As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself–a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.
However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or “Bane,” a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head. Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past.
Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.
And here is Sassy's review:
So I just moved into this beautiful new apartment three weeks ago, and last week, it flooded thanks to a botched HVAC repair job. My beautiful hardwood floors, ruined. Two thirds of my floors had to be torn out, walls will need to be re-done, painted, and furniture shoved every which way… Mess mess mess! I spent my week dealing with contractors, insurance adjusters, property managers. For solace, I sought out a book. Nothing distracts me better than a new literary adventure. I finally decided to read Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden. Even when I had contractors to intimidate and property managers to harass, I had one thought on the brain: I want my book back. Waiting for the subway, on hold for customer service, even while walking the dog, this book was droning in my ear, and yes, I got so intent on it at one point that I did run into a tree. All dogs and blind chicks are unhurt… I assume the same goes for the tree. I couldn’t put this book down! My biggest gripe with this book? You ended too fast! Now what am I going to read while I watch paint dry? … Um, I guess that’s if I could watch paint dry. Something tells me that’s not what Guide Dogs are for.
There’s a lot of hard core romance fans who see an inspirational romance and groan because they want mind-blowing sex scenes, rich bad boys and earls with bodice ripping on the brain. Okay, okay, I’m generalizing to the detriment of my point, but I feel like inspies get a bad rap sometimes, and this time, most unfairly. Sometimes I want less of the bed-rocking and more of the mind-opening, intellectual book, the kind that makes you believe in love stories and real people again. If I did a yearly Oscars version of romance novels, this couple would be nominated for Couple of the Year. The book itself is good, but the couple is the exceptional part.
The book opens when Lydia, our heroine, is a child newly arrived in Boston in the early 1890’s. She is the child of a Greek fisherman father and his Turkish wife. The little family has moved around from boat to boat and country to country throughout Lydia’s childhood, impoverished, but happy with each other. Then Lydia is orphaned and, unable to speak more than a single word of English, must fend for herself alone in a new land.
Fifteen years later, Lydia has become a translator for the Navy, and her work brings her into contact with our hero, Bane. Bane, whose earlier adventures are told in another Camden book, is a wily trickster and a scamp in a man’s boots. He’s a cunning ex-thief and criminal mastermind newly come to God and ready to right his wrongs with a vengeance. He finds a like mind in his female accomplice, Lydia. He enlists Lydia’s help in bringing down the antiquated, obsessed overlord of an international opium ring. Unbeknownst to Lydia, however, the simple headache medicine she’s been using since childhood contains opium, and she herself is facing a war of addiction.
Lydia struggles to make a good secure home for herself after her painful nomadic childhood while Bane wrestles with the demons of his criminal past and the drug lord who held him captive for so long. All Bane can do alone is taunt the eccentric professor with poppies and mysteriously vanish before he is caught. Lydia is forced to take discreet translation work to have any hope of buying her tiny little apartment she’s come to love so much. But if Bane could get Lydia to help him, and if Lydia could get Bane to see a different way of bringing down the professor drug lord, they might just make it through this together.
Lydia and Bane match wits perfectly. They make an excellent team together, but separately have enough cunning and courage to keep each other guessing and off-balance. They each have their flaws and personal struggles, but the friendship that grows between them is uncommon and refreshing. Watching their courtship evolve from flirtation to romance was the most natural thing in the world and I enjoyed every moment of it. The witty banter, the tricks Bane plays on Lydia, the delightful ways in which Lydia outsmarts him when he least expects it, all combine to make this love story unputdownable. It’s a word! Go away, spellcheck!
There were a few sticking points to the story SURROUNDING our amazing couple. Some of the secondary characters were sketched, not filled in all the way. The plot wasn’t my favorite, but it did keep me reading. The villain is your garden-variety sociopathic professor drug lord. He holds the boys of high-ranking officials captive in his remote Vermont mansion and treats them well so long as they leave his immense collection of books alone and their fathers allow his shipments of opium to pass unhindered into the United States. There are a few plot problems with our heroic couple’s rescue efforts, but if I told you those problems, I’d spoil it for you, so you’ll just have to find them out for yourself. They weren’t big enough to kick me out of the rhythm of the book.
The issue of redemption runs rampant through these pages, but on the whole, Camden does it well. It doesn’t overwhelm the book, but it appears in many forms along the way. I didn’t come for the psychopath or the redemption in this instance. I came, and stayed, for the rendezvous between Bane and Lydia. Yes, this book does have a page or so of Bible discussion and godliness, especially toward the end, but not in an in-your-face preachy way.
If you need a break from the usual romance and aren’t afraid of a hard-won happy ending, then go meet Bane and Lydia. I give their love story an A all the way.