Homefront Hero (Love Inspired Historical Series)

Homefront Hero (Love Inspired Historical Series)

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by Allie Pleiter

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Dashing and valiantly wounded, Captain John Gallows could have stepped straight out of an army recruitment poster. Leanne Sample can't help being impressed—although the lovely Red Cross nurse tries to hide it. She knows better than to get attached to the daring captain who is only home to heal and help rally support for the war's final push. As


Dashing and valiantly wounded, Captain John Gallows could have stepped straight out of an army recruitment poster. Leanne Sample can't help being impressed—although the lovely Red Cross nurse tries to hide it. She knows better than to get attached to the daring captain who is only home to heal and help rally support for the war's final push. As soon as he's well enough, he'll rush back to Europe, back to war—and far away from South Carolina and Leanne. But when an epidemic strikes close to home, John comes to realize what it truly means to be a hero—Leanne's hero.

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Camp Jackson Army Base Columbia, South Carolina September 1918

I still can't believe it." Leanne Sample gazed around at the busy activity of Camp Jackson. Even with all she'd heard and seen while studying nursing at nearby University of South Carolina, the encampment stunned her. This immense property had only recently been mere sand, pine and brush. Now nearly a thousand buildings created a self-contained city. She was part of that city. Part of the monumental military machine poised to train and treat the boys going to and coming from "over there." She was a staff nurse at the base army hospital. "We're really here."

"Unless I'm seein' things, we most definitely are here." Ida Landway, Leanne's fellow nurse and roommate at the Red Cross House where they and other newer nurses were housed, elbowed her. "I've seen it with my own eyes, but I still can barely believe this place wasn't even here two years ago." Together they stared at the layout of the orderly, efficient streets and structures, rows upon rows of new buildings standing in formation like their soldier occupants. "It's a grand, impressive thing, Camp Jackson. Makes me proud."

Leanne had known Ida briefly during their study program at the university, but now that they were officially installed at the camp, Leanne already knew her prayers for a good friend in the nursing corps had been answered. Different as night and day, Leanne still had found Ida a fast and delightful companion. Ida's sense of humor was often the perfect antidote to the stresses of military base life. As such, their settling in at the Red Cross House and on the hospital staff had whooshed by her in a matter of days, and been much easier than she'd expected.

Still, "on-staff nursing life was tiring. "There was so much to do," Leanne said to Ida as she tilted her face to the early fall sunshine as they chatted with other nurses on the hillside out in front of the Red Cross House. "Too many things are far more complicated in real service then I ever found them in class."

"A free afternoon. I was wondering if we'd ever get one. Gracious, I remember thinking our class schedules were hard." Ida rolled her shoulders. "Hard has a whole new meaning to me now." This afternoon had been their first stretch of free time, and they'd decided to spend an hour doing absolutely nothing before taking the trolley into Columbia to attend a war rally on the USC campus that evening.

"However are you going to have time to do this?" Ida pointed to a notice of base hospital events pinned to a post outside the Red Cross House. "I feel like I've barely time to breathe, and you're already lined up to teach knitting classes."

"I've managed to find the time to teach you," Leanne reminded her newest student.

"Don't I know it. I tell you, my mama's jaw would drop if she saw I've already learned to knit. I guess you've found right where you fit in the scheme of things around here."

Ida was right; Leanne had found her place on base almost instantly. As if God had known just where to slot her in, placing an opening for a teacher in the Red Cross sock knitting campaign. If there was anything Leanne knew for certain she could do, it was to knit socks for soldiers. She'd run classes for her schoolmates at the university; it seemed easy as pie to do the same thing here. And it would help her make friends so quickly—hadn't she already? In only a matter of days the vastness of the base seemed just a wide-open ocean of possibilities.

Of course, there were others who were less thrilled at the opportunities ahead of Leanne—namely, her parents. Mama and Papa had come to see her settled in, and they hadn't left yet. They'd already stayed on in Columbia two days longer than planned. Papa attributed it to "necessary business contacts" here in the state capital, but Leanne knew better. Mama wasn't at all calm about the prospect of her daughter being an army nurse. Leanne had agreed to meet her parents for a last luncheon before they caught their train, a final goodbye off base before tonight's rally. In truth Leanne worried that despite already-packed bags, Mama would invent some other reason to delay their return to Charleston.

Ida must have read her expression. "Oh, stop fretting about your mama and papa, will you? Don't give them reason to stay one more minute. You're in for a ten-hankie bout of tears no matter what, so best just to get it over with. Don't you give them one inch of reason to stay off that train."

Leanne couldn't argue. She'd declared to herself that even Mama's fits of worry would not be permitted to dampen the eager wonder she felt to finally be in service. Leanne squared her shoulders and straightened her spine. "I am a United States Army nurse. I am an educated woman—" she shot a sideways glance at Ida as she adjusted the colored cape that designated her as a leader of the newly graduated nursing class "—and I am a force to be reckoned with."

"I'll say an amen to that!" Ida flashed her generous smile that widened further as she pointed to a large new bill posted in a spot all its own. "Speaking of forces to be reckoned with, I reckon our evening will be highly entertaining." She peered closer at an announcement for the "rousing patriotic speech" to be given by "a true wartime hero."

"'Hear the daring exploits of Army Captain John Gallows,'" Ida read aloud. "'Thrill to the tale of how he saved lives at the risk of his own.' Well, where I come from a gallows is something to be feared."

Leanne could only laugh. Some days Ida sounded as if West Virginia were the wild, wild West. "Oh, that might still be true here. The Gallowses are a very formidable Charleston family."

"Have you met them?"

"I've not had the pleasure, but I believe our fathers know each other back in Charleston. A fine family going back for generations."

Ida leaned back and crossed her arms while eyeing the dashing photograph of Captain Gallows that illustrated the announcement. "Fine indeed. He's certainly handsome enough." She adjusted her stiff white apron as if primping for the photograph's admiration. Ida did like to be admired, especially by gallant army officers. "I can't think of a better way to spend our first free evening off base. Perhaps he'll let me sketch him."

"Why is it you want to sketch every handsome man you meet?" Leanne teased. Already she could see it might prove hard to keep her artistically inclined roommate focused on her duties. Ida was a free spirit if ever there was one, and while she took her nursing very seriously, her adventurous nature already pulled her too often away from her tasks.

"I'd be delighted to sit for you," came a deep voice behind them. "Especially if you are so partial to handsome war heroes."

Ida and Leanne spun on their heels to find the very man depicted in the photograph. Complete with the dashing smile. Even out of his dress uniform—for he wore a coat, but not one as fancy or full of medals as the one in the photograph—he was every bit the U.S. Army poster-boy hero. His dark hair just barely contained itself in its slick comb-back underneath his cap. He carried himself with unmistakably military command—Leanne suspected she'd have known he was an officer even in civilian clothes. He certainly was very sure of himself—a long moment passed before Leanne even noticed he leaned jauntily on a cane.

Ida planted one hand on her hip. "Well—" her voice grew silky "—no one can fault you for an excess of modesty. Still, my daddy always said a healthy ego was a heroic trait, so I suppose I can let it slide, Captain Gallows." She drew out the pronunciation of his name with a relish that made Leanne flush.

Captain Gallows was evidently all-too-accustomed to such attentions, for he merely widened his dashing smile and gave a short bow to each of them. "How do you do?" He pointed to the sign. "Say you'll attend tonight's event, and my fears of facing an audience full of dull-faced students and soldiers will be put to rest."

"Are you one of the Four Minute Men, then?" Leanne asked. Her father had been asked to serve on the nationally launched volunteer speakers board, called "Four Minute Men" for the prescribed length of their speeches, but Papa had declined. Still, from the superlatives on his bill, Captain Gallows could go on for four hours and still hold his audience captive.

"The best. They give me as long as I want. They tell me I'm enthralling."

"I have no doubt they do. I'm Ida Lee Landway, and this is my friend Leanne Sample. We've just joined the nursing staff at the base hospital."

The captain tipped his hat. "How fortunate for our boys in the wards. Miss Landway, Miss Sample, I'm delighted to meet you. Tell me what I can say to convince you to come to the rally."

"Oh, it won't take much," Ida cooed.

"We were just on our way over to town early and already planning to attend," Leanne corrected. "No persuasion will be required." He certainly seemed a cocky sort, this Captain Gallows.

"I'm not so sure," he replied with a disarming grin. "I was on campus this morning and one of the students told me she would come, but she would bring her knitting. Not the kind of response I'm used to, I must say. I'm trying to see it as a patriotic act, not an expectation of my inability to fascinate."

Definitely a cocky sort. "Don't take that as an affront at all, Captain Gallows. I'm meeting my parents for luncheon and I have my knitting with me right now."

"Well, I can't say I haven't longed for a sharp pointy stick in several conversations with my own father."

Leanne didn't find that especially funny. "The Red Cross encourages us to knit everywhere we can, Captain Gallows." She tried not to glare as she pointed to the bag currently slung over her shoulder. "I assure you, I knit even in church, so the presence of anyone's yarn and needles need be no dent to your confidence. Our boys need socks as much as the army needs our boys."

Gallows tucked a hand in his pocket. "Duly noted, ma'am." He turned to Ida. "Does the Red Cross know what a fine champion they have in nurse Leanne Sample?"

"They ought to," Ida boasted. "She's been here a week and already she's teaching two knitting classes at the hospital."

"Impressive," Gallows replied. "I'm sure the fellows here at the hospital have told you there are days when a pair of warm, dry socks are the highlight of the week. I suppose if I just remember that while you all are staring down at your needles instead of up at me, I'll be just fine."

The man enjoyed being the center of attention—that much was clear. "You needn't worry. Most of us can stitch without even looking. I've knit so many pairs of socks I think I could probably knit in my sleep by now."

"Not me," Ida said. "Leanne's a good teacher, but I fear for the feet that'll have to put up with my socks. I'll have to stare down a fair amount—" she paused and batted her long auburn eyelashes "—but not the whole time."

"Well, then." Gallows rocked back on his boot heels. "I have my orders. I'm to be enthralling but not distracting. Have I got it right?"

"I have no doubt you do such a job very well," Leanne replied, not wanting to give Ida another chance at that one. "Good day, Captain. We've a trolley to catch, but we'll also catch your enthralling-but-not-distracting presentation this evening."

Gallows tipped his hat. "You do your bit, I'll do mine."

Meet the Author

An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter spends her days writing books and finding new ways to avoid housework. She grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in Speech from Northwestern University, and speaks nationally on writing, faith, and creative productivity. Allie currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. Sign up for her newsletter at http://alliepleiter.com/contact.html

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Homefront Hero 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
Homefront Hero by Allie Pleiter 4 STARS I started the book and before long I did not like hero at all. Then things began to change as I got to know him longer the more I grew to like Captain John Gallows. In the end I was sorry to see them go. Homefront Hero takes place in 1918 during World War 1 at Camp Jackson Army Base Columbia, South Carolina. Leanne Sample has just graduated from nursing school at University of South Carolina and is now working at base army hospital. Leanne is also signed up to teach knitting classes. The army needs socks badly and they are trying to get more people involved into making them. Captain John Gallows is a hero but he doesn't think he is a hero. He risked his life and saved others but if he did not do anythink they would all crash and he would be dead too. So he risked his life to save his life. The army is using him to help with the support the war at home. He really wants to get healed enough that he can be sent over seas again. The Doctors don't think he can be made well enough. John is a good looking and smooth talker and does really well to get people to support the war effort. He tells the General he will do anything to be considered again for a chance at active duty. The General takes him up on anything. He wants Captain John Gallows to be in the Red Cross sock knitting campaign. Have his picture taken of him getting lessons on how to knit so other young men and women will learn to do it too. Leanne is the one to teach him how to knit. John wants Leanne to teach him some knitting before he gets photographed learning how to knit socks. Leanne is wondering if that will be cheating, but decides to go ahead and teach him first. John has a hard time learning how to knit. John tries and get Leanne to do some of the knitting for him. John is very spoiled but then he is going through a lot of pain and still wants to get better. John also gets Leanne assigned to help with his physical problems. While he is getting his leg iced down and staying still she can help him with his knitting. John also makes a side deal with her. He wants her to dance the waltze with him at one of the Generals ball so that he will look more healed than he really is. Leanne agrees if he gets his sock so far along by the dance. Leanne was praying for ideas to help John with his exercises to help him and got the answer to waltze with him. His doctor thought that was a good idea for him. It is one of the harder things for him to walk side ways. It does get him motavated. Leanne wants to share her testimony with him. At the same time as World War 1 thier also comes wide spread Spanish Influenza that kills millions around the world. John and Leanne have to cope with that too. I will read more by Allie Pleiter in the future. I love Harlequin Love Inspired novels. I was given this ebook to read in exchange of honest review from Netgalley. 05/01/2012 PUB Harlequin Love Inspired Historical 288 pages
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It made me smile, it made me cry, it made me want to try knitting socks! (Or maybe crocheting them instead. My last knitting effort was pretty disastrous.) It's always fun to see a story incorporate a craft into it, and of course I love a well-written historical. This one had both. The characters were interesting, their journeys were believable, and it had a really nice message about what it means to be a hero. The epilogue, an article in the magazine that helped to bring Leanne and John together was a really cute touch. The last of the "Questions for Discussion" really struck a chord as well, encouraging readers to use their love of crafts to support those in the armed forces; great idea! The Internet is indeed full of worthy causes that crafters of every persuasion can get behind. Two enthusiastic thumbs up for Ms. Pleiter's latest!
Jutzie More than 1 year ago
Homefront Hero by Allie Pleiter Captain John Gallows has survived the war and been dubbed a hero. He is suave and smooth and as a Gallows….gets pretty much what he wants. And he wants to get back to France and fight in the war. To earn the title “hero” the world has given him. Only his bum leg is keeping that from happening, but he’s a Gallows and he’ll get his way. Even if he has to get by learning to knit a sock and be a poster boy. Leanne Sample is a nurse. The pride she feels at being in Camp Jackson and helping her country is immense. When she meets the prideful and arrogant Captain Gallows she almost dismisses him completely….until a glimpse behind a stage curtain shows her the human inside that handsome shell. She sees even more of John when she has to teach him to knit and help with his recovery. He is someone she could care about if he shared her faith and was not so determined to go back to war. Can two opposites find love in the midst of war and turmoil? Allie’s writing pulled me headlong into this story. I’m a visual reader and I felt the walk through the hospitals with the hopeless cases of influenza and the fight for life and death. She also wrote an excellent spin on Leanne’s struggle as a strong Christian and John’s unbelief. And the parts I won’t mention as not to give the story away were so intense and well written. I found this to be one of those books that I just couldn’t stop reading until the end. **Received through NetGalley for review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago