Wednesday, July 6, 2011

To Win Her Heart

To Win Her Heart is a Christian historical fiction novel by Karen Witemeyer.

When the burly Levi Grant shows up in 1887 Spencer, Texas to be hired for the town blacksmith position, everybody is taken off guard by his large size - including Eden Spencer, daughter of the town's founder. His halting speech leads people to quickly believe he is more brawn than brain, but Eden is surprised when Levi starts turning up at her lending library, reading avidly. The two pieces just don't fit, and Eden can't help but find herself interested to know more.

But Eden has sworn to never be a fool again after her disastrous engagement five years ago. She has resolved herself to be a spinster, and find happiness in her library, charity work, and love of the Lord. Yet Levi's eyes are kind and her attraction to him deepens into friendship...

Levi Grant is glad he has a chance to start over after being released from prison. His was an unintentional crime, but the guilt and shame he feels from it still lingers. During his incarceration he found God, and is looking to make a new life in Spencer, Texas - and he dares not to hope that the pretty and slowly less guarded Eden Spencer might be returning his feelings. But how would she, a lady of good standing, react to finding out about his violent past?

Alrighty! So, I've heard about Karen Witemeyer's books before - that they mix great historical romance with humor and lightheartedness - and I am happy to report that is exactly what I found in To Win Her Heart! Both the title and the cover don't really do the story justice, in my opinion. So often I feel this way when it comes to this genre. Cheesy titles can turn more people off than interest them, and that is just a shame. For me, please ignore the rather corny title and trust me when I say that To Win Her Heart transcends it!

First off - Levi is instantly charming with his impressive masculinity but sweet gentleman demeanor. He's not written an eye-rolling way at all (a problem I sometimes run into in romance novels), but is actually genuinely likable and convincingly attractive. Witemeyer's writing has a delicately flirty air about it and a wonderful self-awareness that already had me having fun within the first twenty pages! I mean, this man (Levi) has a love and caring for animals and a hobby of reading novels, both of which only causes me to love him even more - as well as the story! And again, all of these personality details feel organic and believable rather than cloying. Oh my!

It's easy to forget about our female heroine, Eden, in the wake of all this male hotness - but Eden is definitely her own person - perhaps sometimes a bit stuffy, but she is more guarded than anything else. The fact that she loves novels is always a plus! By the end I definitely loved her, too.

To Win Her Heart features a sizzling attraction and burgeoning romance between our two leads that is hampered by secrets and things left unsaid, causing the story to be a heartrending, moving tale. I absolutely adore the characters, especially Levi (I can't help myself) and found that Karen Witemeyer brought an amazingly lovely human element to To Win Her Heart, an element that exposes hypocrisy, judgment and cruelty along with compassion and redemption.

The moments of pure honesty pierce through the historical richness and brought tears to my eyes - this is a fantastic read for lovers of historical romances, especially those of us who are Christians and appreciate a love of the Lord to permeate the pages as well! A suspenseful and breathless climax brought the beautiful romance to a head, and in the end my arms were covered in goosebumps.

To Win Her Heart is an inspiring, joyous, touching novel!!!

*I received a copy of To Win Her Heart from the Bethany House Book Reviewers program, which you can check out here. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

***BIBLIOPHILE ALERT! I have been reading like an even crazier book addict than usual this year, and apparently three reviews a week can't keep up pace with me! Because of this, for the entire month of July I will be having FIVE reviews a week! That's right! Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday! So, please remember to check back here more often during July - and come August I'm planning on returning to three reviews a week. Keep the schedule change in mind, and don't miss any reviews! :)

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