About the Book:
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2015
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Genre: Fiction; Historical, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.
Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.
Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.
From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for themselves? – Goodreads
Review: Historical details and I am sure meticulously researched facts balanced against the fictional lives of her characters seems to be Elizabeth Camden’s signature. Her later novels have been set against fascinating historical events or memorable pivots from history and her latest is no different. What she never seems to forget is the importance her characters have to the story even amidst the scope or awe of the history. There was a lot to enjoy about this book from Elizabeth. The characters are equal parts sensible and sassy, and of course, the prose is as well composed as ever. To be honest, I don’t think I liked this novel as well as some of Elizabeth’s others (With Every Breath, Against the Tide). It could have been merely that distractions played too big a role during the reading of the book or maybe the story didn’t grab me as much. Either way, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the story or characters. Having said that, let’s move on.
Speaking of those protagonists, they were quite the pair. Where Anna is quiet and unassuming, Luke is determined and always seems to be in the center of some commotion in his work as a congressman. Anna is the balm to his shattered soul and Luke embodies everything Anna doesn’t want from life. She doesn’t want to be a public figure and if she were to be the wife of one that’d challenge her idea of a simple life. Anna’s character is one many of us will relate too. She enjoys her work among the history and books of the library. She doesn’t need more than that. She’s content until Luke comes along and turns her world topsy-turvy. His determination to sweep her off her feet is definitely not a suit that easily goes away. Their relationship has interesting turns because of this. Smoothing things out doesn’t necessarily last for long in this relationship!
Added to the character dynamics are the politics of the late 1800’s and a mystery surrounding a ship that sank. There’s also a lot of dynamics in the backgrounds of the characters. What I liked most was not the romance, but some of the twists the story took. Certain outcomes were not what I’d anticipated and it worked to the benefit of the book. Beyond All Dreams is any historical fiction addict’s dream. It’s a charming story and doesn’t shy away from packing in historical tidbits without lessening the impact of the story. That’s one of the reasons I adore Elizabeth’s writing. She has the balance down to a science and her years honing her skills as an author show that.
Sincere thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy of this review copy.