Hi y’all! Hope you are enjoying summertime!
Today I am excited to review Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden. I love Elizabeth’s beautiful style and the way she fuses history and romance in her novels. I always learn something new about history in her work. I love her books!
I’ve raved about her novels before. Check out my reviews of With Every Breath, Until the Dawn and To the Farthest Shores. I just received an ARC for her latest novel, A Daring Venture, which I can’t wait to get into in the coming weeks!
- I bought this book for Christmas before I read it (which I try not to do lately) but I knew I would love it. First, it takes place primarily in a library (The US Library of Congress) and second, I love everything I read from Elizabeth Camden. This novel lived up to my personal hype!
- I enjoy and respect the way religion is threaded through this and the other Elizabeth Camden novels that I have read. It is refreshing and beautiful to read novels that promote faith in God and in His plan. Thank you, Elizabeth!
- I loved everything about the Library of Congress and the books. I loved that Luke was a Romantic poetry fan. I love that Anna got excited about organizing and hanging maps in her section of the new library. I am the same way about my books. I want to visit the “new” home of the Library of Congress now.
Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden follows the twin journeys of Anna and Luke who seek to uncover a mystery long kept hidden and who fall in love in unexpected ways. Goodreads summarizes, “Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but 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 until his promising career became 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 entanglement with a member 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 themselves?“
“Was there anything more inspiring than being able to look up and see oneself surrounded by thousands of books all the way to the ceiling three stories up?”
“Poetry captures the immensity and radiance of the human soul.”
Beyond All Dreams, pages 51 & 57
One of the elements I love most about Elizabeth’s books are the unique historical settings. Her books are set in places and at times that I am unfamiliar with. I always learn so much about different periods in history, and I love it! This book captures a compelling time in US history in Washington DC right before the Spanish American War in the 1890’s. As always, the history is a beautiful part of the story rather than overwhelming it. The politics and scandal are interwoven with personal stories of love, loss, and doubt.
Elizabeth’s novels are always full of beautiful casts of characters that make her stories vibrant and rich like the beautifully developed characters in this novel including Anna and Luke. I enjoyed learning their stories and cheering for them throughout the novel. Anna was bookish and content with her life. I related with those aspects of her character. But I love that she learns to hope for something more in her life and finds true happiness. Luke is a compelling character because he has faults but seeks to overcome them. One of my favorite scenes in the novel is when he successfully overcomes his tendency to loose his temper and Anna is there to see it. I love that they connect over a love of literature, a passion for family, and a desire to learn truth. And they were surrounded by engaging characters especially Anna’s best friend and Luke’s teenage nephew (his fresco paintings!!).
This is a fun love story to see develop. These two could not be more opposite. But they are drawn to each other from the moment they meet. The tensions are high, as is the passion. And they try to find every reason to stay apart. But I loved Luke’s reasoning that if the president’s wife could stay at home knitting booties all day, Anna could stay out of the spotlight as his wife too. We get to see the whole journey of Anna and Luke and their ultimate understanding that they belong together. I love how it ends.
“Making mistakes means you’re learning, growing, pushing… That you yearn for something and aren’t afraid to chase after it. You’re being creative and contributing to this world, even if it doesn’t work out as you hoped. Go ahead and make mistakes. For once in your life, quit playing it safe and make some spectacular mistakes”
“The world can be a tough and gritty place.
We need to seize beauty wherever we can find it.”
Beyond All Dreams, pages 86 & 339
The only thing I didn’t love about this novel was the over dramatized sinking of the Culpeper. It was certainly tragic, but I thought Anna’s obsession with it was a bit overdone. That section of the novel where she learns the truth was so intense and not as well developed as the earlier parts of the novel. I was glad when Anna moved forward with her life and didn’t allow the tragedy to overcome her forever.
Overall, another lovely novel from Elizabeth Camden!!
What are your favorite historical settings?
Which historical novels should I add to my TBR?