Jan 4, 2013

Against the Tide, By Elizabeth Camden

Lydia was born in Europe, to a Greek father and a Turkish mom; the family’s “home” was a boat that constantly traveled to different places around the Mediterranean, in order to look for jobs and make a living.  This extraordinary experience allowed the brilliant, little Lydia to learn several languages. At one point, the family comes to Boston, and when Lydia grows up, her linguistic ability allows her to get a prestigious job as a Translator for the Navy and a rudimentary, yet comfortable life when most women had very limited labor opportunities.

Although she has all the essentials, the building where Lydia lives is sold and, in order to keep her apartment, she has to come up with a lot of money in a pretty short time. Her boss, Admiral LaFontaine, knows about her predicament recommends Lydia to Bane, who has done some special jobs for the Admiral and is now in need of some translations for an investigation he is doing. Little by little, they start feeling for each other, but Bane’s past has a powerful restraint on him; he won’t allow himself to get involved with anyone, afraid of exposing them to danger.

When Bane asks Lydia to go beyond her limits, he will jeopardize everything Lydia has fought for and even stay absent when she desperately requires his assistance. However, Lydia sympathizes with his cause, and finds in herself a strength she didn’t know she had when her services are needed once more by Bane, whose investigation takes a turn for the worse, involving the Admiral’s family, and making Bane’s worst fears an awful truth.

Bane’s investigation and past has to do with the opium trade in Boston. While I won’t give details spoiling the story, I must say that Mrs. Camden takes time to end the story with an example of how an awful addiction to narcotics will affect lives at so many levels. In this note, I really appreciate the fact that the author ends the story with the same intensity present in the rest of the book; the conclusion is not rushed, and even leaves room open for further possibilities.

It took me a little to realize this was the continuation of “The Lady of Bolton Hill.” Because of this, the story became more enjoyable and gripping for me. Although “Against the Tide” can be followed as a story of its own, Bane’s character has a sort of double personality; he is sweet and cares for others, but the experiences he went through when he was younger and how he got away from it (included in the first book), make him cocky, belligerent and even rude sometimes. This rougher side of him is a result of his coping with the past, feeling responsible for his mistakes and wanting to make things right; he gets so focused on this goal that he forgets his present actions also affect the people around him. If someone reading “Against the Tide” has not read “The Lady of Bolton Hill,” this dichotomy might be confusing and his character might be taken as an unpleasant person.

Another fact that I enjoyed about this book is that Mrs. Camden is continuously reminding the reader that God is always present in our lives, whether it doesn’t seem like it, or we aren’t aware of it. Some of the characters she portrays are constantly learning about faith and growing in their relationship with Christ.  For instance, someone (I won’t mention the character because I don’t want to give a lot of information about the story) mentions: “I learned that salvation is possible, even for a nasty sinner like me. I learned I had the freedom to make a choice about what sort of person I wanted to be. (page 98).” Even though this is a fictional story, it is refreshing to remember that God is a transformer of lives, as long as we allow Him to.

Something common to Elizabeth Camden’s books is that, at the end, she includes questions that invite the reader to ponder about the character, decisions, morals, habits and other situations described in the book. Even if these were not included, the story is so deep that it will be easy to be used in study groups, or even self-study. Moreover, the language is clean, and although there is a deep attraction between the main characters, the author does not use excessive descriptions that distract from the plot and focus on feelings.

Also, this is the second book by Elizabeth Camden that I’ve read. It is always a delight to read her. Her books are outstanding in that they are historically descriptive in a very realistic way. I would assume that most authors do their homework and research the context within which they are setting the story; Elizabeth Camden does it in such a way that History becomes alive and it actually taps something in the readers, making them wanting to know more about the period or situation described in the book. Few books awake that curiosity in me; Against the Tide is a highly recommendable book. 

I can’t wait to read Mrs. Camden’s next one!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this influenced my opinion on the book or on the author.

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