From To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer:
After he hung his hat on its customary top hook, he strode into the reading room and collected his book from the shelf. The quiet rustle of a woman's skirts echoed behind him. He didn't turn. In fact, he lengthened his stride until he realized there was something different about the corner he usually sat in. The vacant space had been filled with a large leather wing chair. A sturdy chair. A masculine chair. A chair he'd never seen before.
He did turn then.
"I thought you might prefer it to the floor." She met his eye briefly, then looked away. "Harvey brought it in from my father's study. Since Father rarely visits, I doubt he'll mind if we borrow it for a while. I can use it for my story time, as well."
Levi stared at the woman before him, her thoughtfulness pouring light into a place inside him that had long been darkened. A place that reminded him of family and acceptance, of belonging. His mind scoffed at the tender reaction stirring in him. It was just a chair--leather, wood, some stuffing. It wasn't new or even really his. But the gesture left him shaken nonetheless. He'd not received such a gift since he left home so many years ago.
Miss Spencer waved her hands in the air as if his response was unimportant to her, but Levi caught the sidelong glances she shot his way as he kept silent.
"If you don't like it, I'll ask Harvey to move it back."
He tried to shape his gratitude into words, but before his sluggish tongue could spit them out, she exhaled a heavy breath, and her arm flopped to her side.
"You know what? I'll just go fetch him right now. He's probably in the kitchen with Verna." Her face flushed as she spun away from him.
She didn't understand.
Levi tossed his book onto the seat of the chair and lunged forward. He snagged her hand and tugged her to a halt. Still, she didn't look at him. He wanted to call to her, to urge her to face him. Using her given name would be too presumptuous, though, and calling her Miss Spencer would embarrass them both. So, letting go of her hand, he cupped her shoulders and gently forced her around.
He waited, his hands holding her in place.
Finally she looked up, her bottom lip trembling slightly. Perhaps he should have smiled to ease her nerves, but he couldn't. That sort of surface smile would only cheapen the sentiment he wanted to express.
"I like it. Very much. Thank you." He gazed into her eyes while he spoke, hoping that somehow she would comprehend the depth of his gratitude despite his inadequate words. Those mossy green eyes peered back at him, and for a moment the chair, the library, the house--all of it--disappeared. All he saw was her.
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
Of all the scores on FHF, this is the most subjective to my individual reader tastes and preferences as a hero-girl. That said, Levi has the honor of being the first hero to pull five orange heads as a swoon score here on FHF. (Teaser: the next hero coming 9/1/2012 also pulled a full swoon score and is FHF's first contemporary suspense hero.)
About Levi Grant's novel (released May 11, 2011):
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 Levi 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?
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About Levi Grant's author:
Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com
Now for the Fiction Hero Feature Exclusive not found in the novel--directly from the author:
Levi's wavy hair (which so enticed Eden's fingers) was inspired by the actor who played Dr. Niel MacNiell on the TV series Christy. Having been a huge fan of Catherine Marshall's classic novel, I watched every episode of the series during the 1990s. The actor who played the good doctor, Stewart Finlay-McLennan, had such a gorgeous accent and a no-nonsense way about him, that I was immediately drawn to him, curly hair and all.
Now for the giveaways:
We are giving away one print copy of Levi Grant's novel To Win Her Heart to a randomly chosen commenter in the drawing that closes at midnight central time on August 31st.
And if you already know Levi and his novel, and he's won your heart, you can be entered for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card, winner's choice. Just leave the name of a character who isn't Levi, Eden, or Harvey and Verna (they were in the excerpt!) and once that character is named in the comments, you have to pick someone else.
As always, if you aren't a blog follower, leave me your e-mail address in an anti-spammer format like gentlegiants (at) awesomehero dotcom so that I can notify you if your name is drawn. Now let's play!