I don’t have a lot of visitors to my blog. Let’s face it, with all the projects that I completed since the beginning of the year, I’ve barely had time to acknowledge that I even have a blog. But (there’s always a but, right?) I was scrolling through Facebook one day and ran across the cutest cover! The author was looking for readers to review the book. Sadly I was too late to get in on that. But I loved the cover so much I invited her to come to my blog during her release and share a little about the story.
Here’s the cover and the blurb–
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’snot. 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?
Now do you understand why I’m so infatuated? :)
Karen also graciously (during her busy time of release) sent me over a Q&A for a little more info about Full Steam ahead. If you have any other questions, Karen will be stopping in periodically to answer them.
In the mean time, I’m heading over to amazon to get my copy! :)
This may be one I have to get in print. :) Love love love that wonderful cover!
Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer
1. What inspired you to write Full Steam Ahead?
As I brainstormed, I decided it would be fun to have a hero who was a bit of a “mad” scientist. The trouble was figuring out what kind of scientific obsession would make sense in 1800’s Texas. I wanted something exciting, something explosive. I thought to use a chemist—think laboratory experiments gone wrong—but my high school chemistry skills were too rusty. Then I remembered the steamboat disasters of the 1840’s and 50’s. Thousands of lives were lost every year due to the rush to expand commerce into the west using technology that wasn’t yet truly understood. So I put my hero aboard an actual 19th century riverboat, the Louisiana, on the day that its boiler exploded in New Orleans, and my mad scientist was born. Darius Thornton becomes obsessed with discovering ways to make steamboat boilers safe—to the point that he regularly conducts explosive experiments of his own.
2. You’ve spoken about what drives your hero. What about your heroine? Any interesting historical happenings motivating her journey?
Only if you consider pirates interesting. Texas was actually home to one of the most famous pirates of the 19th century – Jean Lafitte. After helping General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British attack of 1815 and thereby earning a pardon for his previous smuggling operations, Jean Lafitte moved his base of operations to Galveston Island, Texas where he set up a pirate colony. My heroine’s grandfather saved the pirate’s life by taking a bullet meant for him. Lafitte rewards his valor with the gift of his personal, jeweled dagger. The Lafitte Dagger became the Renard family legacy, and over time its legend grew. As Galveston underwent political turmoil – going from Mexican rule to the Texas Revolution, then becoming an independent republic, to finally joining the union– Renard Shipping flourished. People began to believe that whoever possessed Lafitte’s dagger would find prosperity in the port of Galveston. When a rival shipping owner sets out to steal the dagger, Nicole Renard, as the only heir, takes the dagger and flees Galveston in an effort to protect her ailing father. Only, instead of escaping to New Orleans to meet up with trusted family friends, she is forced to take a detour up the Trinity River and ends up on the same plantation as Darius Thornton, our obsessed scientist.
3. Most of your books have been set in the 1880’s. Was it a challenge to set Full Steam Ahead three decades earlier?
Yes, it was definitely a challenge. Being so familiar with the 1880’s, I took certain things for granted. Like the railroad, the telegraph, a simple cookstove—none of which were readily available in Texas in the 1850’s. Women’s fashion was drastically different as well. I had to relearn everything my previous novel research had taught me. One fun piece I ran across during all this research was a link between steamboat engines and the Great Exhibition going on in London in 1851, the same year my story takes place. I couldn’t resist incorporating this little jewel, so Darius and Nicole make a trip to England in the epilogue. I can’t say more without spoiling the ending.
4. What are some of the themes explored in this story?
Letting go of the past is the overall theme, based on the verse from Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Darius is so obsessed with redeeming his past failures that he blinds himself to the present needs of the people around him. He must learn to forgive himself and allow God to restore his brokenness before he can move forward. Nicole, too, struggles with issues from her past. Childhood insecurities haunt her due to a father she believed always wanted a son instead of a daughter. She must learn to let go of those beliefs and recognize her own value in Christ in order to claim her happy ending.
5. Will there be future books based on the characters of Full Steam Ahead?
Yes! One of the secondary characters in Full Steam Ahead is a young runaway named Jacob who is taken in by Darius and Nicole. In early 2015, Jacob’s story will continue in an e-novella entitled Love on the Mend. Jacob is all grown up, and after serving as a Civil War doctor, where more soldiers leave his surgeon’s table dead or missing a limb than mended, Jacob wants nothing more than to establish a quiet country practice somewhere and find peace. But peace will never be his until he buries the pain of his past. So he returns to Cold Spring, Texas for the first time in seventeen years . . . and discovers that his past is still alive and kicking.
Thanks for sharing, Karen!