Please join me today in welcoming Andrew Darlington from Counterfeit Hope to the blog to chat about his journey from curmudgeon to hero, with a little help from his author, Crystal Caudill! I love this book – and Andrew – so much, and I can’t wait for you to ‘meet’ him!
My endorsement of Counterfeit Hope:
Crystal Caudill’s debut novel captivated me from word one, and her follow-up offering did exactly the same. Even if all it offered was a swoony romance and riveting historical suspense, that would be enough to keep readers glued to the pages. And yet… Full of emotional depth, complicated family dynamics, and tender redemption, Counterfeit Hope does more than entertain – it wraps the reader in grace. A fantastic sophomore novel from a fresh voice in the genre!
COUNTERFEIT HOPE by Crystal Caudill
SERIES: Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age #2
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romantic Suspense
RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2023
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.
Other Books In This Series
Crystal: It is release month for Counterfeit Hope, and it is my pleasure to introduce you to Andrew Darlington. If you read Counterfeit Love, you might remember him as a jerk-face and a definite antagonist to Broderick Cosgrove and Theresa Plane. However, Andrew proves himself to be more than meets the eye in Counterfeit Hope . . . and if he behaves in this interview, you’ll get a chance to see a little bit of the real him here too.
(And remember to check out the giveaway opportunities at the post’s bottom.)
Crystal: Well, Andrew, you survived Counterfeit Love and have obtained the coveted place of hero in Counterfeit Hope. Considering readers might not have had a favorable opinion of you after Counterfeit Love, why do you deserve to have the title hero?
Andrew: Deserve? Ha. Broderick doesn’t even deserve the title, much less me. I’m as fallible a man as the next. But, if doing the right thing, no matter the consequence makes me a hero, then so be it. I do my job to the best of my ability and then some. I pursue justice relentlessly. I may not have the charming manners of Josiah Isaacs or the diplomatic skills of Broderick, but I’m not a man who shirks his duties or shrinks back from the truth.
Crystal: You don’t shrink back from the truth, huh? What about that small little detail of your criminal history? You weren’t very forthcoming about that. For a man so intent on justice and truth, why did you keep that secret?
Andrew: The Secret Service has strict guidelines regarding whom they will hire for their operatives. They must be men with pristine histories, middle to upper-class families, and irreproachable moral character. Men who demonstrate the Service’s core values of justice, duty, courage, honesty, and loyalty.
My original family was indeed a group of notorious criminals who left me to rot in jail during a robbery gone wrong. But my adoptive family—my real family—were honorable and raised me to be the man I am today. My past is irrelevant. Christ has made me a new creature, and I have walked away from that life so thoroughly that it is as if it never existed. There was no need to bring it up, and since they didn’t ask, I didn’t offer. Working for Secret Service is a way for me to right all the wrongs of my past life, and I stand by my choice.
CC: All right, I’ll concede to you being a changed man even if I disagree with you hiding your past. We could probably get into a debate here about how being a changed man in Christ should be reflected in how you treat others, but I’ll spare our readers the debate.
Andrew: I realize I can be brusque, and my words can tend toward tactlessness, but I do treat others fair, and I do concern myself with the welfare of others. For instance, in this case, I am working undercover as a traveling doctor who sells nostrums. However, I will not sell a lie. The medicine I sell comes from my adoptive grandmother and has curative powers. When I saw the pastor’s wife needed a great deal of support for her illness, I gave her all the bottles she needed without charge. So I do care about people. I just don’t think people should be mollycoddled or my good deeds banded about.
Crystal: My apologies. Obviously, I hit on a sore spot. Let’s move on. When you arrived in Landkreis to start your investigation, one of the first people you met was Lu. Tell me a little bit about her.
Andrew: Lu is a beautiful woman who wields that beauty like a weapon. The first time I met her, she pickpocketed my partner, Josiah Isaacs, of every bill he carried. I warned the man to not keep it all in one spot. I called her out and made her return the wallet, but she’s quick and sly. She returned the wallet—empty—and was out the door before we realized it.
I’ll admit her skill impressed me, but that is as far as my appreciation of her went. I would have been content to never see her again. But the Lord had other, more annoying, plans that involved her becoming a constant presence in my life. I can’t tell you how many times she’s stolen my wallet and I’ve had to retrieve it from her.
As much as the woman frustrates me, a part of me feels sorry for her. She’s a member of the Thorne gang, and Clint Thorne is aggressive and possessive of her. I’ve seen the bruises that hint at abuse. Heard the threats that point to her theft and seductive ways being more about self-preservation than evidence of deprivation of character. She’s a widowed mother doing the best she can for her son. I can admire her for that.
Honestly, the more I get to know her, the more I’m confused by her. She presents to the world a crafty, duplicitous criminal, but I’ve seen glimpses of a woman with noble character and heart searching for something beyond the life she’s living. Our situation has challenged my faith in ways I never fathomed possible.
Crystal: You said Lu is part of the Thorne gang. Who are they?
Andrew: They’re the reason the US Marshals and Secret Service have partnered together for this case. They’ve taken over a rural area of Indiana through violence, theft, and forcing the counterfeit coins they produce upon people. Even the local police are afraid to stand against them, and the gang members spread across several counties.
However, the core members of the gang are a single family unit consisting of Ma Frances, Cyrus, Clint, Priscill, Lu, and her young son, Oscar Thorne. This family . . . well . . . *clears throat* they’re my former family. Well, minus Lu and Oscar. Lu married my brother Irvine who was recently killed. His death, and consequently his grave, is why they’ve settled in the area.
Crystal: Whoa! Wait a second. They’re your family?
Andrew: My former family. I lay no claim to them, and arresting them at the end of this case will be all that remains to truly put that past behind me. I’ll have come full circle once they are behind bars and unable to continue committing the same—and worse—crimes as when I was a member of their family. I will finally have closure and the peace that I hadn’t realized was evading me. However, revealing my connection to Thornes will have its own consequences.
Josiah and my superiors aren’t likely to trust me anymore. The reality is this case may be the one that ends my career. I did not lie directly, but the lie of omission has caught up to me in the most terrible way possible. However, the truth is the truth, and if I am to escape my past, I’ll need to put each member of the Thorne gang behind bars. Including Lu.
Although that last necessity has created conflicting feelings that I would never have expected. Lu may be a Thorne, but in some ways, she is as unwillingly trapped in that family as I was by being born into it. But she has committed crimes, and she must pay for those, just as I did after my arrest. After she and the other Thornes are arrested, Oscar will be left to the mercies of the court system. Unless I, as his uncle, take him under my wing, just as my adoptive parents did.
This case is by far my most difficult challenge. No matter how I look at it, my life is going to be forever changed by it.
Crystal: Uhh, yeah. About that . . . as the author behind your story, I just want to say, don’t blame me for how this story goes. It totally wasn’t what I planned for you, but God has been the author of your story as much as He has been mine. And while we all must walk through some tough stuff, when we get to the other side, we can generally look back and see His hand in our lives. I hope you can do the same at the end of your story.
Andrew: I don’t like the sound of that. What if I refuse to walk through the story you’ve laid out?
Crystal: It’s too late. The story is already printed and out in the readers’ hands. I guess you’ll find out how this story goes every time someone opens Counterfeit Hope. Part of me is laughing maniacally at that thought, and the other part is scared to death. So, Andrew, take a deep breath and be prepared. This story is going to take you through the wringer.
Crystal Caudill is the author of “dangerously good historical romance,” with her work garnering awards from Romance Writers of America and ACFW. She is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, and when she isn’t writing, Crystal can be found playing board games with her family, drinking hot tea, or reading other great books at her home outside Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at crystalcaudill.com.
Those who would like to receive the prequel novella to the Hidden Hearts Series, Counterfeit Truth, for free can learn more and sign up for Crystal’s newsletters at bit.ly/CounterfeitTruth
Crystal Caudill is offering a signed, print copy of Counterfeit Hope OR Counterfeit Love to one of my readers! (Open internationally. If winner is outside the US, book marks and a signed bookplate will be mailed separately as the book will be mailed through BookDepository.com. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Counterfeit Hope by Crystal Caudill?