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Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

by Kellyn Roth |
August 8, 2016

Title: Beyond All Dreams
Author: Elizabeth Camden (http://elizabethcamden.com/)
Series: n/a
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Age-Range: Young Adult/Adult
Era: 1890s
Setting: Washington D.C., USA
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: library
Rating: 4/5 stars. Although it was a great book, I find I couldn’t get into the era as deeply as I would have liked to, and I sometimes found the characters confusing.
Content: 2/5, parental guidance suggested for preteens. A minor character in the book had a child out of wedlock, no details, as the result of an affair, again no details. This is not treated as ok, and it’s barely mentioned. Some attraction and a couple kisses (no details) between Luke and Anna (which also felt unbelievable to me, given the time period … but whatever … let them kiss … I’ll just turn the other … eye away … because for some reason I was only reading with one eye and … I’ll stop now). Mentions of drinking and smoking. Luke’s father was sometimes abusive when he was drunk.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden


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?

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I read this novel while at camp, and it was pretty awesome! It was able to keep my attention while I was laying on my stomach in the scorching hot sun on a tarp in the middle of a field with teenage girls screaming, “AAAAAAAAAAH, it’s another bug! Getitoffgetitoffgetitoff!!!” all around me. So, yeah. That entertaining.
I even managed to like it with my [hifi-hating] friends heckling it all the time! (“She thinks being a LIBRARIAN is the most important job in the world? IS SHE INSANE???” Well, just ’cause it’s not important to you doesn’t mean it’s not important to this [may I add fictional] character. And I don’t think there’s such a thing as the most important job in the world anyway.)
The plot was very interesting and original in its own way. Although Luke and Anna’s romance was a big part of it, a lot of time was focused on the politics of Washington D.C. and the mysterious disappearance of Anna’s father and his crewmates. This was very interesting, and it also gave me some much-needed inspiration for a story idea I’ve been developing. Indirectly, that is.
The romance between Luke and Anna was interesting. Let me just tell you right now that I don’t believe in love at first sight. Attraction, perhaps. Love, no. Not a good kind, anyway.
However, there wasn’t anything unbelievable about Luke being attracted to Anna because of her spunky attitude towards him when they first meant. It was actually kind of nice that the first thing he noticed wasn’t her gorgeous eyes or whatever. Although I admit I prefer pretty heroines. I never want to stick with the ugly ones. Fairest, for instance, drove me insane. WHY ARE WE STILL ON HER SHE SOUNDS SO AWFUL!!! SHE’S FICTIONAL; SHE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL!!! MAKE HER BEAUTIFUL!!! NOT LIKE SUPER STAR BEAUTIFUL, BUT AT LEAST PRETTY!!! COME ON, GUYS!!! WHAT’S ON THE OUTSIDE MATTERS, TOO!!!
And … moving on.
The characters were well-developed. They didn’t really jump off the pages at me, but I enjoyed them anyway. Although I admit I’m somewhat confused about Anna’s personality. She’s sensible, but has a crazy runaway imagination? Whaaaaaat? And Luke. Goodness knows I love a character with a temper (it makes me feel better about myself😉 ), but … wow. Wow, Luke. And what has Anna got to prove that that’s going to change? One controlling-of-your-temper doesn’t make a lifetime’s worth. *scary voice* I know.
The setting … well, I didn’t really get into it. I don’t know much about the 1890s, perhaps, but I don’t believe the word “ok” was used so commonly back then. Was it? Perhaps it was. *goes and researches origin of “ok”*
So, apparently it means “all correct.” Only spelt weird. Because people are bad at spelling.😄 I DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHERE IT COMES FROM; I WANT TO KNOW WHEN IT BEGAN TO BE USED COMMONLY!!!
So, it seems to have been invented in 1839 as a joke in a newspaper (according to a couple sources … or at least that’s one of the many ok theories), but the thing is, I’ve never seen it in any literature dating around that time. Like, never. And I’ve read a lot of books written from then on. And I never saw it once. Not even in any Gene Stratton Porter, in which she is pretty honest about the way people actually talk in the real world. And that was more early 1900s. So … I don’t know, guys.
But the ok’s through me off, even if they were common in the 1870s for telegraphers. Whatever. I feel like they shouldn’t be there.
So … I just didn’t get a good feeling for the setting. I mean, there was a lot of historically accuracy that definitely pinpointed the time and that kind of stuff, but it didn’t feel 1890-ish to me. Of course, when I think 1890s, I think Anne of Green Gables and Betsy-Tacy, which isn’t Washington D.C., so … well, I’ll let you read the book and decide for yourself. I just didn’t really get immersed in the era. Could have been see paragraph one, though, of course.
Anyway, Beyond All Dreams is a great book that I probably read at a bad time.😄
~Kellyn Roth

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