Abraham slung his backpack over his shoulders and headed down the dusty road toward town. His father asked to take him. Begged, nearly. But Abe didn’t want his goodbye, which could be his final goodbye, to be at the train depot. He wanted it at home, on their farm, where by all rights he should have been helping with chores. His father would manage without him. He had always managed. Even through the torturous years of watching Abraham’s mother drift away through the mind-dissolving dementia and then finally leave them for good, his father had managed.
Abraham hoped with every part of his soul he would return to the farm, to his father, and be there to help him manage during his aging days. It would be soon. Charles Luchner showed signs of slowing. It hurt Abe to see it. It would hurt him more to have to see his father watch him leave on that train, standing on the platform managing to control his sadness, his fear.
At the edge of his property, he kicked a rock out of his path. The long walk into town would do him good, help him prepare for what was to come. Not that he wasn’t prepared already. Constant farm chores without machinery to make them easier had built his strength and stamina well. Days of rising before the roosters to take care of the crops and the cows, and to move lines in bitter cold air and knee deep snow and in the hottest times of the summer made him sturdy. He didn’t figure war would be much harder, physically. What he wasn’t sure of was how disruptive it would be to his mind. He had no qualm about fighting as needed. He was raised to stand up for himself and those around him and did so without hesitation. And now he was proud to do it for his country. He’d never actually taken a life, though. He knew how to avoid that risk during a fight.
His father told him to be someone else out there, to tell himself he was doing good and that sometimes evil was necessary to prevent worse evil. “Never let it make you feel bad about who you are.” Charles Luchner’s voice echoed in his thoughts. “Remember your heart is in the right place and that’s what matters.” Lives came and went. They always would. The heart is what lasted. Protect the heart, he’d said.
Abraham adjusted his backpack in an imitation of adjusting his thoughts and wondered how soon his father would find the wood carving at the back side of the house. He’d done it in secret as a message for when he wasn’t there. A heart. Enclosed within hands inside an image of the farm, their farm. Abe engraved it in the back of the wooden bench swing he’d made while he kept it hidden in a corner of the barn. His father loved to sit out behind the house on nice days and simply look over their land, land passed through generations of his family, worked by many hands who loved their bit of America, as his father said. Before he left, Abe wanted him to have a more comfortable place to do it; a place that would leave a part of himself behind for his father to keep. He’d moved it out to the yard just as dawn was breaking.
As he walked, he eyed the light echo of misty mountains in the distance. There weren’t many trees in Snake River country, at least not in his part of it, in southern Idaho. What were there were rather sparse, as compared to what he’d seen during his travels back east. His father had sent him to see something of the country after he earned his diploma and before he settled in to learn how to take over the farm. Abraham’s thoughts often returned to the long train trip where he jumped off here and there to explore different territories and different people. As much as he loved the travel, he also loved the return to his mountains. To his farm. One day, it would be his. One day after that, he would share it with a family of his own. Anyway, that was his plan.
If he returned.
~~ ~~ ~~
So begins Protect The Heart, my sweet home front novel. As the excerpt shows, this one is set partly in southern Idaho, specifically the Snake River Valley around Twin Falls. I’ve been there, a few times, visiting my in-laws. It’s where my husband grew up. A beautiful place, and a natural for a story setting, particularly natural for an old-time feel story.
This isn’t a historical. I have to upfront about that. It’s actually a blend of different times, both the World War eras were ladies still wore long dresses and protected themselves with parasols, and more modern times where soldiers drive Humvees and fight in the desert. It’s a tribute to my great uncles, and to my husband, but it’s very much set around my heroine, Maura, the girl who stays home and takes care of everything and everyone around her while she’s on her own.
It’s romantic. Sweet. Emotional. True-to-life. And it emphasizes nature both in the setting of the great Snake River and the fact that it’s set in a small farm town with focus on growing vegetables and flower gardens (with a touch of a metaphor thrown in). There are liberties taken. For instance, every time I visited, the locals were terribly friendly and warm. It’s not quite true for Maura. The story dictated otherwise.
This week at Smashwords, Protect The Heart is only $1.46 (be sure to use the provided coupon code). It is also available in print from ElucidatePublishing.net. The print version includes charcoal sketches by the author.
Protect The Heart is also a short read, only 191 pages in print. A great introduction to my work for those who are still new to me!
I should note at this point that all of my books are somewhat different styles (other than the Rehearsal series which maintains the style through the series). While Protect The Heart is sweet (all age safe) and uses a more old-fashioned tone, Moondrops & Thistles, which I featured yesterday, is more contemporary, more sensual, and has a feisty heroine. Off The Moon, which I’ll feature tomorrow, is fairly intense, all male POV, with stronger language and adult (controversial) situations. Rehearsal is more young adult style, although written for adults. And Finishing Touches is more mainstream, all female POV, with no strong language but lightly adult themes. If one doesn’t appeal to your personal preferences, another might. You can always read the first 10% on Smashwords before buying.
Here’s a bit from Maura’s POV:
With another sigh, she grasped her parasol from the rack beside the front door and went out to the front porch. She didn’t want it opened to cover her head. The sun leaked beautiful heat from the sky and she wanted to raise her face and let it sink in. Her father would have a fit. Young women of “a certain class” shouldn’t look like farm hands. Did he think if she did marry Cameron, she wouldn’t ever help him on the farm? She supposed the wealthier farm ladies didn’t, but the thought appealed to her, maybe even more than Cameron did. She had to think caring for crops and animals would be much like working at the home in care of people, but with less heartache. The infants she always fell in love with were adopted out easily if they were open for adoption. The young mothers often settled for whatever man would have them and their children, often older men they didn’t care anything about. It hurt her to see it.
No. Maura wouldn’t be one of them. She would wait. If she didn’t find someone, she would be fine on her own. The house would go to her when her father passed. She could take care of herself as long as she had a roof over her head.
Pausing at the trellis, she fingered a morning glory and dropped the parasol back to allow the dense blue-spotted vine to provide her shade. Its soft silky petal felt much like an infant’s cheek. Delicate and yet hardy. Calming and nurturing even as it needed to be nurtured. Her mother said, when they had last sat on the front porch together, how the morning glories reminded her of Maura. Each year the plant rejuvenated itself, became more hearty, more filled in, with more blooms.
Maybe her mother was right, but she felt more like her beloved columbine with their two layers in two shades, one softly rounded, the other pointed, as if in warning. The yellow stamen shooting so proudly from the center announced their need and longing for pollination. Maura blushed at the thought. She was, after all, old enough. Twenty-three already. Quite old enough.
Protect The Heart (click for buy link)