I’ve enjoyed Karen Witemeyer’s books and when the opportunity came to read a galley for a review, I jumped at the chance. Full Steam Ahead is a slightly different turn for Karen’s historical romances, but one that is enjoyable none-the-less.
The story’s heroine is Nicole Renard, the only child of the owner of Renard Shipping. She’s been raised on shipping and fully capable, in her eyes, of being the heir her father needs for his business. If only he saw it that way.
A dagger that has been in the family for centuries has the superstition that the holder of it prospers. Renard’s competitors, the Jenkins, are eager to take possession and that desire has bordered now on an evil obsession that threatens the health and well-being of Nicole’s already sick father, and the safety of her and her mother.
In an attempt to save her family and the business, Nicole agrees to travel to find an acceptable heir to run the business. She will have the choice of the business associates of her father for the role. Unbeknownst to him, she secrets the dagger with her. To avoid capture by the evil Jenkin’s brothers, she takes a detour which deprives her of the majority of her funds. To continue on her journey she needs a job.
Darious Thornton has seen tragic things that have motivated him to pursue safety for steam travel. He desperately needs a secretary and in spite of the distraction of a female, he hires Nicole. Not only can she read his writing, she can correct his errors and he finds his work is moving along faster. Not only that but the delightful young woman who doesn’t fear challenging this crusty bachelor, saves his life. But he learns Nicole is keeping secrets, deadly secrets. He’s determined to protect her.
As the Jenkin’s brothers come searching for her, perhaps he can save her life well. And maybe gain a wife in the bargain. As both lean on God and face their own weakness in their faith and challenge each other to growth, love blooms. Can it overtake the evil? Would the eccentric inventor ever be a person Nicole’s father could accept as an heir? Can she trust her future to God instead of an old useless weapon?
I loved this story and had no trouble finding time to read it. This lacked some of Karen’s whimsy although a bit is there. The romance heats up in a tasteful and delightful way. The faith element is real and not in your face but an honest and authentic expression of the struggles the characters face. If you like western romances, you’ll enjoy this story rooted in serious issues of the time period that plant it solidly in history.
As usual, Bethany House has done a superb job on the cover art as well.