Character Spotlight ~ Karen Witemeyer’s Darius & Nicole with a giveaway

Full Steam AheadMeet a scientist & an heiress in

Karen Witemeyer’s

historical romance

Full Steam Ahead

Bethany House

The Story

When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?

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’s not. 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?

Introducing Darius & Nicole


Brief physical description

Tall, broad shoulders from his regular swimming exercise, slate-blue eyes, overlong dark blond hair. He prefers casual dress—rolled up shirtsleeves, open collar. Tends to let his appearance grow unkempt as his obsession with his scientific experimentation causes him to forget unimportant matters like shaving or having his trousers pressed.Simon Baker


Simon Baker from The Mentalist. Though, Darius resembles the intense, focused version of Simon Baker more than the charming rogue that he usually portrays in his role as Patrick Jane on the TV show.

Strengths and weaknesses

Darius is extremely intelligent and dedicated to his mission to create safer steamboat boilers in order to reduce the number of lives that are lost every year due to explosions and fires. He is passionate and focused. However, this passion has also caused him to separate himself from his family and his peers. He is haunted by past failures and so set on finding a way to redeem them that he blinds himself to what is going on around him.

Quirk (if any)

He swims in the pond on his property to clear his mind. Also, he rarely sleeps. Nightmares and his dedication to his mission keep him up all hours. When he does sleep, he usually avoids his bed and collapses on the small sofa in his study.

Your inspiration for the character

I wanted to create a “mad scientist” type of hero. One who was so wrapped up in his work that only the right woman could possibly distract him.


Brief physical description

She is of French ancestry with dark, sable brown hair that is thick and wavy. She has coppery, light brown eyes and is of average height. She comes from a fairly wealthy background and was educated in the east, so she dresses in fashionable, yet Emilie Simonpractical attire.


Emilie Simon. I found pictures of this French singer online I thought she could easily pass for Nicole Renard. She has that interesting mixture of youth, innocence, and mystery that define Nicole.

Strengths and weaknesses

Nicole is loyal to the bone. Family comes first. She is driven and willing to sacrifice her own dreams in order to preserve those of her father. She is courageous and a warrior, yet her bravery and determination often keep her from asking for help, causing those around her to view her as stubborn. She also tends to undervalue her own worth, due to her belief that her father would have preferred having a son to a daughter.

Quirk (if any)

She carries a knife strapped to her thigh in a garter sheath at all times.

Your inspiration for the character

I needed a feisty heroine with a mission equally important to that of her hero counterpart. While Darius is driven to save thousands of lives, Nicole is drive to save two—her parents.

Background to the story

It all ties back in to my characters and my desire to incorporate explosions. At first I thought to have a chemist for my hero. So many things could go wonderfully wrong in a laboratory. However, it’s been far too many years since I last took a chemistry class, so I decided to move in a different direction. I started researching exploding steam engines, and everything fell into place. I knew I had found the perfect obsession for my hero. Once I found the steamboats, I also found my setting. It would have to be in the early 1850’s before the second Steamboat ACT was passed, and I needed lots of water around. So it seemed only natural that my heroine should come from Galveston Island, off the Gulf Coast of Texas. And as I dug up some of Galveston’s history I found that it once was the home of the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte. I couldn’t pass that up. Hence the creation of the Renard family legacy that stems from a pirate dagger handed down from Jean Lafitte. The dagger takes on legendary qualities over time and soon Renard Shipping’s rivals decide that possession of the dagger must be the key to the Renard family success. So they decide to take it for themselves. Nicole, as the only heir of the Renard family, steals away with the dagger in order to keep her ailing father out of the conflict. Fleeing Galveston, she takes refuge on a small plantation outside of Liberty, Texas where she answers an advertisement for a secretary posted by the explosive Darius Thornton.

Thanks Karen!

Enjoy my “Mad Minute” with Karen from ACFW, 2013


Relz Reviewz Extras
Character spotlight on Crockett & Joanna (Stealing the Preacher)
Character spotlight on Travis & Meredith (Short~Straw Bride)
Listen to my audio interview with Karen
Karen’s Pop Quiz
Interview with Karen
Reviews of Short-Straw BrideA Tailor-Made BrideHead in the Clouds & To Win Her Heart
Karen’s FamilyFiction Plus interview
Visit Karen’s website
Buy from Amazon: Full Steam Ahead or Koorong


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78 Responses to Character Spotlight ~ Karen Witemeyer’s Darius & Nicole with a giveaway

  1. I love them all but I love the character of Crocket in Stealing The Preacher.

  2. I liked Travis Archer from “Short-Straw Bride”. He’s very protective of his brothers, and doesn’t want anyone to come between them, but when Meredith Hayes shows up he changes his tune despite his reluctance to do so.

  3. What a fun interview! I adore Simon Baker. The first time I read Full Steam Ahead I pictured Darius as Richard Armitage, but next time I read it I’ll definitely try picturing Simon Baker :) My favorite hero from Karen’s books is Levi from To Win Her Heart <3

  4. How does one choose a favorite? I like each of the guys the previous comments have mentioned! :-)

  5. I am a big fan of Travis from SSB! :) He’s a great mixture of manly & sweet, gotta love that!

    I haven’t gotten to read To Win Her Heart yet, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Levi, so I’m very curious about him!


    • I fell in love with Travis, too, Beth. He’s got that strong protective instinct and dedication to family that just get me in the heart every time. So glad you enjoyed his story. Hope you get a chance to meet Levi sometime soon as well. :-)

  6. I love the Archer brothers!! =) I fell in love with Crockett just like I did with Travis is his book. Their stories are so much fun to read. Travis and Crockett pretty much fit the bill for a dream future husband. 😉 I have Neill’s book sitting on my dresser and I can’t wait to read it!! =) I love them to much. Lol thanks Karen for creating such fun stories and characters too.

    • I hope Neill lives up to the family tradition in your eyes, Melissa. :-) His story is shorter, but I made sure to bring it home to the Archer ranch in the end so you could enjoy seeing all the brothers again.

  7. I love all of her characters! I have enjoyed the books that I have read from Karen!

  8. This sounds so interesting!

  9. GREAT interview!!! Loved reading about your inspiration for the characters!!

  10. I read Neill’s story first, and fell in love, so I went back and started at the beginning ! I just finished reading “Stealing the Preacher” this morning and I have to say, that I really do love all of the Archer men. So, as it stands, I’ve finished all of your books EXCEPT Full Steam Ahead. I read a little excerpt at the end of your novella (I think) and I can definitely picture Simon Baker as Darius. Can’t wait to read the rest !!

  11. Andrea Stephens

    I can’t choose a favorite hero :^(
    I LOVED the Archer brothers! I really liked how Karen made Neill Archer just so good. Not syrupy, unrealistic good, he was just honest and did the right thing by people even if they didn’t necessarily deserve it. But I still can’t choose a favorite! I love all of Karen’s books.

    • Thanks, Andrea. That means a lot. I’m so glad Neill resonated with you. I just had to give him his own story and was so pleased when my publisher approved the idea of a novella. That man needed a happily ever after. :-)

  12. I can’t choose one because, I must admit, I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading one of Karen’s novels. Hope I can still have a chance to win. Thanks!

    • Hi, Vickie. I hope you get a chance to try one soon. Maybe you can even find a copy of one of my books at your local library. Sometimes they are offered at a discount as well. I always try to post about those opportunities on Facebook. Or maybe you’ll win this drawing. That would be fun! :-)

  13. Brittany McEuen

    I love the Archer brothers and especially liked Neill!

  14. Ooh that’s a bit of a hard one! Karen’s heroes are all so amazing, Jericho, Gideon, Levi, Travis, Crockett, Neill, and I’m sure Darius will be as well! My favorites are definitely Levi and the Archer brothers but if I was going to pick one for me personally I’d probably pick Levi!

  15. I seriously love all of these books, so it would be hard for me to pick just one! I am going to college for English and writing, so reading these books and seeing their awesome characters makes me hope that I can one day write something almost as good! :)

  16. I would also pick Levi Grant from To Win Her Heart, loved that book!

  17. To be honest, I’ve not met many of Karen’s heroes. But, this new one? He is certainly appealing! Especially now I’ve met Karen’s inspiration. 😉

  18. liking the challenge of Darius as hero… =)

  19. Hi Karen, you are a new author to me and I would love a chance to win a copy of Full Steam Ahead. I love the cover. From reading the interview I must say that Nicole appeals to me the most. I admire her strong values in family and putting others first and sacrificing her own dreams for her father. I am always amazed that when a women is brave and determined that she is viewed as stubborn. Even if I don’t win this book is on my to be read wish list. Thank you for sharing about the book it just makes me want to read it more. ~ God Bless ~

    • Thanks, Lisa. I appreciate your comment. Yes, men tend to be determined and “take charge” while women are often labeled headstrong and stubborn. But at least in my story, they both learn that they need help and are better off accepting that help than trying to go it alone. Hope you get to read it soon! :-)

  20. I like all of Karen’s heroes but I think my favorite has to be Crockett Archer.

  21. I’m so looking forward to this book, as I do all of Karen’s books! The characters, Darius and Nicole, both sound intriguing, as does the plot!

  22. Come on people the best hero was Gideon Westcott. He is dashing, loyal and British what more could you want. Plus he falls in love with his governess despite class differences.

    • Ha! Love it, Lucy. Way to stand up for your man – er, fictional, that is. :-) I adore Gideon, too. He was my way of combining my love of regency romance with western romance. And what says fairy tale more than a British nobleman who sweeps the governess off her feet?

  23. I am so glad to have Short Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher but hard to pick favorite characters from the books. I love all of the covers including this new one. I would so love to get lucky and win this book. Keep up the good work Karen. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  24. Well Karen, I must have been dreaming or my comment just disappeared. I remember just what I said.I have The Short Straw and Stealing the Preacher but how do you choose a certain one. Now if your hero in this new book looks like Simon Baker, I just might have to pick him. That is just about the one I hate to miss on TV. So cute and so smart. I like that the two characters you chose both have the name Simon. :)
    Please give me a chance to win this new one. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com >

    • Ha! I didn’t even notice that, Maxie. It must have been meant to be. I’m a big mentalist fan. Loved the season finale this year where he finally declared his feelings. Sigh. My romance heart was so happy.

  25. I really enjoyed J.T Jericho from “A Tailor-Made Bride” even with all his stereotypes! Great post!

    • Thanks, Shannah. J.T. was so fun to take down a peg. That’s probably why I always think of him as Jericho, just like Meredith. I call him that even knowing he hates the name. :-)

  26. I liked Levi from to Win Her Heart. As someone who loves to read, I really enjoyed that books played such a big part of Levi and Eden’s relationship.

  27. I like Crockett in Stealing the Preacher. A real godly man!

    • I thought it important to show that preachers can be just as masculine as any other hero figure, especially with that inner strength at the core that comes from a deep relationship with the Lord. If I could create a hero for my daughter to marry, it would probably be someone just like Crockett. I’m sure God has someone even better picked out for her, though. :-)

  28. I haven’t read any yet but I have a copy of Stealing the Preacher up next on my to-be-read pile!

  29. Who can pick a favorite hero???? In my case I love something different in every individual. But I will have to say, I am going to go with Travis Archer in Short Straw Bride.

  30. I haven’t read the book yet, but from the description of characters in Full Steam Ahead, I’d have to say that Nicole will likely be my favorite character. I love to read about LOYAL people. It’s a very important trait. Ü

  31. Brittany Keating

    There is something appealing about all of her heroes, but especially Gideon from “Head in the Clouds.” Honestly, I fell in love with everything about that book from the first page!

  32. In reading Neill’s description, you got my attention with the resemblance to Simon Baker!

  33. I think it’s a toss up between Levi & Travis. Thanks for a Great new read and giveaway!

  34. Oh man, trying to pick my favorite is really hard! I love them all, but especially Travis and Levi. Although I can’t wait to meet Darius and find out his story! :)

  35. I think Travis Archer was my favorite. I loved Short Straw Bride. The very idea of the “short straw” just cracks me up : )

  36. Levi Grant from “To Win Her Heart” has been one of my favorite hero’s so far. I loved his story of just how far God’s love and grace can reach.

  37. I haven’t read to many of your books yet. My daughter introduced me to you as an author just recently… so I don’t have any favorites yet. I have only read A Tailor-Made Bride so far. I hope I win though because this sounds like a GREAT book. I have many of your books on my to read list… it’s just that my to read list gets bigger every day and there is only so much time in a day to read.

  38. How fabulous are you, Karen?! Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond to the commenters here – we all SO appreciate it!

    My favourite, I think, would be Levi….such a great bloke 😉

  39. I have not read any of Karen’s books yet so I don’t have a favorite but they are on my “to read” list!

  40. I loved Travis!! He was definitely my favorite.

  41. I’m looking forward to reading Karen’s books!

    • I haven’t read any yet, so I can’t say which character appeals the most. But I’m excited to wade through them!

  42. Sounds like an awesome book..would love to win it!

  43. I love all of her heroes, but my favorite would probably be Travis Archer. I can not wait to read this new book!

  44. Crockett Archer from STEALING THE PREACHER. That may be for two reasons – my hubby is a preacher [but I didn’t steal him :) ], and I think it’s the only book of Karen’s I’ve read – so far. I have SHORT-STRAW BRIDE but haven’t read it yet.

  45. I LOVED The archer brothers! Especially Travis and Neill:)

  46. Can’t pick a favorite. Enjoy all the characters in your books – especially in “Stealing the Preacher.” Such fun! Darius sounds interesting. :)

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