Karen Witemeyer was voted #1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by FamilyFiction magazine. Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. She makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.
In this interview, Karen talks about the third book in her Hanger’s Horsemen Series, titled In Honor’s Defense.
FF: Can you please provide a brief summary of your new novel, In Honor’s Defense?
He came to stop a gang of rustlers and wound up tangled in a murder plot. The boy next door holds the key to the truth, but it’s the boy’s aunt who might end up holding the Horseman’s heart.
FF: In Honor’s Defense is the final book in the Hanger’s Horsemen Series. What do readers have to look forward to in this thrilling conclusion?
The action keeps coming! A murder mystery, rustlers, deadly peril, and, of course, lots of swoon-worthy romance.
FF: Are there any threads that run through the whole series that will be wrapped up in this book?
Each book in the Hanger’s Horsemen Series can be read as a stand-alone novel. There are no sweeping threads that connect the three stories beyond the relationship of the Horsemen themselves. All four Horsemen will ride together again in this conclusion, and we’ll even get to meet their silent partner—Francis Kendall, the reporter who wrote articles on the Horsemen’s exploits and who helped connect the Horsemen with people who needed their help.
FF: Your main characters, Luke Davenport and Damaris Baxter, are polar opposites. Did you find it difficult to write from these two different perspectives?
I love to explore what brings people together, and while it’s a common idea that opposites attract, I’ve always believed that there must be some core commonalities beneath the differences to bind a couple together for a lifetime. So, while Luke and Damaris seem to be stark opposites—he an adventure-seeking soldier used to solving problems with guns and fists; she a quiet, proper lady used to escaping problems with books and needlework—they actually have several core commonalities. They both seek belonging and family, they both value God’s Word, and they both have a strong, protective instinct toward those they care about. This core common ground is what serves as the foundation for their relationship.
FF: In Honor’s Defense is set in Texas. Why did you choose this setting for your book?
All of my books have been set in Texas, and that is a deliberate choice. Not only is Texas a great backdrop for stories featuring cowboy heroes, but Texas offers a fascinating history to serve as inspiration. It is also a HUGE place. Texas offers forests, plains, deserts, hills, canyons, even coastline. You can find almost any setting type within this great state. The main reason I set my books in Texas, however, is that it is my home. I’ve lived in Abilene, Texas, for over 30 years. I wasn’t raised in Texas, but each of my kids has been, and I’ve come to love this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit.
FF: What was the inspiration for In Honor’s Defense?
Luke’s character had been building through the series, so his inspiration came from earlier novels in the series. Known for his strength, his size, and his skill with his fists, I modeled him after a pair of football players, Howie Long and JJ Watt. He’s a man of action with a bit of wildness inside, yet his ability to memorize Scripture earned him the nickname Preach. He’s a godly man with scars, seeking to find his place as his Horsemen brothers move on to new phases of life. Damaris, on the other hand, was inspired by someone much closer to home. I gave her two of my favorite hobbies—reading and cross-stitching. She’s also a quiet person who dislikes making waves, but when family needs her, there’s nothing she won’t do to help. Her questionable baking skills might also have found some inspiration in personal experience. Just ask my husband about my famous transparent chocolate chip cookies.
FF: What lessons do you hope readers can learn by reading your novel?
One of the main themes in this story is the need for belonging and family. Luke comes from a broken and dysfunctional family and carries scars that he believes will keep him from ever having a family of his own. Damaris comes from a loving family, but one where she felt like an oddity. Nathaniel is an orphan grieving the loss of his father and full of anger toward an unfair world. There are so many lonely people in this world. People who have been hurt, overlooked, or abandoned. People who secretly crave belonging while hiding behind walls of anger or work or escapism. My prayer is that readers who feel alone will find hope and the courage to seek relationships. I also want to encourage readers who might be more like myself, blessed with loving families and friends, to open their eyes and seek opportunities for new friendships with those in need of connection.
FF: What do you love most about writing novels in the historical romance genre?
I’ve always loved historical romance. It is my favorite genre to read, so it only makes sense that it is my favorite to write as well. I enjoy learning fascinating tidbits during the research phase. I love visiting historical places and imagining what the people who walked there must have been like. I love the courage and determination of the men and women who paved the way for future generations. There is something about historical eras that make the romance feel more like a fairy tale to me. Maybe it’s the big dresses. Ha! Whatever it is, it makes my heart happy, so I’ll keep writing it.
FF: What are you working on next?
Speaking of fairy tales . . . I’m starting a new series where I will take familiar fairy tale stories and give them a Texas twist. I’m working on a version of Snow White first, featuring a Texas Ranger hero, a villainess with a fondness for mirrors, and seven retired drovers at the Diamond D ranch. Should be fun!
In Honor’s Defense
Hanger’s Horsemen Series #3
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Luke Davenport has been fighting all his life—for respect, for country, and most recently, for those unable to fight for themselves. But now that his Horsemen brothers are domesticated, he’s left alone to battle the wildness within. When an opportunity arises to take a job on his own, he jumps at the chance.
Damaris Baxter has mastered the art of invisibility. Plain and quiet, she hides in books and needlework, content to be overlooked. Until her brother dies suddenly, leaving her custody of her nephew. She moves to Texas to care for Nate, determined to create the family for herself that she never thought she’d have.
When Nate stumbles into the path of the rustlers Luke is tracking, Luke acts to protect him and winds up gravely injured. Feeling indebted, Damaris nurses Luke back to health. But suspicions grow regarding the death of her brother. And the more questions they ask, the more danger appears, threatening the family Luke may be unable to live without.
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