The Courage of Passion

Fiction - Thriller - Espionage
273 Pages
Reviewed on 08/04/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

The idea of writing this novel first took shape as I sat in the cafeteria of the old American Embassy in Moscow, watching a group of young marine guards interact with an attractive waitress. She showed a remarkable ability to fend off the advances of those eager young men without insulting them. She was gone the next day. That night, I drafted a hand-written, primitive version of the opening pages of this novel. I worked on the novel off-and-on over the next several years, mostly during long nights in hotel rooms during research trips to Eastern Europe and the Balkans. I retired early from university teaching, just before the pandemic, to devote myself to finishing the novel. Lauren and Michael became very real to me as I wrote The Courage of Passion. At times, writing Courage was more like transcribing what was being dictated to me by Lauren, or Michael, as I sat alone in my study for long hours at night, often stretching to daybreak, rather than writing a story entirely of my own creation. Each of them did and said things that surprised me. “Finishing” the novel involved finding the moment at which the story of their involvement in a covert war seemed to be complete. Their passionate commitment to one another, however, continued, and I am continuing to write that story.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers' Favorite

The Courage of Passion is an espionage thriller by Lee Castle. Michael Goodman was a respected professor at New England University and was drawn to Lauren Stanwood who worked at another university and had recently filed for divorce. Michael and Lauren were attracted to each other but could not act on their feelings until the divorce was final. Katerina Berezin, the daughter of a Russian spy, had accused Michael of sexual abuse. Michael defended himself and saved his career by working for a politician in the White House. Lauren was kidnapped by Katerina’s father, Vitaly Berezin, after she joined the CIA. Vitaly was seeking revenge for Michael’s role in an intervention years earlier that blocked his efforts to secure Russian domination in the Balkans.

The Courage of Passion is intriguing and exciting. Lee Castle created a world of false accusations, espionage, and romance. The descriptions were vivid, and I was drawn into this world. The story is fast-paced and jam-packed with action. With all the twists and turns, I never knew what to expect next. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. I kept turning the page as fast as I could, afraid I would miss something. The characters were authentic and robust. Lauren and Michael were in love and would do anything to protect each other. Lauren wanted revenge after Michael was almost killed. The story is brilliantly written and exceeded my expectations. The end was a big surprise and fitting after all the drama Lauren and Michael endured.

Chinazo Anozie

The Courage of Passion by Lee Castle is a political thriller that follows two main protagonists. Michael is a former Harvard professor now working as an aide to the US president, and Lauren is a former university professor turned CIA analyst. Both are intellectuals whose previous marriages failed. They cautiously enter into a relationship but are unprepared for the depth of emotions they feel for each other. Despite the distance, long working hours, and a myriad of other problems, they are determined to fight for their love. However, things are not always what they seem. When a former student of Michael’s makes it her life’s goal to come between them, Michael and Lauren realize that the stakes are way higher than they appear, and they must decide if they are willing to risk their lives for their love.

I liked Lauren as a character. She’s confident and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, especially regarding Michael. I enjoyed their witty dialogue. I loved Michael and Lauren together as they made the perfect power couple. I kept rooting for them in all they went through. I loved Lee Castle’s use of backshadowing as a plot device. It made the story intriguing and I kept reading with bated breath, eager to discover what happened to Lauren. The Courage of Passion is a heart-pounding thriller laced with romance that will be perfect for readers who love slow burners that pick up when you least expect and keep you hooked until the very end. Castle indicated that this could be the first of a series with Lauren and Michael, and I can’t wait to read more of their adventures.

Lee Castle

The following reviews of my book have been posted by readers on Amazon:

Jerry G

5.0 out of 5 stars A very special reading experience

As my flight left Zurich I started reading and couldn’t put this excellent book down until I landed in the US just as I turned the final page. Castle brilliantly melds the worlds of academia, intelligence, and high politics in a fashion that goes well beyond an ordinary novel. The author himself must be a fascinating person as he brings to life machinations in Washington and the Balkans in a special and highly informed way. I cannot be fulsome enough in my praise for and recommendation of this novel. As the first part of a promised trilogy Castle’s readers will counting the days until the next installment appears.

Rick W.

5.0 out of 5 stars Politics vs. passion. Who will win?

This novel perfectly mixes passion and international political intrigue and brilliantly illustrates how in every country in the world something is happening behind the scenes which few of its citizens are aware of. And these events and manipulations can dramatically influence that country's politics, economics, its citizenry, and even those who may just be visiting. In this novel, two brilliant people happily discover they are soulmates, then encounter unexpected and overwhelming obstacles they must fight through with every ounce of the emotion they feel for each other. The story builds and builds and adds new characters and reveals surprises at every turn. What is most impressive is the way the author moves not only between locations from the USA to the Balkans, describing them authentically, but also moves back and forth in time, seamlessly blending past and present so they become one. A great read.

mark oestreicher

5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read!

The “Courage of Passion” takes the reader on fascinating, page-turning adventures that makes one’s heart race as the protagonists, Michael and Lauren, navigate uncertainty, danger, and passionate romance. Weaving back and forth between their individual hardships and those they face together in a thrilling love affair, it is impossible to predict if a happy ending is in their future! Luckily, Lee Castle is writing a trilogy, and we will have to hold our breath while rooting for Michael and Lauren! The action keeps coming in this novel as this passionate duo courageously overcomes the mortal threats they are forced to face head on. In the climate of our difficult times nowadays, this is an exciting, wonderful escape-a very enjoyable read!


5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating about academia and espionage
Reviewed in the United States on January 16, 2023
I chose this novel expecting to read a story of love and spies. I was not disappointed. Michael and Lauren form a powerful bond based on honesty, trust, mutual commitment, and sex. Their relationship is convincingly authentic and would be an immensely compelling story on its own. But the novel embeds their story in one of espionage and counterespionage, centered on Michael’s role in providing information and analyses to the CIA and a Russian operative taking Lauren hostage to draw Michael into a trap. Michael’s effort to rescue Lauren, her defiance of her kidnappers, and an elaborate covert rescue mission mounted by the CIA all unfold simultaneously and are wonderfully inter-woven in a narrative that never loses sight of the love affair that draws the reader in from the beginning. The novel culminates in a surprising series of “twists” that enlighten Lauren and Michael, satisfy the reader’s desire to understand how and why this all happened, and leave one wanting more.


5.0 out of 5 stars A good read

Castle has crafted a compelling read that clearly draws on first-hand knowledge of the worlds of academe, diplomacy, and politics. The story moves forward quickly and the relationships are fully developed and not just tools to keep thing going. The author blurb notes that this is the first volume in an "anticipated series of novels focused on Michael and Lauren," which is very good news indeed.

Alan S. Cooper

5.0 out of 5 stars Once you start, you won't put this down

A brilliant espionage thriller and a love story with a terrific insight into particularities of the Balkans. Wonderfully written, the story grasps you from the very start, emerges with vivid characters, and keeps you on edge. One of those books that keeps you captive, something you won't put down and will read in one weekend or on a long flight... to the Balkans. A great read for anyone interested in connections between academic research and espionage, conflicts of the intelligence services of great powers in the Balkans, and aspects of relations and psychologies in that region. Keeps you wanting more. A must read!