Summary from BN.com: Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets...
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.
Levi's renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she's finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?
If you know me, then you know how cynical I am when it comes to romance stories. I usually come away feeling rather blah or meh about the storyline. In fact, this year I've only come across one other romance story that I really loved (A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell) and that truly made me swoon. I'm glad to say that this book is of the same caliber.
Oh this book was wonderful! I have really enjoyed Karen Witemeyer's previous books and each one keeps getting better and better. In this book there is a librarian (mad props for book love!) who's reluctant to fall in love after being dreadfully hurt and a blacksmith who has a past that he would rather keep under wraps. The two begin to fall in love over their love of books (more book love!) and their relationship is totally sweet and caring. I loved how letters are used as a way to communicate instead of just verbally saying things.
The characters are not perfect. Eden goes through several spells where she keeps trying to uphold her character instead of doing the right thing. She judges people unfairly and there are times when she thinks she's better than other people. Levi does the same thing though in reverse as he continually thinks he's worse than everyone else and unworthy of forgiveness. Both have things in their past they are hiding and if everything had been explained earlier, it could have saved some heartache. However, the pair are willing to work through their flaws and it is because of this it makes the story really work.
Meanwhile the sheriff is a character that you will love to hate. He's not a stock villian but he's vile, crude and just plan ignorant. If the story took place in modern age, he would be slapped with sexual harassment charges among other offenses. He cannot take the hint that Eden wants nothing to do with him and his stupid mind seems to think that disgracing Levi will make her want him instead. I was SO glad to see what his final outcome turned out to be and good riddance!
The circumstances that Eden and Levi have to go through in their relationship bring out their true characters and make each other of them totally transparent to the other. I loved the end scene where they both have to prove their love to each other. It's not cheesy at all. It's incredibly romantic and moving and simply put shows what I think love should be. I am so pleased with Witemeyer's writing as she doesn't fall into the predictable Christian historical romance plot. She takes the story further with things not ending with just a marriage proposal.
This is what I wish all romance books would be like and especially how I wish more Christian authors would style their historical romances. If you focus more on writing a GOOD story as Witemeyer did, the romance will be more natural and more focused. The male hero doesn't need to be confident and witty all the time, sometimes the shy quiet vulnerable guy wins in the end. VERY HIGHLY recommended.
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer is published by Bethany House (2011)
This review copy was provided for a tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance