ms. Camden leans more heavily on the historical aspects. I love how these stories bring out elements of history that generally go unnoticed.

In A Desperate Hope, Eloise is a lady accountant, something very rare in those days. I’m not a mathematician myself, but I really enjoyed all the mathematical and engineering aspects of the story. I loved reading about what it would take back then to move an entire town. I also enjoyed the suspense and mystery angles in this book.

While she used to be a dreamer, situations have forced Eloise to bury her dreams and instead focus her life on numbers, facts, and things that don’t change with a whim. Alex is determined to remind Eloise of who she once was.

A Desperate Hope focuses on the need to forgive ourselves. We make mistakes, but we can’t spend our life beating ourselves up about it. We must forgive ourselves and let go of the past. This book also speaks about judging others—no one is without sin and not everything in life is what it seems.

Note: As teenagers, Eloise and Alex were caught having sexual relations with each other. While this is dealt with tactfully, it does act as a focal point all the way through the story.

Favorite quote: “Sometimes there are more important things in life than timetables or profit margins, and those things are called dreams. Wild, impossible dreams that are normally only the fantasies of poets and playwrights, but sometimes ordinary people seize upon them, join forces and fight to make it happen.”

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. A review was not required. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Camden is the author of twelve historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida. Learn more at

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