By Andrea Renee Cox
If you’re looking for a delightful read that will keep you riveted from beginning to end, look no further than Karen Witemeyer’s latest offering, Full Steam Ahead. Even though I’ve read two of Karen’s previous novels and knew enough to expect her spunky storytelling, I was quite surprised to see an even greater depth of character and history than usual from her hand. I especially admired the way she meticulously wove the truth about steamboats and boilers into the storyline in such a way that I didn’t even question whether or not she’d checked her facts. Such easy-to-read fiction isn’t an easy accomplishment, but rather speaks of a very talented author who dares to put in long, tough hours, tweaking and honing each chapter until they leap off the page.
During the Facebook book banter in which I won a copy of this book, I asked Karen how many drafts she goes through in the writing of her books. Her reply? Since she edits what she wrote the day before, she really only has one draft. One draft! Can you imagine? I can only dream of that ability at this young stage in my writing endeavors. (Thank you so much for answering a few of my questions during that chat, Karen. Thank you and Bethany House for the complimentary copy of Full Steam Ahead. I hope my review inspires others to pick up a copy next time they visit their favorite book vendor.)
Even though Full Steam Ahead takes place mostly on land, it has the feel of a pirate story. Perhaps that’s due, in part, to the fact that the lead female, Nicole Renard, carries a dagger in her garter. Or maybe it’s because the lead male, Darius Thornton, calls her his “little pirate.” Somehow I think it’s more to do with the adventure style of the tale. With plot twists, witty dialogue, and peculiar characters, it really isn’t much of a wonder why it has that high-seas feel to it.
In Full Steam Ahead, Nicole Renard faces a dangerous journey, with a couple of brutish men on her trail, to protect her family’s legacy and find a husband—who would become her father’s heir, as she is his only child. When circumstances cause her to cut her trip much shorter than she’d planned, she ends up working for a madman. Will she be able to see past his unkempt appearance and exploding experiments to the heart of this out-of-the-ordinary man? When trouble searches her out, will she trust the odd scientist with the truth of her identity and mission? Can she place her safety in God’s capable hands?
My favorite line in this book came in chapter five:
“She’d managed to wring an address out of the postmaster, now all she needed to do was convince a madman to hire a female secretary before he blew her to bits.”
That brought a burst of chuckles to my lips immediately. Many times throughout this book I found myself laughing and smiling. Definitely a keeper that I’ll be reading over and over again. Five stars, for certain.
Readers, what book have you read lately that found a spot on your bookcase for keeps? What was it about the story that stood out as fantastic? Was it a new-to-you author or a tried-and-true favorite?