Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Excerpt & Giveaway: THE STAMP OF HEAVEN by Julia Robb


  Genre: Historical Fiction / Civil War
Publisher: self-published
Date of Publication: February 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 196

Scroll down for Giveaway!

The Union Army wants former Confederate Army general Beau Kerry for alleged war crimes, but he’s hiding out where the Yankees least expect to find him: in the United States Cavalry. Beau is fighting Apaches out West and praying nobody recognizes his famous face.

But Lieutenant Kerry's luck changes when he runs into Sergeant Ike Jefferson and says, "The last time I saw you, I had you bent over a barrel and I was whipping you.” Ike is not only Beau's best friend (or worst enemy, depending on the day), he's Beau's former slave -- and Ike knows there’s a $5,000 price on Beau’s head.

Caroline Dietrich has vengeance on her mind. Married to Colonel Wesley Dietrich, the Union fort commander, Caroline believes the best path to getting revenge against the Yankees, her husband included, is seducing her husband’s officers. Especially Beau.

From the killing fields of the Civil War, to the savagery of the Indian wars, the characters are also battling each other and searching for what it means to be human.


"Her characters are vivid, relatable, and endearing. She brings to life the rigors of frontier duty, the harsh beauty of west Texas, and the complexity of war and reconciliation. A must read!” 

"Julia Robb creates a masterful tale of friendship, loyalty, cowardice, deceit, and redemption in this fascinating story set in the aftermath of the War Between the States...Not a simple western yarn, this novel will keep you thinking and asking the Big Questions long after you finish reading it.”

Chapter One of The Stamp of Heaven
By Julia Robb

I never believed in anything but the beauty of differential calculus until I served in the U.S. Cavalry with Lieutenant Beau Kerry.
Now the world seems wrapped in Moira, the Greek idea of destiny, and when I watch the stars swing across the heavens I wonder.
Who designs our lives?
Does God exist, and if He does, is He an ironic God or is He just?
I’ve pondered these matters for many years and am no closer to understanding than I was when I served with Kerry.
My name is Elliot Lloyd, and I’m the author of the first Kerry biography, published in 1878.
Biographies are supposedly autobiographical fact, but I created Kerry.
My book inspired a stream of tomes, until writing about Kerry (which was not his real name) became an industry.
I would never have predicted this mythic future in July 1870, when I first saw him.
From the first, I sensed something wrong.
I stood on the headquarters porch at Fort Davis when Kerry’s disgusting striker stopped the mule team hauling the wagon–Kerry’s good-looking bay trotting behind–and Kerry grinned at me from the front seat.
Command had transferred Kerry and company from Camp Grant, Arizona Territory.
On the surface, Kerry looked much like other men, although he was a natural horseman, even out-riding Comanches and they were the best riders I’ve ever seen.
Kerry was literally part of the animal, jumping on and off without touching a stirrup. He just grabbed the pommel and sprang on.
He seemed like a confident man, loose jointed, walking freely, swinging his arms. But Kerry didn’t look at home on the ground like he did in the saddle.
No, Kerry’s wrongness lay in his character, although it was difficult to identify the exact malady.
At Davis, other officers talked about each other, who was desperate for a transfer, which company commanders were competent and which ones were fools.
We did know about certain situations we didn’t talk about; such as Mrs. Colonel Dietrich. That could be dangerous.
Most of all, we talked about our recent war, that great catastrophe, the whirlwind which swept tens of thousands of we stout Union men to our silent, and often shallow, graves.
When not wearing out our back ends on a horse, which was most of the time, we sat in the rear of the sutler’s store trading stories around tiny tables covered with wet beer rings.
One officer would remark to the other, “You were attached to Burnside, did you see action at Fredericksburg?”
Or, “Did I tell you about the time we had that devil Mitchell surrounded and the son-of-a-bitch still fought his way clear?”
Discussions would go on for hours and lead to anything about the war, even to comparing the merits of a ten-pound Parrott gun to a twelve-pound Napoleon smooth-bore cannon.
Kerry never mentioned the war. Never once.
And he never commented on another man’s story.
Instead, he sat back in his chair laughing, his legs outstretched, his hair flopping on his collar and in his eyes and told fantastical tales about Apaches.
Kerry was almost Irish in the way he recalled events. Everything was a story. Except he never told a story about his family or his schooling or anything that happened before Camp Grant.
It was suspicious.
Some of us wondered if he was concealing a poor background.
After mulling about that, we decided Kerry was too well-spoken and educated for a poor background.
But we could never place him.
Kerry was also moody, and when he wasn’t joking seemed to darken and stare inward, as if he had something on his mind.
Years later, my hunch about his character was proven true, or maybe it was, while I drank with a friend in a smoky Kansas saloon that smelled like beer and too many sweaty men.
I told my friend about Kerry and the Espajo Canyon fight and he asked, “Was this Kerry a yellow-haired man, could out-ride a Comanche?”
“Yeah, how’d you know?”
“Well, he sounds like Robert Mitchell, the one who vamoosed when the federals tried to arrest him in Virginia. He had a price on his head. Also, folks called him Beau. He was one of the rebs’ boy generals.”
“I remember him.”
“You know our black troops manned Fort Wolcott?”
“There was talk about that.”
“Right. Mitchell’s warmongers took the fort and they went crazy and started slaughtering the men who surrendered, even the white officers. Fort Wolcott was a butcher’s yard. We had five hundred at the fort, and the rebs sent sixteen hundred. We had a gunboat on the river was supposed to protect Wolcott, but when the rebs showed up, the stupid ass crew found out the gun ports were sealed. Why would anyone seal a gun port!”
“Mitchell took part in this?”
“Nobody knows. Mitchell told reb newspapers he wasn’t leading his men when they climbed the walls. He said he didn’t know anything about the massacre until it was over. He claimed our troops refused to surrender. I don’t care what he said. I favor hanging the bastard, if we ever find him.”

Julia Robb is a former journalist who writes novels set in Texas. She’s written Saint of the Burning Heart, Scalp Mountain, Del Norte, The Captive Boy, and The Stamp of Heaven. 

Julia grew up on the lower Great Plains of Texas, and eventually lived in every corner of the Lone Star State, from the Rio Grande to the East Texas swamps. 

1st Prize: Signed Copy of The Stamp of Heaven + $5 Cash
2nd Prize: Signed Copy or e-Book Copy of The Stamp of Heaven
April 3-13, 2019
(U.S. Only)


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