Monday, October 14, 2013

Soldier's Heart by Tamera Kraft

Back Cover Blurb:

After returning home from the Civil War, will his soldier’s heart come between them

Noah Andrews, a soldier with the Ohio Seventh Regiment can’t wait to get home now that his three year enlistment is coming to an end. He plans to start a new life with his young wife. Molly was only sixteen when she married her hero husband. She prayed every day for him to return home safe and take over the burden of running a farm.

But they can’t keep the war from following Noah home. Can they build a life together when his soldier’s heart comes between them?

Read an Excerpt:

Friday, July 8, 1864, Ravenna, Ohio

Excitement stirred inside Noah Andrews as the Ravenna Locomotive roared along the C & P railroad tracks. It had been so long. He wondered if the bride still looked the same. Still smelled the same. Like gardenias. Like home.

When he’d joined the Ohio Seventh Volunteer Infantry Regiment over three years ago, the cars were filled with recruits going to war. Today, less than thirty men from his hometown returned with him. Few from Company G served the entire three year enlistment without being wounded, taken prisoner, or killed on a battlefield.

He pressed against the window trying to spot familiar sites. Trees and foliage blocked the view most of the trip, but occasionally wooded areas thinned out where a house stood next to a corn or wheat field. He couldn’t wait to be a farmer again, to grow crops and raise pigs on the farm his father left to him before the war. To put the horror behind him.

Even on the trip home, tragedy followed the Ohio Seventh when Oliver Trembly from Company C slipped and fell off the train. He drowned in the Ohio River. Sergeant Trembly had fought in every major battle they’d faced without a scratch on him, but he still didn’t make it home.

Noah pressed against the window and squinted to catch the first glimpse of the town. It looked the same. Portage County Courthouse, a brick building with six columns and a bell tower, all painted white, stood in the center of town with the two-story, brick jailhouse beside it as it had since before he was born. The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was new with its massive stone walls and clock tower, but not much else. Ravenna never really changed, and he was glad of it.

A few soldiers in the Seventh had re-enlisted or were mustered into the Ohio Fifth for the remainder of the war and were already marching to the sea with General Sherman, but after Ringgold Gap, after what happened there, Noah would have none of it. Now that his three year enlistment was up, he would be able to put the memories of that day behind him.

Brakes squealed and a whistle blew as the train rolled into the station near Sycamore Street. It was a bright day, and a slight breeze blew through the open windows along with the sound of band music.

He grabbed his pack and Springfield rifle and made his way through the soldiers pushing against him, all trying to depart the train in one clump, as if they, in one accord, determined never to move in a single line formation again. They were civilians now.

Scanning the area, he stepped off the railroad car, but he couldn’t see Molly among the masses crowded in front of the brick depot to greet them. It looked like the whole town came out.

A banner, Welcome Home, Seventh OVI, was strung over the door. OVI stood for Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The din of the mob blended with the sound of fifes, drums, trumpets, and trombones playing When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again. Men and women he’d known all his life thrust in on him like a regiment of rebel troops as they patted him on the back and shook his hand. But after three years away, they seemed like strangers.

He needed to find Molly, to get away from this rabble.

Mrs. Thompson, a plump lady in her forties, grabbed hold of him and hugged him almost too tightly as she wiped away tears. “I’m so glad you made it home.”

A wave of nausea swept through Noah. Her son would never return. He died on the battlefield in Georgia.

Making his apologies, he pulled himself from Mrs. Thompson’s grasp and marched further into the fray. His stomach knotted as the throng pressed in tighter. He had to get away. “Molly!” His voice trailed off to the music of Battle Hymn of the Republic.

He squeezed through more well-wishers until he saw Aaron Billings, his brother-in-law and best friend. Aaron stood on his crutch and wooden leg, sandy brown hair blowing in his face, delivering the same winsome grin Noah remembered. He pulled Aaron into a bear hug.

Aaron saluted. “Welcome home, Sergeant Noah.”

Noah didn’t return the salute. “I’m not a sergeant anymore. Have you seen Molly?”

“Sure have. She fetched me to get you, wanted your meeting to be a little more private. She’s inside the depot.”

Noah pushed through the crowd until he managed to open the door of the small brick building. That’s when he saw her. She was even prettier than he remembered, with blond hair curled and pinned in ringlets and big blue eyes. She wore her wedding dress, cream colored satin with little roses on it and a matching pink ruffled bonnet. But she wasn’t the girl of sixteen he’d married. She’d matured in all the right places. 

She smiled and held her arms out. He ran to her, picked her up, spun her around, and kissed her not caring who saw it.

“Whoo Hoo.” A group of onlookers applauded. He bristled, noticing for the first time there were others waiting inside the station.

“Let’s go home,” Noah said.

Molly chuckled. “We can’t go home now, silly. The whole town came out to give you a hero’s welcome. Everyone’s meeting at the courthouse lawn, and Mayor Brown’s even planning on making a speech.”

“I’m not a hero!” He could tell by her widened eyes that he’d said it sharper than he meant. “Please.” He cringed at the pleading in his voice. “I want to go home, alone, with you.”

Molly nodded and made their apologies as they made their way to their buggy parked across Main Street in front of the Ravenna Book Store. Instead of the wagon, she had brought the bowl coal box carriage with red cloth seats, Noah’s prize possession.

The Mertz and Riddle Carriage Manufactory located on the corner of Main and Chestnut made the finest carriages in the world. When Noah decided to court Molly, he didn’t want to subject her to riding in the wagon, so he sold one of his horses to buy the coach. They would ride to church together and sometimes drive to Brady Lake in comfort even in inclement weather.

They rode the carriage home on their wedding day and to the train station, the next day, when he joined up. He brushed his hand across the mane of their sorrel, Sam. The horse had only been a colt when he left. He helped Sally in, and they rode toward his father’s farm, his farm.

Noah had forgotten how pleasant the terrain was here. Willow, elm, oak, and a few apple trees lined the road along with farm houses and barns. He’d forgotten how much bluer the sky was than in Tennessee or Virginia with white fluffy clouds he used to find shapes in when he was a boy.

Not a mountain in sight. He never again wanted to see a hill larger than the one near his farm. Too many men had died on the mountainsides he’d climbed.

“I’m fixing fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cornbread for supper tonight.” Molly intertwined her arm with his. “I heard how hard it is for you soldiers to get a decent meal. You’re too skinny, husband. I plan to fatten you up.”

“Sweetheart, you don’t know how that makes my mouth water. I never want to see another hardtack cracker again.” He gazed at her, and another hunger rose inside of him. “Your cooking isn’t the only thing I’m looking forward to tonight.”

Molly blushed, but her coy smile had a hint of desire.

She placed her head on his shoulder, and they rode in silence. They didn’t need to say anything. Just being together was enough.

Noah pulled off Cleveland Road and headed down the lane leading to their farm. After they crossed the creek, he flicked the reins to urge Sam to go faster. They’d be there soon. When he reached the apple tree on the edge of the field, he stopped the buggy and got out. Molly climbed out and stood beside him.

Before his eyes stood several acres of golden stalks of corn, knee-high. “How did you manage this? I thought we’d have to make do with a small garden, my soldier’s pay, and what I managed to hunt. I didn’t expect you to have a crop this size ready for me to tend.”

“I worked my fingers to the bone.” Molly giggled. Noah held her hands and gazed at them as if he’d never seen them before. They weren’t the soft hands that touched his face as they said good-bye at the train station years ago. They were rough and had callouses. He drew them to his face and kissed them. “Mighty fine fingers they are too. But you couldn’t have done all this on your own.”

“Father and Aaron helped with the planting. I didn’t want you to have to wait a whole year to plant. I wanted to surprise you.”

“You certainly did that.” Noah placed his hands on his hips as new appreciation for the young girl he left behind swelled inside of him. “I suppose we’ll need to buy some hogs.”

Molly chuckled. “We have enough pork to last a year. I cured some and sold the rest to Hackenwald’s Butcher Shop. I figured you could buy more, next Spring.”

Noah tried to speak, but the emotion of the moment made his voice crack. “You are a treasure.”

“After all, I am a farmer’s wife.” Molly placed her hand in his. “I am relieved to be done with all of this. Now I can lay the burden of running a farm and making ends meet on my husband’s shoulders where it belongs. From now on, I plan to devote my time to my herb garden and my chickens.”

“Maybe we could make a few babies for you to raise?” He raised his eyebrow. “You know, just to keep you busy.”

She gave him a mock scowl. “Noah Andrews, just what are your intentions?”

“I’ll show you.” He grabbed her and kissed her, long and hard, as if he couldn’t get enough of the taste of her lips. “Let’s get home, wife, and work on making those babies.”

A warmth welled up inside of Noah until he had to blink to keep his eyes from tearing up. The war wasn’t over yet, but he was done with it. It wouldn’t follow him here.

To buy her book, go here:

About Tamera:
TAMERA LYNN KRAFT has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.

Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

Connect with Tamera here:

Word Sharpeners Blog:\
Revival Fire For Kids Blog:
Adventures in American History: 

Tamera is giving away a copy of Soldier's Heart. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


Tamera Lynn Kraft said...

Thanks for having me on Barn Door Loft. I wanted to let everyone know the drawing is for a digital copy of the book. Good luck.

Jackie McNutt said...

Tamera, I wish you well with your book. I am looking forward to reading a copy , weather I would win or not. I love reading civil war novels and your research will be interesting used in your book along with the characters. Thank You.

MsRubyKat said...

Sounds like a really good book. Would love to read more. Thank you for the chance.
Karen G.

Patricia Bradley said...

Sounds like a great book! pat at ptbradley dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds so interesting!

sm said...

I like stories/romances about soldiers and their sweethearts. I realize from talking and listening to military folks that soldiering does put lots of pressure on a relationship. Love to read and win your book. sharon,ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Susan P said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. I cannot imagine the pain and struggle getting to know him all over again when he came home.
lattebooks at hotmail dot com

bonton said...

Hi, Tamera!

Thanks for bringing attention to the needs of those in the military suffering from PTSD - in a format that may be easier to comprehend.

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading this Tamera and sounds real interesting. This was a hard time. Breaks your heart to think of so many young men who never came home. But, because of the men and women willing to serve, now, we still have our Freedoms. I sure would love to have this book but unless I could get it in a PDF, I can't use it. Thanks for visiting BDBL. A fine bunch of ladies.
MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

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