Karen K, you won the e-book copy "Out of a Dream" by Rosemary Hines. I'll get your name and email address over to her today. Congrats, and enjoy the book!
A Review of "Against the Tide"
A survivor of tragedy and a childhood spent in an orphanage, Lydia has worked hard to establish a comfortable and secure life for herself, and she’s proud of her job as a translator for the Boston Navy Yard. Along comes a blond-headed archangel who’s acquainted with her boss and calls himself "Bane", and even if he is a shameless flirt bent on destroying the order of her desk, he’s willing to pay an extravagant amount for translations of various foreign documents, and she needs the money for her apartment. Her questions about Bane eat at her conscience, even as she appreciates his money. Why does he need menus translated? Is he simply throwing her foreign nonsense in order to keep up their association? Who is he and where does he come from?
Writers: have you ever created a wonderfully unique character that you’re super excited to share with the world, and to your dismay, you pick up a book and find a character similar to your pride and joy? Against the Tide was bittersweet to me for that reason. Bane was a lot like one of my characters—his sense of humor, his ability to slip behind a mask. Even his blond hair. Ah, well, maybe the personality is not so unique, and I've only been fooling myself. :-) Anyway, similarities to my hero aside, Bane was an awesome, and I loved him. After finishing Against the Tide, I learned that Bane made his first appearance in another of Camden’s books—The Lady of Bolton Hill, and I wish I had read that book first. I will certainly be reading it now!
Bane was a character, and had a great mix of admirable qualities and flaws. I found his willingness to risk Lydia consistent with his lack of non-business relationships. I mean, his association with the admiral is the closest thing he has to a friendship, he was raised by a psychopath, and until Lydia, all he knows is his dedication to hacking away at the lucrative opium empire. Rather than a woman wanting a coddling, over-protective gentleman, he needed someone who would embrace his risky lifestyle and rise to challenges with him. And given Lydia's contradictory craving for adventure and obsessive need for order and security (great paradox by the way), I thought she and Bane went together like peanut butter and jelly.
My favorite part of the book is the flirting between Bane and Lydia in the beginning—Bane waltzes into the Navy Yard office, on a mission to mess with Lydia’s orderly desk while passing by to the Admiral’s office. And the scene with the cow, just beautiful, lol. The romance happens early on in the book, but the characters' hunger for companionship combined with flirtation and interaction time, worked to make it believable. A few times, I was slapped by pivotal decisions, and wished I could've seen the flow of thought that proceeded those decisions, but for the most part, the author handled transitory passages with skill, knowing when to zoom into a scene, and when to summarize.
There were a few things I thought inconsistent with the late 19th century time period, for instance, “Turkey” instead of Anatolia or the Ottoman Empire, and the hero massages the heroine’s feet (I don’t think a modest 19th century woman would have allowed him, but then, given her circumstances...)
It's clear to me why Against the Tide won this year's Christy and Rita awards. The character development, the building suspense, the stunning set-backs and flawless way the author built the plot through character action (rather than writer contrivances)—simply awe-inspiring. Great pacing, and the setting details never got away. Not to mention the fascinating history behind the world’s indulgent use of opium. I knew that adults used opium freely back then, but I didn’t know they gave it to teething babies!
My favorite bit of the book’s brilliant flirtatious banter:
Lydia says, “ ‘Besides, you looked awfully dashing yourself, conducting business with the governor at the State House. I’m surprised you didn’t have a trail of women following you.’
Bane flashed her one of those negligent smiles. ‘Well it is true I’m terribly sought after. I can hardly walk down the street without women pestering me. I am a victim, really. You should be much kinder to me.’ ”