Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House Publishers (June 3, 2014) 353 pages
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 Rating: 5/5 stars
A "cover" note: This is one of my TOP favorite covers ever. I just adore both of their expressions. Based on the cover, I was expecting a "train" story, but it's not. Also, Darius is suppose to have blond hair, but I just couldn't change the dark brown hair that's hinted at on the cover. To me, he remained a brunette, looking somewhat similar to Jake Gyllenhaal, but not exactly).
When I first learned about the world of blogging and giveaways, A Tailor-Made Bride was the very first book I ever won. I was seriously on cloud 9! For this woman who loves a pretty blue dress on a cover, I was like a child just given a big bag of candy when that book arrived in my hands. I was even more thrilled when I read and *adored* the story. With each book that Witemeyer has given to the world, I've only grown to love her stories more and more.
As with all of her other books, in Full Steam Ahead, we get a sweet romance, a bit of tension/suspense, and a touch of humor. I always smile during these stories, and Full Steam Ahead was no exception.
I enjoyed Nicole's strong qualities, like carrying a knife in her garter to protect herself and killing snakes. At the same time, I liked that she wasn't against having a "knight in shining armor". Darius starts off being quite the arrogant man. Most of my favorite leading men start out the same way. If not done just right, though, I simply find them a pain. Thankfully, Darius shows his heart of gold, and won my approval. Mr. and Mrs. Wellborn, along with John(with his small role) won my heart, too!
Overall, if you enjoy sweet romances, with a touch of a history lesson in the mix, and a touch of suspense, pick up Full Steam Ahead!
*Thanks to Bethany House and Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy, in exchange for my honest opinion.