Interview with Elizabeth Camden

Hi everyone! I’ll be leading a discussion of Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden for this month’s ACFW Bookclub. The discussion will take place from May 27 – 31st on a Yahoo groups email list. Everyone is welcome to join, and there’s plenty of time to read the book! Elizabeth will be participating in the discussion as well. I’ve included an interview with Elizabeth to entice you. 

Please tell us about Against the Tide.

The book is set in Boston, where 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.  Her remarkable language skills bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man who needs her rare language skills to advance his cause. Bane is a coolly analytical man who never bargained on falling in love with Lydia. As he battles the irresistible attraction growing between them, Bane’s mission will take Lydia away from everything—and everyone—she ever held dear.

What were your goals writing Against the Tide?

I wanted to write a romantic suspense story that hinges on the heroine’s ingenuity to help dig her out of some dicey situations.  I also wanted her intelligence to be the basis for the hero’s initial flare of attraction for her.

Although I did my best to weave themes of forgiveness and redemption into the book, what I really hope is that people simply enjoy reading a thrilling love story.  The characters in this book have huge dreams and are willing to risk everything in order to make them happen.  Whenever the drama gets a little heavy, I try to inject some glimpses of wit and joy into the mix.  This is a deeply romantic story, despite the sometimes weighty themes.

When writing in the romance genre, it seems the success of a book hinges on whether readers accept or agree with the love story in the book. Why do you think this is?

What a great question!  Romance readers will always judge the success of the book by the love story.   Although I love crafting evocative, richly drawn settings, I put most of my effort into creating the chemistry between the hero and heroine.  I want it to dazzle, sparkle.  They must complement one another’s personality at the same time they challenge each other.

The author of a romance novel has to walk a fine line in seeding the characters with enough flaws to prevent the romance from resolving too early, without alienating the reader by having them delve into silly choices merely to drive the plot forward.

Have you ever read a novel where the conflict between the hero and heroine could be solved by a simple honest conversation?  There is no way I am going to let my characters off the hook so easily!  I love a good turbulent story with love, betrayal, heartbreak, all punctuated with periods of soaring joy and utter delight.  That is what I aimed for with Against the Tide.

What are the lessons of that era that are still relevant to readers today?

A huge theme in the book is the power of resilience. Both the hero and heroine have survived devastating childhoods, but are still naturally optimistic people who refuse to let obstacles stand in their way.  Have you ever met people who wither at the first hint of trouble, while others who are repeatedly clobbered by the tragedies of life can still maintain an optimistic outlook?  This is a choice.  Trusting in the Lord’s plan for us is one element of adopting a resilient sprit and I wove that theme throughout the book.   It is a sense of resilience that allows ordinary people to power through obstacles and accomplish amazing things.

I’m thrilled you folks have picked Against the Tide for the May discussion, and look forward to dropping by to participate!

The Marshal’s Promise, by Rhonda Gibson

Book 158: The Marshal’s Promise, by Rhonda Gibson

Reason for reading: This is one of November’s picks for the American Christian Fiction Writers Association online book club. Anyone is welcome to join. Discussions start on the 20th, and this book only takes a couple hours to read.

My Review
In this sweet little Christian historical romance put out by the Harlequin publishing company, Rebecca Ramsey has been forced by her evil stepmother to answer an advert for a mail-order bride. But upon arriving in New Mexico territories, she discovers that her husband-to-be has been killed. With nowhere to go, she decides to make her home in New Mexico. Luckily, the Marshal offers her a job as his housekeeper. But does the Marshal have an ulterior motive for his offer? Sparks fly as these two learn that communication works better than secrets. This was a very cute little book, and there were some really sweetly romantic moments in it. There were also some tartly romantic moments. 😉 If you’re looking for a light historical romance, this is a good choice; however, this book has quite a few anachronisms in it so it’s not to be read by the seriously hard-core historical fiction readers. This book is meant to be fun and sweet, not cerebrally historic. 

The Black Sheep’s Redemption, by Lynette Eason

2012 Book 157: The Black Sheep’s Redemption, by Lynette Eason

Reason for Reading: This is one of November’s picks for the American Christian Fiction Writers Association online book club. Anyone is welcome to join. Discussions start on the 20th, and this book only takes a couple hours to read.

My Review

In this sweet little Christian romantic suspense from the Harlequin, Charles Fitzgerald has been accused of the murder of his nanny, and the only woman who is willing to replace the nanny is Demi Taylor, a young woman who recently suffered a head wound and can’t remember who she is. Fitzgerald’s family, who pretty much runs the town, is suspected of hiding evidence on the case. Will they be able to clear his name to everyone’s satisfaction? And just who IS Demi, and why does she feel someone is stalking her?

This book is the penultimate book in a romantic suspense series about the Fitzgerald family (who apparently has a very suspenseful and romantically inclined few months during the murder investigation). Although I hadn’t read any of the previous books in the series, this book had all of the information needed to understand what was going on. However, there are several loose ends in the book, leaving an opening for us to explore the romantic inclinations of Ryan Fitzgerald AND to discover *dum dum dum* the murderer. (At least I certainly HOPE we discover who the murderer is.) 🙂 I really needed some fluffy reading at the moment that I picked this book up, and this certainly delivered. Light, quick, fun, romantic, and suspenseful. I’m glad I read it, and I’ll probably pick up some of the others in the series.

Wildflowers from Winter, Katie Ganshert

2012 Book 111: Wildflowers from Winter, by Katie Ganshert (7/23/2012)

Reason for Reading: It’s the ACFW bookclub pick for August. I’m leading the discussion so had to read it a bit in advance to prepare my discussion questions. 

My Review 
Bethany Quinn is voraciously pushing her way to the top of an architect career in Chicago when she gets an unexpected call from her estranged mother. Bethany’s childhood friend (also estranged) has a family emergency, and Bethany’s grandfather has heart problems. Bethany reluctantly takes time off work to visit her hometown—a place she hoped to never see again. There, with the help of a renewed friendship and a rather grumpy, but handsome, man she learns that the world isn’t as dreary as she once thought it was. I loved this book. I could easily relate to Bethany’s problems and personality, so she seemed so real and personal to me. Evan, the handsome farmer, was annoying and endearing at the same time; therefore, the budding romance had a realistic tension. Bethany’s religious epiphany was a little sudden, granted, but it was set up well. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes Christian romance. 

Saving Hope, by Margaret Daley

2012 Book 106: Saving Hope, by Margaret Daley (7/11/2012)

Reason for Reading: It’s this month’s pick for the American Christian Fiction Writer’s association bookclub. 

My Review 4/5 stars
Kate Winslow is the director of the Beacon of Hope school, which shelters girls who have been rescued from prostitution rings. When one of her students disappears under dangerous circumstances, she teams up with Texas Ranger Wyatt Sheridan to rescue the girl. In midst of all the stress and horror following the girl’s disappearance, Kate and Wyatt unexpectedly (to them) fall in love. I am a HUGE fan of books that point out that juvenile offenders are more often than not victims of their situation, and that they have to withstand finger pointing and prejudice of their neighbors and employers while they’re struggling to get their lives back on track. Saving Hope does an excellent job of showing this to the reader without lecturing. The romance is sweet. The action is engaging. The suspense is high (or would be if the blurb didn’t give away more information than it should!!!). There were a few moments of awkward internal monologues in the first couple of chapters, but they were fleeting. Overall, I was very impressed.

Surrender the Dawn, by MaryLu Tyndall

2012 Book 75: Surrender the Dawn, by MaryLu Tyndall (5/12/2012)

Reason for Reading: ACFW bookclub choice for May

My Review 4/5stars
Because all the men in her family have left to fight in the War of 1812, Cassandra Channing must financially support her family. She desperately decides to invest the rest of the family’s money in a privateering ship captained by the town rake Luke Heaton. Because she is forced to trust someone outwardly untrustworthy, she is forced to come to grips with the fact that not everything is as it seems…and sometimes she should have more faith. This is the third book in the Surrender to Destiny trilogy, but I read it as a stand-alone book. (It works fine that way.) However, I liked it so much, I’m planning on reading the first two in the series, as well…just so I can get a complete picture of all the characters. This book is a sweet romance with an interesting historical backdrop. It definitely has a religious message, but it is never preachy. I think it was just what I needed at the moment.

Shadows: Book of Aleth, by Michael Duncan

2012 Book 43: Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part 1, by Michael Duncan (3/3/2012)

Reason for Reading: This was my book club choice for this month. I am in charge of the discussion for the month so I have no choice but to read it! 😉

My Reveiw 4/5 stars
When Aaron, Captain of the Royal Guard, is given a mission to retrieve a stolen book by any means necessary he doesn’t question his orders. He soon finds that not all is as it seems. He becomes embroiled in the politics of Dwarves, a race of men he believed were fairy tales. He must lead a mission to retrieve the Book of Aleth and to discover the truth. I was pleasantly surprised by this allegorical fantasy of the Christian Fiction genre. The epic fantasy story was original enough to capture my attention and the writing was smooth and enticing. The religious message is present but subtle, which to me is a sign of a good writer. (I hate being beat over the head with a Message.) The book DID end with a cliff-hanger, but I guess I was expecting that based on the term “Part 1” being in the title. So I was only a tiny bit irked. (I think books should have a natural ending…even in series.) Other than that quibble, I was very pleased.

The Chair, by James L. Rubart

2012 Book 13: The Chair, by James L. Rubart (1/26/2012)

Corin Roscoe, depressed thrill-seeker and owner of an economically-challenged antique shop, is confused and mildly annoyed when an old lady unexpectedly dumps an antique chair on him—a chair made by the “best carpenter to ever live.” His life dissolves into turmoil as he explores the meaning of the chair. Meanwhile, naughty people seek the power of the chair. This is a suspense novel in the Christian Fiction genre; however, I was never in very much suspense. Critiqued as a suspense novel, there’s not much to it. Critiqued as contemporary Christian Fiction, however, I think it was pretty good. It had an excellent message without much preaching, and it had realistic characters. I would recommend “The Chair” to people who enjoy Christian fiction, but don’t mind a small amount of violence or imperfect characters (i.e. those who drink alcohol and swear (as in “Corin swore,” not actual swear words)). My star rating is based on a Christian Fiction critique, but it loses points for a few typos in the digital version—I think it’s disrespectful to readers to not carefully proof-read before publication. 3.5/5 stars