Jul 302014

Full Steam AheadStrong Characters, Sweet Romance, and Serious Obstacles

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Publisher

TYPE OF NOVEL: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction

SETTING: Texas, 1851

MAIN CHARACTERS: Nicole Renard, a feisty, quick-minded, and courageous heiress with a talent for mathematics and an obligation to save her family from a nefarious family. Darius Thornton, a man haunted by trauma in his past, has become obsessed with finding a solution to boiler explosions on steamships and lives as a recluse in Texas.

WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL: While I do like to live by the credo “all Jane Austen, all the time,” I do enjoy dipping my toe into some historical romances that introduce me to a whole new cast of characters and take me to different places and eras in history. When I want a satisfying and illuminating historical romance that has some hints of faith mixed in, Karen Witemeyer is an author I’ve come to trust to get the balance just right.


  • Darius Thornton: (Oh yes, the hero is first and foremost!) I adored our atypical, rough-around-the-edges hero. His manners are brusque and he is susceptible to brooding, but what I love most about him is his noble, self-sacrificing, and intense nature. He will work himself ragged to study and try to solve boiler explosions, even at the risk of his own life! And to see how he was haunted by the past every time he attempted to snatch some sleep (which wasn’t often), was a testament to his compassionate and responsible character. In addition, I loved seeing his scientific mind at work, especially when he tried to apply his keen observation skills and scientific theories to figuring out Nicole!
  • Self-Sacrifice and Forgiveness: I truly enjoyed the underlying themes of self-sacrifice and forgiveness that were present in this novel as well as the inspiring message delivered throughout the text. Nicole is so loyal to her family that she is determined to find and marry a suitable heir to run her father’s company, even to the point of sacrificing her own happiness and desires. And poor Darius, he blames himself for a life he wasn’t able to save and has yet to realized that we cannot absolve ourselves from our past mistakes or earn forgiveness.
  • Boilers and Steamships: I love it when novels open my eyes and expand my mind! Before reading this novel, I was very ignorant of boiler explosions and the ever-present danger passengers faced when traveling by steamship. I enjoyed learning about Darius’s experiments and seeing him search for the conditions that are most conducive to prevent steamboat explosions.
  • There’s Steam: I loved the relationship between Darius and Nicole, she’s feisty and fiercely loyal, and he is fervently intense and focused. And that kind of combination could be very passionate! *sigh* There is a lovely amount of tender and amorous embraces in this novel (nothing too mature though). And while their feelings for each other may have quickly developed, Darius and Nicole both have secrets to share and obstacles to overcome.


  • Quick Change of Heart: Nicole and Darius progress (perhaps a little too quickly for my taste) from attracted to each other to full-on “my heart is yours forever” love. Especially Darius. I would have loved for the “I-have-strong-feelings-for-you-but-we-cannot-be-together” struggle to have lasted a little bit longer.


A beautiful and exhilarating romance! This story is full of dynamic characters who face dangerous predicaments and develop strong devotion for each other. With Full Steam Ahead, Karen Witemeyer delivers another praiseworthy an engaging adventure that secures her place on my list of go-to authors!

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26 Comments on "Full Steam Ahead – Karen Witemeyer"

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I have read a few Karen Witemeyer books now, and I just love them, they are always so gripping! Glad to hear this one is good, I’ll look forward to reading it.

Becky B

I loved this book too. Great review!


I enjoyed your item-by-item review structure of this book. Contrary to what some may think, I do not read exclusively Jane Austen fan-fic but love a variety of historical romances and this early American romance/adventure looks like a winner.


I tend to have problems with authors who use anachronistic names for characters. Come on now, Nicole for a name in the mid- 19th century. I think not. Little things like this make me doubt the amount of research or real feeling for the period s/he has. I’ll keep the title under advisement.


Quite often when I am reading historical books I wonder at the names used, but I find it hard to tell when names date from, there is not much information out there that I know of that will tell you whether a name didn’t exist then or was just rare. For example, in a book I’m reading at the moment there is a man whose first name is Brook, which I thought was very odd, but he was a real person!


Nicole’s parents are from France, and I think Nicole has been a common name there for a long long time. I’m not sure it dates back that far, but it’s not modern either.

Monica P

Nicole probably wasn’t a popular name then but it doesn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility. It was/is also a surname in France.

I downloaded a Revolutionary war era book with a heroine named Amber and it was kind of hard to wrap my mind around that. But I figured amber is found in nature so, not impossible. *shrug*

Karen Witemeyer

Thank you so much for the wonderful review! I’m so glad you enjoyed Darius and Nicole’s story.

Jean Austen

Why is this an “Austenesque Review”? While I’m sure it’s a lovely book, can’t we keep true to “Austenesque”?


I would like to read this.

Tamara H

Great review Meredith, It’s the one Witemeyer I do not have. You did make me laugh about knowing more about steamboats and explosions! I never thought I would say this but like you my motto was Austen all day everyday but it has been delightful to take a break every now and then, especially when the break is a good book:)

Catherine Commons

This sounds like an interesting read. As commented above, I like stories to be as historically correct as possible. I like to imagine that I’m being taken to another place and time in addition to a good story.

Monica P

I’ve heard such great things about this author and I’m sure I have at least one of her books on my kindle. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

Michelle Fidler
I’ve heard of the book and might want to read it. Haven’t read any of hers. I saw this was on your list in an earlier posting. I do sometimes read Christian fiction and I’m not religious. I like this type of historical book, especially ones with covers like this. I like the wide-eyed heroine. I know what everyone means with keeping the names in the proper historical context. There’s a series by Sam Siciliano featuring Sherlock Holmes, but instead of Dr. Watson there’s another doctor in the book and his wife’s name is Michelle (my name!). I didn’t think… Read more »
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