A Tour of 1880s Philadelphia

A Tour of 1880s Philadelphia

Counterfeit Truth and Counterfeit Faith take place in Philadelphia, and while so much of the city has stayed the same, much of it has changed. In this tour, I’m sharing pictures of settings from Counterfeit Faith during my whirlwind two-day tour of Philadelphia. First off, did you know that Philadelphia is only two miles from river to river? I couldn’t believe how much they had cram-packed into that little space, but WOW. So, in reality, the majority of my story took place within two square miles. That really just blows my mind. So let’s take off.

Of course, Carpenters Hall was under construction when I went.

The Philadelphia Library, where Josiah first laid eyes on Gwendolyn as he came down those stairs.

Carpenters Hall is where we must start our tour because, of course, that is where Gwendolyn first starts out waiting for Mr. Farwell. You might have caught on to my intentional pun with his name if you’ve read the book. Poor Mr. Farwell must say farewell during the story, and I just couldn’t help myself. Nothing about Independence Park is the same as when Counterfeit Faith took place. In 1885, Carpenter Hall sat in the center of a city block surrounded by other businesses and buildings. There were a couple of alleys to access it, but there was no direct view. If you notice the cobblestone part of the walkway, that was approximately the size of the entrance between buildings to access Carpenters Hall.


It was while leaving this building that Josiah first laid eyes on Gwendolyn. It’s a good thing he did too, and more importantly, he noticed Quincy’s knife blade. It was at this location that everything was set into motion for two people to come together to rescue at-risk children, find love, and face more than their share of danger.  For a woman who is used to being ignored or having to rescue herself, Josiah’s heroic intervention sets her heart aflutter and stirs dreams of romance that she’d long thought dead. Personally, I was a little giddy getting to stand on these steps and imagine the heroic rescue as it occurred. Of course, some of the buildings have been moved, and things don’t look 100% the way they did, but it was close enough to really enjoy the experience.


Houses that look like Josiah’s would have.

While the gorgeous houses on Arch Street described in the book no longer exist, I did see some houses that are similar in style. They’re larger than some of the other homes I found, and they had those stoops, shutters, and arched doorways that I was looking for. It was the best match I could find, and my mind relished imagining Josiah and Gwendolyn conversing on those steps.


Josiah worked for the Secret Service, which had offices in the unfinished City Hall building. When Josiah was there, the tower would not have been finished yet, nor would the giant William Penn statue have been on display. He worked in the judicial wing, and his office was hidden behind numbers without signage. He would have taken one of the sets of floating stairs to get to his floor of the building. These were such an architectural phenomenon that Wanamakers, the department store across the street, sold pamphlets and tours to show off those stairs. As you can see below, no supports are beneath it, just solid pieces of granite worked into the wall. Originally I had Josiah nervous to walk on them, but after having walked them myself, I knew Josiah wouldn’t have had a problem. They are so beautiful and fascinating I had to include pictures of all three views of the stairs.

Going back to Wanamaker. I don’t know if you caught it in the story, but Wanamaker’s was the department store where Gwendolyn’s mother and aunt worked. It was one of the first of its kind, offering set prices, return policies, various departments, artwork as fine as you would find in a gallery, and service for all levels of customers. Wanamaker was a brilliant man who helped to change the way people shopped. No more dickering and haggling over prices. Everyone paid the same price for the same item. Wanamaker’s no longer exists, but the store is now a Macy’s. Believe it or not, Wanamaker made the bold move of buying a former train station to turn it into his department store. I’m not sure if this location was the original train station location, but it’s definitely taller than it would have been in 1885. Those other floors were added later.


I’ll end my tour with a nod to Felicity from Counterfeit Truth. One of my big goals of this trip was to eat a Philadelphia pretzel . . . but apparently, they aren’t as big now as they were during Felicity’s time. The ONE pretzel I found was a sore disappointment that had to be rectified by going to my favorite pretzel place when I got home. However, the Reading Market (I think?) DID have some chocolate ice cream for me to sample from Bassetts that I must heartily agree is amazing. The whole time I ate that giant cone, I thought of Felicity eating ice cream with Mr. Cochran. If you haven’t read that book yet, you can download a free copy by joining my newsletter or purchasing it on Amazon.


Counterfeit Faith Release Day

Counterfeit Faith Release Day

UPDATED: The giveaway winner is JCP!

I’m so excited to share with you the third and last book in the Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series, Counterfeit Faith. Today, I’m going to cheat a little and well, interview myself about Counterfeit Faith. Check out the bottom of the post for a giveaway just for blog visitors.

Q: We can always read the back cover description of a book, but it’s always interesting to hear the author describe their book in their own words. Will you introduce us to your sophomore release, Counterfeit Faith?

 Counterfeit Faith is probably my most romantic story thus far. It was hard to avoid with flirtatious Josiah Isaacs as the hero. Once he met the matron of Final Chance House of Refuge, Gwendolyn Ellison, it was a war with himself not to fall hard and fast.

Gwendolyn Ellison has spent her life serving children the public has deemed delinquents. Sent to Final Chance House of refuge, the children are supposed to be given a safe place to be reformed from their criminal ways and given a second chance at life. However, someone is trying to hide the abuse occurring inside, and when Gwendolyn tries to expose them, they target her with threats to her life.

Widower Josiah Isaacs gets pulled into Gwendolyn’s troubles when he rescues her from a knife blade, but he soon discovers more than abuse is going on. Someone is using the children for their counterfeiting operations. As a Secret Service operative, he has the jurisdiction to step in and rescue the children. As he and Gwendolyn work together, they both fight against their growing affection for each other. After all, Josiah doubts God, and Gwendolyn relies on her faith to endure each ordeal. Even if they can survive this case, can they really have a future together when their beliefs are so at odds?

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

In Counterfeit Love, I’d mentioned that Broderick Cosgrove and Josiah Isaacs had pursued their case from Philadelphia to Cincinnati. So it only made sense that once Broderick Cosgrove’s and Andrew Darlington’s stories had been told, Josiah would continue to work where he initially started. It also allowed me to bring Hayden Orton back into the story and give the series one final connection to my novella, Counterfeit Truth.

Besides, I’ve always desperately wanted to visit Philadelphia. I’m a huge history nerd, and who wouldn’t want to walk the streets where our founding fathers did? Of course, my travel to Philadelphia didn’t happen until after the book was almost ready to go to print. However, I loved diving into the history of Philadelphia and seeing a different period than most people think of when the city is mentioned. Philadelphia was the perfect example of a Gilded Age city. I got to bring in touches of the upper class while still thoroughly wandering through the underbelly of what society wanted to ignore.

Q: Josiah has been a widower for ten years. Why is he so intent on fighting against his growing affection for Gwendolyn?

Josiah is extremely loyal to his deceased wife, Shauna, despite being a flirt. Every year on their anniversary, he visits her grave at the time of their wedding. Her pictures remain all over the house, especially at his bedside, where he sleeps with a lamp on so he can wake up to see her face. He believes Shauna is the only woman he can ever love, and to love anyone else would be disloyal to her. When he notices a deepening attraction to Gwendolyn, it scares Josiah. He doesn’t want to be unfaithful to Shauna. How can he love another woman but still love Shauna?

Q: What keeps Gwendolyn fighting against her growing attraction to Josiah? 

Aside from the fact that Josiah is a widower and obviously still in love with his first wife, Gwendolyn is very cognizant of the fact she and Josiah come from vastly different social classes. The Isaacs family is one of the wealthiest families in Philadelphia, the type to rub elbows with the Astors. Josiah’s mother is one of the board members for Final Chance, and Mrs. Isaacs has made it clear that while she values Gwendolyn as a matron of Final Chance, Gwendolyn should not be looking for love above her station. There is also a matter of a difference in their faith. While her faith is firmly rooted in Christ, Josiah doubts God’s goodness and if He can even be trusted. Although marriage to Josiah might sound like a Cinderella fairytale, Gwendolyn knows that no fairytale is worth the pain of being yoked to a man who doesn’t share her faith.

Q: During this story, the Secret Service faced some difficult constraints that affected their ability to conduct investigations. What were those, and how did Josiah work around them?

The Secret Service largely depended on earning the trust of counterfeiters by purchasing counterfeit money. This allowed them to explore deeper into the network of counterfeiters and arrest those involved at the production level. However, when President Cleveland came into office, so did a new solicitor. This solicitor believed that Secret Servicemen were inciting people to commit a crime and therefore put a ban on purchasing counterfeit money. This crippled investigations for nearly a year when, finally, the ban was lifted. However, the ban was not lifted until after this story. Because Josiah could not purchase counterfeit money associated with those inside Final Chance House of Refuge, he used his mother’s connections to join the board and his partnership with Gwendolyn to gain the needed information.

Q: What is it you hope for readers of this novel? 

It is always my hope that the readers will find enjoyment and satisfaction in my stories. Even more so, I hope they will walk away with a feeling of being encouraged and challenged in their own faith walks. Josiah and Gwendolyn wrestled with doubt. Their faith wavered and struggled, just like everyone’s does at some point. However, instead of ignoring their doubt and pretending it didn’t exist, they eventually faced it head-on, carrying it to God and asking Him to help their unbelief. God doesn’t get upset with our doubts and questions. He welcomes them. They are an opportunity for us to come to Him and allow Him to show us things about Him and our relationship with Him that would never have occurred otherwise. So my biggest hope is that readers will walk away unafraid to bring their doubts to God.

Q: This book is the last in a series. Are there any threads that run through the whole series that will be wrapped up in Counterfeit Faith

Josiah’s story emerges through each of the stories. In Counterfeit Love, you meet this flirtatious man who is supposedly afraid of the dark and sleeps with a lamp on. He’s the unobtainable bachelor who is often ribbed for his inability to say no to a woman. In a way, he has counterfeited love through all these surface-level flirtations he’s had, trying to find solace in the grief he quietly carries. In Counterfeit Hope, you discover there is a reason why he hasn’t committed to any of the women he’s flirted with and felt trapped into proposing to. He was once married, and he’s not ready to let that love go. Again, his hope has been counterfeited, placed in a love that, because of death, is now one-sided. Counterfeit Faith is the full maturing of Josiah. His story of love, hope, faith, and redemption. His story is what really brings all the themes together into a fullness that would be lost without its telling.

Q: You offer a free novella to newsletter subscribers that is a prequel to the start of this series. What can you tell us about it? How do readers get their copy?

I wrote the story of Secret Service operative Hayden Orton, who you’ll meet in Counterfeit Hope, and Felicity Richmond as a way to introduce readers to the series and a few of the characters. Felicity is a reporter determined to prove that the Secret Service is corrupt by catching a former operative selling counterfeit money. Hayden is annoyed by Felicity’s constant interference and concerned about her reckless pursuit of the very man the Secret Service is trying to capture. When Felicity’s life becomes threatened by the corrupt former operative, Hayden is assigned the task of protecting her and distracting her from pursuing the former operative by having her join him on a case involving the burglary of the Philadelphia Mint. Lots of danger, spunk, and romance are mixed into this novella, and it’s the perfect way to dip your toes into the series.

Readers can find out more and get their free copy by signing up for my newsletter letter here: https://bit.ly/CounterfeitTruth.

Q: What do you love most about writing historical romance novels packed with suspense and faith?

My favorite part of writing romance, especially with suspense, is that romance stories reflect God’s love for us. He pursues us, fights for us, and desires a close relationship that can only be gained by living life together. Just like the heroes of my books, He is willing to—and did—die for us. He vanquishes the evil in our lives—sin and death, cherishes us, and pushes us to become a better version of ourselves. The version He created us to be. I can’t write a romance story without suspense and faith because that is the love story God has written for us.

As far as the historical aspect goes, what can I say? I’m a huge history nerd. I love delving into the intricacies of history. History is always far more complex than our high school history books painted it to be. The Gilded Age, for instance, fascinates me with its dual nature–the extravagantly rich culture of the upper class and the destitution of the lower class. Social movements, immigration, labor riots, and rapid technological advances are a feast for this history lover’s voracious appetite.

Purchase Links:  Amazon  |  Baker Book House  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-A-Million  |  Christianbook


From now until Tuesday, May 23, leave a question or comment for me on this blog post to be entered to win a signed print copy (or e-copy if you’re international) of your choice of Counterfeit Love, Counterfeit Hope, or Counterfeit Faith.

UPDATED: The giveaway winner is JCP!

Do YOU have any questions for me?

Faith-Filled Books Giveaway

Faith-Filled Books Giveaway

I’m so excited to be participating in this giveaway of 14 Faith-Filled books to inspire your reading. There will be two prize packs with one winner of each. (If you are an international reader, check out this giveaway just for you.)
*Open to US Residents only. Not sponsored by anyone but the authors themselves. Giveaway starts May 1 and ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 14th.*

Prize Pack 1:
Counterfeit Faith by Crystal Caudill, Confessions to a Stanger by Danielle Grandinetti, Grace Immeasurable by Gina Holder, Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson, The Breakup Project by Carolyn Miller, Shadow in the Mind’s Eye by Janyre Tromp, Hope in Cripple Creek by Sara R. Turnquist
Prize Pack 2:
From Shore to Shore by Tabitha Bouldin, Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly, The Weight of Air by Kimberly Duffy, The Metropolitan Affair by Jocelyn Green, In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer, Beyond Wounded Hearts by Cynthia Roemer, To Win a Prince by Toni Shiloh
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