Title: Full Steam Ahead
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Narrator: Carine Montbertrand
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Series: Full Steam Ahead, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance
Book Description (from the Baker Publishing Group’s Website):
When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?
Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole’s father has always focused on what she’s not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.
Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it’s too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family’s greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father’s rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole’s plans.
After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.
Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father’s rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family’s legacy?
Karen Witemeyer’s latest novel, Full Steam Ahead, takes her signature blend of witty romance, faith, and history from the ranches of earlier books into the world of the steamboat. Specifically, to an 1800’s Texas plantation where a reclusive scientist performs explosive experiments designed to improve the safety of steam engines, and thereby prevent future casualties.
I find the history of technology and scientific advances to be pretty fascinating, so I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of this story. It certainly didn’t hurt that the author incorporated those details in a vivid, and at times explosive way that complements the story well. And yes, I do mean “explosive” literally. 😉
Nicole and Darius make great romantic leads. They’re both intelligent and highly motivated characters with interesting backgrounds that just happen to make them perfect for each other… even if they don’t see it at first. But their chemistry… wow. I loved watching their romance develop, and particularly the way they impact each other’s faith journeys.
But that’s not all. Witemeyer also provides some thoroughly charming and entertaining secondary characters. Not to mention a pair of villains out to steal a treasured family heirloom who season the story with just the right dash of suspense, leading up to an exciting conclusion with a bit of an unexpected but surprisingly satisfying twist. Definitely worth the read.
Specific to the audio edition:
I must confess that when I read a couple of reviews by listeners who described the narrator’s voice as “old sounding” I was a bit concerned about whether this would be an audiobook I could recommend. It is, after all, a book about young people. Would the voices work? I re-read the book’s description, listened to the audio sample, and decided to take a chance on reviewing it. I’m happy to say I was not disappointed.
Carine Montbertrand’s performance perfectly captures the wry humor of the novel, and gives life to the characters’ voices and emotions. Her use of lovely French accents comes in handy for the voices of some of the secondary characters, as well as names of French origin. Both male and female voices sound authentic and entirely appropriate for their ages.
At times, I did detect a slight gravelly quality to the narrator’s voice, primarily at moments when her voice dipped into the lower registers during passages of narrative description, but I found this didn’t bother me at all, and even seemed to disappear into the background as I grew accustomed to her reading style and got lost in the story.
Overall, I found the listening experience to be a very pleasant one, and I am happy to recommend it. Thank you to Recorded Books for providing me with a copy of this audiobook for review purposes.