With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.
Once again, Elizabeth Camden has stolen my breath with the depth of her characters and the beauty of her writing.
As is true with most of her novels, in With Every Breath, Ms. Camden delves into an unusual subject/situation/vocation to give us a sense of the richness of history. Last time, it was the Chicago fire and a woman watch maker (Into the Whirlwind). This time, we learn a little about the research into a cure for the dreaded tuberculosis, known also as consumption.
Set in Washington D. C. in the early 1890s, the story centers around two people whose competitive history starts during their school years and carries on again when Trevor McDonough asks Kate Livingston to work for him.
Kate has never forgiven Trevor for being awarded the college scholarship she worked so hard to win. He didn’t need it; she did.
Twelve years later, she’s the widow of her school sweetheart and working in an office—what we would now call a dead-end job—when she receives a request to interview for a position with T. M. Kendall, a doctor who researches cures for tuberculosis.
Trevor has changed his last name and wears a mask of apathy. He also has secrets and enemies. Someone is out to ruin his reputation. Even though Kate and her family are swept up in the dangerous mystery, Trevor is determined that no one will stand in the way of his research for a cure for tuberculosis. NO ONE.
Kate is a fixer. She’s also terrified of loss, which adds to the conflict in this story. Its her whole issue and the basis for her growth. Trevor doesn’t play well with others. It would be easy not to like him, but the author makes sure we do. In fact, he’s a noble character—a noble, prickly character.
The competition between the two crackles. It adds humor to an otherwise serious situation, and chemistry between two, mostly, opposite personalities. To sum up the relationship:
Kate was going to make them both miserable unless she came to terms with his calling, and he couldn’t afford to yield even an inch. She’d take a hundred miles if he did.
The climax of Kate’s growth wasn’t as strong as I’d like to have seen it. I thought a previous incident would have made for a stronger “Ah-ha!” moment.
If I say more, I’ll be giving away too much of the plot, so let me quit by assuring readers that I enjoyed this novel very much and heartily recommend it.
Historical Flavor: Tuberculosis took its toll on a large percentage of Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the latter 1800s, it was estimated that over seventy percent of the population had TB in some form. Most lived in urban areas. My personal history with it involved the death of my grandmother’s brother in the 1920s. This is a timely subject, too, as the numbers of those suffering from the disease has steadily increased again with strains that are drug-resistent.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Bethany House , with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.