‘Beyond All Dreams’: A Romance of Secrets and Maps!


Beyond All Dreams Elizabeth Camden

About the Book:
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere: Goodreads ǀ Novel Crossing ǀ WordPress
Find the Book Elsewhere: Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5 beyond all dreams

Beyond all Dreams by Elizabeth Camden | Book Review

STORY | Anna O’Brien may live a predictable life, but when it comes to her work, she’s fastidious. As a librarian with access to maps, Anna stumbles across the secret of a disappeared ship. With her suspicions, she goes to a prestigious congressmen, Luke Gallagher.

Once a promising politician, Luke’s own secrets cut short his career. Will Anna’s quest for the truth help to put him back on the right track?

REVIEW: Historical details that balance the fictional lives of her characters seems to be Elizabeth Camden’s signature. Her later novels have been set against fascinating historical events or memorable pivots from history and her latest is no different. What she never seems to forget is the importance her characters have to the story. even amidst the scope or awe of the history. There’s a lot to enjoy about this book from Elizabeth.

The characters are equal parts sensible and sassy, and of course, the prose is as well composed as ever. To be honest, I don’t think I like this novel as well prior releases by Camden (With Every Breath, Against the Tide). It could have been merely that distractions played too big a role during the reading of the book or maybe the story didn’t grab me as much. Either way, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the story or characters. Having said that, let’s move on.  

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Speaking of the protagonists, they are quite the pair. Where Anna is quiet and unassuming, Luke is determined and is always the center of some commotion in congress. Anna is a balm to his shattered soul, and Luke embodies everything Anna doesn’t want from life. . Her character is one many of us will relate to. She enjoys her work among the history and books of the library. She doesn’t need more than that. She’s content until Luke comes along and turns her world topsy-turvy. His determination to sweep her off her feet is definitely not a suit that easily goes away. Their relationship has interesting turns because of this. Smoothing things out doesn’t necessarily last for long in this relationship!  

To add to the character dynamics is the politics of the late 1800’s and a mystery surrounding a ship. There’s also a lot of dynamics in the backgrounds of the characters. What I liked most was not the romance, but some of the twists the story took. Certain outcomes were not what I’d anticipated and it worked to the benefit of the book.

Beyond All Dreams is any historical fiction addict’s dream. It’s a charming story and doesn’t shy away from packing in historical tidbits without lessening the impact of the story. That’s one of the reasons I adore Elizabeth’s writing. She has the balance down to a science and her years honing her skills as an author show that. 

Sincere thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy of this review copy.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Nice review, Rissi! This was not my favorite by Camden either, but it was still a lovely read. Look forward to seeing more by her, especially since I've already read everything available by her. :-(

    1. Thanks for reading, Grace – good to see you visit. :)

      I still really enjoyed this one, it just didn't quite crack the top of my favorites list. That being said, Elizabeth's writing is always exquisite and balances beautifully with history and fiction. I'll be eagerly waiting with you to learn about her next project! Maybe we'll get one at the end of this year!?

    1. I hope you enjoy this one, Kate! I thought it was really good and of course, love Elizabeth's elegant writing. Happy reading…

      …and yes! It is hard to beat Against the Tide. Have I mentioned how much I loved that book!? ;)

  2. Since I've not read Against the Tide, BUT have read With Every Breath, I found that this one wasn't quite as spectacular as With Every Breath. I enjoyed it. And I loved the chemistry between Luke & Anna. My review will be up soon. Maybe next Thursday? I'm still writing it!

    1. Oh, you really must read Against the Tide, Dawn if you like Elizabeth's books. With Every Breath is good too. I'm just glad to own all her books and look forward to someday rereading them. I'll look forward to reading your review next week. :)

  3. Hello! I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Camden. My favorites being "Against the Tide" and "Into the Whirlwind". They're hard to beat. I was super excited about "Beyond All Dreams" because it features a librarian and I'm in library school. While I really enjoyed the story it wasn't one of my favorites. I loved the setting. I could definitely picture Capitol Hill. I also liked that while the romance between Anna and Luke was a significant part of the story they do both have other things going on in their lives and those outside things are what drive the story.

    Full review on my blog: http://tinyurl.com/ncfyl9l

    1. Hi, Brittany! I am a fan of Elizabeth's novels also. They're so well researched (or they seem to be) and aren't without a great story. Some historical fiction is too "dry" for my tastes, hers aren't. Sadly, I agree. I did enjoy this one, but it wasn't my favorite. But yes, the character's separate lives were fun – I really liked Anna's friend. Though I forgot to mention him!

      Thanks a bunch for the blog follow – visit anytime, and for your blog link. I'll definitely be by to read your review. :)

  4. RISSI <3
    your reviews are great, I always love reading them.
    PS: check out this fantastic series, The Closer, + my new blog, silentfleetingmoments.blogspot.com

    1. Hi, Nine! Thank you – as always – for your kind words and support. I appreciate it! As for a new blog, yay. Congrats on opening a new place! I'll definitely be by to check it out. :)

  5. You know, while this wasn't my favorite Camden, I think it is one of my favorites. I think it must be due to Anna being a librarian.;) It does seem like their romance didn't develop like her others. The focus did seem to be a bit more distracted by the events in the book. Though, I suppose I can see that the threat of war would through a loop into a romance….
    Anyway, lovely review! Sorry for my rambling comment.;)

    1. I get that, Amanda. I wouldn't say I didn't like this one, but in comparison, it wasn't a favorite. War would throw a romance for a loop, definitely, yes! I think that maybe the fact that Anna and Luke had such bad pasts or familial relationships factored into a lessening of the romance, too…?

      As for rambling comments, no apologies necessary! Appreciate the comment, the rambling ones are the best! :)

  6. This sounds really good. I don't think I've read any of Camden's books, but I see them all the time. When I can, I'll check out this one or maybe 'Against the Tide'. Great review, Rissi!! :)

    1. Thanks for reading, Bekah – and commenting. Yay for discovering new authors! If you like historical novels, Elizabeth is one of the very best. She's the only (exclusive) historical author that I read without question – because I find her books so very interesting. :)

    1. Same here, Rachelle! Each of Elizabeth's novels have the "perfect" balance of story-telling and historical facts. Makes for an interesting but never boring tale. :)

  7. I was fascinated by the roles of women in the government workplace at the time. I especially enjoyed Anna's love and reverence of books and maps, and Luke's self-deprecation of his own poetry :)

    1. Thanks, Heather! I appreciate you reading the review – and I hope you like the book. It is fascinating for any historical fiction reader. :)

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