Bonnie Dee
Scarred HeartsHistorical
Bonnie Dee
October 6, 2014
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Two wounded souls find salvation in each another.

At the close of WWI, moonshine and bootlegging rule the night in the Kentucky hills, but two damaged souls manage to find light and love amidst the darkness. Nearly destroyed by a grenade blast, Shadow Robeson returns home from war only to be trapped by family expectations he has no energy to fight—until a secret romance with a loving woman sets him on a new course.

Bound by poverty and a ruined reputation, Lettie Calloway seems destined to spend her days serving at the local tavern. It takes a kind and gentle man entering her life to expand her dreams to the horizon.

Shadow plans to escape the backwoods with Lettie for a new start, but his violent family threatens to destroy the fragile growth of new love. As the couple struggles toward freedom, will they escape this dangerous country before their lives explode?

What people are saying

The Blogger Girls, Heather
For me, the best aspect of this story was the strong sense of place. The author did a wonderful job creating a small Kentucky town with the dialects and lifestyles.

Claire Robinson, 4 stars
“You can come talk with me anytime, Shadow Robeson.” 4 Stars. Scarred Hearts is Bonnie Dee writing in her inimitable style, and at her absolute best.

Ivonne Moreno, 4 stars
Scarred Hearts is a novel full of history and romance. This story was perfect from beginning to end.

Sandy Held, 4 stars
Both characters have a troubled past, and the way they helped each other overcome the trauma of the past was sweet.

Brandi Slade, 5 stars
This book is well written with beautiful colorful dialogue and descriptions the suck you in. I could see the whole story as I read it.

Super Librarian Wendy, 4 stars
Am glad I stumbled across this particular unusual historical.  Worth a look the next time you find yourself burnt out on taffeta and ballrooms. …historical romance characters that could have possibly fallen out of my family tree.  To put it nicely?  Salt-of-the-Earth, working class sorts.  To put it another way?  Hillbillies and Rednecks.

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Read an Excerpt

As the night got later and the crowded tavern hotter, Shadow grew more miserable and bored. His brothers were occupied with arm wrestling and bets and floozies who fawned over them—or the free drinks. Now would be a fine time to slip out and get a breath of air. Dragging himself to his feet, he leaned on his walking stick and shuffled toward the door.

Scarred Hearts

Outdoors was heaven. He could breathe again, and his aching seemed to ease. Leaning against the wall of Shatner’s, he tipped his head to look up at the stars. He inhaled the scent of pine and cedar, dirt and grass, the familiar smells of home. When he’d been at training camp and then overseas, he’d hardly missed his family but had missed these hills. No land more beautiful in the world than Kentucky. He’d find his own piece of it, but maybe on the opposite side of the state, far away from his family.

Shadow closed both eyes and saw black, opened the right one and stars shone in their familiar patterns. He closed the right and saw black again. Even if he took the patch off, he would never see stars from his left eye again. Only black. Always black. If anything ever happened to his right eye, he’d be blind. Helpless. Useless. And useless didn’t go over too well in his family.

Again he mulled over moving someplace where he wouldn’t have to be a Robeson. He’d joined the army as much to escape them as to fight the Germans. But his injuries had brought him right back to the howling center of his boozing, cursing, violent family.

If he left here, what would he do exactly? Work at a saw mill or steel mill or any job that didn’t require a formal education. But with his leg so lame, he couldn’t do much heavy lifting, and having one good eye also limited his options. He sighed and rubbed beneath the band that held his eye patch in place.

“Are you all right?”

The quiet female voice practically right beside him made Shadow spring away from the wall. His leg buckled, and he started to crumple, but strong hands and a sapling-thin body caught and supported him, keeping him from falling.

For a moment, he stayed with an arm around Lettie Calloway’s sparrow shoulders, then he pushed himself upright and got his balance. Shadow stared at the small woman, hardly more than a girl, standing in front of him. Her plain brown dress covered her from chin to toe but couldn’t hide the curves beneath. She wasn’t as much of a straight little stick as she wanted people to think. But with men like Tommy bothering her, he understood why Lettie covered up.

Lettie jerked her thumb at the noisy tavern on the other side of the wall. “Thanks for helping me in there.”

Shadow nodded. A civilized man would say something like Glad to do it, and I apologize for my ape of a brother, but Shadow had been silent for so long he almost couldn’t form words even when he wanted to. He’d never been much of a talker, but after Europe, he’d given up almost completely. In his family, it was easier to let everyone else do the shouting and arguing and to simply follow Daddy’s orders.

Lettie cocked her head, more birdlike than ever, and studied him. “Your throat get hurt in the war? There’s another fellow comes in here, Billy Ransom—you know the Ransoms from up Pike’s Ridge?—who breathed in that mustard gas. Wrecked his voice too.”

Shadow shook his head. No. Not mustard gas. Sheer cussedness kept him from talking, but once he’d started the habit, it became easier to let people think there was some medical reason for it.

Bright eyes skipped over his face like pebbles on a pond, trying to leave a ripple behind. Lettie slowly nodded. “I get it. Sometimes… Heck, most of the time, I got nothing to say to people either. Don’t know why I’m jawing at you like this.”

He didn’t either, but didn’t mind it. He liked the sound of her soft but sort of rough voice, like a cat’s rasping tongue.

“You know who I am, right? I mean, what they say about me?” Lettie asked.
He gave another nod. Everybody knew everybody else’s life story around here. Lettie was a little younger than Shadow. She’d dropped out of school even before he had. When she was thirteen, she took up with a married man, the general store owner, Herbert Whitlow. The truth came out one day to the entire community when Whitlow’s wife dragged the girl out of the store by her hair and screamed at her in the street.

There’d been other men and boys after that, and by the time she was fifteen, Lettie was following in her mama’s footsteps. Everyone knew the Calloway women living in the shanty in Bullfrog Hollow were whores.

Except, Shadow thought, Lettie didn’t dress like she wanted men to notice her, and she probably wouldn’t wait tables at Shatner’s tavern if she was earning money on her back.

“Well, some of it’s true and some ain’t, but I never took money for anything I did.” Lettie laughed nervously, a breathy puff of air, and shook her head. “Not that you keered to know. I best get back to work afore Shatner fires me. I just wanted to catch a breath of air.”

She waved a hand at the firefly-lit night, flickering dots of yellow thick in the deep shadows under the trees. “When I’m stuck indoors, I forget sometimes how pretty it is out here.”

Shadow nodded slowly, feeling like an idiot for pretending to be mute. Why was it so damned hard to form words? “I like the smell of pine,” he muttered.

Her teeth flashed in the dark, brighter than all the fireflies put together. “Me too.”

Scarred Hearts

Simple words of no account. And yet the exchange felt like something much more meaningful. That made Shadow nervous. He moved back a couple of steps and felt the solid wall behind his back once more.

Lettie raised a hand. “Well. Good night.”

He waited until she’d disappeared back inside the tavern before answering. “Good night.”

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