by Karen Witemeyer
Unconditional Recommendation: A sweet love story between a blacksmith seeking a new life and a cautious librarian who both need to rely on God when his past comes calling.
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
I came across this book because of my husband. Actually, I think that he owned it and it stood out to me on his bookshelf as not his typical kind of reading. He said that it was good and I agree. Some Christian historical romances can be more romance than Christian and more fluff than substance, this is not one of those books! Using beautiful language and descriptions that take you to another place and time, this book handles enduring truths about life and the Lord, gives insight into the human condition, portrays evil as evil, and has profound morality.
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. 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?
The romance is very sweet as Eden and Levi get to know each other over books and through writing letters, being increasingly more open and honest with one another as their relationship grows. When Levi comes to love her, he bravely tells her of his prodigal past and leaves the results up to the Lord. Levi has to even convince her father of his sincerity in his affection for Eden. On her part, Eden learns to not let past hurts affect her present and to see the truth of others despite first appearances and social norms.
The sheriff unfortunately is a serpent of a man and acts as the Gaston of this story. He treats Eden as if there is no doubt she will be his wife though she has declined him at every turn and he sets out to settle the score with Levi when he learns of his budding relationship with Eden.
Levi and Eden both have their own relationship with the Lord and their romance is a praiseworthy and virtuous one and their individual walks with the Lord are encouraging and inspiring. For example, Eden reacts terribly when she finds out about Levi’s violent past but she is able to take correction from a young girl in her household, change her thinking, and make amends. Levi likewise grows in his understanding of promises from the Word of God as he comes to terms with the guilt he carries over his past failures. In a moment of weakness and crying out to the Lord, Levi remembers the truths of Romans 3:23, 8:1 and Galatians 2:16 and understands that God does not want him to earn His love and forgiveness but to accept it like a gift. Grace. This book is full of moments like this and while reading it encouraged me in my own relationship with my Savior by reminding me of the God that I have: merciful, gracious, loving, just, and wholly good.
Unlike many Christian books on the market today that present an unbiblical gospel, this book does not talk about how someone gets saved and I think, oddly enough, this is a plus. There’s not a wrong gospel presented because there’s no gospel presented and I will take having it absent over having it wrong!
A recurring topic in the book is the issue of physical violence which both Levi and Eden have past experience with. Eden is passionately against any kind of violence—even to killing a cockroach because it’s “one of God’s creatures.” This is an extreme view which isn’t biblically supported, but it’s harmless in the context of the story. Levi has vowed never to fight again, even when he is being brutally attacked by another man.
Every aspect of this heartwarming, gentle book is handled well and enjoyable to experience. Happy reading!