As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne 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, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.
A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden is the second novel in An Empire State Novel series. It is June 1908 in Jersey City, New Jersey when Dr. John Lael and Dr. Rosalind Werner, a biochemist, get the verdict on a two-year court case for which they were consultants. They have ninety days to prove their case that chlorine can prevent waterborne diseases in the water supply. It is a controversial idea and people are against a toxic chemical being added to their drinking water. How can they prove chlorine will not harm people? Nicholas Drake spoke for the opposition in court and is up for the position of Commissioner of State Water Board of New York. Dr. Lael suggests they meet with Nicholas Drake and try to bring him over to their side. Nicholas is instantly attracted to Rosalind, but she cannot change his mind about the chlorine argument. Nicholas is hoping that after the legal case is closed, he can court Rosalind and make her his wife. Rosalind enjoys spending time with Nicholas, but she is afraid of what will happen when her secrets come to light. But when Nicholas uncovers the duplicity, he sets out to wage a war in the court of public opinion. In the midst of this turmoil, an unknown enemy has set their sights on Rosalind and intends to destroy her. Who is behind this maliciousness?
A Daring Venture may be the second novel in An Empire State Novel series, but it can be read alone. The author provides the necessary background on Nicholas Drake (his sister, Lucy was featured in A Dangerous Legacy). I thought A Daring Venture was well-written and had charming main characters. Nicholas Drake is a handsome, down to earth man who can be exasperating. Rosalind is an intelligent woman who wants to help prevent disease. She is naïve, though, in the ways of the world (men) and cannot explain science in a way that normal people can understand. The characters are realistic with good traits and flaws (like Nicholas’ impulsiveness and quick temper). I found the premise fascinating. We take for granted that we have safe drinking water, but rarely think about how it came about. It was obvious the author did her research for the book and she managed to explain the process in a way that lay people can understand. The story is based on real life events which the author explains at the end of the book. I thought that the era was captured with the descriptions of the clothing, buildings, and attitudes. I laughed at Rosalind’s fear of using the new fangled subway. The romance was not over-the-top, nor did it dominate the story. The battle over the water and the mystery of the unknown enemy are intertwined with the romance between Nicholas and Rosalind. I especially enjoyed the humorous moments and lines (added levity). I liked that the author included Lucy and Colin in the story. We get to find out what is happening in their lives. I was not thrilled with Rosalind’s sister-in-law, Ingrid. I did not like her poor attitude or how she treated Rosalind. The faith element was very light in A Daring Venture which is unusual for this author. Elizabeth Camden sets the stage for A Desperate Hope (2019) which will provide us with Eloise Drake’s story. A Daring Venture is an engaging, multi-faceted story.