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Leaving Carolina [NOOK Book]

Overview

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, ...
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Leaving Carolina

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Overview

Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781601422361
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Series: Southern Discomfort
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 370
  • Sales rank: 451,751
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Tamara Leigh has been writing since 1994. Leigh’s first novel, Warrior Bride, was followed by six more best-selling, award-winning romances in the general market. Her inspirational Chick-Lit debut, Stealing Adda, was published in 2006 to great critical acclaim. Her twelve novels include Faking Grace; Splitting Harriet, an American Christian Fiction Writers "Book of the Year" winner and RITA Award finalist; and Perfecting Kate. She holds a master’s degree in speech and language pathology, is a stay at home mom, and lives near Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and sons.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
 
Family is rarely convenient. Case in point: Uncle Obadiah Horace Pickwick. Despite his summons to discuss his will, likely brought on by hospitalization for chest pains, I won’t be flying to Pickwick, North Carolina. As I explained to his ancient attorney before he put me on hold, as much as I like my uncle, I can’t get out from under my work load on such short notice.
 
Of course, neither am I ready to return to the town I escaped twelve years ago.
 
Staring at the phone on my desk, I will Artemis Bleeker to return to the line, but the music continues to drone from the speakerphone. Whine, whine. “Oh ma darlin’…” Groan, groan. “You left me standin’ here…” Wah, wah. “Left me starin’ after you.”
 
“Yeah, yeah.” I flop back in my chair. “Cry me a river.”
 
“Well, ma dear”—the nasal voice drops several octaves—“I’m back.”
 
I roll my eyes. “Nice lyrics.”
 
“What’d ya say, Piper?”
 
It’s him! I grab the receiver. “Mr. Bleeker—”
 
“You’re no longer a little girl, Piper Pickwick. Do address me by ma first name.”
 
As he had asked me to do when I took his call, after which I politely informed him I had dropped the “Pick” part of my name. Though he spluttered over my “butcherin’ ” of the family name, I didn’t defend myself. But had I, my defense would have been based more on the Pickwicks’ scandalous reputation than on the nursery rhyme alliteration that plagued me through my school years.
 
Piper Wick clears her throat. “Thank you, Artemis. I’ll try to remember that. So you said the doctors are runningmore tests to determine the cause of Uncle Obe’s chest pains.”
 
“They are, but your uncle is certain it’s heart failure. And a man knows his own body. Um-hmm.”
 
“But so far the tests have come back negative.”
 
“These things can be elusive.”
 
Especially when it’s simply indigestion. Certain that has to be it, I’m relieved. I spent little time in my uncle’s presence, but he was never unkind to me, unlike the other Pickwicks.
 
You are over that. It’s Uncle Obe we’re talking about—a black sheep like you.
 
 
True, not only did he increasingly shun society the older he got, even forgoing marriage, but unlike his three brothers, he was always upstanding. Not a smidgen of inappropriate behavior—at least in the “criminal” sense. Now in the “odd” sense…
 
“Uh, what was Uncle Obe doing when he started having chest pains?”
 
“Just sittin’ in his hospital bed watchin’ a rerun—”
 
“He was in the hospital when he started to have chest pains?”
 
“What?” Artemis barks. “Ya think a man his age survives such a terrible accident without payin’ a price?”
 
Where is Scripture when I need it? Not committed to memory like I encourage my Christian clients. Fortunately, something of an alternative exists, Band-Aid strength though it may be: close eyes, breathe slowly through the nose, exhale slowly from the mouth…
 
“Piper! Did I lose ya?”
 
I clap a hand to my chest. Was Artemis booming when Uncle Obe’s chest pains started? “I’m just wondering why you didn’t say anything about an accident.”
 
“’Course I did.”
 
He’s old. Very old. And should have retired from practicing law years ago! “I’m sorry, but would you go over it again?”
 
He sighs. “Your uncle was in a head-on.”
 
Dear Lord!
 
“He was thrown clear but sustained cuts and bruises and messed up his knee. Unfortunately, it didn’t go so well for Roy. He had to be put down.”
 
“What?”
 
“Cryin’ shame. Of course, he wasn’t much use, what with them cataracts and that incontinence problem.”
 
Hold up. This is Pickwick, North Carolina. All is not as it seems. “Is Roy a…dog?”
 
“Ya all right, Piper? You’re not into drugs like all them folks out there in Hollywood, are ya?”
 
I will not bang my head. “It’s been a long day. So Uncle Obe hit a dog with his car.”
 
“Ya don’t listen too well, do ya? He hit the dog with his golf cart.”
 
Right.
 
“Musta been goin’ fifteen miles an hour. Traumatized your uncle, it did. The good news is, if he has to undergo heart surgery, the prognosis is good.”
 
I throw my hands up. “How can it be good if the doctors don’t know what’s causing the chest pain?”
 
“Why, he’s in good health.”
 
Sighing, I pull my desk calendar forward, and in the middle of June 3, I jot a note to send flowers. “I’m glad the prognosis is good.”
 
“For the surgery. But as for his will…ain’t nobody can talk him out of it. Nobody but you, maybe.”
 
Here we go again. “Talk him out of what?”
 
“The changes to his will. Your family is up in arms.”
 
Family. Hardly. “I assume it affects them monetarily.”
 
“It does.”
 
“Then he’s cutting them out of his will?”
 
“’Course not! He means to provide for his Pickwick kin, but he’s got it in his head to make provision for others.”
 
Up in arms is putting it mildly. “Uncle Obe’s money is his to do with as he sees fit, so even if I could influence him, it’s not my business.”
 
“If the changes to his will become public knowledge—and they will once he passes away—it’s gonna be as much your business as your kin’s.”
 
Public knowledge gives me pause. But then, in light of the business I’m in and that the words were spoken in the context of the Pickwicks, they should. “Go on.”
 
“Even if the integrity of your inheritance don’t mean nothin’ to ya, I’m sure your reputation does.”
 
My reputation? Considering how far I’ve distanced myself from my family, that doesn’t seem possible, and yet… What have they done now? More, how might this affect Grant?
 
Recently, a columnist noted that I’m the first woman he’s seen regularly in a while. “Business,” Grant had assured everyone. And it’s true. Grant hired my PR firm to aid in his reelection, resulting in trips between our office in L.A. and his headquarters in Denver. But now there’s a personal component to my relationship with U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.
 
I look at the photo on my desk that shows us at a fund-raiser months back. We stood before a dozen of his supporters—well, nearly so. The woman in the crooked blond wig (chemo, she said) asked some tough questions, her New England accent setting her apart from the others. Though she warmed to Grant, her body language said she wasn’t convinced. But you can’t make all the people happy all the time.
 
“Did ya hear me, Piper?”
 
“I heard you.” I slide my gaze to Grant. At five foot ten, he stood lean and erect beside me. At five foot three, I stood passably fit beside him, curves contained by regular exercise and close monitoring of calories, jaunty red hair limp, smile tired. To Piper, Grant scrawled across the bottom of the photo. We make a good team.
 
“All right, Artemis, tell me about the will.”
 
“Well, see, the changes are confessional in nature.”
 
My uncle has something to confess? Whatever it is—watering his garden during the hottest part of the day or breaking up a family of earthworms to plant a rosebush—it can’t be scandal worthy. “What does Uncle Obe have to confess?”
 
“Vandalism.”
 
So he ran over a road marker with his golf cart.
 
“Cheatin’.”
 
Probably skim-read a novel.
 
“Tax evasion.”
 
Bought Girl Scout cookies and believes he should have paid tax.
 
“Theft.”
Took a fund-raising mint at the cash register thinking it was free.
 
“Illegitimate children.”
 
I cannot have heard right. “Surely you’re not saying that the one irreproachable son of Gentry Pickwick fathered children out of wedlock?”
 
“I am. Your uncle has a daughter and a son not much older than you.”
 
Oh, dear. “So there’s something to these confessions? And Uncle Obe is responsible?”
 
“Yes and no. They’re serious wrongs, but he ain’t responsible for them all. For instance, the cheatin’ was done by your great-granddaddy when he won that big piece of land from the Calhouns back in the early 1900s.”
 
“That was just an ugly rumor.”
 
“Your Uncle Obadiah believes different. And if he provides for the Calhoun descendants in his will, it’s gonna be seen as true. Just as it’s gonna be believed your daddy conned Widow Stanley into investing her life savings in a shrimp farm that didn’t exist. As for the town square statue that went missing all those years ago…”
 
“That was a Pickwick?”
 
“Yep, and it’s somewhere at the bottom of Pickwick Lake.” This could be bad. “Is Uncle Obe doing this because of his heart scare?”
 
“That brought it to a head, but I’d say it goes back two years to when his godson came to town.”
 
Godson? Since when?
 
“Ya see, this feller is one of them ‘near-death experience’ Christians—nearly died and decided it was time to join the club. The more time your uncle spent with this young man, the more I noticed a change in him. Obe started payin’ attention to sermons, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught him with his Bible open.”
 
The shame of it! “I didn’t know Uncle Obe had a godson.”
 
“’Course you didn’t—was a surprise to all the Pickwicks when he showed up.”
 
So my uncle is in the clutches of a con man.
 
“Now don’t be thinkin’ Obadiah is a bad sort—”
 
“Obadiah? Uncle Obe’s godson is named after him?” Must be ingratiation since no one in his or her right mind names a kid that. Take the Pickwicks, for example. Not in their right minds.
 
“That’s his name, but like I said, Obadiah Smith has given me no cause to believe he’s manipulatin’ your uncle.”
 
I write Obadiah Smith in my planner. “Besides changing his will to make amends to those wronged by the Pickwicks, is Uncle Obe altering it in any other way?”
 
“No.”
 
“Then he’s not leaving anything to Obadiah Smith?”
 
“He most certainly is!”
 
I thrust a hand through my chin-length red hair. “Then obviously—”
 
“I see where you’re goin’, but this godson has been an heir since I drafted the first will twenty years ago, and his portion of the inheritance will be reduced by the same amount as the Pickwick heirs in order to provide for the new beneficiaries.”
 
Talk about naive! This guy shows up on the doorstep of a godfather he probably never met, then uses Christianity to lay a guilt trip on an old man to get him to right long-ago wrongs? He’s probably in cahoots with the new beneficiaries. Well, maybe not the IRS…
 
Ugh. Tax evasion could make for really bad press. Or, as we say here at the firm, “There will be headlines to pay.” “If Uncle Obe truly wants to make amends, why wait until he passes away?”
 
“Though there’s millions in the estate, much of it’s material—the mansion, its contents, the land, etcetera.”
 
“Uncle Obe has gone through his money?” Or someone did. Obadiah Smith?
 
“Your uncle has enough to keep up the estate in an acceptable manner, but not to make the kind of restitution he’d like. That will happen when his assets are liquidated followin’ his death.”
 
“But he could liquidate now and make amends quietly. Call the restitution a gift.”
 
“True, but the thought of standin’ by as the family estate is turned into a tourist attraction or mown down for some fancy development just kills him.”
 
“What about his illegitimate children?”
 
“That there is a sticky situation, Piper, one I’m not at liberty to discuss further.”
 
Just enough to make me bite. “What role am I expected to play?”
 
 “As I suggested to your relations, there are two possibilities. The first is as the favored niece. Ya know, he always liked ya best.”
 
Considering he doesn’t much like anyone, that carries little weight.
 
“So he might listen to ya more than your cousins. Failing that, ya put on that PR hat I understand ya wear so well.”
 
I’m surprised he knows my line of work. Of course, my work with some of Hollywood’s biggest names was recently mentioned in an entertainment magazine.
 
“Who better to explain the consequences of this ‘tell all’ will,” Artemis continues, “than someone who devotes her life to helping people out of nasty scrapes?”
 
Then it’s on me to get the Pickwicks out of this? Piper Wick? Not! While I don’t care to be exposed as “one of those Pickwicks,” it’s not likely to affect my career or my relationship with Grant, especially since my only crime is being born into a family I’ve completely avoided for twelve years.
 
“I had nothing to do with anything Uncle Obe wants to make restitution for.”
 
“Ya think?” Artemis rustles some papers. “Before I let ya go, I ought to tell ya that your uncle wants to includeTrinity Templeton in his will.”
 
The name conjures remembrance of a girl who the meaner kids called Trinity Simpleton. “Why Trinity?”
 
“Your uncle believes she took the fall for a prank of Pickwick proportions, namely what happened at the Fourth of July parade the night before your mother and you up and left Pickwick.”
 
An invisible hand slams me back in my chair.
 
 “Caused quite a stir, what with Hugh Lawrence capturing it on his video camera. Made the nightly news and quite a few papers. Ya recall?”
 
I rub a hand over my face. “Everyone thinks it was Trinity?”
 
“That’s right, though I hold with your uncle that it was one of his nieces. Problem is, y’all were accounted for.”
 
All?
“Maggie had given birth a few days before to little Devyn.”
 
Her illegitimate child that she refused to put up for adoption.
 
“Bridget was handin’ out them tree-huggin’, animal-lovin’ fliers up and down the street. And her sister, Bonnie, made a right spectacle of herself throwin’ that other girl off the float.” He smacks his lips. “So that leaves you. And everyone knows Piper Pickwick would never do somethin’ like that.”
 
Innocent by reputation, but Uncle Obe doesn’t believe it and neither does Artemis. “How is it that Trinity took the blame?”
 
“There was no accountin’ for her that night, she’s the right build, and everyone knows she don’t fire on all cylinders. Then, when rumors started circulatin’ that it might have been her, she didn’t deny it.”
 
“Why not? I mean, if it wasn’t her.” Er, right…
 
He snorts. “Like I said, she ain’t all there.”
 
Oh, Trinity…“What happened to her, Artemis?”
 
“Her grandparents who raised her decided that anyone who would do such a shameful thing couldn’t be trusted to run the family business—ya know, the knittin’ shop near the PigglyWiggly. It went out of business years ago, but your uncle says that don’t absolve the Pickwicks of wrongdoing.”
 
“What became of Trinity?”
 
 “Oh, she’s around. So ya see, though I don’t fault your uncle for wantin’ to right family wrongs, this could be bad for the Pickwicks.”
 
Andme. Relax.You were eighteen. It was a teenage stunt. But one the future fiancée of a conservative politician will have a hard time explaining if it gets out. And it could if the will is changed. I feel the pitter-patter of a headache and rub my forehead.
 
“One other solution is bein’ whispered about.”
 
“Yes?”
 
“Ya remember your cousin Luc?”
 
That no-good, Easter egg–thieving—“I do.”
 
“A mutual acquaintance told me that, if need be, Luc will have your uncle declared mentally incompetent to prevent him from changin’ his will.”
 
I feel split down the middle—one side relieved at a relatively simple answer to my problem, the other appalled that I’d consider it. Selfish, Piper. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. I am. Unless…“Is Uncle Obe mentally incompetent?”
 
Artemis harrumphs. “Your uncle is a different duck, but he knows what he’s doin’.”
 
“But how together can he be if he’s letting himself be influenced by this Obadiah Smith?”
 
“I told ya, your uncle’s godson is a fine young man, if overly Christian. Though he influences your uncle, it ain’t in a bad way. Just inconvenient—for the Pickwicks.”
 
I sigh. “Where do you stand in all this?”
 
“As your uncle’s attorney, I stand with him. However, I believe he’s makin’ a mistake tryin’ to right them wrongs. Ya know, time was, the Pickwicks were well regarded, but your dad and his brothers messed that up with their gamblin’, drugs, scams, and shady politics. Now, just as respectability is returnin’ to the family—”
 
It is?
 
“—your uncle decides to hang out the dirty laundry. Um, um, um.”
 
I picture Artemis shaking his head, neck and jowls reddened by the rubbing against his starched collar.
 
“So ya gonna do right by your family? Now I know the town of Pickwick wasn’t kind to your mother and you, but things have changed. Forgive and forget, I say, as does the Good Book. Uh-huh.”
 
Forgive, yes. But forget? That would be like taking a leisurely stroll in front of a firing squad.
 
“Of course, the one thing ya shouldn’t forget is the kindness your uncle showed your mother and you.”
 
He was good to us. And my relationship with Grant could be on the line. “Okay.”
 
A piercing clap makes me jump, and I imagine him slapping a big, beefy thigh. “Glad to hear you’re comin’ home. That is, providin’ya ain’t anglin’ to have your uncle declared mentally incompetent.”
 
“No. If Uncle Obe is as you say, that would be wrong.”
 
“I was hopin’ ya felt that way, being God-fearin’ and all. Though it’s a cryin’ shame that your church attendance is down.”
 
How does he know that? I haven’t contacted anyone in Pickwick since we left.
 
“Why, your moth—” Artemis clears his throat.
 
Uh-huh. “What about my mother?”
 
“Whatever do ya mean?”
 
“Have you or Uncle Obe been talking to her?”
 
 “That falls under attorney-client privilege, Piper Pickwick.”
 
Which answers my question. “Wick.”
 
“Pardonme—Wick. By the way, what happened to your pretty drawl? Ya sound kinda flat.”
 
Gone the same way as the Pick. “I left the South a long time ago, Artemis.”There is more to my drawl’s demise, but that’s explanation enough.
 
“Yep, went and traded us for the big city.”
 
I look across my office to the windows that would offer an impressive view of the skyline if not for today’s tiramisu-layered smog. Ah, L.A.—hub and tailpipe of life, giver and taker of dreams, shining star and black hole of the universe.
 
“’Course, I imagine Los Angeles is gettin’ old.”
 
Someone has definitely been talking to Mom. Did she reveal the incident from two years ago that precipitated our talks of trading L.A. for something tamer? The memory crawls up the back of my neck. A deserted parking garage, a soft tread behind me—
 
I grit my teeth. No, I’m not as happy here as I’d like to be, but I’m trying. “Actually, L.A. has been good to me.”
 
“Careerwise, but”—Artemis chuckles—“you’re what—thirty? And single?”
 
True, but once Grant is reelected…and after a suitable period of settling back into office…and when the timing is right, he will propose. “I don’t believe in rushing into something as important as marriage.”
 
“Um-hmm. So when can we expect ya? Tomorrow?”
 
Is he trying to be funny? “I’ll have to check my—”
 
“Sorry, ma dear. I’ve got someone on the other line. Bye.”
 
Lovely. As I lower the handset and reach for my planner, my headache goes from a patter to a pound. Lord, keeping in mind that I am God-fearing, even though work continues to get in the way of church—help me get in and out of this mess as quickly as possible.
 
Unfortunately, I’m booked through June and my schedule doesn’t lighten up until the first week of July, which would put me in Pickwick during the Fourth of July parade and bring me full circle to that night. With a growl, I flip back to June.
 
“You okay?” my assistant asks as she appears in my office doorway.
 
I meet Celine’s gaze. “Peachy.”
 
She narrows her lids. “Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.”
 
Typical Celine. Though I resisted her attempts to befriend me when she came to the firm five years ago, her upbeat attitude and gentle but unabashed Christianity won me over. I don’t always listen to her when my moral rudder goes askew, but she doesn’t preach or criticize. And when I sit on my pride long enough to ask for advice, she delivers.
“Family crisis,” I say.
 
She frowns, but then her eyes pop wide, and she steps in and closes the door. “The Pickwicks?”
 
She’s the only one I’ve told about my connection to them, and while I kicked myself following that moment of weakness, I don’t regret it. “Yes.”
 
“Do you want to talk about it? Over an early dinner before book club?”
 
I’d forgotten about book club. Half the time I don’t get around to finishing the books, but when I’m able to attend meetings, I enjoy the discussion and diverse group of women. “Dinner, yes. Book club, no.”
 
“Okay.”
 
No pressure. “So, what did you need to talk to me about?”
 
She startles. “Oh! I just got word that the Lears are in the building.”
 
Why am I not surprised? I consider telling her to turn away the young Hollywood couple who begged me to squeeze them in. After all the shuffling it took to accommodate them, they didn’t show. Now, an hour and a half later, they waltz in here as if they’re my only clients.

“You do have a half hour before Mr. Gibbs’s appointment.”
 
Unlike the millions of women who adore Justin Lear and the millions of men who adore his wife, Celine hopes the “perfect couple” will stay a couple despite the revelation that Justin strayed. The good news is that they’re working to save their marriage. The bad news is that Cootchie’s self-confidence is in the toilet. That’s where I come in: coaching the actress on the art of appearances and arranging opportunities for her and Justin to look to all the world as if their love can overcome a never-to-be-repeated indiscretion.
 
“Send them in?” Celine asks.
 
“Yes, but make them wait ten minutes.” A slap on the wrist, but it’s something.
 
I continue to search my planner, but no matter how far out I go, I don’t have time to deal with a Pickwick pickle. “Thanks a lot, Uncle Obe,” I mutter, only to be struck by a memory of him in his garden, loosening a vine from a sapling as my ten-year-old self peers over his shoulder.
 
I gasp. “Why, that’s poison ivy, Uncle Obe. You shouldn’t be touchin’ it with your bare hands.”
 
“Not to worry. Its oils don’t bother me. Want to see if you’re alsoimmune?” He turns.
“Here, touch it.”
 
And let that vicious blister-causin’ plant do to me what it did tomy cousin Bart? I retreat a step. “Mama said to stay away from it.”
 
He shrugs. “Well, then, I guess you’ll have to find out the hard way.”
 
Or not at all. I cross my arms over my chest. “You should use weed killer.”
 
“Oh no.” He strokes a leaf. “This here is God’s creation. Once I free it, I’ll replant it in the woods.”
 
Mama’s right. Uncle Obe may be churchgoin’, tolerant of children, kind to animals and plants, and make the best pickled corn in the county, but he is a little nuts.
 
Shrugging off the memory, I narrow my gaze on the name written in my planner. Who is this godson? And why is he messing with my life? I underline the name.
 
“Just wait until I get my hands on you, Obadiah Number Two!”
 


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  • Posted November 12, 2009

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    Fun Drama

    *sigh of contentment* I do enjoy a good book by Tamara Leigh, she's quite the down to earth entertainer. Now after reading this story of Piper Pickwick in "Leaving Carolina", I really want to go back to my TBR shelf and find "Faking Grace", because I'm pretty sure I have a copy out there. Hmm... This book is full of family secrets, but so much more than that, it is a story of acknowledging and owning up to mistakes and sins and moving appropriately beyond them with forgiveness and admittance. Each page is filled with a pull to turn to the next page and finish the next chapter to read the continuing whit. The personality of our main character Piper is priceless and sets one to giggling and grinning as well as a bit of snickering here and there. The romance is blush-worthy and brings forth a sly grin to any reader. This is a fun loving book of entertainment, but also so much more as real lessons are brought forth in the twist of tales. I highly recommend this read, and personally cannot wait for more from Tamara. As this is my first of her novels that I have read cover to cover I need more. With that said, I'm exceptionally looking forward to the summer of 2010 to find more in The Next Adventure of Maggie and Devyn!!

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  • Posted November 10, 2009

    Leaving Carolina - Book Review

    Leaving Carolina
    by Tamara Leigh
    Initial Response: Great Book!!! Funny, Serious, Truths, Twists - Definitely a Yes!
    Synopsis: Piper Wick left her small-town roots in Pickwick, NC many years ago. Now she is called back to deal with some potential changes in her Uncle Obadiah's will. After working so hard to rid herself of the baggage of the name Pickwick, including changing her own name to Wick, will she be able to keep Uncle Obadiah from ruining her long sought for dreams. Or have her dreams changed?

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

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    Returning to your Roots

    I really liked this book and shared it with my mom. It was about a girl, who left the town she grew up in ready to shake the dust from her feet. When circumstances compel her to return to Pickwick, she plans to stay for just a day or two, which turns into much longer. However, Pickwick isn't the same town she left and not only does she learn that people change, she learns she can change, too.

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  • Posted November 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful Book

    I had never read any of Tamara Leigh's books, but this one looked really good. I was very happy with this read. I was quickly able to get into it. Piper reminded me of myself at times, eager to runway from your home.but, in the end its where you always belong. Overall, loved this book! I will absolutely be looking for more of her books to read!

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

    1st in Southern Discomfort series is humorous Christian romance

    Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh is funny novel about returning to your roots and paying the piper. Piper Wick abandoned her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina and the first syllable of her last name at the same time twelve years ago, shaking the dust of the town from her feet. Working as an image consultant with the rich and famous of Hollywood, she's almost engaged to a conservative politician when she receives a phone call from home about her Uncle Obadiah's will. Uncle Obe wants to make restitution for the many wrongs the Pickwick family has done to the residents of their namesake town, but if he does, the many sins of their past will be exposed, including one of Piper's own that could jeopardize her job and her almost-engagement. I didn't feel as though this romance was as strong as Leigh's others books, of which I am a huge fan, but that still makes this a thoroughly enjoyable read. As Piper struggles to make things right with her family, she also tries to make peace with her own past and ignore her growing feelings for Uncle Obe's gardener/godson, Axel. There's an important message about not hiding your sins as well as offering forgiveness. Leigh is one of those authors who I look forward to every new release.

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  • Posted November 5, 2009

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    Going to Carolina!

    Wow! If there is a writer who truly grasps a character and brings that character to life, it is Tamara Leigh. Each page brought me closer and closer to Piper Wick (formerly Pickwick). I was transfixed by the story unfolding when Piper would relive moments in her past. Each memory was achingly realistic and clearly represented with Leigh's writing. Reading Leaving Carolina was close to watching a film in my mind.

    Piper has worked long and hard to get past her roots in the Southern town of Pickwick, and now she has to go back to problem solve. One problem after another seems to land right on Piper's plate from the moment she heads out. Piper works hard to remain in control, but that defense mechanism is not going to work in this town.

    Leaving Carolina is told with humor, insight and just the blush of romance (exactly what I like). There is a lot to be gleaned from this book as you are being entertained by the lively characters and the slowly revealed answers to questions the reader just has to ask.

    It is with intense joy that I discovered that this was just the first in a series! I was thrilled because Tamara Leigh introduces so many colorful characters in this novel. It was a delight to settle in the quirky town of Pickwick, and I was in no hurry to leave. I look forward to the next books in the series. I hope it comes out soon!

    Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a copy of Tamara Leigh's "Leaving Carolina" to review. My review is from reading this book and is my honest opinion.

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  • Posted November 4, 2009

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    More fun from Tamara Leigh!

    Tamara Leigh is just simply one of my favorite authors. One of a few select authors where if they write a book I want to read it - period. The only issue is that I loved her last book, "Faking Grace" SO much that it is going to take a lot to improve on that book in my opinion.

    Enter "Leaving Carolina" and its heroine Piper Pickwick, oops, I mean Piper Wick. When she left home she left behind as much as she possibly could including her full last name. Home was a place that carried some awful, horrible memories and she just wanted a fresh start. Now her recluse of an Uncle (and about the only family member that was every good to her and her mother) wants to change his will to make restitution for all the wrongs that her has done to others over the years, but in the process those secrets will all get spilled in the wide open... including one of Piper's very own secrets. She must go home and try to persuade him otherwise. Let the fun begin...

    The big question here is "Can people really change?" Tamara does a great job of searching out that question and all the possible answers and I enjoyed taking the trip to truth with Piper. The characters around her are great and the premise really is wonderful. I really liked this book and am looking forward to the fact that this is just book #1 in this series and more will follow with these great characters... but for me personally, Faking Grace still stands at the top of the list!

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  • Posted November 3, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Be honest with yourself and others

    This is the first book I have read by Tamara Leigh, and I loved it! I enjoyed getting to know Piper Wick, reading about how her childhood influenced the all decisions she made about her adult life - where to live, job to have, even the clothes she wore. When she let go of the hurts from her chilodhood, and started thinking of others instead of herself she found happiness. Most of all she found out that with God's help she could tell the truth, and find freedom to live and to love.
    This book is a great read for a rainy day, or any day.

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  • Posted November 3, 2009

    Great Book

    This was the first book I read from Tamara Leigh and what a treat it was. I was drawn into the story of Piper and her family in a small town in North Carolina. The storyline brought you alongside her as she struggles with the decisions she has made in her past and how it might affect her future. As the storyline starts out with her coming to the rescue for her family, she not only helps with her original goal but finds herself along the way.

    Have you ever struggled with the hurts and actions of your loved ones? Feeling like you too are trapped by their failures and finding it hard to go back and face them all over again.. This book shows us how we too can find forgiveness like Piper, and her family in this wonderful story..I would highly recommend this book...

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  • Posted November 3, 2009

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    You Can Go Home Again

    The reasons why people leave home vary and are numerous but many times it's to escape the past that hurt us. That's the reason why Piper Wick has left her hometown and shed her true name. Her past has been painful and she wants to do anything to remove herself from that environment. Unfortunately for her, she gets sucker punched into returning and finds herself having to confront with the very things she's tried to run away from. If you like sweet tea, watching Paula Deen, and find yourself say y'all in your conversation, this book is for you. It's very southern and brings alive the flavor of the culture. The main focus of the story is on forgiveness and it does this without being overly preachy. Also learned are lessons on judging and trust as well. The whole entire Pickwick game could stand to learn from these lessons as they are one big dysfunctional family.

    Piper's character allows you to hurt with her and understand why she's become who she is today. I must say after reading what her aunts and cousins did and said in the past, I would have shaken the dust off my heels and left as well! Thank goodness the book insists on reading the rest of the verse in order for the lesson to truly come across the way it was originally intended.

    While I enjoyed this book, I didn't gel with it as well as I have with Leigh's other books. I just felt like I couldn't relate nor get as close to Piper as I have with Leigh's other heroines. Also this book gives off a less chick lit feel that the others. The character is the same age but acts older and more mature. There is less humor in this book and the tone is more serious. I also didn't find the romance to be as fun or engaging as past stories. Still though, I did enjoy the book and I'll be looking forward to reading the sequel and finding more about the inhabitants of Pickwick.

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  • Posted November 2, 2009

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    Family Entanglements

    This was a very slow starter for me. It did eventually pick up but it took time, a lot of time. In the first few chapters, the reader is introduced to so many characters, it's mind boggling. Piper struck me as a 30 year old still stuck in the mindset of a young teenager. Through flashback thoughts, we see that all the myriad of cousins didn't take too kindly to young Piper. An infamous "teenage stunt" that could cause some great scandal if brought to light after twelve years turns out to be (imo) making a mountain out of a molehill. Supposedly with the threat of this revelation, Piper is fearful that her boyfriend to whom she is engaged to be engaged, will hear of this and drop her like the proverbial hot potato. The premise to get her back to North Carolina to forgive her family and be free of all this angst and move on is a good one but the plot lines to get her there are weak. Supposedly she is, as she puts it, "taken", but when she first sees Axel she looks at him as a dog would the last t-bone on earth. She must mention he has blue eyes about 78 times.

    The funny thing is that one of her cousins, Maggie, who was so mean to her in school has now become a nice person with a wonderful and very intelligent 12 year old daughter. It seems Maggie has progressed emotionally since Piper has been gone. Now if we could just get Piper to do the same. About half way through the book, the story did finally pick up and I found myself liking some of the characters; Maggie, her daughter Devyn, Uncle Obe and Axel. Piper, as the main character, never really did it for me but the story turned out nice and neat. I have no quibble with the ending as I think the author did eventually achieve her objective. It just took an awfully long time to get there. If you like christian fiction, a little romance and family entanglements, you might like this one. For me, it was an okay but just not great read. 2.5**

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Good for a rainy day

    In Tamara Leigh's Christian chick-lit novel, Leaving Carolina, Piper Wick learns about faith, forgiveness and family. Piper and her mother left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina and swore never to return. Twelve years later, Piper does just that. Now a successful public relations consultant and possibly engaged to a Congressman, Piper rushes home when told her Uncle Obadiah is probably dying and will expose her family's humiliating secrets - including her own.

    While back in Pickwick, Piper must face her painful past, the relatives that made it so and her uncle's godson, Axel Smith. Axel challenges her to re-evaluate herself, her family and what it means to forgive and make amends.

    I enjoyed getting to know the Pickwick family and all their quirks. Piper is a realistic character with flaws and hopes. I found this to be an enjoyable and entertaining novel and can't wait for the next book in the series.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

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    This is an engaging tale

    Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina taking an embarrassing secret with her that she prayed she would never have to be reveal. She worked hard at public relations and has come a long way from her roots; especially with her engagement to a Congressman.

    However, she had not thought deep into the future until she learns her Uncle Obe probably is dying and his will most likely will reveal her humiliating secret. Piper rushes home to persuade her uncle not to do so. Whole back in Pickwick, Piper deals with her estranged relatives and her uncle's godson, Axel Smith whose religious belief begins to give Piper hope that she might forgive those who hurt her.

    This is an engaging tale that makes a strong argument that veracity is the key in developing strong loving relationships; anything less than the truth harms yourself and others. The story line is character driven mostly by Piper trying to conceal her past. Although the action is limited and at times deliberately rambles at a rustic leisurely pace, Fans will enjoy Tamara Leigh's inspirational witty tale that second chance forgiveness and redemption is a natural part of a family when given the chance.

    Harriet Klausner

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