I was fortunate enough to read and review Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer a few months ago, thus introducing me to this great author and her wonderful wholesome romances. Of the few Witemeyer novels I’ve read, I’ve discovered her penchant for writing novels about redemption, new beginnings, hopes, and dreams. They are about things we can all relate to, and they make her novels extremely accessible. After reading Short Straw Bride I held an informal poll on Twitter and was told I should read To Win Her Heart next. I’m sure it’s obvious by now that I listened to everyone’s advice and read it!
Spencer, Texas, is a small town in need of a blacksmith. It’s a perfect place for Levi Grant to hide his past, as he has a history that he’d rather forget. As he settles into town, he can’t help but notice Eden Spencer. Eden has her own story as well, as she is now swearing off men (due to a broken heart) and devoting all her time to running the town’s lending library. This all changes, however, when Levi walks through her library door, looking to check out a book. She tries her best to resist his amazing good looks, and she is surprised at his manner of speaking: slowly and deliberately, while carefully choosing certain words. Although she briefly considers that he has a mental deficiency, she immediately discards this thought after sharing letters with him. The truth is, Eden wants to do more than talk and write to him, but she must stay true to her morals and remember her past. Levi, on the other hand, is just in need of a break and has a big heart. Will he be able to break through Eden’s defenses? Will Eden realize that she’s cutting herself off from someone who will change her life for the better? How will Eden react when she finds out the truth of Levi’s past?
There is something wonderful about books that focus on new beginnings. New beginnings obviously mean something negatively impacted a character’s past, and whether the fault is theirs or someone else’s is up to the reader to discover. At first glance, in To Win Her Heart the only person getting a new beginning is Levi. Levi is a former prize-fighter that was imprisoned for manslaughter (not purposeful manslaughter; a man he fought succumbed to injuries from the fight). He heads to Spencer for his new beginning using the blacksmith skills his father taught him as a child. What I found so interesting about Levi is that he is directly responsible for the new beginnings of several other characters, which is inspiring in my eyes. It’s an interesting storyline: this huge muscular guy falls for the woman in town who is also desperate for a new beginning. Her failed engagement has left her cynical and unbelieving that she deserves her own happy ending. With Levi’s help she sees that she can forge a new beginning for herself while learning from the past. We can’t forget Chloe or Duncan either! Both are given the opportunity to grow in direct correlation to Levi and Eden’s kindness to them.
One other thing I wanted to mention was how much I loved these characters! Levi is such a wonderful guy who is guilty of bad decisions (aren’t we all?) In those few instances where he lets his guard down and his lisp comes out, my heart just melted. It’s instances where he is completely overcome with emotion that it’s noticeable. Eden on the other hand is a firm believer of living a life without violence. Even squashing a bug is too much for her. When a fight breaks out and Levi is the one being beaten she throws all caution to the wind and encourages him to save himself with violence. To see her go against her deep-seeded views on violence shows us just how deeply she cares for this man. It did bother me though that the character responsible for the attack doesn’t really receive a punishment that fits his crime (at least in my opinion).
I think character writing is what Witemeyer does best. Yes, her stories are great, but they’re great because you can’t help but begin caring about her characters as if they’re your own family and friends. It’s this personal touch that makes her stories all the more relatable and that much more exciting to read. Although I’m relatively new to Witemeyer’s work, I can safely say that I’m definitely a big fan and can’t wait to see what else she has in store!
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my forty-fifth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House (2011)
eBook: 304 pages