Elizabeth Camden is a librarian in Florida and she’s also the author of some great books. Her latest, Beyond All Dreams, is up for review today. I received a review copy and am excited to share it with you!
Here is a description of the book from the publisher:
Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, 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 before his promising career was 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 entanglements with members 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 their futures?
As usual, my five point review:
- Anna, like the author [AND ME! :)], is a librarian. She’s a librarian at the Library of Congress [LOC] in 1897, as the new [read: current] LOC building was being completed. How cool would that have been?!? Anna’s dream was to work as a map librarian at the LOC and she achieved it! I’ve never dreamed of working at the LOC but now I think that’d be pretty darn sweet, though I do love my job. So naturally, Anna and I have become pals. She’s a sweet woman and as the book goes along, she becomes spunky and energetic which is awesome. Way to defy the passive librarian stereotype!
- Luke, her romantic counterpart, is an equally compelling character. He’s passionate about peace and family, and as the novel progresses, his tendencies are explained in more detail. Result? He’s a total heartbreaker. And I mean that in so many ways! #nospoilerhere He’s a GREAT character to get to know and I loved him.
- The historical and physical setting of this book, aside from the LOC, is perfect. The author makes turn of the century DC truly come alive–political intrigue, military drama, and historical details are spot on. If you’ve been to DC, this will give you a glimpse at the city’s past. If you know your history, this will make some events more real to you–and provide more detail for historical events such as the US/Cuba relations and the Spanish-American War. I will mention that the author does share at the end that the main ship in question in this book was not real, but loosely based on another historical ship. So you can’t exactly view current events through the lens of this book, but it does offer a good perspective for the historical relationship between the US, Spain, and Cuba. Interesting stuff!
- I really liked the message of this novel and the themes of trust, vulnerability, and dedication. The characters had a lot to overcome and they did it without “magic” because they were Christians. The faith themes are toned down, genuine, and there’s some roughness around the edge of the plot [in comparison to most Christian fiction, not in terms of how developed the plot is]. That’s A-OK with me! The mystery element was thrilling too.
- Lastly, as a librarian, I found Elizabeth Camden’s librarian-related lines hilarious. I mean really–does this not make you chuckle? “”This is a library,” she said, trying to calm her heart to a normal rate. “We generally try to avoid howling like banshees.”” (page 95) I will say that if a non-librarian said some of these things I would take offense to them, but coming from her [and she even went to Indiana University just like me!] it’s super funny! There was one incident on page 56 where Anna and Luke were squabbling about writing in a book [that turned out not to be a library book]. I LOL’d at that. And with that, I’ll leave you with one quote I loved, from page 183: “She wasn’t built for this kind of stress. That was why she’d become a librarian, so she could live a quiet life surrounded by books and maps and not worry about political enemies coming out of the woodwork to arrest you or demote you or turn you into a national laughingstock.” There are many more funny quotes but you’ll have to crack open the book to read them on your own! :) Enjoy!!
What are you reading lately?
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!