Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Book Cover and Synopsis:
When Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston from an eastern finishing school, she's stunned to find her father in ill health. Though she loves him, he's only ever focused on what she's "not." Not male. Not married. Not able to run their family business, Renard Shipping.

Vowing to secure a suitable marriage partner, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure: a dagger personally gifted to Nicole's father by the pirate Jean Lafitte. Many believe the legend that the dagger is the source of all Renard Shipping's good fortune, though Nicole is sure her father's work ethic and honorable business practices are the keys to their success. Before she can board the steamer to New Orleans, Nicole finds her father's rivals—the Jenkins brothers—on either side of the gangplank, ready to grab her and steal the dagger. Quickly, she decides to instead travel north, to Liberty, Texas, where she can decide what to do next.

Darius Thornton needs a secretary—someone to help him get his notes in order. Ever since the boiler explosion aboard the "Louisiana," Darius has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. The pretty young socialite who applies for the job baffles him with her knowledge of mathematics and steamships. He decides to take a risk and hire her, but he's determined her attractive face and fancy clothes won't distract him from his important research.

The job offer comes at exactly the right time for Nicole. With what Darius is paying her, she'll be able to afford passage to New Orleans in mere weeks. But Mr. Thornton is so reclusive, so distant, so unusual. He can create complex scientific equations but can't remember to comb his hair. And his experiments are growing more and more dangerous. Still, there are undeniable sparks of attraction between them. But Nicole is leaving soon, and if she marries, it must be to a man who can manage a shipping empire. Darius certainly doesn't fit that description. And the Jenkins brothers have not given up on kidnapping Nicole and seizing the Lafitte dagger for themselves.

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
Nicole is a fun heroine with lots of hidden talents that continually amused me. Coming from society, she is proper when needed, but she also has a spunky side that often pops up. Her intelligence and skills in math are able to put most men to shame, and in a pinch she is even handy with a blade! I liked how she didn't let Darius' gruff exterior deter her from her purpose, and I also have to admit I found it rather humorous that she found his feet attractive, LOL! :)

The Lafitte dagger is the basis for the story, basically the reason that many events take place, however I have to admit that the dagger itself began to get on my nerves after a while. The superstition surrounding it is extreme, and the high value some people place on it is very misguided...though I suppose it actually is a plausible scenario. I certainly didn't feel the dagger was worth risking life and limb for, but I did appreciate that Nicole didn't buy into the superstition and she only sought to protect the dagger out of love and respect for her father. Above all, I loved Darius's attitude toward the dagger, but I won't spoil it by saying any more on that subject! :)

The time frame on the story is fairly short, with most of the events taking place within the span of about one month. This results in the relationship between Nicole and Darius moving fairly quickly, without a lot of time for them to get to know each other. To be honest, it actually didn't seem too fast when I was reading it, but when I stopped to think about the timeline--and realized just how short of a time they'd actually known each other--I became a bit skeptical. For the sake of realism and practicality I would've liked to see them know each other for a longer period of time before committing, however the nature of the plot really didn't allow for this. It's certainly not a deal breaker for me, but it was just something I noticed and pondered on.

While it's not my favorite of Karen's novels, I still did enjoy it quite a bit. She has a knack for writing extremely unique, out-of-the-box stories, and this one certainly falls into that category. There's mystery, intrigue, romance, bad guys, chases, and even a couple explosive experiments! For fans of historical fiction, Full Steam Ahead is a title that I can easily recommend.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Thanks to the publisher (BethanyHouse) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.


  1. Karen isn't my favorite Christian Fiction author (though that's just me as everyone else loves her stories and they are cute) but I've heard lovely things about this novel, and that it has shades of Beauty and the Beast, so it's going to be one I'll have to read soon. :)

    1. Strangely enough I didn't realize it while reading, but I later saw someone else online compare it to Beauty and the Beast. Looking back, I can definitely see that it's true. (I sort of wish I'd have realized it when I was reading the story, but oh well.) Anyway, it is a fun story, and it does have a slightly different vibe than Karen's other novels, so you just might like it! :)

      Thanks for stopping by, Rissi! :)