Okay, here’s the deal with Karen Witemeyer, I have learned the secret to her popularity : it's a cotton candy read. You don’t have to pay close attention, you will most likely finish the plot in your head before the she finishes it on the page and you won’t leave having interposed some universal truth.
You might think I mean this in a bad way; I don’t --- not to the right reader. Sometimes people watch candy movies: those fluffy, candy-coated excursions into marshmallow land. You’ve done it: you see 13 Going on 30 on tv one night and you can’t turn away. You feel comforted in the fact that you KNOW she will end up with Mark Ruffalo. There aren’t any surprises; but it DOESN’T matter. It’s candy, fluffy fun. This is the Christian book equivalent. There is nothing challenging within To Win Her Heart: you know that Levi the reformed convict-turned-blacksmith will win the hand of Eden the upright librarian; but it DOESN’T matter; the prose trips along so easily you can read it in that dream state before bed. It’s not my fictional ideal; but I do admit it takes some talent to spin one of these easy yarns and I applaud it.
This the kind of fiction you drop off to your grandmother on a Sunday afternoon. There is no edge. For me, there is no spark; but it’s solid and conservative. The other Witemeyer book I read and appreciated of this ilk was Head in the Clouds: that was a cute, fluffy book not unlike its title.
I absolutely loathed Tailor Made Bride ----not because it strayed from the devices aforementioned but because as a Christian and a woman who prides independence and intellect I still find it one of the most begrudgingly offensive offerings in the market. (Honestly. I was offended and still feel small ripples of rage when I think about it). Short-Straw Bride is on its way to me for review and I’ll read it, and review it here; but I recollected that I hadn’t spoken to To Win Her Heart yet; so….here….
I think I already kind of mentioned it: convict –turned-blacksmith falls for librarian. Librarian is at first intimidated by convict-turned-blacksmith’s large physiognomy and skeptical of his passion for Jules Verne; but soon there are sparks flying from the smithy and beyond.
I want to mention one incredible aspect of the novel. Witemeyer has an ALMOST Lynn Austin moment ( I say ALMOST; because no one but Lynn Austin can have these moments really). You know ( as I have mentioned often ) that moment in a Lynn Austin novel when your ears perk up and your eyes widen and your heart pulse quickens because she throws in something: however, fleeting and serenely quiet ; but tantamount to the experience and you go….”oooooo”; well Witemeyer almost gets into this realm of writing when she explores Levi’s lisp. Levi has difficulty saying ‘s’ words and so to keep his pride and his face he will remove them from his sentences…. Deciding, instead, to craft the same emotion or statement with alternative words. This proves Levi to be a great reader; but also proves Witemeyer to have put some careful thought into her dialogue. In this respect, I was impressed. She took this book a step farther than others in this regard.
There’s still the usual: bad guy wants heroine, good guy hates bad guy wanting heroine, crisis that rallies the townspeople, crises of faith; but, whatever, you get what you paid for. There aren’t any surprises here and I think that’s the lasting appeal. Sometimes we all need cotton candy.