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?
* * * * *
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?
* * * * *
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.***