Source: Review copy from publisher.
Back Cover Description:
They say you can take the girl out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the girl.
This girl begs to differ.
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.
Leaving Carolina is a humorous (almost "chick-lit") Christian romance novel. The pacing was excellent, and I enjoyed the story so much that I didn't want to put the book down. The world-building was also excellent with details about the place and people's jobs bringing the world alive in my imagination.
The characters' relationships with each other were realistic and something I think many readers could relate to as was the core situation/problems of the book (is looking good to others worth living with secret guilt? is making peace with those that hurt you worth the potential pain?).
I enjoyed that the romance went a bit more like they do in real life with several reasonable misunderstandings followed by straightening things out as the two got to know each other. I also liked that they didn't kiss at their first impulse but that tensions were left to simmer for a bit.
The novel was written in first person present tense ("I run" versus "I ran"), but I didn't even realize this until the last few pages of the novel. So either I'm getting used to present tense or present tense done well doesn't bother me or first person combined with present tense can work well. ;)
The characters weren't super-spiritual or morally squeaky-clean, but God does have an impact on their lives. The novel wasn't preachy. I don't recall any cussing or swearing, and there was no sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel as well-written, clean fun.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
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 running more 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.”
Read the rest of chapter one.