Author: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Texas Ever After #1
Release Date: June 6, 2023
Publisher: Bethany House
Once upon a time in Texas . . .
Beauty has been nothing but a curse to Penelope Snow. When she becomes a personal maid for a famous actress whose troupe is leaving Chicago to tour the West, she hides her figure beneath shapeless dresses and keeps her head down. But she still manages to attract the wrong attention, leaving her prospects in tatters--and her jealous mistress plotting her demise.
After his brother lost his life over a woman, Texas Ranger Titus Kingsley has learned to expect the worst from women and is rarely disappointed. So when a young lady found in suspicious circumstances takes up residence with the seven old drovers living at his grandfather's ranch, Titus is determined to keep a close eye on her.
With a promotion hanging in the balance, Titus is assigned to investigate a robbery case tied to Penelope's acting troupe, and all evidence points to Penelope's guilt. But Titus might just be convinced that the fairest woman of all has a heart as pure as her last name . . . if only he can prove it.
Reviewer: Ewurabena Wilson
What an enthralling and delightful rendition of the Brothers Grimm’s novel Snow White!
Karen Witemeyer’s novel, Fairest of Heart, is one of those books which can be likened to biting into a sweet apple. It gets sweeter and sweeter with each bite.
Penelope Snow is a young woman who has known pain, betrayal, and rejection from infancy. However, despite all these, her heart remains pure and gullible, making her a target for evil people. For someone who easily forgets the names of characters in the novels I read, still remembering the names in this book with a smile speaks of how much this book has been imprinted in my mind. I loved the grandfathers of Diamond D and Titus, who God used to show Penelope, love.
One thing that has consistently stood out in Karen Witemeyer’s writings is the strong foundation of Christian faith in her novels and how scriptures are woven into her book. There are nuggets of wisdom on having faith in trying times, justice, mercy, and truth that have been deposited in my heart.
Fans of Karen Witemeyer will not be disappointed by this new series. I am greatly anticipating the next books in this series. For those yet to sample Karen Witemeyer’s writing, may this novel capture your attention to read.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley and Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Rachel Helwig
Books set in the West aren't generally my cup of tea, but the fairy-tale retelling nabbed my attention. In addition, I knew my younger sister would love this one as Karen Witemeyer is one of her favorite authors. She also shares my love of fairy-tale retellings, hehe. And upon finishing Fairest of Heart, I have no doubt that my sister will love this one.
I found the novel to be sweet, holding lots of nods and references to the tale of Snow White. I loved the seven grandfathers - they were probably my favorite aspect of the story, especially Doc. He held -and gave - a lot of godly wisdom and kindness, which I appreciated and enjoyed.
Some of the book's aspects were - understandably - pretty predictable, and I would call this a simple story for me personally. I enjoyed it, but there were times when it dragged a little. But I also know that is likely because I don't usually read Westerns/books in this genre (not counting the fairy-tale aspect).
The writing itself was good, and as I previously mentioned, I know my sister will love this story.
This book was provided courtesy of Bethany House through Interviews and Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
Over 2 ½ years ago, I read Witemeyer’s Inn for a Surprise. I absolutely adored the short story and her writing. Seeing this new series, I wanted to continue my support of the author. And the story did seem interesting.
I’ll admit I didn’t see the “Snow White re-telling” as part of the blurb. But, I honestly didn’t expect a near-duplicate re-telling of Snow White set in 1890’s Texas, complete with seven “grandfatherly” type characters, a “knight-in-shining-armor,” over-the-top evil villainess, and drugged apple cider either.
Penelope Snow is the beautiful girl abandoned by her mother, raised by a kind woman (fairy godmother Edith), and becomes assistant to famous stage actress – Narcissa. It’s clear right off who the story’s villain is meant to be.
After Penny ends up cast out by Narcissa, the girl ends up fighting for her life, then is found and taken in by Doc and his group, who become her guardians. She then is falsely accused of theft by Titus Kingsley, a Texas Ranger (and someone she comes to fancy). He eventually ends up believing her story, though. He doesn’t know who the main culprit is behind the thefts or the motive.
Witemeyer weaves a “cutesy” story with a light romance, righting wrongs, and trusting God’s guidance with a touch of light suspense. That’s not to say this isn’t a good read – it just seems a bit too reserved from the author’s previous series, too formulaic, and lacking depth.
What hurts this story are the over-the-top characters. Penny is too perfect. Literally nothing wrong with her. It isn’t bad, but not realistic. Narcissa is 100% evil and has absolutely no qualms about murdering someone to get what she wants or keep it.
There is no mystery of the good guys and bad guys either. The only thing that kept me reading was to see if Narcissa would be caught and how far she’d go to get away. The romance and “family” dynamics are sweet and endearing.
While not a bad book, it isn’t a stellar “must-read.” However, I will likely stay with the series to see what the author plans next.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing a complimentary review copy through Interviews and Reviews. A positive review was not required nor requested, and all words are my own.
Reviewer: Kristina Hall
An intriguing historical romance!
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a Snow White retelling told in a Western setting, but I quite enjoyed it.
Titus and Penelope were both well-developed characters. Penelope was a forgiving, kind-hearted lady, and Titus was a determined Texas Ranger. I did think the emphasis on Penelope’s figure was kind of strange (and humorous at times). Apparently, she had quite a big bosom. This bosom of hers was mentioned so much that it almost seemed like a side character.
Plenty of character development, moments of suspense, good themes, and a little humor kept my attention as I read. This is the first book I’ve read by Karen Witemeyer, and I appreciated that she kept the language clean. I thought some scenes where the scheming villainess was seducing her victims could’ve used a little less detail.
Overall, I found Fairest of Heart to be an entertaining read that I’d recommend to those who enjoy Christian fiction, historical romances, and fairy tale retellings. I’m happy I gave this book a try and am looking forward to seeing the next book in the series.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House through Interviews & Reviews. My opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this following the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Fairest of Heart by Karen Witemeyer is an excellent start to her Texas Ever After series. This creative take on the Snow White fairy tale will delight her fans.
Penelope Snow is a different version of Snow White, but one that is infinitely more relatable. Her innocent and generous nature captures the reader's attention from the first page.
I loved all the nods to the original fairytale - the huntsman and his mercy to Snow White (I mean Penelope), the wicked witch (who isn't a witch but acts like one) our handsome prince in the form of Titus. And, of course, the seven dwarves (aka grandfathers) who come to Penelope's rescue.
I loved this story from beginning to end and applaud the author for her ingenuity. I can't wait for the next one!
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley for my honest review.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
Karen Witemeyer is off to a great start with this book as the first in her new series. It reminded me a little of Snow White, but I'm not sure if the author meant to do that, even if the last name is Snow. It was fascinating to learn about how the theater world operated in the 1890s, especially in the Midwest and South. Karen Witemeyer has the gift of placing the reader right into the pages of her story. I felt like a part of the traveling troupe and then the Diamond D Ranch alongside Penelope.
Penelope's sweet, kind, and helpful spirit was easy to love. Although she did feel a bit cookie-cutter as a heroine. Titus was a bit prickly in the beginning, but his unswerving loyalty, tenderness, sense of duty, and justice won me over quickly. Their faith journeys were real, with plenty of takeaway lessons. Their romance was slow, sweet, and quite lovely. The secondary characters were equally remarkable, and the villain was quite devious, which added depth to the plot.
If you enjoy historical romance, you will definitely enjoy this book.
I received the book from Bethany House via Interviews and Reviews. I was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are my own.
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