Counterfeit Love by Crystal Caudill – Book Review

Posted March 15, 2022 by Phyllis Helton in Book Reviews, Debut Author /

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Counterfeit Love by Crystal Caudill – Book Review

Counterfeit Love

by Crystal Caudill

Series: Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age #1
Series Rating:
Published by Kregel Publications
Publication Date March 15, 2022
Genres: Action/Adventure, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Clean Romance
Setting: Ohio Gilded Age – US – 1875 – 1900
Main Character Ages: 25-34
Written for: Adults
Pages: 336


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 fiancée 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.

Combining rich history, danger, suspense, and romance, Crystal Caudill's debut novel launches this new historical series with a bang. Fans of Elizabeth Camden, Michelle Griep, and Joanna Davidson Politano will be thrilled to find another author to follow!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

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It is so delightful to love a book I’ve read that is by a debut author! I’ve seen how writers generally improve over time, so when a debut author hits it out of the park, it makes me so happy for them.

Starting out with a bang, Crystal Caudill’s debut novel, Counterfeit Love, is a book to cheer for. The plot was gripping, the premise believable, the characters endearing, the message of faith was strong and clear… What more could I ask for? Oh, right, there was enough well-placed humor to keep the story from becoming dark and sinister. Yay!

After Broderick disappeared from Theresa’s life years earlier, she was convinced he didn’t care and wasn’t to be trusted. It was clear he had plenty of secrets as well. I loved how they kept trying to trust the other and then encountered something else that caused them to doubt.

Theresa’s grief and fear over the circumstances she found herself in were palpable. I was able to put myself in her shoes and feel what she did. It was so easy to see why she felt she had been abandoned by God.

I had one of the characters pegged for what he was, yet I was making up all kinds of stories about what was going to happen with at least a few of the others that were way off base. It was fun trying to guess what was going to happen and who the culprits were.

I was engrossed from the start and was glad to have had uninterrupted reading time so I didn’t have to wait long to find out what was happening next. The mystery and danger were quite compelling. I also loved the historical aspects of the story and learning about things like counterfeiting in the 1880s.

Readers who enjoy historical fiction with suspense, mystery, and romance will want to read Counterfeit Love. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author!

Interview with Crystal

Why do you write Christian Fiction?

I have always been an avid reader, mostly for the sense of escape from the challenge of life. However, I didn’t exactly grow up in a Christian home. Sure we knew of Jesus and went to church on occasion, but His teachings didn’t guide what I read or watched. Enter the vulnerable years of middle and high school, and I discovered romance stories that were anything but godly. I ate up anything I could get my hands on, and somehow Janette Oke’s When Calls the Heart ended up in my hands. Other than by God’s provision, I still don’t know how it happened However, it was through reading her Canadian West series that I witnessed what real love and marriage should look like when guided by God. I was a new Christian, and it totally rocked my world and completely shifted my worldview. I write Christian fiction because God changed my life through a story I’d only picked up to be entertained by. It is my hope that those who read my novels will not only be entertained but see how much God loves and cares for them. No matter their situation.

What did God teach you through the writing of Counterfeit Love?

Oh my, that is a big question. I even wrote a longer post in the bonus content of my website detailing just how God used that story to teach me to love Him even if everything I know and love was stripped from me. The short of it is while writing this story, my grandmother on the opposite side of the country was diagnosed with terminal cancer on top of her dementia and Parkinson’s disease. My mother spent almost two years spending more time out west with her, than home. Just as it should be. However, during this time, my mother-in-law was also suffering massive complications from a hip surgery. I didn’t have my mom, my husband was doing a lot of traveling, I had two preteen boys, and I was caregiving in a fragile situation. I was completely stripped of everything I’d come to rely on. I distinctly remember seeing my life as a rope that had been stripped of everything but one silver, unbreakable thread. Jesus Christ. It was through this experience that, like my characters, I learned to love and trust God even if in my darkest seasons of life.

You can read the full story here:

Why did you choose to write about the Secret Service?

Everyone knows the Secret Service as the men and women in black uniforms who protect the president, but few know the department’s original purpose. I didn’t until I stumbled upon it, and once I did, I was completely captivated. You see, the Secret Service only informally protected the president part-time until 1902, but the department was created in 1865. For over thirty years, their primary focus was to arrest counterfeiters. I absolutely adored diving into that research and bringing to life a story that shows only a very small part of what they did. You can learn more about their history by visiting

What fascinating facts did you discover while researching for Counterfeit Love?

I spent years researching everything from Cincinnati in the 1880s to details of how counterfeiters and Secret Service operatives ran their operations. For space sake, I’ll give you my top three favorite facts.

  1. Cincinnati experienced two historic floods almost exactly a year apart. In fact, the 1884 flood crested on February 14th while the 1883 flood crested on February 15th. The 1884 flood is still Cincinnati’s second highest flood, superseded only by the 1937 flood. Since then, the Ohio River has been dammed in such a way that the flow of the river has been forever altered.
  2. The Secret Service didn’t have the authority to obtain arrest and search warrants, or even the ability to authority criminals on their own until almost the 1900s. They required the aid of local police or the U.S. Marshals in order to do so. One way they got around arresting criminals is by using citizen’s arrests when necessary.
  3. Long before the Miranda Rights were a thing, the Secret Service informed criminals of their right to remain silent. Anything said could and would be used against them in the court of law. This practice came about because criminals of the day were used to a practically universal policy of immediately ratting out other people during their arrest in order to be let go without consequence. This is different than the plea deals we think of today. Criminals literally just volunteered information at their arrest and were let go without being charged for their crime. 

You like to choose a ministry to support with every book you release. What ministry did you choose for Counterfeit Love and why?

Part of the setting of Counterfeit Love is the print shop Theresa’s grandfather owns. Through a service project done with my church small group, I discovered a Cincinnati Bible printing ministry called Bearing Precious Seed. During this service project, we actually went to their printing facility, got a tour, and helped to assemble over 1000 Bibles. Bearing Precious Seed provides God’s word free of charge to missionaries and national pastors all over the world. Since 1973, they have priced and given away nearly 200 million copies of Scripture in more than 60 languages to be distributed within over 130 countries. You can find out more about their ministry on my website or by visiting their website

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About Crystal Caudill

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

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