A Dream of Steam by James W. Barry
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As the autumn shipping season draws to a close, Captain Thomas McGrath steps ashore to help his ambitious brother William rebuild the family sawmill. Despite Thomas’s aversion to debt, William convinces him to borrow heavily so they might convert their ailing, water-powered mill to steam. While adapting to the new technology, Thomas finds himself navigating between ax-wielding log pirates, hostile longshoremen, and his brother’s obsession with finding his estranged wife. The newly retooled mill is ramping up lumber production when the winds of fortune turn. Thomas has set sail again when a financial crisis hits, running the brothers afoul of John Fitzpatrick, a crooked bank officer employed by their lender. Fitzpatrick’s crimes push the McGrath Brothers Lumber Company to the edge of ruin, forcing Thomas to consider a high risk proposal if he wants to save their livelihood and get out of debt. Set in 1890s Michigan, A Dream of Steam is a story of sailing ships and lumberjacks, hope and disappointment, love and heartbreak, peopled by men and women who take control of their destinies in an era of rapid change.
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