Nicole Renard is the heir to Renard Shipping and the famous Lafitte Dagger, rumoured to have brought the family great fortune. But the Jenkins family think the dagger should be theirs, and are prepared to take it using any means necessary. Nicole plans to leave Galveston, travel to New Orleans and find a husband to protect her, and the dagger. A series of unfortunate coincidences means she ends up as the secretary to Mr Darius Thornton, who blows things up.
Darius almost died when the boiler on a steamboat exploded, and has spent the last two years experimenting with boilers to prevent further accidents. He doesn’t sleep, barely eats, and finds his new secretary rather too appealing. Nicole is attracted to Darius, but knows he isn’t a suitable husband—she needs a husband who knows the shipping business, who can lead Renard Shipping for her dying father.
I really enjoyed Full Steam Ahead. It perhaps didn’t have as much humour as Karen Witemeyer’s previous novels, but there was a depth of research and characterisation they didn’t have. They reminded me of novels by Jody Hedlund or Deeanne Gist, in that it was based on the real-life historical issue of exploding boilers and unsafe shipping. The real-life background was integrated with a plot full of both romance and suspense.
I found Nicole and Darius to be a well-matched couple (although neither of them thought so to begin with), especially in terms of their intellects. It is good to see an intelligent female character who excels in a subject like mathematics, especially in historical fiction. I also liked the fact that Darius respected her abilities and wasn’t too proud to employ a woman in a ‘man’s role’.
I think I've read every one of Karen Witemeyer's novels, and haven't had a dud yet. Full Steam Ahead is a step in a slightly different direction, but it's as good if not better than her previous titles. I'll look forward to her next book!
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Karen Witemeyer at her website.