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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 ...
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 mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless 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.
When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?
Winner of the 2013 RITA Award for Inspirational Romance
Winner of the 2013 Christy Award for Historical Romance
Fifteen years later, 1891 The Boston Navy Yard
It looks like the Russian navy has just launched a new gunship," Lydia said.
It was hard to tell from the grainy photograph, but the ship looked different from the others reported in the Russian newspapers. Lydia rose from her desk and walked across the office to show the newspaper to Willis, whose encyclopedic memory of warships was astounding. She only hoped he would be willing to help her. She had been working at the research wing of the United States Navy for more than four years, but it still irked Willis that a woman had been hired for this sort of work.
Lydia handed Willis a magnifying glass to better scrutinize the photograph. "I don't remember the Russians ever having a rotating gun turret," she said, "but it looks like they have one, don't you think?"
Willis Colburn was so thin it looked possible to shred cheese off the blades of his cheekbones. He pushed his spectacles higher as he studied the picture. "You know, Lydia, you are supposed to be the expert on Russian," he said pointedly.
Actually, Lydia was the expert on Russian, Greek, Turkish, Italian, Albanian, and Croatian. Her job was to scan journals, technical reports, and anything else sent from southern Europe in search of innovations in ship design. When she first saw the job advertisement looking for someone with multiple language skills and an intimate knowledge of ships, she nearly levitated with excitement. Her first two years after leaving the orphanage were difficult, laboring at the fish canneries and packing tins with salted mackerel until she couldn't see straight. It was monotonous, smelly work, and at the end of the week she was barely able to pay the rent on a room in a boardinghouse, which was why she was so eager to land the job at the Navy Yard. The position called for someone who could read foreign documents and make sense of developments in ship design.
Lydia remembered everything about the sails, tack, and rigging of fishing boats, but when she first saw the imposing battle frigates in the Navy Yard, she wondered if she had overestimated her knowledge of ships.
Admiral Fontaine did not seem to care. A ruggedly attractive man who seemed far too young to have attained the status of admiral, he merely shrugged. "I can teach you the particulars of warships easier than I can train someone in half a dozen languages," he had said. "You are hired."
Who could have believed it? The little girl from Greece who grew up on rickety fishing boats and never had a decent pair of shoes was now a trusted assistant to an admiral in the United States Navy. Each day she walked past acres of towering ships docked in the Navy Yard before reporting to work. The office had a view over the dry docks where navy cruisers and battleships were overhauled and refitted for service.
And Lydia knew her job was vitally important. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, funding for the U.S. Navy had been slashed to the bone as resources were funneled to the army for a massive westward expansion. Other than providing basic coverage of domestic ports, the government lost interest in maintaining a navy. In the midst of one of the greatest technological booms in history, the U.S. Navy became stagnant while the maritime nations of Europe poured funding into ironclads, steamers, torpedoes, and long-range artillery.
It was only after an embarrassing incident when the United States was forced to back down from the Chilean navy that Congress was driven to act. A bureau to collect intelligence on foreign naval technology was created. Naval attachés were sent all across Europe to research shipbuilding technology. Most of the research was aboveboard, but some of it was clandestinely gathered. Whenever those officers found printed material of interest, they sent it home to Admiral Fontaine for a complete translation into English. Each week Lydia received stacks of newspaper clippings, product manuals, and technical journals. She translated, cross-referenced, and indexed every scrap of it.
Watching and trying to play catch-up with the great maritime powers was hardly the way to achieve naval superiority, but at least it provided funding for the team of translators sitting directly outside Admiral Fontaine's office.
"This Russian turret looks a bit like what the British use, don't you think?" Lydia asked Willis, turning the page of the pamphlet to show him the rest of the article, but he cringed and clasped both hands to his forehead.
"Lydia, please. The noise of that paper crackling is like knives across my skin." Yesterday the scent of the juice she had been drinking made him dizzy, and last week he complained that the weight of the air was making him suffer a rash. Yet when Admiral Fontaine was in the room, Willis always seemed to be as hardy as a mountain goat.
Lydia lowered the tone of her voice, which often placated Willis, and tried again. "Is this turret the same as what the British have, or is it something entirely new?"
"It is not new," Karl Olavstad said from his desk on the opposite side of the office. "The Norwegians have had such a turret for at least three years."
Karl handled the translation work from northern Europe and Scandinavia, while a young man named Jacob Frankenberg tracked western European developments. Willis was a naval historian from London, and his command of shipbuilding throughout the world was unparalleled. He kept track of developments in the British navy and provided insight for everything the team of translators brought to him.
"The Norwegians copied it from the British," Willis said in a tired voice. "The Norwegian navy would sink to the bottom of the sea if they could not emulate the British."
Lydia propped her hip against the side of Willis's desk, eager to see how Karl would respond to the salvo. When she first started work at the Navy Yard, the jousting between her officemates had confused and alarmed her. At the Crakken Orphanage when disagreements broke out among the children, Lydia ran for cover in the broom closet, but she soon learned Karl and Willis enjoyed matching wits.
"Let us hope the Norwegians don't start emulating British cuisine," Karl said. "They would perish from the sheer monotony of boiled cabbage, boiled peas, and boiled beef."
From his desk beside the window overlooking the dry docks, Jacob set down his German newspaper and joined the fray. "Don't forget boiled tongue," he said with a shudder. "The only time Willis invited me to his home, his wife served boiled tongue and pickled onions. I had only been in this country two weeks, and it almost sent me rushing back home to Salzburg."
Lydia knew it would never happen. Every person in this office was an immigrant, and yet each of them had already planted roots as tenacious as those of a mighty oak tree into the rich Boston soil. Was it because she had never had a place to call home that Lydia was so fiercely loyal to Boston and her employment at the Navy Yard? Her respect for Admiral Fontaine certainly had something to do with her pride in working here, but it was more than that. After years of anxiety and loneliness, first at the orphanage and then at the canneries, she had at last found a sense of belonging within the bustling harbor of the Navy Yard. Jacob, Karl, and even the maddening Willis were like a family to her, and she thrived amidst their unconventional friendship.
"What is the proper name of this gun turret?" she asked Willis. "And can you tell me if the gun is smooth-bore or rifled?"
Willis pinched the skin at the top of his nose. "Just tell the admiral it is a Hotchkiss quick-firing gun, modified for shipboard use. That will be adequate for his purposes."
Lydia fidgeted. She didn't want her reports to be merely adequate; she wanted them flawless. The report was due by the end of the day, and she needed Willis to cooperate. His teacup was empty, and she knew how much the man adored his Earl Grey blend.
"How about I brew you another cup of tea?" she asked Willis. "By the time I have the water heated, perhaps you can have a list for me of every British and Norwegian ship with the same type of Hotchkiss gun?"
"Deal," Willis agreed, as she knew he would. The office had a coal-heated burner in the corner of the room, which helped satisfy Willis's roaring dependency on Earl Grey tea. Lydia opened the trapdoor of the heater and added a few more coals.
"You could afford to ease up a bit, Lydia," Jacob said. "Not every report needs to be footnoted, cross-referenced, and triple-checked. You'll make the rest of us look bad. Besides, maybe the admiral fancies a girl who can relax for once."
Heat flooded her cheeks. That was the second time this month Jacob teased her about liking Admiral Fontaine a little too much. Which was ridiculous. "Jacob, your adolescent imagination is running away again."
"Come on, Lydia. Plenty of girls are carrying a torch for Admiral Fontaine," Jacob said. "The lonely widower. Powerful. Rich as sin. Half the girls in Boston are crying into their pillows over him."
She closed the door of the burner with a clang. Okay, maybe she had a tiny case of hero-worship for the admiral, but never once had she toyed with any ridiculous fantasies. Besides, the admiral's office was directly behind her, and for all she knew, he could be listening to every word. "First of all," she said tightly, "I never cry. Ever. And I haven't prepared my reports for the admiral with any more care than the rest of you."
Karl did not even lift his nose from where it was buried in the open pages of a Norwegian newspaper, but his voice was pointed. "You learned Albanian for him."
Jacob pounced on the opening. "Yeah, Lydia, you learned Albanian for him!"
She gritted her teeth. She hadn't learned Albanian for the admiral; she did it because they had a language deficit in the office and she was the one most likely to quickly master the language. It didn't mean she carried a torch for the admiral, and she couldn't afford to let this sort of talk get out of hand. She set the water in the kettle to heat, then moved to stand beside Jacob's desk. "Please, please don't tease me about this," she said, her voice uncharacteristically serious. "You don't know how hard it is for a woman to find professional employment, and any whiff of gossip could cost me my job. Can you understand that?"
Jacob blanched. He didn't have a mean bone in his scrawny body and never considered what his teasing could do to her. "Okay, sorry, Lydia," he quickly agreed, pushing his round spectacles higher up on his nose. "I'm sorry if I said anything—you know—stupid."
Now Lydia felt guilty for scolding. "No man who reads six languages is stupid." She gave him a cuff on the arm. "You idiot."
She returned to tend to the teakettle and added more water. "Make a whole pot, please," Karl said. "The Adonis is coming this afternoon, and you know how surly the admiral is after those meetings."
Her hands froze on the kettle. It was never a good thing when that man came to see the admiral.
His name was Lieutenant Alexander Banebridge, but Karl had dubbed him "The Adonis" because of the man's ridiculous beauty. None of them understood his mysterious business at the Navy Yard, but after each visit, the admiral was always grim and pensive. Moody, even. Anyone who caused the famously even-tempered Admiral Fontaine to become surly was someone Lydia instinctively mistrusted.
Lydia suspected Lieutenant Banebridge might be one of the foreign attachés funneling them reports about overseas ships, but there was no way for her to know. The man never said a single word to her. He merely breezed into the admiral's office and left a pall behind him with each meeting.
She couldn't afford to worry about the admiral's mysterious visitor. After setting the kettle over the burner, she opened the canister of tea and let the scent soothe her. If she lived to be one hundred, she would always love the mild scent of Earl Grey tea. Was it because it reminded her of the office? For the first time in her life, she had a job she loved and earned a respectable salary that allowed her to afford a safe apartment of her very own. That apartment had a solid floor, a ceiling that did not leak, and allowed her to fall asleep without fear of vicious children stealing her shoes if she took them off before going to bed.
The door of the office flew open, banging against the wall with a crash. Lydia was stunned to see Big John, the man who owned the coffeehouse on the ground floor of the building where she lived. His face was flushed, and he was barely able to get enough air into his lungs.
"Lydia, you are being evicted," he said on a ragged breath.
Lydia dropped the canister, scattering loose tea leaves across the floor. "What?" The word escaped from her throat in an ungainly screech.
"Workmen just arrived," he said. "They started putting your furniture on the street outside the building. I told them they can't evict you yet, but they started anyway."
"They can't do this! I have papers saying I can stay. Admiral Fontaine drew them up himself." Panic flooded her at the thought of losing her home. It was more than mere sentimentality tying her to her modest fourth-floor apartment in a building improbably named the Laughing Dragon. That apartment was her sanctuary, the first home in her entire life where Lydia felt completely safe.
She needed to get home right away. "Tell the admiral what is happening," she called to Jacob as she raced out the door, then clattered down the office staircase and into the street. She hauled up her skirts and ran as if her life depended on it ... which it rather did. Since the morning she left the orphanage, she had devoted every hour of her day to earning enough money to create a stable home for herself. Now that she finally had it, she would battle all the plagues of Egypt to keep it.
Excerpted from AGAINST THE TIDE by Elizabeth Camden. Copyright © 2012 Dorothy Mays. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted July 14, 2013
Posted May 19, 2013
Lydia Pallas grew up surrounded with instability, but she is finally content with her comforting home and rewarding job as a translator for the U. S. Navy. She meticulously organizes her surroundings so that, for the first time in her life, she feels she's in control of her life. However, her landlords are now threatening to throw her out of the only stable home she's ever had. She needs to raise several hundred dollars to buy her home by December. Seemingly fortuitously, Alexander Banebridge (Bane), a friend of her boss, offers to pay her a lot of money for some free-lance translation work. Even though Lydia begins to question the odd requests of Bane, she finds herself attracted to his cleverness, charm, and sense of humor. Soon, she is swept up into a dangerous world of opium smuggling.
I have a lot of good things to say about this book. I loved the late 1800's Boston setting - it's a time which lends itself easily to romance. Although there were a few moments that I wondered if the language was historically accurate, I felt Camden did an excellent job with her research into opium trade. Despite (or possibly because of) Lydia's OCD quirks, she was very lovable. I really found myself empathizing with her pain - losing her family, the stress of raising money to buy the only home she's ever felt safe in, and her feelings for Bane. On the other hand, I inwardly groaned at her devotion to Bane and his cause. I totally understood WHY she was in love, but cringed at the foolishness of loving a man who claims he has no interest in marriage, but doesn't mind a bit of flirting. But love is foolish, often, isn't it? I was sort of torn - I empathized with her frustrations with Bane, but I also wished she would find herself a nice dedicated man. This is a similar conundrum I felt while reading Jane Eyre - I wanted her to live happily ever after with the man she loved, but I thought she was risking too much by loving him. I guess that makes it more romantic, in some ways?
The other thing that I really appreciated about this book (though my attention was only drawn to it because I'm about to lead a book discussion): the questions that Camden provided at the end of the book were really deep! I didn't realize how many sticky philosophical and spiritual questions were brought up in the story until I read the discussion questions. And they're not spiritual questions that have an obvious "right-if-you're-REALLY-a-Christian" answer, which is what a lot of end-of-book discussion questions in Christian Fiction seem to be. Personally, I don't see the world in black and white, so I love the opportunity to discuss grey.
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Posted August 4, 2014
Posted April 17, 2014
I debated giving this a 4 or 5 star rating because this turned into a christian romance which is not a style that I read. However the religion was slight and easy for me to pass. The story was rich and full and still holds value today.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 9, 2014
Posted February 16, 2014
This book had a lot of good qualities, unique storyline, engaging characters, historical accuracy, and a decent romance. I wanted to love it but it somehow fell short. Perhaps it was the negative portrayal of pharmacists that turned me off? Rationally, it would be unfair to judge the merits of the novel on that but an emotional response to a book is rarely rational. This novel does illustrate the dangers of drug addiction and how terrible a problem opium was before the government instituted control over patent medicines and began making some substances controlled. Historically there were children addicted to opium before they could walk because it was found in high concentrations in tonics marketed to soothe babies. Unfortunately, opioid addiction is still present in children when they are born to mothers who took controlled substances while pregnant. But at least you can't go in and purchase these highly addictive narcotics over the counter.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2014
I LOVED this book! Although I don't recommend it for younger kids...its great for teens and up! I really liked the first book in this series a lot...but I was very excited on learning of what happend to Alexander Banebridge! (Bane, or Alex) it's very exciting! Great read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2013
This is an excellent book about the use of opium in medications, and especially in children's medications, in the late 1800's. This story will keep your attention right to the end. The plot contains a wide range of emotional issues including heartache, struggles, crime, mystery, murder, bravery and love. I highly recommend this book. Elizabeth Camden has done an outstanding job in writing it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2013
Looks: long golden wavy hair and bright big blue eyes. Athletic body shape. Usually wears a skirt, boots, a blouse, and my hair up in a braid
Likes: i love the outdoors
Dislikes: liars and heart abusers(lol)
0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2013
Posted November 20, 2013
This was a great read. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I really enjoyed learning about the opium trade and drug rehab back in the day.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 18, 2013
Posted October 4, 2013
I LOVED this book! It was hard to put down as I was instantly drawn to the characters. I liked so many things about this book. I liked to at it showed a poor immigrant working to rise above her circumstances, I liked the relationships in the book, and I liked that it addressed the opium problems of the early 1900's and addiction. It was a well written story that began with day to day events and changed into an adventure of kidnapping, rescue and exposure. You will love this great story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 26, 2013
Posted August 31, 2013
I found the book to be an enjoyable read, with a happy ending. (301 pages).Lydia's was a little weak re: Bane. Bane not being there for Lydia, after Lydia's helps Bane, was a little disappointing. But Bane's being there for Lydia when it really counted made up for the previous disappoinmment. The part towards the end involving Admiral Fountaine's, I was loving it all the way. Confused, read he book. Its a bit winded in some areas but overall a good book.vrnb.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 30, 2013
Posted August 30, 2013
This book was rather predictable. Even after finishing this book I couldn't shake the feeling that i had read this plot line somewhere else. I think it is the authors style that seemed so familiar as I have read two of her other books. The book is good for a quick one night read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2013
A girl is orphaned and raised in an orphanage. She becomes a strong woman working for the navy as a translater and supports herself in an age where women normally depend on men for income. She meets a man and embarks on mission to rid the world of a children's syrup laced with opium. She falls in love with a man who fears he can never love anyone to save them from any harm that may come to them because of his mission.
I was engrossed in this book for days and to find out a good part of it was actual history amazed me.
Great read! Must read! Does not disappoint! You find in these pages a growing, deep love between two people which seems just out of reach for them. Will love conquer all?
Posted January 25, 2013
What a ride! Child kidnapping, the opium trade, ancient manuscripts, an insane professor, an impossibly handsome man, a woman desperate for order that is brilliant at languages, the U.S. Navy, Boston Harbor, a near fortress in Vermont, and a bottle of Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup. All of these together make for a fast paced adventure set in the 1890's.
I had wanted to read Against The Tide when I first heard about it but it took my wonderful local Library to get a copy into my anxious hands.
Against The Tide is not your usual light dance through a historical period. There are no merry parties, fancy dresses, long walks in the moonlight. This books deals with drugs, addiction, people who will stop at nothing including murder to keep the illegal import of opium going, a man who also will stop at nothing to end the opium trade, kidnappings, manipulations etc.
It was darker than many historical novels but there really were dark periods in history; not everything was tea and cakes. This book was a bit of an eye opener. I honestly had no clue that orphanages in the 1800's actually drugged children with opium to keep them quiet and compliant. So often the view of the opium trade is that described in the Sherlock Holmes stories, dark, dirty, foul places full of people smoking and lying in a drug addled stupor. Against The Tide shows how even children and a young woman can become addicted without them even knowing it.
All of that said, don't let it stop you from reading this book. This book deals with hard subjects but it is still entertaining and well worth the time spent reading. The descriptions of locales were excellent! My little movie-in-my-brain that runs while a read had a lot to work with. The cover is gorgeous! The almost-ending is a little difficult but the end is happy.
This is a must read book from 2012.
Posted January 4, 2013
Lydia was born in Europe, to a Greek father and a Turkish mom; the family’s “home” was a boat that constantly traveled to different places around the Mediterranean, in order to look for jobs and make a living. This extraordinary experience allowed the brilliant, little Lydia to learn several languages. At one point, the family comes to Boston, and when Lydia grows up, her linguistic ability allows her to get a prestigious job as a Translator for the Navy and a rudimentary, yet comfortable life when most women had very limited labor opportunities.
Although she has all the essentials, the building where Lydia lives is sold and, in order to keep her apartment, she has to come up with a lot of money in a pretty short time. Her boss, Admiral LaFontaine, knows about her predicament recommends Lydia to Bane, who has done some special jobs for the Admiral and is now in need of some translations for an investigation he is doing. Little by little, they start feeling for each other, but Bane’s past has a powerful restraint on him; he won’t allow himself to get involved with anyone, afraid of exposing them to danger.
When Bane asks Lydia to go beyond her limits, he will jeopardize everything Lydia has fought for and even stay absent when she desperately requires his assistance. However, Lydia sympathizes with his cause, and finds in herself a strength she didn’t know she had when her services are needed once more by Bane, whose investigation takes a turn for the worse, involving the Admiral’s family, and making Bane’s worst fears an awful truth.
Bane’s investigation and past has to do with the opium trade in Boston. While I won’t give details spoiling the story, I must say that Mrs. Camden takes time to end the story with an example of how an awful addiction to narcotics will affect lives at so many levels. In this note, I really appreciate the fact that the author ends the story with the same intensity present in the rest of the book; the conclusion is not rushed, and even leaves room open for further possibilities.
It took me a little to realize this was the continuation of “The Lady of Bolton Hill.” Because of this, the story became more enjoyable and gripping for me. Although “Against the Tide” can be followed as a story of its own, Bane’s character has a sort of double personality; he is sweet and cares for others, but the experiences he went through when he was younger and how he got away from it (included in the first book), make him cocky, belligerent and even rude sometimes. This rougher side of him is a result of his coping with the past, feeling responsible for his mistakes and wanting to make things right; he gets so focused on this goal that he forgets his present actions also affect the people around him. If someone reading “Against the Tide” has not read “The Lady of Bolton Hill,” this dichotomy might be confusing and his character might be taken as an unpleasant person.
Another fact that I enjoyed about this book is that Mrs. Camden is continuously reminding the reader that God is always present in our lives, whether it doesn’t seem like it, or we aren’t aware of it. Some of the characters she portrays are constantly learning about faith and growing in their relationship with Christ. For instance, someone (I won’t mention the character because I don’t want to give a lot of information about the story) mentions: “I learned that salvation is possible, even for a nasty sinner like me. I learned I had the freedom to make a choice about what sort of person I wanted to be. (page 98).” Even though this is a fictional story, it is refreshing to remember that God is a transformer of lives, as long as we allow Him to.
Something common to Elizabeth Camden’s books is that, at the end, she includes questions that invite the reader to ponder about the character, decisions, morals, habits and other situations described in the book. Even if these were not included, the story is so deep that it will be easy to be used in study groups, or even self-study. Moreover, the language is clean, and although there is a deep attraction between the main characters, the author does not use excessive descriptions that distract from the plot and focus on feelings.
Also, this is the second book by Elizabeth Camden that I’ve read. It is always a delight to read her. Her books are outstanding in that they are historically descriptive in a very realistic way. I would assume that most authors do their homework and research the context within which they are setting the story; Elizabeth Camden does it in such a way that History becomes alive and it actually taps something in the readers, making them wanting to know more about the period or situation described in the book. Few books awake that curiosity in me; Against the Tide is a highly recommendable book.
I can’t wait to read Mrs. Camden’s next one!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this influenced my opinion on the book or on the author.
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