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When you hear the words “Secret Service,” what do you think? The men in suits strategically spaced around the President of the United States, right? Did you know that the original purpose of the Secret Service was to catch counterfeiters and thwart their schemes to make money at the cost of the nation’s economy? It would be more than three decades before the agency would protect their first president. When author Crystal Caudill first read a story and learned that fact, she became hooked on the fascinating history of the Secret Service. In fact, that fascination became the inspiration for her debut novel, Counterfeit Love (Kregel Publications), and she hopes her readers are lured in by the history as well.
Part 2 of an Interview with Crystal Caudill,
Author of Counterfeit Love
Q: We can always read the back cover description of a book, 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 Service’s primary purpose was to thwart counterfeiters and their schemes to make money at the cost of the nation’s 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 Love—a 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 he’s investigating, he risks his career to prove her innocence and rescue her from deadly threats. Having experienced jilted love once, Theresa’s 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 who’s 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 Service’s 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 Cincinnati’s 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 Theresa’s 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: Tell us about Broderick, the Secret Service Operative. What part has he played in Thresas past, and how does he cross paths with her again?
Broderick grew up in a family of detectives and has a deep sense of justice and the need to protect others, especially Theresa. Their mothers were close friends, and as a result, they grew up together. Theresa was always spirited and adventurous, and she often tagged along on Broderick’s cases. After her parents died, he took it upon himself to keep her close and protect her, as it was well-known that her grandfather was a militant curmudgeon. Their friendship developed into love, and they became engaged. However, after a betrayal left Theresa fighting for her life, Broderick believed the only way to protect her was to leave.
During his six-year absence, he became a Secret Service operative. When an undercover investigation leads him to a midnight meeting in a cemetery, he finds Theresa entangled with the counterfeiters he’s hunting. He must investigate her and her grandfather, but he cannot believe her guilty. While marriage is out of the question, he’s determined to protect her and prove her innocence. He will not fail her again.
Q: We think of the Secret Service today as the men and women in black suits within a certain perimeter protecting the President, but what was the original purpose of the Secret Service? 
I find the early days of the Secret Service incredibly fascinating and somewhat shrouded from public view. Most are familiar with their current black-suit role, but the Secret Service didn’t start unofficial part-time protection of the President until 1894, almost thirty years after their creation. While April 14, 1865 is most well-known for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, it was also the date Abraham Lincoln authorized Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCullough to create an organization whose sole purpose was to thwart the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. At that point in history, it is estimated that one-third of all circulating currency was counterfeit, and an unstable currency is a menace to the health and economy of a nation.
On July 5, 1865, William P. Wood was sworn in as the first Chief (now called Director) of the U.S. Secret Service. The organization’s first decade was fraught with questionable practices, scandal, and a negative public image. In the mid-1870s, policies and procedures were changed, but they remained an organization with little power on their own. They required the partnership of local police or U.S. Marshalls to make arrests, obtain warrants, and conduct searches. The challenges they faced were incredible and so fascinating. In 1867, their umbrella of investigations expanded beyond counterfeiting to include any frauds against the government. Some examples are investigating the Ku Klux Klan, nonconforming distillers, smugglers, mail robbers, land frauds, and so much more. However, it wasn’t until President McKinley’s assassination in 1901 that Congress requested official full-time Secret Service protection of U.S. presidents, and it was 1902 before the Secret Service assumed that duty. I could literally spend hours talking about the history of the Secret Service because I love it so much. In fact, I created a section on my website to share some of the information that wouldn’t fit into my story for those who are interested.
Q: What bonus features can readers find to go along with Counterfeit Love on your website?
Sometimes I tend to go a little overboard on things, including my bonus features section. I’ve created eight different special features that readers can peruse through. If you are a history nerd and love to learn all the research facts that an author can’t fit into a book, I’ve created a section called “A Brief History of the Secret Service.” There you can find where I’ve compiled a basic history as well as some of my favorite research facts. I’ve also created instructions for creating and deciphering route ciphers—the code which Grandfather used to hide his secrets. There is also a virtual tour of 1884 Cincinnati with a mixture of videos and information. “Even if . . . The Story Behind Counterfeit Love” gives you a deeper look behind the scenes, but wait until after you’ve read the book. There are spoilers in that section. You can also learn more about the ministry Counterfeit Love supports—Bearing Precious Seeds, a Bible printing ministry. I’ve also created a fun “Which Character Are You” quiz and a downloadable Book Club Kit. 
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 Darlington—an operative who has little tact and tends to see things in black in white. Readers and the heroine will discover that he’s not quite the man he appears to be and is worthy of the title hero. However, he’s 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 he’s done to earn his sterling reputation. Matters only worsen when the woman who captures his attention—and possibly his affections—is the wrong kind of woman for a Secret Service operative. A pickpocket and former prostitute.
In book three, Counterfeit Faith, Josiah Isaacs’s 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 they’re willing to silence anyone who poses a threat to their operations, including the matron and children who are forced to participate.  Click here for an excerpt. About the author Crystal Caudill is the author of “dangerously good historical romance,” with her work garnering awards from Romance Writers of America and ACFW. Counterfeit Love is her debut published novel.Caudill says that reading and writing are part of her soul and have been since she first held a crayon. While she considered writing to be an escape from challenges and struggles and a way to keep her sanity, Caudill would come to recognize that God used it as a teaching tool. “The stories came through my fingertips, but they were marked with His fingerprints,” she shares.As she delved into history and crafted her own stories of hope through danger, Caudill would answer the call to pursue writing as a career after her first writer’s conference. “My stories are still filled with danger, struggle, and history, but they are also permeated with the hope and love of Christ. I hope they are dangerously good. Good for the heart and for the soul.”She is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, and when she isn’t 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 or find her on Facebook (@crystalcaudillauthor) and Instagram (@crystalcaudillauthor). You can also join fellow readers in Crystal Caudill’s Reading Friends group on Facebook.