Showing posts with label cincinnati. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cincinnati. Show all posts

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Work With All My Heart

Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 

My grandson floated back to his seat on a cloud of joy.

I’m a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds. Twenty-twenty-two hasn’t been their best year, yet they still show up and work hard. Due to decisions from management, we lost some good players, but the ones left on the team, like Votto, Farmer, and India put in the effort and play their hearts out.

They work out, practice, and show up, even through injury, and use their God-given talent to play the game. Recently my daughter, Maggie, and my grands, Dylan and Zeke, and I attended a game. Zeke loves baseball and plays on a summer team. As he and I entered the stadium, he hoped to catch a practice ball from the opposing team. He not only caught one, the player for the Marlins signed it. Then when he saw the Reds players in the dugout, he hustled over and thought he might have a shot at an autograph on the ball he brought with him. He held the ball out and none other than Joey Votto autographed it. Votto and the Marlins player didn’t have to autograph anything, but they took their job beyond what was expected.

In Colossians 3:23-24, Paul gives a directive that whatever we work at, whether at home, at a job, or in the church, work as if it is for the Lord. God has given each one of us different talents. We can use those talents to glorify Him by doing our best and going beyond what’s expected. It’s easy to get discouraged in a job, but sometimes we have to choose to do our best despite the circumstances. I worked for many years in libraries, where I was challenged and frustrated at times. When that happened, I had to pray or the discouragement would overwhelm me. The same with my writing. I doubt myself, but have to remember God is the One who called me to write.

In whatever I do, I strive to work with all my heart and do my best.

Work with all your heart to glorify God.

Monday, June 13, 2022

New Fiona Books

Fiona is back with two delightful stories for beginning readers. On the train, the animals get to travel through the zoo on their way to meet the baby red panda. In school, the animals get to teach each other about something important to them. With humor and comradery Cowdrey and Wu have created books kids will enjoy. The illustrations are colorful and appealing. 


Fiona's Train Ride by Richard Cowdrey with Donald Wu

Fiona wants to visit the new baby red panda, but it is so far! What better way to get around the zoo than the fun and fast zoo train. Young readers will enjoy learning more about Fiona and her friends in this Level One I Can Read about the little hippo that has captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality. 

Fiona Goes to School by Richard Cowdrey with Donald Wu

Fiona and a few of her animal friends attend zoo school for the very first time and find out just how fun it is to learn new things in the classroom. Young readers will enjoy learning more about Fiona and her friends in this Level One I Can Read about the little hippo that has captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Historical Romance Review: Counterfeit Love by Crystal Caudill

Book Description:
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.

My Thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed Crystal Caudill's debut novel. Her research on the Secret Service and the Gilded Age shines as she sets the stage for Theresa and Broderick's story on the streets of Cincinnati. Theresa's plucky personality and Broderick's determination create an intriguing and at times dangerous story. The romance, danger, and secrets jump off the page as the characters scramble to figure out who is behind the counterfeiting and to what extent they'll go for love. If you enjoy historical romance with suspense and intrigue, you'll love Counterfeit Love. I look forward to more from this brand-new author. I purchased Counterfeit Love. My opinions are my own.

Check out Crystal's interview: Crystal Caudill

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

An Interview with Debut Author Crystal Caudill and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Hope for Today's Heart, Crystal. I've been reading Counterfeit Love, and I have to say I'm loving it. You've captured my reader's heart with your incredible story of intrigue, suspense, and romance. 

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 isnt writing, Caudill 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

Q: I like to read the back cover description, but its always interesting to hear the author describe their book in their own words. Will you introduce us to your debut release, Counterfeit Love? 

From the very first moment I read True Detective Stories by A. L. Drummond, I became hooked on the fascinating history of the Secret Service. For nearly three decades before the first president was protected, the Secret Services primary purpose was to thwart counterfeiters and their schemes to make money at the cost of the nations economy. Oftentimes, chasing those criminals required going undercover. Enter the inspiration for the plot of Counterfeit Love. More than just an exciting plot, I wanted a romance story where real love and relationships are portrayed as messy and complicated. The ones we love most can and usually do hurt us the worst. How we respond to those hurts profoundly impacts ourselves and those around us. When I wove all those elements together, I ended up with Counterfeit Lovea story of dangerous betrayals, malicious counterfeiters, and the second chance romance between an undercover Secret Service operative and his former fiancé. 

Six years ago, Broderick Cosgrove left his former fiancé Theresa Plane as a means of protecting her. When he discovers her entangled with the schemes of the dangerous counterfeiting ring hes investigating, he risks his career to prove her innocence and rescue her from deadly threats. Having experienced jilted love once, Theresas determined to choose a safe, secure future for herself and to rid her militant grandfather of the debt that has dogged them for years. When past and present betrayals collide, Theresa is confronted with the uncertainty of who she can trust. Can she lean into the man who once abandoned her? And what about God—the one whos stripping everything from her?

Q: In writing a historical novel, you could have chosen any place and any time. Why Cincinnati in 1884?

There are many reasons why the setting had to be Cincinnati in 1884. On a personal level, I moved to the Cincinnati area after getting married, and my initial dive into research was simply because I wanted to explore the history of my new home. However, it veered quickly away from personal to necessary. During my study of the Secret Service, I discovered that Cincinnati was one of the top five counterfeiting centers in the country during the first few decades of the Secret Services existence. I read about multiple cases in the city, and one in particular excited my imagination and kick-started the idea for Counterfeit Love. 

The reason I chose 1884 has to do more specifically with Cincinnatis flood history. In February 1883, Cincinnati experienced a catastrophic flood that devastated the local economy. Many families and businesses were still reeling from its effects when a second, even worse, flood struck exactly one year later. Sandwiching my story between the two floods gave Theresas family a final push into financial ruin and allowed for an exciting climax where waters rise again and threaten to destroy all Theresa has left. In addition, 1884 set my operatives right in the middle of a time when the Secret Service was reinventing its practices and struggling to gain autonomy in its powers as a law enforcement agency. The combination of reasons brought a wonderful dynamic to the story that was fun to explore.

Q: What situation does Theresa find herself in, through no fault of her own? Or is she really as innocent in everything going on around her?

Various betrayals work against Theresa throughout her history and present, not the least of which is the betrayal from her grandfather. While their debt developed through a combination of poor business choices, her misadventures, and reoccurring illness, it is ultimately his handling of that debt that leaves Theresa fighting for her home and her future. She is innocent of his poor choices, yet she is the one to pay the consequences and have her reputation clouded by a suspicion of criminal acts.

Even though Theresa is innocent of any criminal involvement, she is not innocent in all things. Like everyone else, she is responsible for her reactions and choices. Through her experiences growing up and now reenforced by Grandfathers betrayal, Theresa has learned to be self-reliant and rarely listens to the wise counsel of those around her. Unfortunately, her self-reliant decisions compound her problems, and her situation grows from dangerous to dire. 

Q: Why does Theresa think her grandfathers problems are hers? Does he know how involved she is in trying to pay off his debts? He has tried to protect her in all other aspects of life, why hasnt he protected her from the situation at hand? 

Family relationships can be strange things. Though not always the case, we tend to make allowances for the family members closest to us, even when they hurt us. Loyaltythough undeserved from the outsideis freely given. For Theresa, her grandfather is the only family she has left. Shes staunchly loyal to him because she recognizes the sacrifice he made in choosing to keep her with him after her parents died. Shes also keenly aware of the financial burden shes added through her many misadventures and fragile health. She wrestles with the knowledge not all of his choices have been wise or even made in her best interest, but she loves him and is loyal to him anyway. 

Knowing that Grandfather is a proud man, Theresa tried to keep her involvement in paying off debts secret. However, he isnt unaware. He doesnt want her help, nor does he approve, but he doesnt stop her either. Their debt situation has become the least of his worries, and hes more focused on getting them out of a danger far worse than unpaid debts.

Q: What is the faith message in the story? Do you always know what part faith is going to play when you start out writing a book? 

I rarely know what part faith will play when I start writing a book. Sometimes I have an idea, but rarely does it stay the same. For me, writing is an act of holding my hand open and saying, Okay, God. What do you want to do with this story?Oftentimes, it ends up paralleling a growing experience in my faith. For example, in Counterfeit Love, Theresa wrestles with whether or not she can trust and love God, even if He strips everything away from her. It is the same question I struggled through as I wrote the story and experienced two of the hardest years of my life. Id never been so stripped of my faith, and neither had Theresa. 

We all walk into our faith with preconceived notions of how God shows love to us. If He doesnt behave in a way we think He should, it rocks our world and causes us to distrust His goodness. But He is always good, and His ways are not our ways. We all reach a point in our faith when we must decide if we will choose to love and trust Him in those even if seasons of our lives. And that struggle is at the heart of Counterfeit Loves faith message.

Q: What is a brief history of why and how you first came about wanting to write novels?

A: I’ve always written as a way to process and escape the challenges of my life. I never had any intention of publishing. At. All. However, when God wants something, nothing is going to stop His plans. I’m a teacher at heart and I love to learn. For my 30th birthday, my husband bought me a ticket to a small local writer’s conference I’d seen an ad for but never told him about. (God moment #1.) I went to this conference by myself, knowing no one, and the first person I met introduced me to the concept of ACFW, and then introduced me to Gregg and Hallee Bridgeman. I’ll never forget Gregg asking me why wasn’t I pursuing publishing. Did I believe God had give me these stories? Well, yeah but… (God moment #2) I brushed it off, but he’d planted the seed. Then all but one of the classes I’d chosen on writing craft got canceled last minute, leaving only publishing classes left. (God moment #3) I left that conference certain that God was calling me to pursue publishing . . . but I fought with Him for six months over it. He won. From that point on, it’s been a journey of obedience to Him. I am excited and bless to be published, but it was honestly something I never wanted without His pushing. Now all I want is for whatever I write to glorify His name and to encourage others in their walk with Christ.

Q: What pulled you toward writing suspense over other genres, then more specifically romantic suspense, then more specifically historical romantic suspense, and...  why Christian/inspiration fiction? 

A:Wow, thats sort of a loaded question. Why romantic suspense? While I wouldnt change my childhood, it had lots of struggles that made stories of danger and adventure a necessary escape. I needed to see that if others could survive things much worse than what I was going through, I could survive this. The historical aspect came into play through my love of history, and frankly the fact that I needed an escape as far from the here and now as possible. What better place than in a completely different century?

I didnt grow up in a Christian household, and it wasnt until eighth grade, through the influence of a middle school teacher and a group of friends, that I came to know Christ personally. By then, I was into some pretty smutty reading, and it went on until I accidentally discovered Janette Okes When Calls the Heart. While the first book made an impact on me, it was the second and third books in the series that really taught me what God-honoring love looks like. It literally changed my life and what I read from then on out. With the exception of the classics and a few books labeled clean reads, I only read Christian/Inspirational fiction now. God calls each author to their own target audience, and I feel like Hes called me to write for the Christian community. Not that He wouldnt make Counterfeit Love reach those who arent, but my focus is on entertaining and encouraging those who already have faith in Christ.

Q: Counterfeit Love is the first in a series. Can you give us a tease of what to expect as the Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series continues?

In book two, Counterfeit Hope, readers will get a surprising view of Andrew Darlingtonan operative who has little tact and tends to see things in black in white. Readers and the heroine will discover that hes not quite the man he appears to be and is worthy of the title hero. However, hes been harboring a secret from his superiors. He spent his childhood as a member of a criminal family before being adopted by his arresting officer. When a case brings him face-to-face with his former family, his character comes into question despite all hes done to earn his sterling reputation. Matters only worsen when the woman who captures his attentionand possibly his affectionsis the wrong kind of woman for a Secret Service operative. A pickpocket and former prostitute.

In book three, Counterfeit Faith, Josiah Isaacss charming ways get put to the test when he partners with the matron of Final Chance House of Refuge. Someone is using the institution for children convicted of crimes as a cover for their participation in a green goods game, and theyre willing to silence anyone who poses a threat to their operations, including the matron and children who are forced to participate. 

Thank you, Crystal for visiting. Readers, here is Crystal's info and a chance to win prizes.

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BOOK LAUNCH GIVEAWAY: This giveaway is going on across multiple sites.


Grand Prize - Counterfeit Love Book Box - a signed print copy of Counterfeit Love and an Always Bookedtote full with surprises related to the story to be opened when as they read and reach matching post it notes.


Runner Up - Winners choice of a signed print copy of Counterfeit Love or e-book, a pair of bookish socks, and a I Love Big Booksbookmark


2nd Runner Up - Winners choice of a signed print copy of Counterfeit Love or e-book and a Read More Bookszipper bag with paper bookmarks


Fine Print: Physical prizes only available to those living in the contiguous United States who are legally eligible to win. Non-contiguous U.S. and  International winners will get an unsigned copy of the book through Book Depository if available and the author will mail a signed book plate and bookmark.


Drawing runs from 12:01 a.m. March 1st to 11:59 p.m. (EST) March 31st. The winner will be randomly picked via Rafflecopter on April 1st.


The winner will be emailed during the first week of April and will have 7 days to respond before a new winner is drawn. Please add to your contacts list to ensure you receive your email.


Rafflecopter Link: