Karen Witemeyer’s suburb story skills shine in this second-chances tale that caught my attention at the first paragraph and kept me enthralled until the very end. Little details on every page gripped my heart and drew me into the lives of a man seeking a new life and a woman trying to shed her old one. I agonized between writing my own story and reading To Win Her Heart which I kept close so I could snatch a peek at every chance.
I believe Karen Witemeyer reached new heights with her choice of strong, yet vulnerable characters - social opposites who believe past errors have ruined their chance for a family of their own.
Eden Spencer is only in her late twenties, but in 1887 she’s considered a spinster. She lives with a small staff - people who’ve known her forever, and opens her personal library to the town. Church, good works for orphans and reading at her weekly children’s story hour fills her with joy, but it’s not enough to satisfy the emptiness for babies of her own. She needs a husband for that, except her mistrust in men is almost as strong as her need to keep her reputation spotless.
Levi Grant is a huge blacksmith who’s been in prison for accidently killing a man in a boxing match. Newly released, he heads to Spencer, Texas where the local preacher is the only one who knows his past, but is keeping it a secret because the town is desperate for a smithy. All Levi wants is to wrap himself in his new-found faith and do his ironwork without bringing attention to himself.
Two people from different social circles, neither needing a hint of scandal, yet they share a love of books. Never mind that Levi looks out-of-place in Eden’s library. It’s what’s inside him that counts. And here's where it gets interesting because Karen Witemeyer has given Levi a character trait he’s ashamed to show in public. As a child faced with ridicule, Levi fought back the only way he knew how - with his fists. And now that he’s out of prison, he’s sworn off fighting and has found a way to overcome his ‘defect’. Or has he? Perhaps it’s just hidden and waiting for an inopportune moment to make itself known. How I empathized with Levi because every day was a struggle of suppression, especially when he met Eden and his guarded emotions slipped away and revealed the real Levi Grant.
By that time I’d accepted him as a strong, yet vulnerable hero. I knew him. I knew his regrets. I knew he was an honorable man intent only on following God’s path. I knew his heart. And I was ready to do battle for him if he wasn’t going to defend himself.
Eden thinks she’s falling in love with a peaceful, reputable man. A pacifist who won’t allow herself to be linked with anyone with a hint of dishonesty or violence to their name, she’d rather live alone than let another man make a fool of her. If she isn’t careful, she’ll be the fool for not seeing Levi as God’s gift to her.
I hope you can tell home much I loved this book. The morning after I finished reading it, I awoke with Levi and Eden on my mind – and they stayed with me throughout the day and week. Truly a wonderful, heart-touching story with tears and laughter and finally, relief that yes, there is a happy ending after all. But oh, what a beautiful romantic tale of God’s hand on their lives.
If you'd like to know more about Karen Witemeyer and her books, go to her website at http://www.karenwitemeyer.com/ and take a look around. You might even want to try your hand at her Fan Fiction contest where you get to let her know how you think a book should end.