Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

This novel contains everything I love in a Christian historical romance.

There is a great protagonist. Anna O'Brien is finally living her dreams, as a map librarian for the Library of Congress. She is following in her late father's footsteps, a scientist working on mapping the ocean floor. She is a woman who loves what she does yet is weighed down by a deep sense of her own insecurity.

There is a mystery. Anna is stunned when she sees a new report on the hurricane that supposedly caused the destruction of the ship her father was on fifteen years before. But this report showed the hurricane was nowhere near where the ship was supposed to have gone down.

There is intrigue. Anna is determined to find the truth behind the demise of the ship Culpeper. Sending a letter to the navy, noting the new hurricane information, she is soundly told to drop the issue and let it go or she might find herself in danger. Anna rises to the challenge.

There is a handsome fellow who may just break Anna's heart. Luke Callahan is a congressman who needs some information and it struck when he first sees Anna. Their budding relationship crashes when Luke pursues his congressional advancement. In the process, he tosses Anna to the side, just when she needs his support the most.

There is a great deal of information in this book. I learned much about the Library of Congress and how the congressmen used its resources for their work. Women were just beginning to work in the facility and were, after years, still on “probation.” I learned a little about how congressmen use their power (nothing new there). There was also some background on the events that precipitated the Spanish-American War, like the sinking of the USS Maine. There was intriguing information about the patent office and some of the new inventions of the day (like the ball point pen, the flashlight, and “moving” pictures). And, in general, information about Washington D.C. in the 1880s. (Camden has added a Historical Note that lets readers know what parts of the book are patterned after actual events.) I also learned the technique of painting a fresco.

There is much to think about and discuss in this book (Discussion Questions are included). The role of a father is important in that Luke's father was a man of angry outbursts. Luke has angry outbursts of his own, yet is passionate about peace and keeping America at peace with other nations. At what point does the cost of peace become too great? Does God bless the peacemakers?

This novel has everything that makes a great Christian historical romance. I loved it and highly recommend it. I'm taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

Elizabeth Camden is the award-winning author of six novels, is the winner of the RITA Award, Christy Award, and Daphne du Maurier Award. With masters degrees in both history and library science, she is a research librarian by day while scribbling away on her next novel by night. She and her husband live in Florida. You can find out more at http://elizabethcamden.com.

Bethany House Publishers, 368 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Litfuse Publicity for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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