I usually go for ones that take place in time periods I'm particularly interested in, or in locations I'm attached to. So I'm not exactly sure why I chose to review To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer.
Taking place in Texas in 1887, I'm neither particularly attached to the location nor to that time period (now, 1887 in Dakota Territory -- I'd be all over that!)
However, I really did enjoy the story.
From the publisher:
After completing 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.I think there were two aspects of this story that really grabbed me.
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs in the town her father founded. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she's reluctant to trust him. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.
Eden believes she's finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about Levi's prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affections?
- Levi has a speech problem that masks his intelligence. When he talks, he'll think a word with an 's' sound, then have to search his mind for a replacement that he can pronounce. It leaves him sounding slow and dim-witted at times, though his vocabulary is amazing. Not that my son's struggles with dyslexia are exactly related... I couldn't help but compare them. If he is in a situation where he needs to read aloud, people immediately judge his intelligence based on the halting sentences that come out of his mouth.
- Levi found Jesus in prison. And he is getting out and looking for a second chance. Since we start off inside his head, realizing he is a changed man, we are sympathetic to his plight. It is so easy to see the other characters -- who react with fear -- as being close-minded and un-Christlike. But really, are we better? If you had a twenty and were walking out of Wal-mart thinking to give that bill away... and you have a table with sad, hungry children's faces soliciting for an orphanage on one side... are you really going to walk to the other table that shows prison bars and is asking you to donate money to buy Bibles for convicts? Or do you think the children are more deserving? Hmmm... it is a question that is making me think.
You can read the first three chapters:
To Win Her Heart
Disclosure: Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.