Review: Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Image via Elizabeth Camden's website
My rating:  4 & 1/2 stars

About the story:  It's 1897 and Anna O'Brien is a map librarian at the Library of Congress.  She leads a quiet life fulfilling research requests from members of quiet.  Anna loves order and finding answers.  When she finds an error in a Navy report she seeks to get it rectified right away.  The Navy adamantly objects to fixing an error in a fifteen year old report.  Their stubbornness only fuels Anna's determination and she recruits her lifelong best friend Neville to help solve the mystery.  She also recruits Luke Callahan, a young congressman from Maine whose political career has recently been a roller coaster ride.  Can he help Anna?  Will their dreams be shattered in the process?

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My review: I was so excited to read this story.  I love Elizabeth Camden's novels and I have a soft spot for stories that feature librarians (after all, I do hope to be a librarian soon).  This fictional glimpse into the Library of Congress and the Capitol were wonderful.  There is nowhere else this story could have been set.  I was fascinated by the fact that the library's female librarians had been on a probationary status for years.  I am truly curious about this and plan to do some research later to see if this was just a plot tool or a little known historical fact.  Any insight anyone has would be appreciated.
     Apparently I have a thing for fictional guys named Luke.  First it was Luke McGee in Julie Lessman's Winds of Change series and now I have Luke Callahan.  He is far from your too-good-to-be-true perfect 'Prince Charming'.  He is flawed.  He is human.  Luke gets angry, makes mistakes, and has regrets.  But he also has passion, ambition, a good heart, and the best of intentions.  That is why I love his character.  
     I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of abuse that BOTH Anna and Luke suffered as children.  I guess I'm accustomed to just one of the main characters have such a traumatic past, but both of their experiences were key in determining who they became as adults.  Their relationship is certainly a large part of the novel, but it is by no means the only driving force.
     People who love their stories to have a specific setting will like this novel.  Sometimes you read a novel and, even though it gives you a time and place, you think 'well, this could take place in any city' or 'it's a regency era novel, the specific year doesn't mean much'.  Not with this novel.  You will know exactly where you are in history.  Camden's fans are sure to love it.  It's a great novel if you want to read something that is a stand-alone and will not become a trilogy.  If you still need convincing, you can read the first chapter for free here.
Two random little side notes: 1) Every time I read Neville's name I thought of Harry Potter.  That's the only other place I've ever seen/heard the name.  2) I totally heard Robin Williams' voice in my head when I read Theodore Roosevelt's lines (in case you don't know, Williams played the president in the Night at the Museum trilogy).  Do you ever do anything like that?

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This is one of the books that I was most excited for this year.  Maybe now that I've completed it I can actually focus on schoolwork. :)  I hope everyone's reading challenges are going well.  Happy reading, booknerds!

***I received a free copy of this novel from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.***


  1. I emailed author Elizabeth Camden about the probationary status of librarians at the Library of Congress because I was so curious about it. Mr. Spofford was the first to hire women librarians there and Mr. Young agreed to "continue the experiment" (yes, Mr. Spofford and Mr. Young were real people!).

  2. Glad you enjoyed this one, Brittany! I sure thought it was nicely written and told. It wasn't my favorite of Camden's, but was still excellent.

    Thanks for visiting and following Dreaming Under the Same Moon. Visit anytime. :)

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog as well Rissi. I can't wait to book chat with you in the future.


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