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?
When I began reading this, I was undecided, not really feeling it but as I got further along, it began to get better to a point that I was enjoying it. I really liked Eden and Levi together. I thought it was cute how Levi used the library as an excuse to see Eden and how they exchanged letters. Also Levi’s surprise gift for Eden was sweet. Another two characters I also enjoyed was Duncan (he was charming but yet any Scot that I read is) and Chloe (she was vivacious and hilarious). But sheriff Pratt was a pain in the rear. He was a man who didn’t like to be told NO. All in all after giving this a try, I would definitely give Karen’s other books a go.
Loving this woman was either going to kill him or make his life richer than he’d ever imagined.
“I think you made your opinion clear already. Go home, Eden. And don’t worry. I won’t bother you anymore.” He unlaced his arms and turned away to pick up a new log. “But I want you to bother me!”
“. . . if you can’t see the good man he is, you need to unscrew them eyeballs of yours and try on a different pair.”
“Oh, Levi. How glorious! Look at all the bluebonnets. Have you ever seen anything more stunning?” “Only you.”
“Eden,” he said, staring at their joined hands. “I built the arch to reveal my heart. Your name will forever be the focal point, uplifted by love. And if you would permit me, I’d like to build more with you—a family and a life.” Levi raised his gaze to her face, surprised to see wetness glistening on her cheeks. “Eden, will you marry me?”
“Really, Mr. Grant. One would think that after living in this town for nearly a week and making numerous visits to my library, you would extend me the courtesy of learning my name.” “I know your name, Eden.” Her eyes shot to his. “I know your name.” The intensity in his gaze left no doubt of his sincerity.
“I dreamed o’ ye, lass, down in that pit. I dreamed . . . and I promised meself that if the Almighty saw fit to spare me sorry hide, that I’d be asking a favor of ye the moment I saw yer bonny face.” Chloe lifted Duncan’s filthy hand to her lips and pressed a kiss to his knuckles. “I’d do anything for you, Duncan. Anything.” “Are ye sure, lass?” He paused, staring up at her. “I’m sure.” “Good. ’Cause I want ye to let me give ye a last name. . . . Mine.”
“I got ya, darlin’.” “I’m not your darling.”
“Drop the bat, mister, or I’ll fill you so full of lead the undertaker will charge double to bury you!”
A man protected his woman, after all. And Lord willing, one day Eden would be his.
Who would have thought a fine lady like Eden Spencer would ever look twice at a coarse ironmonger like him? Yet even now with his face a patchwork of green, yellow, and deep purple, her beautiful mossy eyes glowed with an inner light that exuded love. For him. A convicted felon. A man with neither wealth nor reputation. A man who couldn’t even properly enunciate her entire name. A man who returned her love a hundredfold.
As if he sensed her need, Levi scooped her into his arms and carried her back to the rock she used for sitting. But instead of depositing her there, he tucked her closer and sat down with her in his lap. He didn’t say anything, just held her. And it was perfect.
“Please go outside. I really don’t want to hurt you.” Levi pulled up short. “No. Not toward me. To the door. The door!” She squealed, and Levi bounded forward, taking the stairs in a single leap. He threw the door wide and brought up his fists, ready to take on the unseen threat. “Get it off! Get it off!” She held her skirts away from her body and twisted her head to the side as if trying to put as much distance as possible between her and the invader clinging to the dark green fabric of her dress. A cockroach. A big ugly one—three, maybe four inches long, its wings still slightly askew. “Please.” Miss Spencer whimpered, and the sound galvanized him to action. Levi opened his hand and swiped the oversized beetle from her skirt. Then, before the thing could scamper into a dark corner, he crushed it with a stomp of his boot, wincing at the audible crunch that echoed in the now-quiet hall. He scraped his sole over the carcass like a horse pawing the ground, and sent the bug sailing out the door. “Did you have to squish him?” Levi jerked his eyes to Eden Spencer’s face. What had she expected him to do? Tie a leash around its neck and take it for a walk? “Don’t get me wrong,” she said, as she raised a shaky hand to fidget with the button at her collar. “I appreciate your removing that beastly insect from my person.” She shuddered slightly, and her gaze dropped to the darkened spot on the hardwood floor that evidenced the roach’s demise. “However, I can’t abide violence against any of God’s creatures. Even horrid, wing-sprouting behemoths.”
“One who will offer you his coat when you’re cold or cut you a bloom from his favorite rosebush just because he was thinkin’ about ya while he worked. One who’ll take your sass in good humor and sass you back when ya need it.”
She glimpsed Levi cutting through the crowd to get to her. Smoothing her hair and finding a smile, she greeted him as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. “Would you like a piece of cake?” Levi peered down at her, concern lining his face. “Are you all right?” “Yes, of course. I’m fine.” She tugged on her sleeve as if it could conceal the evidence of the sheriff’s touch and reached for a clean plate. “You should try some of Chloe’s lemon pound cake. It’s delicious.” Levi stroked her arm, his caress a soothing balm after the sheriff’s manhandling. “Eden, look at me.” She did, and all pretense fell away. “Did he hurt you?” “No.” Eden sighed.
With a tiny cry, Eden jumped from her rocky perch and threw herself against Levi’s chest. The tears she’d thought had been exhausted returned with a vengeance. Starving for comfort, for a sympathetic touch, she sobbed in gratitude as much as in grief when his arms folded around her back. “I’m here, darlin’,” he crooned, caressing her hair and laying a kiss atop her head. “I’m here.” He was so warm and strong. Eden longed to melt into him and forget all her worries. His hands rubbed long strokes along her back, soothing her like he would a restless mare that needed a shoe. The technique worked. His deep voice rolled through her, unclenching the tightness in her stomach, and soon her sobs dwindled into hiccups.
“Ach. Now, there be a lass with a bonny look to ’er. And I’m thinking it’s nae me she’s coming to see.”
“Every time he came in, he tried to charm me into tellin’ him my name, but I never did. I was too aware of who I was. And who I wasn’t.”
“I’d like to build a house there someday. One with a big plate-glass window in the front so I can sip my tea and watch the flowers grow.” Eden leaned into his side as she stepped around a hole dug by a ground squirrel or some other burrowing creature, and Levi couldn’t help but picture himself behind that same window, moving up behind Eden to touch his lips to the sensitive skin along her neck. She’d smile and ask about his day. He’d wrap his arms around her and say that the best part of it was coming home. Then perhaps a little girl with reddish curls and moss-green eyes would run into the room, call him Daddy, and latch on to his leg. He’d swing her high into the air and laugh at her delighted squeals.
“Call me Levi.” Duncan nodded. “Levi, then. ’Tis a fine name to be carrying.” Levi shook his head and chuckled softly. “Keep your flattery for the women, Duncan.” “Why do ye think I’m practicin’?” Duncan winked at him. “I got me a bonny lass to impress. She’s a shy one, but I’m determined to coax her out of hiding.” He wiggled his eyebrows and lifted his knees in a high-stepping jig as he danced his way through the doors, leaving Levi with a hearty dose of laughter rumbling in his chest.
He tried to smile, but his bloodied lip wouldn’t do more than twitch. “Want to tell you . . . got interrupted . . .” His eyelid drooped, and his words drifted away. Eden’s chest throbbed. “You can tell me later,” she assured him, stuffing down her disappointment while her fingers brushed the hair at the top of his head. “It’s all right to rest.” “No . . . tell you . . . now.” His words were so low they were hard to make out. Eden leaned closer. Levi’s languid eyelid slowly rolled upward. “Love . . . you.”