Sometimes the dreams we hold for ourselves are different than the ones God intends for us. As challenges arise, dreams either must change to meet that test or crumble against adversaries. Faith in God and trust in those closest to you will determine if those dreams will remain or move forward.
Author Elizabeth Camden has been on my “to-read” list for quite a while. Every time I mentioned her name to a reader or author friend, an excited response or squeal of delight answered my question of, “Have you read Elizabeth Camden?” or “What do you think of Elizabeth Camden’s books?”. I jumped at the chance to review Beyond All Dreams simply because it was chance to read a new author, but more so because the back cover of this book held some elements I knew I would enjoy. Beyond All Dreams surpassed my initial thoughts of what Camden’s novels would be like, and I am beyond happy with this first—but in no way last—book by this author.
Anna O’Brien spends her days quietly researching and studying cartography as a map librarian for the Library of Congress. A shy and reserved young lady, Anna is happy with her position in Washington D.C. She uses her time at the library to remain connected with her father, a Navy cartographer whose death still leaves Anna unsettled many years after his passing. Luke Callahan, a representative from Maine, is the exact opposite of Anna—bold and flashy, he uses past hurts and broken dreams as a fire to surpass anything his family thinks he could never amount to. When tensions escalate both inside and outside of Congress, Anna and Luke work together to forge new ideas that could change their lives and the course of history. Not everyone inside America’s government wants these new ideas shared with world, and as the threat of war comes closer Anna and Luke find that new dreams are God’s gift of bringing you beyond anything you ever imagined.
Beyond All Dreams stands out for many reasons, but among the myriad elements that grabbed me was the rich historical detail that Camden infused within every page of the novel. Set in Washington D.C. in the late 1800s, Beyond All Dreams includes big-picture details of the Mid-Atlantic setting, as well as smaller pieces that will bring readers directly into the story. Among my favorites of this aspect of Camden’s novel are her characters’ connections with the new inventions of the time period. From Anna’s fascination with flashlights, to Luke’s abhorrence to anything new, to Neville’s job in the Patent Office, Camden makes it easy for readers to understand the varying interest of our ancestors’ experience with technology. She also weaves in a time in history—not named in this review to avoid spoilers—that is seldom included in fiction novels but is so brilliantly used within the plot of Beyond All Dreams that I would consider reading another book set within this time period. I loved learning about a time period I knew little about and appreciate Camden branching out in her fiction so that I can take a trip into the past differently than I would normally would choose.
Anna and Luke’s romance is filled with tension, desire, love, and laughter. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the relationship between these two develop. Anna and Luke have to work for their love, but because they so easily fit together despite their differences, the circumstances that test them help them grow as characters and as a couple instead of break them down. Camden uses these circumstances to show readers how God’s love is the romance that we must engage in before we find our better half, and that relationship is ultimately what allows Anna and Luke to come together.
Beyond All Dreams is a historical romance rich with love, friendship, family drama, political tension, and details that bring the past to life. This novel will keep readers hooked from the first to the last page. More than just historical facts or sweet romance alone, Camden balances both elements in Beyond All Dreams so that readers will want to focus on the details but can still enjoy Anna and Luke’s relationship with smiles on their faces. This novel is highly recommended for those who like history, romance, or any combination of the two.
Rating: 5/5 stars
ABOUT THE BOOK
Anna O’Brien has the perfect job at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship that disappeared at sea. When forces conspire to prevent her from learning the truth, she turns to a dashing congressman for help.
Luke Callahan is one of the most powerful men in congress until his career begins collapsing amidst scandal. When he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship, he is stunned to find himself falling in love with the down-to-earth librarian. Despite the attraction, strict rules forbid Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of congress, and each meeting puts her career in jeopardy.
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 will begin unraveling a mystery larger and more dangerous than ever imagined.
Like what you’ve read? Find an excerpt of Beyond All Dreams here!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.
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