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Ship of Dreams Mass Market Paperback – 1 Apr 2000
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SHIP of DREAMS is a romance, yes, but a romance wrapped around the true story of the sinking of the luxury sidewheel steamer SS Central America (aka the Ship of Gold for all the gold it carried) that went down in a hurricane off the Carolina coast in 1857.
Della Gilliland, seller of herbal tonics and the daughter of a gold miner, and Kenton Bradford of the wealthy "New York Bradfords" meet in San Francisco onboard a steamship as Della is fleeing a false accusation of murder (for one of her tonics). Seeking to hide among the first class passengers, Della introduces herself as Kent's wife. Startled, he plays along with the ruse and finds himself falling in love with the beautiful Irish girl, no matter he is engaged to another woman, a woman he does not love.
Hiatt is a superb storyteller and I soon found myself absorbed--both in the romance and life aboard the steamship. Della is a strong, unpretentious, unselfish heroine and Kent is a noble man whose love for the adventurous Della changes him into a better man. The emotion between Della and Kent is believable, the chemistry real and the love scenes appropriate. The steamship travel from San Francisco to the East Coast via Panama and the hurricane that hit the ship are an integral part of the story and obviously reflect considerable research. All in all, I think Hiatt did an incredible job of bringing both the Victorian period in America and this incident in history to life. I highly recommend it.
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 on the older edition, 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.
Della flees San Francisco aboard a ship after being accused of a crime she didn’t commit. Della then introduces herself as Kent Bradford’s wife to an important investor, shocking Kent. Determined to not cause a scene he goes along with the ruse.
The story is set amid the real events of the final voyage of the ill-fated SS Central America.
This is a story that takes the reader back in history and brings a tragic part of history to life for the reader. The reader gets to know some historical people that were on a voyage that ended up having a very tragic end. While the ship had a tragic ending the story of Della and Kent does not. The reader is pulled into the story so well that they can picture the people and everything that happened quite well. Based in fact the story reads more like a story that is pure fiction and not the reality it really is. For readers that enjoy history and romance this is definitely a book worth reading and getting lost in.
Received a review copy