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?
And here is Emily's review:
As a newer writer, Karen Witemeyer is still developing her style. This is only her third novel. I read her second novel last year, which I thought showed a lot of potential. I still think she has lot of potential, but she needs to work on keeping a consistent tone.
In the middle of this book the inspirational element poured into the book and ate the story and the characters. As with the last book I read by her the beginning and end of this novel were good, but the middle lost its momentum.
I liked the beginning. The hero is a blacksmith, which means he is really strong with big muscles. The heroine is a librarian, who loves to read. We need more librarian/blacksmith books. The hero has a past which he is using religion to overcome. I liked that Witemeyer made his past dark enough that he actually had things to feel guilty about and overcome.
Spoiler: Levi used to be a prizefighter. During his last match, he accidently killed his opponent. He was convicted of manslaughter, and is an ex-con.
Eden (really Eden? in 1887) is the daughter of the founder of the town, which means she is very wealthy. At times she is too naïve. She is also a pacifist, which makes living in the Wild West difficult for her. The focus on the violence in society and how it affects people was very powerful. I also liked the theme of the Prodigal son woven into the book.
What keeps this book from being an A is the middle which deals largely with secondary characters. The hero and heroine have unnatural, awkward, and surreal relationships with these characters. They forget or lose their humanity. Witemeyer seems to want them to be better people, but they are already very good people.
Still Eden and Levi have a sweet chemistry, a shared love of reading, and a very powerful attraction. This story ends as many Inspirationals end with the hero and heroine exchanging gifts that symbolize their deep understanding and knowledge of each other. Other plots come together in a powerful way, but the middle significantly weakens the impact.