Book Reviews,  Inspirational Books

Review: Against the Tide

Back Cover Copy:

When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?

After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U. S. Navy.

Lydia’s talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a myterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentess in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.

When Bane’s enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane’s mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.

I began Elizabeth Camden’s third and newest novel, Against the Tide, not knowing the hero had appeared in her first novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill. After reading the latter, I’ve gotten a gander at just how cool, calculated and criminal our hero was in that story. (I’m still not sure how he stayed out of prison.)

Against the Tide takes place twelve years later. The spiritually reborn, Alexander Banebridge, or Bane as he likes to be called, walks the straight and narrow—mostly—as a man dedicated to wiping out the scourge of opium usage. In the nineteenth century, the drug was a common ingredient in a number of medicines, such as, laudanum and teething medications like peragoric. He’s made it his life’s mission, and pennance, to rid the country of those who deal in the trade, especially the only father figure he’s known—Professor Van Bracken.

The most important thing to Lydia is saving the apartment being sold out from under her. As an orphan, it’s the first home she’s known, but will be gone if she can’t raise the money to buy it herself. Lydia is a practical and obsessively organized woman—a prime candidate for being labeled OCD. But when Bane enters her world, strange things happen to both her possessions and her emotions.

Lydia seems just the woman for a man like Bane—strong, competent, pretty, a matching sense of humor. But she has a weakness that threatens to drive them apart. In fact, at the end, I found myself hoping she had truly conquered it. (Yes, I know she’s not real—maybe.) Bane, charming, mysterious and, oh, so gorgeous,  is another of Lydia’s obsessions. She’ll risk anything for him.

This book ranks among the best I’ve read this year. I read a lot, so it takes something special to stand out in the stack. Against the Tide fit that bill for me. The writing flowed, the story was compelling, and the characters grab the reader right from the start.

My one complaint deals with the backstory. The author repeatedly mentions Bane’s relationship (non-romantic) with the late wife of Lydia’s employer, Admiral Eric Fontaine. I read the first book before this review hoping to get more insight into that relationship, but it’s never mentioned. It left me feeling as if I missed a whole book. I believe her death had something to do with the opium trade, but frankly, I must have missed the point, because the book (and Bane’s motivations) would have been powerful without it. Admiral Fontaine is a strong and intriguing character and I hope Ms. Camden has plans for his story. 

If you enjoy a well-written novel that goes deeper than heart-warming romance, one that contains heart-pounding suspense and heart-wrenching conflict, don’t put off reading Against the Tide

When beginning a novel, what tends to grab you first? Action? An intriguing character? Dialog?

I’ve read all three of Elizabeth Camden’s books and have high praise for each one. You’ll find my review for The Rose of Winslow Street (her second) here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This story came to me free from 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 Trail Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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