Christian fiction, Christian historical, Christian romance, cover design, Historical, historical christian fiction, Historical Fiction, historical romance, inspirational fiction

Book & Cover Review of "Full Steam Ahead" by Karen Witemayer

Back Cover of book "Full Steam Ahead"Front Cover of "Full Steam Ahead"
 5 Star Rating

Book Review

“Full Steam Ahead” is the perfect book for those who love heroes and heroines that don’t necessarily fit the mold. Nicole Renard is deeply devoted to her father, but their relationship is strained due to one problem totally out of her control – she’s not male. Smart as a whip, and full of spunk, this heroine will capture your heart from the first page.

At the beginning of this story, Nicole has returned home because her father is deathly ill … and his business competitors know it. Attempts are made by his competitors to end her father’s business legacy, and Nicole is desperate to find a husband to give her father a male heir, and help hide what she thinks is her father’s greatest treasure – the Lafitte Dagger. (Yes, there is pirate lore in here too; a unique twist!)

During her adventurous journey to find a spouse among her father’s business partners, she bumps into a very unlikely spousal candidate – Darius Thornton. Darius is a man whose life has become totally obsessed with one thing – improving steamship boiler safety. His explosive experiments, and driven focus, have the entire town talking. Everyone avoids even being near his home except for a couple of loyal house staff members.

These two characters, on the surface, do not seem made for one another at all.  However, once Nicole begins applying her keen mind to Darius’s boiler experiments … he can’t help noticing Nicole is more than a pretty exterior; something her father has failed to do.

I would say that this story is written more with female readers in mind, but anyone interested in the history of US steamboats would enjoy this journey back to that era of travel.

5 Star Rating

Cover Review

I will state for the record, that Bethany House covers tend to be among my favorites. Their design and photography teams manage to capture the buyer’s attention, as well as the heart of the author’s story on a very consistent basis.

The expression of the female model, her body-language of arms folded about her mid-drift, her fly-away hair, and the blast of steam coming from the boiler the male model appears to be working on, all combine into one intriguing and rather fun cover. You know from the moment you look at this cover model, that this young woman is determined, and more than a little spunky.

On the front cover, we only catch a glimpse of the chin of our hero’s face, but he does look rather hunky. You already wonder what he’s up to with all of that steam?

The beautiful embellishment around the title is enhanced by a subtle embossing over both the title and the author name on this cover. I also love that they used the same steamy look behind the title and embellishment to help the title stand out from the background of the model’s vibrant green dress.

The spine features the same photo as the cover, only we do get to see the hero’s entire face (still hunky). The spunky theme is also cleverly carried into the back cover design, where our heroine model appears to be giving her hero an “I told you that wouldn’t work” speech, with one hand on her hip and the other pointing a finger in a commanding way. The hero has his arms slouched, palms up, as though conceding she is correct, or admitting he didn’t know something. I love that I can guess what their conversation is, and what they personalities are like by their body language. So often a cover is only a face staring into the distance.

This cover definitely draws you into the characters and into the story from first glance. Well done!

*This book was provided by the publisher for review under no guarantee of a positive review.




Christian fiction, Historical Fiction, historical romance

Book & Cover Review of "Unwilling Warrior" by Andrea Boeshaar

Trust is hard to come by in ‘Unwilling Warrior’

Book Review
Milwaukee author and Christian life coach, Andrea Boeshaar, has written a new historical novel exploring how to trust after betrayal in both earthly and spiritual relationships.

Releasing in May, ‘Unwilling Warrior’ is Andrea’s approximately 30th published book and is book one of an anticipated four-book series entitled Seasons of Redemption. In ‘Unwilling Warrior,’ a civil war era New Orleans debutant becomes an unwilling pawn in her father’s circle of influence.  Her father nearly sacrifices her, to a verbally and physically abusive suitor, in order to crawl out of his own financial ruin and start a new life.  Thankfully, an unexpected and timely houseguest ends up being the answer to her prayers – but trusting his motives does not come easily for someone recently forced into harms way by her own flesh and blood.

Valerie Fontaine, age 19, is mourning the recent and sudden death of a mother whom she also considered to be her best friend. She wrongly expects to be welcomed openly by her father after a dangerous and lengthy journey from her Virginia finishing school to the family home in New Orleans in search of family consolation. Her father remains distant and detached toward his only child – seeking consolation in a bottle rather than in any way helpful to his daughter, or his reputation.

Into the mix enters a young man, Benjamin McCabe, who is more in search of a missing brother than in any relationship with the opposite gender. His brother, Luke, has been missing since the Battle of Bull Run; Ben and a friend have continued to travel as journalistic photographers, photographing soldiers of both the North and the South, while seeking for any sign of the missing brother.  The stop in New Orleans is meant to be brief, but between Ben’s instant attraction to one Miss Valerie Fontaine, and the helpful connections made via a confederate Colonel that might widen the net for locating the whereabouts of his brother, Ben opts to stay a bit longer.

An additional interesting character in this novel is a young woman named Catherine.  Apparently, Catherine is a distant cousin of Benjamin’s who has been carrying a torch for him for several years.  She is more than a little obsessive, and seems to have her entire life with him mapped out in her mind.  What is interesting about how the author treats this character is that often I have seen Christian authors not want harm to come to any of their female characters – to the point that if there is an unwanted female romantic pursuer, even though they are rejected by the male protagonist there is always a neat and tidy wrap up to that character’s storyline.  Someone else falls in love with her, she decides to become a governess and moves away – a quick and tidy ending for this possibly not-so-nice young lady.  In the case of Catherine, however, the author uses this character as an example of someone who has been surrounded by a Christian upbringing – her own father is a minister and she plays the piano every week in church – but she fails to actually follow Christ in her life choices throughout the novel.

Despite being treated with kindness, Catherine repeatedly attempts to ruin Valerie’s happiness via both verbal and physical means, gradually earning the distrust of everyone who knows her.  She spreads lies about Valerie’s reputation, resorts to theft, and eventually causes her own demise.  Through it all, this character shows no sign that she knows anything she’s doing is wrong. Valerie Fontaine – no matter how nice she tries to be – has simply gotten in the way of Catherine’s tidily planned out life with Benjamin on the prairieland of Missouri.

With an antagonist like Catherine in the picture, a southern family scandal, and a missing brother to find during the middle of a civil war, this novel is fast-paced and it keeps you eagerly turning the pages to see if Valerie will ever have anyone in her life, including God, that she can fully trust.

Book Cover Review

This cover is definitely aimed at the same audience the writing was intended for – the historical Christian romance.  The horse-drawn covered wagon, and stately southern manor immediately ground this title as a historical and give you a sense of place and time before you read the first word on the cover.  The style of dress on the pictured heroine matches those elements; her wistful expression and the twirling of hair also hint at this being a period romance novel, and the modest dress is also standard for a Christian heroine.  The back cover further enhances this with the camera and posing heroine holding a single rose – a classic symbol of romance.  All of these elements are woven together by the blending of warm, aged looking colors and a faded background of scroll patterns and close-ups of the ornate column-work seen on the southern mansion.  A fitting cover for this charming civil war-era romance novel.

* A final galley was provided by the author for review prior to this book’s release in May by her traditional publisher.