Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer is a novel full of intrigue, faith, romance, and suspense. Set in the mid-1800's, Nicole Renard is the only child of the owner of a large shipping company. She is intelligent, spirited, determined, and brave, but as a female in that day and age, she is unable to take over her father's shipping business. She returns to her home in Texas and finds her father gravely ill, so she sets off on a journey to find a husband and therefore an heir for her father. Through a series of detours (involving the mysterious Lafitte Dagger), she finds herself as Darius Thornton's secretary. Darius comes across as a somewhat crazy scientist, so focused on studying boilers and making them explode that he forgets to eat and sleep. Nicole soon learns there is much more to Darius than meets the eye, and even begins to care for him, even though she knows she must leave soon to fulfill her promise to her father.
The cover of this book first attracted my attention. I really like the expression on the face of woman on the front of the book and I just love the dress. I've always loved historical fashion. The book itself is a nice mix of action, suspense, romance, and drama. The characters in the book are interesting and well-developed, although not entirely realistic at all times. Nicole and Darius are both quite stubborn and impulsive and as a result often do some rash and outrageous things. I like how Nicole's character defies stereotypes of the day - she is gifted in science and math and proves this to Darius even when he assumes things about her because she is a woman. The steamboat angle in the book is an interesting historical and scientific addition. I think we all can relate to Nicole's belief that she is the one that needs to fix everything herself, without God's help. Similarly, most can understand how Darius is trying to make up for what he believes is an unforgivable sin from his past. Both of them are trying to do things themselves when God is working on each one's behalf throughout the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It's a fun, enjoyable read.
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.