I am excited to share an ARC review with you this afternoon. I received a copy of A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden from the publisher a few months ago in exchange for an honest review. I was excited when this book came unexpectedly in the mail. I love Elizabeth Camden’s historical fiction novels. Check out some of my other reviews here.
It took me some time to get into this novel. And that wasn’t because of this novel itself. I was distracted by traveling, hosting visitors, reading other books, and lacking a bit of motivation to really get into this one. Finally, I was invested in the story and had to finish it. This is another fascinating novel about a relatively unknown time period in American history. Plus, I love the romance!
- One of my favorite things about Elizabeth’s books are her unique time periods. She writes such vibrant stories about critical moments in American history that I often didn’t know existed. In this one, she focuses on the pivotal fight for clean drinking water in America. And as always, her research and attention to detail is impressive.
- Fun fact, this is actually the second book in Camden’s Empire State series. But it reads just fine as a stand alone novel. I believe the first book follows Nick’s sister and her journey towards success and love. We also get more background on Nick’s family feud which would probably help contextualize some of the scenes in this novel. I would like to read that one!
- It took me a bit longer to get into this novel. But I loved it by the end.
According to Goodreads, “As a biochemist in early 1900s New York City, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against water-borne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city—but only if she can get people to believe in her work. Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team’s techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist. While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, these two rivals will face higher stakes than they ever could have known.”
The historical context surrounding the chlorination of drinking water was truly fascinating. As usual, I learned so much about this time in American history. And Elizabeth built her fictional story around a true historical moment. Even some of the characters really did work on chlorinating drinking water. I’m impressed by the way she seamlessly created her story within history. I am grateful that clean water is the norm now. And that my children will not be affected by water born diseases like cholera. It was heartbreaking to read the prologue.
I really enjoy Elizabeth’s writing style and the ways she builds her stories. We begin in the middle of the story (as we usually do in her novels). And slowly she offers more details that connect the backstories with the present ones. Additionally, Elizabeth creates vibrant settings surrounding her characters. I enjoy her descriptions of New York City and the laboratory where Rosalind works. I appreciated the details about what was in Sadie’s nursery and in Rosalind’s kitchen. And of course, I always enjoy the love story that develops in Elizabeth’s novels. This one was a little different with the stolen kiss early on in the story and I enjoyed seeing how so many experiences brought Rosalind and Nick together in the end.
I enjoyed the dual perspective in this novel. Elizabeth usually uses this technique in her books and I enjoy getting inside both the main characters’ heads. It’s fun to compare the way they see the same events and how they interact with each other. I think Nick’s perspective was my favorite. He was so loyal, passionate, and kind. I enjoyed learning more about his background and seeing his perspective when he interacted with Rosalind. Her perspective was also enjoyable but she did annoy me sometimes were her almost obsession with keeping her past secret, and her strained relationships with her family. I think she could have done more to avoid some of the outbursts in the novel.
A few specific spoilers coming up in the next paragraph!
There were a few parts in this novel that were less realistic and hindered the overall story for me. The crazy aunt was a bit intense especially when she framed Rosalind for fraud. The fact that Rosalind is in jail when the chlorination court order passes is so sad! Also the way Nick’s aunt dies and tries to frame Nick for murder–a bit over the top for me. It seems that Nick and Rosalind are trying to be together for the whole novel and so many things stand in their way. Finally they seem to be getting close to overcoming everything and forgiving each other–then his aunt does several especially crazy things to hinder them a bit longer. I just didn’t think that was effective or necessary to the story.
Overall, another lovely novel from Elizabeth! Thank you for the ARC!
What are your favorite historical novel time periods?
And have you read Elizabeth Camden’s novels yet?