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San Francisco, 1857. Della Gilliland has been making her way in the world by selling harmless medicines, but one of her *patients* has just died and she’s being wrongfully blamed for it. With the law hot on her heels and justice in San Francisco somewhere questionable, Della figures her safest bet is to get on the first ship heading out-of-town. But how to get on board when there’s not enough money for it? Why, she marches up to ever-so-handsome Kenton Bradford (of the New York Bradfords!) and introduces herself to his business associate as his wife. Bemused, Kenton plays along at first, but confessing the truth could squash his hopes of a business deal, so he finds himself stuck in the role for the entire trip back East.

This being a romance novel and all I think you’ll guess where the rest of the story is headed, although Hiatt lets that part of the story build slowly. Della and Kent start off talking about their lives and getting to know one another as friends – you aren’t going to get insta love and steamy kisses on every page. Once that spark ignites, the path to true love gets a bit rocky when they face a wee bit of a storm at sea…

Here’s the deal. Despite that seriously cheesy cover (I’ll show it to you in a bit), this is not a sexed up romance, so if that’s what you’re looking for I’d suggest you pass and keep on looking. As I mentioned, Della and Kent spend a great deal of the first part of the book talking and getting to know each other. The latter part of the book is based on a real historical event, the final voyage of the SS Central America, so they’re a bit too busy with other priorities to be bed-hopping.

My thoughts? While not the greatest book evar, this was a good solid read for me and really couldn’t put it down, and one of the better Kindle freebies I’ve picked up. Adding a lesser known bit of history, and keeping events as close to what happened as possible is a huge plus for a history geek like me, and I thought the author did a nice job with it. According to the author’s notes at the end (always appreciated!), several of the characters she wrote into Della and Kent’s story were passengers on the SS Central America. 3.5/5 stars.

Now about that cover…

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That cover looks like it would be better suited to a pirate romance, doesn’t it? Like I always say. Never ever judge a book by its cover. While there is some sex in this book, it is very tame and it always happened in the stateroom, not on deck.

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