Tuesday, August 5, 2014
'With Every Breath' by Elizabeth Camden
In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston holds a respectable position as a government statistician when she encounters a rival from her past, the insufferable Trevor McDonough. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and she's bewildered at the way he suddenly seeks her out. Surprising even herself, Kate agrees to Trevor's entirely unexpected and risky proposal to work side-by-side with him in his quest to rid the world of tuberculosis, a contagious and deadly disease.
As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, she realizes there is much more to him than she could have imagined. His hidden depths may fascinate her, but his most closely guarded secrets and a shadowy enemy lurking in the background carry a serious threat to their future.
When the truth of the past comes out, threatening to destroy everything they hold dear, how will Trevor and Kate ever overcome all that stands in their way?
As teenagers, Trevor and Kate were intellectual rivals, competing for the only college scholarship their school was offering. Twelve years later, Kate accepts a job offer collecting statistics for a tuberculosis research clinic, to find that it's headed by her old nemesis, Trevor.
These are the late 1800s, the days when weird health sanitariums were all the rage. Doctors who were willing to go out on a limb in their experiments with new theories risked appearing like quacks. In this climate, Trevor is determined to give all he has to find a cure for tuberculosis, a terrible scourge of its time. The mercury sabotage was interesting, as it struck terror in their hearts, yet my own dad used to play with the little balls as a child in the 1940s without thinking it would do him any harm. The face masks which the staff in this story wear are often all that stand between them and possible horrible death.
Trevor isn't really the sort of fellow I'd find myself falling for, perhaps because I've had experience with dour medical specialists. But I'm sure many readers who are fans of Mr Darcy from 'Pride and Prejudice' will love Trevor's brusque and grouchy ways. At first I thought Kate's falling for him showed more about her good character and generous heart than any lovable traits of Trevor's, but I came to see that he really is a true hero. He sticks to a daunting calling without a clue as to whether or not he'll ever make any headway, standing to lose all that he values most. Yet he plugs on anyway, with faith and empathy as his only guides. We can't ask for a better example than that.
I completely understand Kate's dilemmas too. Having seen too much heartache, her control-freak tendencies stem from a desire to keep her loved-ones safe, but being men, Trevor and Tick (her brother) have minds of their own. It's a good read for any of us who have struggled with fear, and I appreciate the conclusion she comes to.
Several baffling mysteries keep the plot rolling along. For Kate, Trevor himself is a mystery. Where was he for two, unaccounted for years of his life? Why did he even feel the need to battle with her for the scholarship when his father was loaded with money? But more urgently, who is trying to sabotage him, and shoot his career down in flames? (I actually figured about three quarters of this out.)
I liked the story ending with a New Year's celebration, as the nineteenth century ticked into the twentieth. What an eventful century it turned out to be, and I clearly remember one hundred years later, when we welcomed the twenty-first.
The memorable lines in this book include Kate telling Trevor, 'You are the most cold blooded person I've ever met. I'll bet you need to sun yourself on a rock to generate body heat.' Then, there's also his thought-provoking challenge to her, 'You only love when it's easy.'
Thanks to Net Galley and Bethany House for giving me a review copy.
With Every Breath available from Amazon