I knew when I read Lady of Bolton Hill that I had stumbled on an author with reams of potential. Then, in Rose of Winslow Street, the potential was somewhat more realized. Finally, Against the Tide proved what I had long thought, that Elizabeth Camden could be an excellent writer whose obvious background in history would make real the personages and events she tackled.
Lydia Pallas, orphaned at a young age, has a history of life on a fishing boat with her Greek father and due to travel speaks numerous languages. Bright and pretty, Lydia has scored a magnificent job as a translator for the US Navy. It’s very much a man’s world, overseen by a dashing Admiral; but Lydia’s intelligence and crafty way with languages and exceptionally-tuned ear make her an asset.
Unaccustomed to the warmth and provision allotted her with her fine salary and a beautiful apartment near Boston Harbour, Lydia is discouraged at the prospect of being evicted from her home. She needs money ---and fast. When the mysterious and Adonis-looking Alexander Banebridge (known widely as Bane) offers her seemingly menial translation work, Lydia is eager to pocket what he offers. Soon, however, she learns that a more sinister game is afoot and is spiraled into a web of death and destruction care of the thriving opium trade.
The plot details, historical context and brash and blatant manner in which Camden expels the dangers of opium are well-woven here and make for a thrilling ride. Bane is a very dashing hero (think Heath Ledger in the Patriot for a visual ) with a sly sense of adventure and a wonderfully sarcastic and sardonic tongue which balances his ardent faith with a nice edge. The only part of the story, however, I didn’t buy was Bane and Lydia’s developing romance. While she scorns him from the first and reluctant begins aiding him, the transition from prickles to romance happens with much too quick a shift and gone is the cute banter and sly sarcasm replaced, instead, with the wooing cadences of a romantic tale. The romance is a welcome and cavalier addition to the enthralling adventure; but it wasn't painted with a believability or chemistry I like to see in my characters.
Lydia herself, however, was a lovely heroine: smart, resourceful, strong as an ox and not without her own flaws or character deficiencies. Her slow turn to faith was well realized on page.
Bane’s a bit too cardboard cut-out of the dashing hero type for my taste ( no matter his less-than-wholesome background ---as hinted in Lady of Bolton Hill) but I got the distinct sense that Camden knew exactly what he looked like, sounded like, moved like and was able to fluidly transpose this from her imagination to the page.
All-in-all, a VERY well-written and engaging historical novel which errs a bit in the romance field; but more than makes up for it with its slick verisimilitude and adventure.
And me, Miss Nautical Nut: loved all the stuff about ships and the sea!!!
I received this book from Graf-Martin Communications on behalf of Bethany House publishers