My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Laura Rose White's late father taught her everything he knew about piloting a Missouri River steamboat. He even named their boat after her. Despite that, it seems that Laura will forever be a "cub pilot" to her brother Joe, because in 1867, a female riverboat captain is unheard of. That is, until tragedy strikes and Laura must make the two month journey from St. Louis to Fort Benton and back in order to save her family's legacy, her home, and the only life she's ever known.
The only way for her to overcome the nearly insurmountable odds is with the help of her brother's disreputable friend Finn MacKnight, a skilled pilot with a terrible reputation. Laura loathes having to accept MacKnight as her co-pilot, especially when she learns she must also provide passage for his two sisters. Straight-laced Fiona has a fear of water, and unpredictable Adele seems much too comfortable with the idea of life in the rough and tumble environment of the untamed river and the men who ply it. Though they are thrown together by necessity, this historic journey may lead Laura and the MacKnights to far more than they ever expected.
I so enjoyed reading this historical novel! I was fascinated with the journey of Laura and the obstacles she overcame along the way. All aspects of the book seemed historically accurate, rich with details and scenes pulled straight from captains' logs and journals. I especially appreciated the author's note at the end of the book which shared insights into her thorough research. She brought to life the difficulty of being a woman breaking into a male-dominated profession as Laura fought to be the first female steamboat captain. One of the main focuses of the book was the indomitable spirit of Laura, even as she felt alone and hesitant to turn to God. She and Finn bonded over the support they provided as they revealed their vulnerabilities and began to trust each other. Their characters were so well-developed and there wasn't a dull moment as they battled both internal and external trials. Finn's sisters Fiona and Adele were a wonderful contrast to each other, and Dr. Ross and Laura's mother provide spiritual guidance when Laura needs it the most. I loved the loyalty of the crew, Laura's dog Logjam, and the various colorful characters that rounded out the story. A thoroughly satisfying read!
(I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher; all opinions in this review are my own)