Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical romance novels set in Gilded Age America, featuring clever heroines and richly layered storylines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Award and have appeared on the CBA bestsellers list. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books.
In this interview Elizabeth discusses her latest book—and new series—Carved in Stone, The Blackstone Legacy Series.
FF: Can you describe the plot of Carved in Stone?
Carved in Stone is the start of a new trilogy featuring members of the Blackstone family, a powerful clan who earned their fortune as bankers in Gilded Age New York City. Gwen Blackstone is a widowed heiress who has withdrawn from the family to live a quiet life of seclusion as a botanist at a small college. Although leave the tragedies of the Blackstone family behind, a thirty-year old mystery has drawn her back into the fold. Patrick O’Neill is the Irish lawyer hired by Blackstone enemies to resurrect the mystery.
Although this is the start of a trilogy, the novel has a satisfying ending with no cliffhangers and stands entirely on its own.
FF: What are some of the selling points of this novel?
• The romance is an opposites-attract romance between a refined American heiress and an Irish immigrant who has clawed his way out of poverty to become a lawyer for the downtrodden.
• This book delves into the little-known and fascinating history behind the creation of the United States Steel Corporation. At the time of its creation, U.S. Steel was the largest company in the world, and its steel was used to power the industrial revolution.
• The novel has a brisk pace that is rich with real-life historical events but still has a dramatic, larger-then-life feel.
FF: For readers who are new to your novels, can you describe your writing style and how you fit in the inspirational genre?
My novels are all set in Gilded Age America and highlight fascinating but lesser-known historical events, such as how water technology revolutionized New York City in the Empire State Series, or how the government became involved in food and drug regulation in the Hope & Glory Series. I consider myself a romance novelist, so at the heart of each story is a powerfully moving romantic relationship. My characters are usually a little older than those typically appearing in inspirational fiction. Both the male and female leads always have interesting professions that keep them squarely involved in shaping the historical events, so readers who are looking for non-traditional romance heroines may find these novels of interest.
Dramatic historical events are usually accompanied by challenging ethical issues, and my novels grapple with both the ethics of the events as well as how our Christian faith can serve as a guidepost in navigating moral dilemmas. The spiritual messages lean toward the subtle side of the inspirational genre and should appeal both to inspirational and mainstream audiences.
FF: Is there any significance behind the title Carved in Stone?
Gwen and Patrick, the two lead characters of the book, both come from a background of broken vows and promises. As such, they are cautious about entering into a romantic commitment, especially since they come from such wildly divergent backgrounds and the possibility of heartache is huge. Patrick vows early in the novel that he will never marry until he is certain the vows can be carved in stone for all time.
FF: What role do spiritual themes play in this novel?
The novel begins as a family tragedy from the past rises to the surface to disrupt the lives of the Blackstone family. The perpetrators of the crime were never caught or punished, but there is now a possibility for justice. The case takes a shocking twist, forcing all the main characters to examine themes of forgiveness and how to make sense of the tragedies that a loving God has allowed to happen.
FF: What is the takeaway message you’d like readers to have from this novel?
With all my novels, I hope the reader feels like they’ve learned something new while enjoying a complex and thrilling love story. In this novel I also address some of the challenges brought about by complicated family dynamics. The takeaway message is about how to savor the blessings of family and community, while learning to accept imperfections inherent in this beautiful but fallen world.
Carved in Stone
The Blackstone Legacy Series #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2021
Her gilded world holds a deeply hidden secret.
After years of tragedy, Gwen Kellerman now lives a quiet life as a botanist at an idyllic New York college. She largely ignores her status as heiress to the infamous Blackstone dynasty and hopes to keep her family’s heartbreak and scandal behind her.
Patrick O’Neill survived a hardscrabble youth to become a lawyer for the downtrodden Irish immigrants in his community. He’s proud of his work, even though he struggles to afford his ramshackle law office. All that changes when he accepts a case that is sure to emphasize the Blackstones’ legacy of greed and corruption by resurrecting a thirty-year-old mystery.
Little does Patrick suspect that the Blackstones will launch their most sympathetic family member to derail him. Gwen is tasked with getting Patrick to drop the case, but the old mystery takes a shocking twist neither of them saw coming. Now, as they navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger, Patrick and Gwen will be forced to decide if the risk to the life they’ve always held dear is worth the reward.
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