Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"A Captain for Laura Rose" Review

Laura Rose White, daughter of legendary steamboat captain Jacob White, was raised on steamboats, and she loved every minute of it. She feels at home on the water, and she has an instinct for the river that many men can not duplicate. When tragedy comes to the White family, Laura finds herself in an almost hopeless situation. She must make a successful journey on the steamboat that bears her name – the Laura Rose – from St. Louis to Fort Benton and back. It’s the only way to save her home and to somehow restore her family’s good name.

But female steamboat captains are unheard of, and Laura must take on a second pilot in order to even be able to take on passengers and freight for the journey. Her only choice is to turn to Finn MacKnight, a friend of her brother’s with a less-than-stellar reputation.

With his two sisters, Fiona and Adele, in tow, Finn agrees to the trip. The journey up the Missouri River is both historic and risky, and it may lead them all to a future that they never could have anticipated.

The summer before I was to be a senior in high school, my parents and I went to Kansas City, Missouri, for a business trip/vacation. (Pretty much all of my vacations as a kid revolved around my dad’s business). While my mom and I were exploring the city, someone told us to make sure to check out the Steamboat Arabia Museum.

We were fairly skeptical about it, but we like museums, so we decided to visit. And were we amazed!

The Steamboat Arabia sank near Kansas City in 1856, and 132 years later it was recovered – with much of its cargo intact. If you are ever in Kansas City, it is a very neat place to visit – the author of this novel actually mentions visiting this museum during her research. I thought of our visit to the museum many times as I was reading this novel.

The steamboat in A Captain for Laura Rose almost becomes another character in this novel. I loved the word play on the title of this book, since Laura Rose is the name of the steamboat as well as the name of the main female character.

The story in A Captain for Laura Rose flowed smoothly, although towards the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to handle anything else going wrong for this poor girl! Fortunately, by the time the Laura Rose gets going on its main journey, things seemed to be looking up just a bit – enough for me to be able to continue with the story easily.

The romance in this novel is sweet and idyllic but also has more of a touch of reality to it than some. This is mostly due to the fact that the two main characters don’t really like each other in the beginning of the book. I have a friend who told me once that when she first met her future husband, they didn’t get along at all. They actually argued and were at odds with each other on more than one occasion. Somehow, that all got turned around, and now they are happily married with four kids.
This romance reminded me of that story about my friend. The two don’t always see eye-to-eye, and it’s definitely not a love-at-first-sight scenario. But over time, the two realize just how good they are together and just how much they feel for each other. What started out as somewhat strong feelings in the other direction somehow turned to love. That’s what made this romance a bit different from others I’ve read lately.

I appreciate, too, when the main male character is looking for more in a wife than just a pretty face, and Finn definitely fit this bill. I also like that Laura was a strong, independent female character that didn’t come off as reckless or annoying. She was confident without being conceited and was able to be her own person without being unbelievable. The witty banter between Laura and Finn doesn’t hurt, either.

I also like the secondary characters in this story. Secondary characters are sometimes hard to get just right because they either are written too well (and you end up liking them better than the main characters), or they become cardboard cutouts. I thought the secondary characters in A Captain for Laura Rose and their stories were a perfect t compliment to the main characters and their story. I was interested in the other characters’ plotlines, especially Adele’s, but it didn’t detract from the main storyline. I thought that the growth in the sisterly relationship between Fiona and Adele was especially heartwarming. I really liked all of the extra things that the secondary characters and their storylines added to this novel.

The spiritual portion of this novel was well-integrated into the storyline and didn’t seem too preachy to me. However, I wish that a couple of the characters had gone through more of a salvation experience during a specific point in time rather than that part being somewhat glossed over.

While the setting of this story is unique – especially the time spent aboard the steamboat – I sometimes got bogged down in the steamboat travel and language. But just when I was feeling as if the story was beginning to drag, something would happen to keep me from feeling that way.
A Captain for Laura Rose is a sweet romance with a unique setting that is very well-written. And Finn MacKnight is the most romantic name I have come across in many, many years of reading romance novels.

I will give A Captain for Laura Rose … 4 BookWorms.

A Captain for Laura Rose
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publication date: March 4, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from FaithWords. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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