It’s 1908 in New York City and Eloise Drake is putting her math genius to work for the state water board as an accountant. When she is assigned to return to her hometown to assess properties that are to be demolished she soon finds herself at a crossroads. Her intent to maintain a strictly professional demeanor without becoming emotionally involved is challenged when she’s embroiled in a battle of wills with the town’s mayor, and her first love, Alex Duval.
What may seem like a typical historical romance is anything but. Rather, this book presents a multitude of research-based storylines neatly woven into an educational and entertaining read. Author Elizabeth Camden creates a plot for Eloise to shine as a woman before her time who’s forced to confront the demons of her past while saving a town that has never truly embraced her as one of their own.
Despite her privileged background, Eloise is a woman with a very isolated upbringing by a guardian who never acknowledged her as his own. She is also going up against the only person who loved her and while this relationship once ended in heartache and her tarnished reputation, Eloise holds her head high as she steps up to the challenge.
Talk about women empowerment. I love how Eloise is the driving force behind both the idea and ‘muscle’ for rescuing this small town. You applaud her no-nonsense and highly intellectual approach to fighting for something she believes in when the odds are stacked against her. This is reflective of many other characters and living icons who’ve followed their convictions to change how women are viewed and embraced. Camden’s books highlight the strength of women while wrapping these characters in unique plots and creative storylines. These are some of the most compelling reasons you should read her books and why I chose A Desperate Hope as a book I love.
But romantics don’t dismay. There is definitely a love story here. “I can’t help but hope that we can recapture what we once had, but this time do it right,” is the lynchpin of the love letter Alex rights to Eloise upon her return to the big city. She likens her love for him to “laughter and vigor and endless summer days.” This is the life she’d once tasted with him but was forced to abandon and forever regret. Eloise chose a logical approach to her personal life and while that was the sensible, and possibly only, option at the time, she now teeters on the choice of leaving the life she’s built behind and recapturing the love she’d once lost.