Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

About the Book:
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2012
Genre: Fiction; Historical
Rating: 5 out of 5

Writing historical fiction demands the writer have a talented pen – and a lot of patience. Any historical author worth their salt will take hours in preparation to research their subject or setting or era, and as a girl who appreciates an anticipatory historical novel, I respect this. Elizabeth Camden is probably one of my favorite author. Against the Tide marks her third novel ,and out of those, two have been relegated to a spot on that ever-growing keeper shelf. Many fans may remember Against the Tide’s hero – Alexander Banebridge or Bane as he is more commonly known – from Camden’s debut novel, published last year, but I feel like ‘Tide’ is the best in its genre from this year, comfortably so.

Camden’s voice has matured to the point of expert dialogue and brilliantly written settings that intrigue and tease, never giving away “too much.” This is perhaps what will most impress aficionados of history - Camden’s “sense of setting.” It was interesting and leaves a reader loathe to turn the last page – the era was very well presented and it made everything more authentic to read (historical note) what one of Camden’s starting points was for this novel. 

Woven into the period details is a deeper, subtle message of faith. The achievement of the message and its greatest asset is the hero. Using the “heroes are made, not born” adage to the best advantages, Camden formed Bane, an anti-hero into a very noble, swoon-worthy kind of hero who, while redeemed as a new life in Christ (this we never doubt), it was interesting for the observer to still pick up on some of his previous attitudes and “bad habits.” Bane was once always on the cusp of pure evil (or this is my recollection), even now while shadows cling to his person, he’s a better man. I'm not sure I’ve seen it done so well before; the narrative thread (of faith) wasn’t prominent nor overwhelming but the discerning reader will “feel” the passion and grace Bane emulates.

Pacing of the story also factors prominently in the “big picture” of the plot. Writing with an easy, pleasant prose, Elizabeth anchored the story in rich period authenticity, true but also important is the integrity of the characters; she never lost sight of their emotions. Doubling down on its fast-paced adventure was the pacing – even in the quieter moments. There’s excitement and still plenty of time to savor the hero and heroine’s “bonding.” Bane is not the only complexity in the story – Lydia is also, though hers is through innocence. As a reader, I didn’t expect all her story entailed and admired because her character was a risk and it paid off.  

In the elements revolving around both Lydia and Bane as a couple, it surprised me how little the romance factored in – Lydia falls hard for Bane but an unusual amount of time separates them and the love story isn’t the easiest to "buy" given that timeframe; that being said, I never doubted her love for him, and likewise (despite his claims), his for her. Weaving a beautiful story that is facilitated by its accuracy of the surroundings, I was undeniably impressed with Elizabeth Camden’s third novel. It’s one I am sure to re-visit, and it leaves me breathless for her next endeavor. 

Coming Next from Elizabeth Camden: After her father’s death, Mollie Knox takes over
his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire. 

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes. 

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact? – via Goodreads, August 2013 

Synopsis: Boston of 1891 is a city of hope and ambition, where mariners, merchants, and dreamers thrive in the cobblestone streets of America’s most historic city. Within the harbor of Boston’s naval shipyard, Lydia Pallas has become a trusted assistant to an Admiral in the U.S. Navy. Fluent in seven languages, she spends her days translating documents from all over the world. 

Lydia’s remarkable language skills bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man on a quest to rid the world of the scourge of opium. Only Lydia has the rare combination of language skills and courage he needs to advance his cause. A man as coolly analytical as he is relentless, Bane never bargained on falling in love with Lydia. As he battles the bittersweet love that grows between them, Bane’s mission will take Lydia away from everything—and everyone—she ever held dear.  

It surprised me how little the romance factored in – Lydia falls hard for Bane but an unusual amount of time separates them and the love story isn’t very believable given that timeframe. That being said, I never doubted her love for him, and likewise (despite his claims), his for her.  - Goodreads

With thanks to the INSPYs and publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for purpose of reading it.


  1. This was one of my absolute favorite reads of the past year. I loved it SO much...Elizabeth Camden is definitely an author fave. :) And man, you just gotta love Bane.

    1. Despite its release in 2012, I think this is going on my 2013 "best of" list, Melissa. I was a bit disappointed by Elizabeth's middle novel but adored her debut and this one also. Hopefully Into the Whirlwind will follow in those footsteps also. :)

      Bane is an epic hero. Just sayin'. ;)

  2. I admit that I wasn't really looking forward to this book until after reading "The Lady of Bolton Hill." I grew to like Bane in that book so when I realized "Against the Tide" had him in it I added it to my "to read" list. I got it a free copy from the publisher, read it, and ,yes, I liked it.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the book. As I wrote before, you have a lovely way of writing a review.

    1. Glad you gave the book a chance despite the skepticism, Grace. It was sure a memorable read - I liked that Elizabeth turned an anti-hero, bad boy into a noble man of God. Made for compelling and inspiring reading. :)

      Thank you for stopping by and reading. Appreciate your kindness. :)

  3. Your writing is so thoughtful and beautiful, Rissi - wonderful review! Like Melissa, this was one of my favorite reads of 2012. :) It was just so powerful, and I cried so much near the end!

    I requested Into the Whirlwind from CFBA, so I'm looking forward to reading that soon!!


    1. Hey, Amber! Always love seeing your smiling face and "two cents" around here, my friend - thank you. :)

      This is definitely going to be one of my "top" 2013 reads despite it being a 2012 publication. It was one of those books that got pushed aside in pursuit of other reads. Happy that the INSPYs finally gave me a good excuse to actually read it.

      Ooo! Jealous you will be (hopefully) getting Into the Whirlwind for review. I'm definitely now SUPER anxious to read it. :)

  4. This was definitely my favorite of Elizabeth Camden's work (although I haven't read The Rose of Winslow Street yet- it's on it's way to my house now;) - I loved it! I'm really looking forward to her next book. Unlike a lot of christian fiction, she had really memorable characters- Bane especially :)

    1. Personally, I didn't love 'Rose,' Hayden. It felt like a big let-down after the charm of Elizabeth Camden's debut novel. Then there is this book which definitely renewed my faith in this author - it was SO good. I sure hope you enjoy her second book - anxious for your review. :)

      Elizabeth does have wonderful characters - that's what makes her "voice" so good. That and the unexpected moments a reader doesn't peg in the beginning.

  5. Excellent book! Absolutely a stellar read. The romance is so tender, I ached a bit to watch it blossom. The characters are oh-so charming. 5 stars for it and for your review, Rissi.

    1. It sure is, Ganise. Love that it took risks and wasn't the "comfortable" read most inspirational historical fiction usually is. :)

      All of the characters are wonderful and the romance was special - no matter how subtle. That I think was a strength - because it was so tender and the subtly helped that. :)

  6. I started reading "The Rose on Winslow Street" over a year ago and then I moved, so I haven't had a chance to get back to it. But I'm eager to finally read something of Camden's! :) Glad you liked this one, Rissi!

    1. It was perfectly lovely, Rosie. Such a beautiful story - and one that took some risks which is something I as a reader admire when it's done well. :)

      Cannot wait to follow your reading progress eventually - and I hope you like the rest of 'Rose.'

  7. Can not wait to read this one!!

    1. Yay! I think you'll like it, Alyssa! :)


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