August 15, 2012

Levi Grant

Levi Grant was my first Karen Witemeyer hero. I read his novel cover to cover--it was that great--even though I had to pay someone to cut my grass. It's a good thing, or I would have read it while mowing and probably ended up with I-heart-Levi Grant crop-circled into my yard. You wouldn't think a tight-lipped, ex-con, blue-collar blacksmith big enough to be what my sister's kids would call "freakishly large" would immediately send you to 'epic hero' in your head. But trust me, Levi is one of the greats. A prodigal son with a painful past and precarious present, the gentle giant is one of the first heroes who came to mind when I conceived the idea for FHF. If you don't already know why, let's find out together.

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.

Gallant Score: Levi is a fierce protector (except of himself), with a wellspring of honor inside. Those of you who already know Levi know he earns these rescuing damsels in distress, saving lives even when it means facing his own painful past, always standing up for Eden, and not breaking his vow even when it will probably cost him his life.

Wounded Score: Levi is keeping two big secrets. The first is a speech impediment he is able to hide through sheer determination in one of my favorite facets of the story. The second is something far more painful that sent him to prison where he was broken in every way. I still tear up thinking about it and I've read Levi's novel at least five times. For those who know, the moment in the church after Levi's letter was like getting a prizefight punch to the gut for me too. I was trying not to cry all over the pages!

Softie Score: It's not only Levi's compassion for strays (because let's face it, he is kind of a stray himself) that make me adore his soft side. Whether it's the town's reject dog or a saloon girl trying to make a better life for herself, he never turns away, even when it makes more sense to do just that. And picking flowers for Eden, and helping her press them and design her art? There's something very attractive about a big, burly man happy to take on "girly" tasks. Especially when sincere, like Levi is, and not simply a ploy to get the girl.

Stupid Strikes: Zero. Levi takes everything the world gives him straight on the chin, often literally, and always does the right thing, even when it hurts. Even when it hurts bad and makes for a lot of log splitting in what is my all-time favorite scene. I couldn't give him an orange head here for losing it in his shop after the nasty run-in / mad-dogging session over Eden between him and the sheriff. Yes, he grabbed a piece of iron and did some serious abuse to the wall. But I felt his pain, his regret, his fear and loss so much in that moment, I wanted to grab a piece of iron, stand beside him and bang the wall too. Considering what he could have done, while the wall and the branding iron might not have deserved it, Levi more than deserved to finally let it out.

Swoon Score: See, I will give a five, LOL, it just has to be the exact right mix of gallant, wounded, and that "something" that has me casting the hero in the movie and replaying his best lines and moments to myself while I'm stuck in traffic or rereading his novel over and over. Or maybe random planetary alignment (okay, probably not that one). I know there are a few of you who might not have read this book yet, so I won't go on and on about all the reasons Levi deserves every single one of these because he has so many great moments that (A) it would ruin the story for you and (B) it would triple the length of this blog post.

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?

Amazon  Barnes & Noble

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:

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!


  1. Melissa JagearsAugust 15, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    Thanks for the gift card from last time! This is my favorite hero of novels of late. Probably in part because my hubby is a blacksmith and every time I look at that great cover I see hubby's arm :)

    I wish I've read this one 5 times already! My hubby and I usually take our kids to the pond when hubby comes home, and the 1st time I was walking through the pasture reading this as I was walking despite the danger of walking through a pasture without looking! and ignoring everything to read it. When the author introduced the speech impediment I was like "oh my, what an obstacle to writing dialog she just threw in." and was certain I was either going to be impressed or annoyed. Turned out impressed, loved how she used it. I wrote high praise all over the internet for it so I shouldn't just keep going on and on about it here too.....

    Love Dr. McNeill, I got the whole tv series for a birthday a few years ago and just had a blast watching them all and loving how trueish to the book they were.....until the last 2 episodes. The penultimate was when they ran out of material from the book and had to create new and whoever wrote it just missed the mark of the right style, it felt a little cheezier, but I forgave them giving them a slide for 1st time (and knowing it was almost over) .... forgiveness though ended on the last show!!!!! If you can't write your own material well, don't write it at all--use what's in the book, the beautiful ending that was right there to take. Grrrrrr That last show made me so mad, I got rid of the set. I'll stick with the book thank you very much! (all right, impassioned speech over :)

    Can I enter again if I just won something last time? David Cranford (I'll take the easy one from the first pages :)

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM

      Of course you can. David Cranford is great and you are in the giftcard drawing. That's too cool your husband is a blacksmith and I did the same thing when I figured out Levi's "secret". I was like, how is she going to write this? Answer = Really Well!!!

  2. AngiAugust 15, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Nancy, I LOVED this book. It's one of my all-time favorites and yes, Karen wrote it so well. Levi deserved the five orange heads, no question. (I love the "gentle giant" types) Since I have the book, I'll try for the gift card. Chloe is my answer. Thanks, Nancy.


    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      Me too! It is and will remain one of all time faves. Thanks for backing up that swoon score =) You are in for the gift card. I really enjoyed Chloe's character, especially her epic "rock-toter" line! By the way... you know I wrote an epilogue for this that's posted on Karen's website, right? =) I still love it though the dialogue tags make me cringe a little, hehe. It does let me know I keep growing as a writer though, so that's good. =)


    2. AngiAugust 15, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      NANCY! Was that you? I read it. You did a fantastic job. I entered that contest, too. Wasn't that fun? :)

    3. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      Yes, that was me! It was seriously fun. =) And to be able to enter the contest was the reason I ordered the book in the first place. So glad I did!

  3. JudyAugust 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    I haven't read this book but from reading this post I am realizing it is a must read for me. I want to cry buckets too!! This sounds like a real page turner.

    I have read Short-Straw Bride and oh my that was a real page turner! Looking forward to reading LOTS of Karen's books!

    Thanks for this wonderful interesting post about to Win Her Heart! I can't wait to read it and oh, thanks for the giveaway!


    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      Judy, welcome to FHF! We are delighted to have you and yes, this is a must read for so many reasons. We just featured Travis Archer last month and Karen is already back with my all-time fave hero of hers, Levi! You are in the drawing for the print copy of To Win Her Heart. =)

  4. `CandleAugust 15, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    There is always a protagonist who aggravates the hero and heroine that is Sherriff Conrad Pratt whom you think would be looking out for everyone's good...I would love a copy of this book for my keeper shelf. It's well worth reading again and sharing with others. Thanks Susan G aka `Candle

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      Susan, welcome to FHF. You are in the drawing for the print copy of the book. Agreed! Keeper for sure, re-read worthy, and share with others. I ended up with two copies last year and I never loan them both out at the same time because I do all three. =)

  5. AnonymousAugust 15, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    I will go with the character Calvin Spencer. Would love a copy of the book. Thanks. Fun Post.
    Amy C
    campbellamyd at gmail com

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      Amy, welcome to FHF. You are in the drawing for the copy of the book.

  6. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 5:24 PM


    You do not need to name a character to be entered in the drawing for the book.

    You do need to name a character to be entered in the drawing for the giftcard if you've already read or own this book.

    If I have to figure out which drawing you wanted, I promise to do my best. =)

    Characters used so far:
    LEVI, EDEN, HARVEY, VERNA (All in excerpt)
    SHERIFF CONRAD PRATT (can you say "Ewww!" LOL)

  7. Abbi HartAugust 15, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    Ok I honestly LOVE Karen Witemeyer's books! And while Short-Straw Bride is my favorite I think Levi wins best hero! I loved reading this post-so much fun!
    The character I'm going to name is Pearl, the old lady who visits the library and delays Eden from getting to the meeting on time!

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      Abbi, me too, LOL. Welcome to FHF. Glad you enjoyed the post. You are in the gift-card drawing. =)

  8. SherrindaAugust 15, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Oooo, I so would love to read this book! I just read her Short-Straw Bride and LOVED it! If this one is anything like that, I know it would be a keeper for my shelf!

    Thanks for a great review!

    sherrinda (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      Sherrinda, welcome back! Yes, I remember you from the Travis Archer feature and SO GLAD you got your hands on SSB. You are in the drawing for the print copy of To Win Her Heart. Yes, it is a keeper for sure. =)

  9. NoelaNAugust 15, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    Hi! This is one of my all-time favourite novels... and one of a few that I've read more than once and yet still feel like I could easily read it again! It's been great re-visiting all these great characters and Levi is definitely worthy of a 5 star Swoon Score! I'll choose Claude Barnes for my entry! :)

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 15, 2012 at 11:28 PM

      Hi Noela! Welcome to FHF. I know EXACTLY what you mean. If I weren't neck deep in a to-be-read pile looking for future heroes, I would read it again RIGHT NOW! Thanks for backing up the swoon score.
      We will take CLAUDE BARNES and enter you in the giftcard drawing.

    2. NoelaNAugust 16, 2012 at 2:12 AM

      Thank you! Love your blog btw... and who doesn't love a hunky hero, especially one like Levi??! And gosh, those arms are great aren't they.. ;)

    3. Nancy KimballAugust 16, 2012 at 7:44 AM

      Thank you! I love my blog, too. =D Yes, the arms are great. I think it's that they're a little bit dirty from working hard that's that little extra awesomeness.

  10. GaniseAugust 16, 2012 at 6:06 AM

    Good morning!
    Oh, praise the Lord, I was worried that everyone had taken every names in the book. (Btw, Nancy, this review is very well put together, you got me wanting to re-read the story!)
    Ahem... So here we go (for the giftcard drawing, please) : Duncan.


    Wishing you all a good day!

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 16, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Ganise, you made me laugh out loud, girl. And thank you. I said on another page here this blog became an extension of three things I'm passionate about-writing, reading, and great heroes. And Levi is one of my all-time favorites and it shows. =)
      So glad someone finally named Duncan. Great job!
      "It makes me heart a bit more bonnie to know he's been included.";-)

      THERE ARE STILL LOTS OF CHARACTERS LEFT! One very bad ex-fiance, any member of the Spencer Ladies Aide Society, Chloe's Mom, one very inquisitive little girl, a teacher stuck between a rock and a hard place, Levi's adopted furry friend, and characters from the quarry or Eden's baseball moment (see how I keep that spoiler free? =), so you've got lots of hints now if you need them for the gift card drawing, all! =)

  11. karenkAugust 16, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    i read this novel...and loved every single page of it...karen's books are amazing...i'm looking forward to reading her latest one.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      Karen, good to see you again! We are huge Karen Witemeyer fans here who are already grumbling for the next book. Crocket Archer. Hello! =D

  12. Mary BAugust 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Hi Nancy - I've just found your blog and enjoyed your review and rating system! I haven't read To Win Her Heart, but it is on my wish list! I would love an opportunity to win a copy. Thanks so much!


    1. Nancy KimballAugust 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      Mary, welcome! You're in the drawing. For anyone who even remotely enjoys historical romance, this is a must read. Happy to have you with us and you are in the drawing for the print copy of To Win Her Heart. =)

  13. Nancy KimballAugust 16, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Where are Dawn, and Clari, and Carol? Hard at work on their own writing, I suspect. =)
    That will be me this evening. Locking the door to the writer cave with iced tea and Doritos for three hours!

  14. TeddyAugust 16, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Sounds like quite the hero! I'd love to read this book. I'll check and see if my library has it. Oh, and the author gets bonus points for mixing some "Neil McNeilness" into Levi. =-)

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      He is! Welcome to FHF, Teddy. You're in the drawing for the print copy of the novel but yes, check your library. If they do not have it, you can always request they purchase a copy. They may or may not, but it doesn't hurt to ask and it makes the authors very happy. =)

  15. MelissaAugust 16, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    This is the only book of her's that I have not read! I would LOVE to read it.

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 16, 2012 at 6:46 PM

      Melissa, welcome to FHF! We have to fix that. But don't feel like a lone-ranger. I haven't read Head in the Clouds yet. I probably could if I didn't reread To Win Her Heart every few months. =)
      You are entered in the drawing for the novel.

  16. MelanieAugust 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM

    I'd love to win the book (I haven't read it)! I just finished the first book I've read (so far) by Karen - "Short-Straw Bride" - and loved it!

    Thanks for the fantastic giveaway!

    Frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

  17. MelanieAugust 17, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    I'd love to win the book (I haven't read it)! I just finished the first book I've read (so far) by Karen - "Short-Straw Bride" - and loved it!

    Thanks for the fantastic giveaway!

    Frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Nancy KimballAugust 17, 2012 at 1:20 PM

      You got it, Melanie! And welcome to FHF. =)
      You're in the drawing for To Win Her Heart.

  18. Gwendolyn GageAugust 17, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    I'm new to Karen, but this book sounds great! I appreciate the chance to win a copy.


  19. Nancy KimballAugust 17, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Gwendolyn, welcome to FHF and you are in the drawing for To Win Her Heart. =)

  20. WhitneyAugust 18, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    I've wanted to read this since your glowing review when YOU read it, but I haven't done it yet. Loving the new site, by the way.


    1. Nancy KimballAugust 18, 2012 at 10:03 PM

      Haha, WHITNEY!!! Happy day! I'm missed you girlfriend. =) I am so putting you in for the drawing for To Win Her Heart. It is SO our kind of book. And thank you, I'm loving the new site too. I love being able to interact with fellow authors and readers one on one this way over GREAT HEROES!

  21. DonnaAugust 30, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    I enjoyed your post on Seekerville today so I wanted to pop over and check out your website. I have not read this book but you certainly have me intrigued! Please put me in the drawing.

  22. Nancy KimballAugust 30, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    Donna, welcome to FHF! You are in the drawing. And you have the least amount of time to wait, as it is tonight at midnight central time. =)

  23. Sally BradleyAugust 30, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Wow, Nancy. You're good. You totally sold me on this book. I'm going to read it soon, whether I win a copy here or not.

    sallybradleywrites at gmail dot com

  24. Nancy KimballAugust 30, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Sally, welcome. That's an excellent plan. =)

  25. KavAugust 30, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    This is a way cool idea for a blog, Nancy! I seeker-hopped to find you. I'll admit to knowing Levi as well...and will emphatically endorse your swoon rating! Loved the snippet you shared. It brought back a flood of memories. So many layers in that story and I loved the way the author pulled everything together. I felt like holding my breath the whole read. You're so right -- Levi is a droolworthy hero. No need to enter me in your draw. I might just pull out the book and enjoy a bit of Levi's company before bed.

  26. Nancy KimballAugust 30, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Levi is a spectacular blend of hero awesome. I try to use the excerpt that best captures the hero, or the excerpt that was the moment I knew I wanted to feature him. It's interesting because right now I'm talking with a good friend regarding an upcoming feature because the excerpt I so badly wanted to use will damage the reader experience and we decided it would be unfair to ruin that for the novel's readers and I'm choosing another excerpt. So we're always mindful of the excerpt we select and how much detail I include in the attribute scorings.
    And by all means, WELCOME and go reread To Win Her Heart. Or just relive your favorite scene. Mine involves wood-chopping. ;-)

  27. Nancy KimballAugust 31, 2012 at 12:21 AM


    Print copy of To Win Her Heart is Mary B

    $10 giftcard to Barnes & Noble or Amazon is Angi

    As always, I use but for the first time (and going forward) I prayed before clicking the randomize button that God would choose who needed to win and take the sting out for those who didn't. My best friend and crit partner is the one who taught me to pray when I'm "working" at my writing endeavors and Sally Bradley dropping in to FHF drove that lesson home today. Sally, thank you for all you do as leader of the 40 days of prayer for ACFW.

    Our newest hero, Cole McKenna (HELLO!!!) features in less than 24 hours. =D