Where Dandelions Bloom

Where Dandelions Bloom

by Tara Johnson


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Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she’s discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496428356
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 07/01/2019
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 205,670
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt


Ten years later April 12, 1861
Howell, Michigan

"Cassandra Kendrick! What have you done?"

Cassie cringed at the slurred, booming voice hovering just beyond the barn door. She crouched, pressing her back against the prickly wood wall, and breathed through her mouth lest the sweet motes of hay floating around her cause a sneeze. She could not let Father know her whereabouts. Not until his temper cooled or his alcohol-sodden brain plunged him once again into a sleeping stupor. For him to find her in his current condition would not bode well.

In her eighteen years, history had taught her that much in abundance.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are."

The ominous timbre slithered down her spine. She squeezed her eyes shut.

Thud, thud, thud.

Her pulse pounded dully in her ears, the rhythm far too rapid. Could he hear?

His sluggish footsteps faded, as did his familiar curses. She allowed her back to relax a fraction and dropped her head against the barn wall, wincing when strands of her hair stuck and pulled against the splinters of wood.

Breathe in; breathe out.

She waited for several long moments. He had deceived her before. She had crept from her hiding spot only to have his meaty fingers clamp around her throat.

The barn door squeaked open on rusty hinges. Her breath snagged, but it was Mother's careworn face that appeared.

Sunlight streamed around her silhouette.

"He's gone."

Uttering a sigh of relief, Cassie pushed away from the wall and brushed poking shafts of straw from her skirt. "He found out, then?"

Mother nodded. "Came from town and went straight to the crock."

Cassie grimaced, imagining his reaction when his calloused fingers scraped the inside of the empty container. "He didn't accuse you, did he?"

Mother waved her hand in dismissal, though the tight lines around her eyes remained. "It doesn't matter. He laid not a hand on me. In truth, it's unlikely he'll remember come tomorrow."

Cassie stepped over tackle and crates, squinting against the bright sunlight. She straightened. "I'm not sorry. You know I'm not."

"I know." With a sad smile, Mother turned to leave, murmuring instructions over her shoulder. "Time to hang the wash."

That was all? No reprimand? Cassie said not a word. Avoid ing Father was the part she had fretted over most, but fearing her actions had disappointed Mother ...

Perhaps Mother wasn't sorry either. The thought gave her pause.

Cassie trudged through the grasss-plotched yard as chickens squawked and flapped around her skirts. The worn garment tangled around her ankles.

At least she'd bought them time. Yes, she'd taken the only money to be had from the crock, but the tax man's demands were sated. If Mother had agreed with her actions, why did she not say so? Why could she never stand up to Father?

Before they had rounded the corner of the cabin, a wagon careened down the dirt road in front of the house, churning up splatters of mud and jostling with enough clatter to wake the dead. Cassie frowned. The driver was recognizable enough.

Peter, her sister Eloise's husband, jumped from the bouncing wagon a hairsbreadth after he'd set the brake. His blond hair was windblown as if tossed by a dervish. His eyes were bright, sparkling with an excitement she'd rarely, if ever, witnessed from the sulky man.

Mother's face filled with sudden angst. "What's wrong? Is it Eloise?"

"Of course not." His Irish brogue lilted high as his chest puffed out with a billow. He hooked his thumbs around his suspenders. "You've not heard the news, then?"

Cassie stepped next to Mother's side. A cold stone sank in her stomach. "What news?"

His lips curved into a smile, revealing crooked yellow teeth. "Why, war, sister. War has been declared."


Excerpted from "Where Dandelions Bloom"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Tara Johnson.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Tamera Alexander

Bringing facets of Civil War history to life, Where Dandelions Bloom is an engaging journey of hidden identity and of discovering what’s most important in life—and in love.

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Where Dandelions Bloom 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Sprinkle23 8 days ago
Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson piqued my interest from the first chapter and carried it through the novel. The story was easy to read and entertaining. At first it had a Mulan-like vibe with Cassie disguising herself as a man to join the army, but the story really moved into its own as it progressed. As expected, there is a substantial amount of violence and blood. The author does not gloss over these aspects of war as experiencing the war and fighting is part of Cassie’s character development. I appreciated the deep character development in both Cassie and Gabe. Forgiveness, gender roles, and deception are a few of the themes that both characters wrestle with as they find themselves drawn to each other and, ultimately, toward their God. Though their romance is off and on throughout the story, somehow the author wove in a pleasant level of romantic tension that I enjoyed. A favorite quote: “We learn who we were to decide who we want to be.” (Page 47) I recommend Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson to fans of historical romance, especially readers who like Civil War fiction. 4 Stars! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book through the publisher’s My Reader Rewards Program. I was not required to write a review and all opinions in this review are my own.
LoriP123 18 days ago
I absolutely loved Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson! It is an inspirational historical romance set during the Civil War. It is a story about love, forgiveness and redemption in Christ. It is a story that pulls at your heartstrings and keeps you coming back for more. I'm looking forward to reading more books in the future by this wonderful author. I was given an ARC from the author/publisher. All conclusions are mine and mine alone.
SavannaKaiser 19 days ago
This story drew me in from the very start. The people on these pages came to life as I read and I still find myself thinking about them. I’ve always been a fan of Civil War fiction, but this one felt unique and fresh from the others. Instead of the male lead being a soldier, it’s our heroine who wears a Union uniform and our hero is a photographer. This really opened up the story to unique perspectives of the war at that time. I loved it! While not the most lighthearted book at times, due to the battle scenes and certain emotional moments, it’s one I highly recommend. Its theme of forgiveness provides the reader much to ponder and savor. The history and real life characters come alongside the fiction in a beautiful blend of poignant storytelling. The secondary characters will claim your heart as well. And the romance between Cassie and Gabe is so well done. Watching their relationship unfold and seeing them learn to forgive and trust again was a journey you don’t want to miss.
SarahSundin 22 days ago
In Where Dandelions Bloom, Tara Johnson brings to life a fascinating aspect of the Civil War – how several women succeeded in fighting, disguised as men. Cassie and Gabriel are complex and interesting characters, facing difficult dilemmas, deep secrets, and painful betrayal. A thoughtful message and light touches of humor make this novel even more enjoyable. A keeper!
Melissa Andres 3 months ago
What an incredible story! This historical romance delivers such a beautiful and engaging story-line. What could possibly make a woman of the 1860's desire to don men's breeches, cut their hair, and enter the world of brutal war? For Cassie Kendrick that would be escaping her father's ire and an arranged marriage to a despicable man. She needs a way out and decides the front lines is one place her father will never look. While in training, Cassie (posing as Thomas Turner) meets Gabe Avery, a photographer who's assigned to take photos of what war actually looks like. The two become the best of friends...except she's keeping her identity a secret from him. They form an easy camaraderie and share a lot with each other. But all of that is threatened when Gabe discovers that his dear friend Thomas is actually Cassie, a woman he finds all too attractive. The story that ensues is captivating. The details are vivid and heart-wrenching. A must read for all Civil War fans! Well done Ms. Johnson, well done! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own.
Sheliass 3 months ago
If you love historical fiction featuring a strong heroine with more fortitude than fear, this is the book for you. I cheered for Cassie as she made difficult choices to survive. Even though women still struggle for equality today, this story reminded me to be appreciative of how far we've come. I also admired Gabriel, the photographer who discovers Cassie's secret. Reader's who enjoyed Tamara Alexander's "With this Pledge" will appreciate "Where the Dandelions Bloom."
Faye_reviews 3 months ago
Cassie Kendrick takes her life into her own hands, escaping and arranged marriage and her abusive, alcoholic father, by dressing as a man, taking the name Thomas Turner and joining the Union Army. But her disguise becomes more difficult when she meets the handsome photographer, Gabe. Photographer Gabriel Avery, is anxious to make his mark on the world by documenting the war, under the mentorship of Matthew Brady. Raised in the city, he is unprepared for life on the frontlines. He befriends many of the men, including the quiet, dry humored, Thomas. Cassie and Gabe fight for their country, as well as personal battles of darkness and guilt, while navigating their growing attraction for each other. Where Dandelions Bloom offers a unique perspective on the Civil War, through the eyes of Cassie and Gabe. I felt like this book dealt with Army life realistically, from the lack of cleanliness, to the long periods of down time. Cassie is a courageous taking on the role of a lifetime, fighting for her country and eventually serving as a Pinkerton. She is clever and strong, earning the respect of many of her fellow soldiers. Gabe is a strong young man who follows his dream of capturing images, he is haunted by guilt from his past, wondering if in hindsight he could have done more. Though a city boy, he can hold his own in a fight. He is a good friend, and admires Cassie's bravery and ingenuity. Overall, an enjoyable read, with a different view of the Civil War. There were moments that were hard to read because of the subject matter, but also humor as well. I liked Jonas and his endearingly annoying talkative ways. Strong lead characters who must overcome challenges physical and emotional, brought together by the war. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Betsy Tieperman 4 months ago
What a compelling and riveting read! Tara Johnson has once again penned a poignant Civil War historical romance that will stay with you long after you read the final page. Filled with themes of faith and forgiveness, the factual details woven seamlessly throughout will make you feel as though you are right there on the battlefield. I love the significance of this book’s unique title and will never look at dandelions in the same way again! Highly recommend this book and this author! I received an advanced copy through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Where Dandelions Bloom! O.M.G. What a beautiful, heartwrenching and inspiring story! This has become my favorite book about the Civil War. I love to read stories set during the war: WWI, WWII, Civil War of the States, etc. And I can say that this is one of the best I’ve read. I loved that it’s based on a true story and a real character, which I later discovered was Emma x. I still can’t believe how a woman could serve and survive the hardships and terror of any war. And Cassie (the character that represents Emma) was truly a heroine in this story. A heroine, but not in the sense that she is perfect, she had a lot of flaws: resentment, lack of trust, too independent, etc. But those were understandable under the circumstances she was raised. Her father was a hopeless drunk who mistreated his wife and his four daugthers. Her daughters were means to an end, to work at their ranch, and to get his needed drinks and lifestyle by selling them to the highest bidder. And Cassie was the last to remain home. Her sisters didin’t have happy marriages, but they didn’t complain. But not her, she was not about to be sold like a cow to a disagreeable and leacherous man, much older tthan herself. So when things get desperate, and the contract for the marriage is done, she has no choice but to escape. Not even her dear granny can offer a solution to her problem. But where to go, how can she get work somewhere else her father will never find her? So she decides to enlist with the Unionist and help her fellowmen in serving her country and fighting for the slaves rights. But how long can she keep her charade as Private Turner? A woman in a regiment? Whoever heard of that? But she’s a great actress and manages to fool everyone that she is a lanky lad, but very hard working. Soon, she is winning her comrades trust. Gabe has suffered a hard childhood too. His father passed away and he had to take care of his mother and find the means to survive. He’s a very hardworker so he gradually finds the means to bring food to the table and support his mother in life. And life is good to him when he meets Mathew Brady the most famous photographer in America. Because Gabe’s passion and what he wants to pursue is with all his heart is photography. So when he unexpectedly get’s the position in Mr. Brady’s team, he can’t believe his luck. He’ll be able to help his country and immortalize scenes from the war for the world and families of the soldiers to see. Bu he never imagined what the war would be in the middle of the battlefield. And that he would make a strong bond with Private Turner, the lanky guy who always keeps to himself. There seems to be more to him, but he's glad to find a loyal friend. But how long will Cassie keep the charade, especially from this close friend who makes her think the unthinkable? This is a beautiful and heartwrenching story about two extraordinary persons who get to know through war and experience so much hardship and horror, and how they deal with it and help each other. But what will happen when Gabe discover’s Private’s Turner charade? Can he forgive her? And what is more, maybe discover there’s something worth exploring between them? I totally loved the characters. Cassie was truly courageous and generous, and Gabe was so sweet and made friend with everyone. The story addresses issues like overcoming grief and pain, forgiving past hurts, trusting God and giving him control. This book is my favorite in the Civil War novels! A must read!
SusanKC 4 months ago
This is an amazing story of one woman's journey of courage, forgiveness and love. In Cassie, Ms. Johnson has given her readers a spunky heroine who disguises herself as a young soldier in the Union army as she runs away from an abusive home environment. While trying to maintain her secret identity, Cassie befriends Gabe, a photographer who follows the army as he chronicles the war through images. I love that Cassie and Gabe challenge the other to become a better person as they learn to shed the chains that bind them. With hauntingly beautiful prose, Johnson paints a vivid picture of the misery and suffering that accompanies war, as the theme of hope triumph overs all. The spiritual theme of forgiveness is woven seamlessly through the story. I love it when an author can challenge me through a work of fiction to evaluate my life. A couple of my favorite quotes: "Wherever dandelions bloom, hope remains." "Time is too precious to waste in bitterness. It will steal your joy. Time." While this is my first book I have read by Tara Johnson, it will definitely not be my last. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Stacey724 4 months ago
I have been trying to do this story justice but my words fail me. I loved this book so much! I received an Advanced Reader Copy of Tara Johnson's latest novel, Where Dandelions Bloom. In it, she takes the reader right to the Civil War battlefield both as a female disguised as a male soldier and as a photographer trying to make a name for himself. Soldier Cassie is escaping an abusive father who wants her to marry a horrible man. Photographer Gabe is working under Matthew Brady trying to make a name for himself while capturing the terrible truths of war. Their friendship forged in the battle camp changes their lives forever. Full of battle action, glimpses into daily life in a Civil War camp, and so much more, Where Dandelions Bloom is a delight for fans of Christian historical fiction.
KaileyBechtel 4 months ago
This book was excellent! Tara Johnson did such a great job writing a vivid and beautiful story! She captured the darkness of the Civil War, but did it with grace. I absolutely loved Cassie and Gabe! I also loved Jonah too! These characters have stuck with me since I finished reading. I really enjoyed the message of forgiveness throughout the whole book. It spoke to my heart. I highly recommend this book! I was given a complimentary copy of this ebook from the author, but was not required to write a review. The thoughts and comments are my own.
CrystalCaudill 4 months ago
This book is hands-down my favorite Civil War novel of all time. My jaw absolutely dropped at how well this story was written and all the details that went into this story. I have never felt so immersed in history as I did in Where Dandelions Bloom. Every time a battle detail or name was dropped, my history nerd brain went wild, knowing exactly what was going to happen historically but no idea of how it would intersect and affect the characters of the story. Seriously, I could read this one over and over and over again. Who would like this: Anyone who loves great historical details, stories of women soldiers, espionage, the Civil War, and hope in desperate times. Rating and Why: I gave this a five-star rating because it totally blew me out of the water. Everything was so amazingly detailed, yet seamlessly woven together that it takes my breath away. Even now, weeks later, all I can do is shake my head in wonder. And now, every time I see a dandelion I see hope. It truly is amazing to transform something I once took for granted as being a weed into a symbol of hope. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher. The review above was influenced in no way by this and the above opinions are my own.
Carolynmb 4 months ago
Congratulations to Tara Johnson on her second outstanding novel evidencing extensive historical research that captures and portrays the Civil War Era. The main characters Gabe and Cassie come to life through prolific descriptive imagery that transports the reader to the battlefields to see, hear, smell, and feel the action. Character development of the secondary characters is also excellent. Where Dandelions Bloom is a story of hope, courage, perseverance, and forgiveness as Gabe and Cassie put aside their painful past memories and learn how to forgive others and themselves. I would love a sequel that continues their story as they embark on their new life on the Western Frontier. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and this author especially for those who love historical Christian fiction set in the Civil War Era. I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher but was under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
RachsRamblings 4 months ago
“But whether I live or die is Gods decision. Not Yours.” Where Dandelions Bloom brings the Civil War to life through several interesting characters. The reader gets to see the war through the eyes of a woman who chose to face war instead of the awful man she was goi g to be forced to marry, through the eyes of a photographer who wants to tell the story through pictures, and following a young lad who signs up as well. The picture of war isn’t pretty, and it’s effect can be damaging. It is always life changing. The authors characters are based in history. Quite a few women did sign up and fight in the Civil War, and she uses her research to bring a realistic plot to readers. Really liked the faith theme in this story. Various verses come to mind for Cassie as she strives to get through the difficulties that she faces. They give her perspective and strength. They even give her strength to do something she thought impossible. The characters are well done, the story well told, and a faith theme that flows smoothly through the story and gives the characters an anchor. War isn’t pretty, and this book did a tremendous job of bringing out some of the real horrors that were faced....and the waste of lives that occurred. If you like historical fiction or love Civil War era reads, this is definitely for you. Ultimately, it’s a story of forgiveness and triumph through Christ and the love and forgiveness he offers. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you... A hot tear escaped her lashes, tracing a warm path down her cheek. Yes, her father had abused her over and over again. He’d sliced her apart with his words, his fists...Forgiving him didn’t excuse him. But it would free her.”
SBMC 4 months ago
“We learn who we were to decide who we want to be.’” Such a heart-gripping novel! This is the first novel by Tara Johnson that I have read and I am totally hooked on her writing! The author uses a well-loved trope of a woman disguising herself as a man to enter the army during the Civil War but puts a twist to the plot by making the hero of the story a wartime photographer and not a soldier. The story is well-written and easy-to-read, with a well-paced plot and beautifully broken characters. Cassie is a woman with gumption and grit, yet lives in fear and hatred of her father which leads to her fleeing her home and enlisting in the Union army. Gabe is an immigrant, a self-made photographer, and a loyal, compassionate, ambitious man who believes in the Old World idealism of women being frail and needing protection. He’s given an opportunity to photograph the war while traveling with a Union regiment. When their worlds collide on the battlefields during the Civil War, they form a friendship but all is threatened when her true identity is revealed to Gabe and secrets infiltrate their tentative bond. Their friendship and blossoming love are so real and tender, as is their struggle for forgiveness - both extending and receiving that sacred of all gifts. Truly this book will touch your heart, especially if you’re a fan of historical romance/fiction. The well-researched details and events that make up the backbone of the story are shown in realistic albeit gruesome light, and they will bring you right into the heart of the war that tore up our nation. Yet even in the midst of the atrocities of war, dandelions bloom and “where dandelions bloom, hope remains.” I received a copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
irishniff 4 months ago
Tara Johnson has written an incredibly well crafted Civil War story with characters that took up residence in my heart. As they faced struggles, many from within their own hearts, the author communicates lessons regarding faith and the need for forgiveness. While fighting for the physical freedom of others, the strong heroine discovers that she is the one in need of true freedom. The romance that develops between her and a man with many struggles and faults of his own was rocky, yet touching, even with the backdrop of war. As difficult as war is to describe, it remains important for history to be heard and I appreciated how well this historical fiction was researched and presented. Basically, this book left me remembering that no matter what happens in life, hope always remains. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is facing a battle. I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
MaureenST 4 months ago
his a fictional story, but it is based on an actual person, and you will fall in love with Cassie/Thomas, what a tough lady she is. We feel the shells that hit the land around us, and the soldiers that are hurt or killed, and we are in the heat of battles in a war that tore our country apart. The author does a wonderful job with her words in making this seem so real! The title plays a big significance in this book, and I enjoyed how that played out, and you can really see it in your mind’s eye! I received this book through the Net Galley and Tyndale House Publishers, and was not required to give a positive review.
Abby1219 4 months ago
Love love and love this story!! Each and every one of us will find ourselves asking this question at some point in our lives, how in the world am I supposed to forgive someone who hurt me so badly? It just doesn't seem fair sometimes, especially when the person who wronged us refuses to apologize and make things right with us. It would be so much easier to just sit and stew in our feelings of anger, hate, and revenge. But that only places chains around our heart that can hold us back in life and weigh us down. There are times we just have to accept the apology we may never get. It's so hard to do, but in the end our hearts will be free, knowing that we've done what we're supposed to do and let God handle the rest. We never know what surprises and blessings He has for us in the future!