Rating: 4 Stars
Review: I love visiting libraries, and the Library of Congress is one of my favorite. When I learned that "Beyond All Dreams" is set in the Library of Congress, I immediately put it on my reading list. Elizabeth Camden's attention to historical detail brought the library to life at the pivotal point in its history when it transitions from the Capitol into it's own opulent surroundings. I definitely felt a deeper connection to the setting of the novel since I have visited the Library of Congress a few times and was able to clearly envision its design. The building has always captured my interest with its history and beauty, but I have never considered the stories of its past librarians and patrons. "Beyond All Dreams" gave me a new perspective into the history of the Library of Congress and the men and women who have worked there. I definitely learned some information that I don't recall hearing on a tour; and the next time I enter the Library of Congress, my thoughts will go beyond an awe of the impressive design.
While the setting of "Beyond All Dreams" is what I will likely remember most, the plot within is also interesting. Alice O'Brien and Luke Callahan are characters with unique back-stories that play important roles in adding some tension and depth to the plot. Alice's job as a librarian and Luke's position as a Congressman are ideal for capturing the political environment of Washington D.C. in the late 1890s. Anna's search for the truth regarding the disappearance of her father's ship gives mystery to the plot, especially when we learn early-on that the government does not want the truth revealed. Cameo appearances by such figures as William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, add authenticity to the plot, and a sense of "time travel" that I love.
Alice and Luke are an unconventional couple. Anna's quiet ways were easy for me to relate to since I am also an introvert. Luke never completely won me over because he often came across to me as cocky and flashy. Some of his fashion choices raised my eyebrows too. Nevertheless, it was refreshing to read a love story in which opposites attract. Anna's friend, Neville, and Luke's nephew, Philip, each offered their own subplots that complimented the main story.
"Beyond All Dreams" is a great read for historical fiction fans. Elizabeth Camden provides historical information in an entertaining plot. Anyone with a love of books and libraries will find treasures within the pages as they delve into the Library of Congress with Anna.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Summary from Bethany House: Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, 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 before his promising career was 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 entanglements with members 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 their futures?