This was a first novel, which I think forgives a lot. If this had been the author's fourth or fifth novel, I might have given this two stars. There were the normal issues one would expect with a first novel - predictable outcome, grammar issues, etc. - but because this is a maiden voyage, I was willing to look past all of that, particularly in light of her solid characters and evocative description.
The main reason that this is not getting four stars from me is the "climax." I cannot really use that term seriously, because I read it with literally no reaction. In fact, I missed that it was the climax and not a red herring climax (i.e., look at what you thought was the zenith, but really it comes in a few pages) until I reached the end of the novel and realized that was all I was going to get. It was a letdown after what was a solid, if predictable, plot. There is a sequel to this novel (maybe it was a red herring climax after all?), but I am not sure if I will take the time to read it.
I do have to note that this is the first book by Briggs I have read. Judging by the glowing reviews for her other novels, I might have saved myself some amount of frustration by starting with a later series.