Title: Heart of Marley
Author: T.K. Leigh
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Genre: New Adult/Romantic Suspense
SynopsisTo the moon and back… From the stars to the ocean… That was Marley and Cameron Bowen’s secret code. Twins born just five minutes apart, they have the perfect life… Until tragedy strikes just weeks after their eighth birthday and their father is killed by a drunk driver. Having trouble coping with the loss of her soul mate, their mother tries to find comfort in drugs and alcohol… And an abusive man with a penchant for underage girls. No longer able to stand listening to his sister’s screams and cries every night for nearly three years, Cam takes matters into his own hands and they’re finally able to escape the nightmare. They’re finally able to start over… But the nightmare still haunts Marley. The years go on and she is forced to put on a smile, making everyone think that she is the perfect, well-adjusted teenager that she is supposed to be… Until she is faced with a painful reminder of her past during her senior year of high school and she’s no longer able to keep on the mask that she has been compelled to wear. Recommended for ages eighteen and over due to strong language, sexual situations, and graphic violence.
ExcerptI had gotten used to things over the years. Marley’s emotions always took you on a wild roller coaster ride, the ebb and flow often unexpected and sometimes tumultuous. But during those moments that things flattened out, and the ups and downs of her life were on an even keel, even if for just an instant, those were the times that I treasured. I wouldn’t trade those rare memories for anything in the world. Those were the times that I saw the real Marley…the girl that forced me to play Barbie’s with her, the girl that convinced me the mud pie she made for me was really chocolate. The way her eyes brimmed with enthusiasm and mischief at the same time, you couldn’t help but believe her, knowing that she would squeal with excitement and delight when you pretended to take a bite of her ‘chocolate’ pie. “Remember the tree house?” she asked, bringing me back from my own memories. I could hear the lump in her throat. “How could I forget? You hounded Dad for months to build you one.” “Remember going out there after he died, but before Mama lost the house?” I nodded, finding Marley’s hand and grabbing it. “Yeah, I do.” I felt her body tremble beside me as big, fat rain drops began to fall. “I think it would have been the best tree house on the block.” “The way Dad doted on you, it would have been a tree mansion by the time he was done with it.” Losing my father was hard enough when I was just eight, but having to be faced with the constant reminders of his life made it even more difficult. The worst was looking out our back window at a tree that he had begun to build a house in for Marley and me. The night that Mama had explained to us that Dad had gone to heaven and wouldn’t be coming back, I remember glancing out there and seeing Marley sitting on the lone wood plank that he had set up as the foundation of the tree house. Nearly every night that we lived in that house, we would go out there and simply lay down and look at the stars. “This reminds me of that,” I said softly. “Of those nights in the tree house.” The sound of thunder boomed around us and we remained on that roof, not caring that we were both drenched from the late summer downpour cloaking the town. “Me, too,” Marley said. “I think that’s why I like coming out here so much. It reminds me of ‘before’. It makes me feel closer to Dad. I always swore I could hear him talking to me in that tree house and, some nights when I’m out here, I can still hear him.” “What does he say?” She turned to face me and almost broke into tears. “That he’s proud of you. That he can’t believe how much of him he sees in you. That he’s happy you don’t let anyone or anything influence your decisions. That he’s thankful you’ve never abandoned me.
About the Author
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Video Review by Brittany
Brittany Interviews TK Leigh
Brittany: Hello, T.K. How are you today? I wanted to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I know you’re super busy.
Tk: Thanks! Things are crazy, but I wouldn’t trade this insanity for anything.
Brittany: Your newest release is Heart of Marley. Tell us about it.
Tk: Heart of Marley is the book that I actually never saw myself writing. As an author, you constantly get new ideas for different stories featuring new characters, and I have about 15 or so books in some stage of concept, research, or being written at this moment. Heart of Marley came to me when I was writing Heart of Light. For those unfamiliar with Heart of Light, it’s the story of Cam, who if you read my Beautiful Mess series, he was that sexy surfer that you hated to love. You don’t have to have read my Beautiful Mess series to read Heart of Light. Anyway, in Heart of Light, Cam opens up about his childhood and tells Jolene about his sister Marley and what they went through when they were kids. Well, Heart of Marley starts with that story and progresses through their senior year of high school. It’s a story of abuse and the ramifications of not getting help and having to stay silent, but in the end, it’s a heartfelt story about the bond of siblings. It’s not your typical romance novel, although there are two romances - Cam and Brianna, Marley and Doug - but I think it’s a book that needed to be written. Marley’s story needed to be told, to give hope to anyone out there in Marley’s situation.
Brittany: Your first series, the Beautiful Mess series, really jump started your career as an author. Is this what you expected?
Tk: No. Not at all. Honestly, I’m still shaking my head about all of it. I never started to write to make money. (Side note - authors, if the only reason you’re doing this is to make money, you’re in the wrong business.) I started to write because there was a story in my head that just wouldn’t leave me alone. So I began to write the Beautiful Mess series. When I hit publish on A Beautiful Mess, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what a street team was. I was clueless. So I was somewhat surprised when the book began to pick up steam. I’m glad that most people enjoyed the journey that I took them on in Alexander and Olivia’s story.
Brittany: I haven’t read the Beautiful Mess series, it’s on my Kindle and I will at some point I swear, but I have heard so much about it. My first question is, how do you have all the time to promote it like you do?
Tk: Promotion is time-consuming but, like I mentioned, I do have a wonderful street team that helps me out a bit in regards to that. While I’m holed up in my writing cave, their pimping me out. On average, I’m lucky if I can get 3 hours of writing in when I’m in writing mode. The rest of my 16 hour day is spent online, interacting with my fans on my Facebook page, twitter, pinterest, instagram, google plus. You name it, I’m on it.
Brittany: I have also noticed that these books, the Beautiful Mess series, Heart of Light, and Heart of Marley, all connect with the characters in some way. Did you plan to do that?
Tk: I didn’t. I didn’t think I’d have another story in me after the Beautiful Mess series. Then people started to ask about Cam after A Tragic Wreck came out (the second book in my Beautiful Mess series). They wanted to know more about him, and wanted to see him get his own HEA. With him being a psychiatrist, I knew I could throw some really dark situations at him and he’d be able to deal with it. I had thought about writing a book that painted the human trafficking issue on a more realistic and non-romantic light, so I decided to write Heart of Light. And Heart of Marley kind of came from that. My readers have very strong emotions about some of my characters and want to see more of them, especially those with minor roles. I have a few more spin-offs planned based on a few of the characters we met in my Beautiful Mess series, and now Heart of Marley (Doug and Brianna).
Brittany: How did you come up with the overall concept of Heart of Light? It’s an amazing story, one that isn’t written about a lot and I praise you for really shedding light on the subject of human trafficking.
Tk: Prior to working in tv/film production and now writing full time, I used to work in the criminal law field. I’m actually a member of the California State Bar. When I worked for the victim advocate and then prosecutor’s office, I had worked on quite a few human trafficking cases. In my undergrad, I had spent a great deal of time studying this crime and researching it. It always intrigued me how it was something that crossed all socio-economic lines. The victims come from all walks of life, and as do the offenders. It’s also one of the most brutal and heartbreaking crimes out there. There are more slaves today than there were during the civil war days, but no one wants to talk about it, so it’s often a hidden crime. I wanted to open people’s eyes about the seriousness of this problem.
The dark romance genre has certainly been gaining popularity these days where a girl is abducted, enslaved (sometimes in a sexual manner), and falls in love with her captor. I wanted people to realize that there’s nothing romantic about being taken away from those that care about you and forced into servitude.
Brittany: I have seen you post about your upcoming book ideas. Would you tell us about a few?
Tk: Next up is “Chasing The Dragon” which is sort of a spin-off of my Beautiful Mess series. The main character, Alexander, has a younger brother named Tyler. Well, Chasing the Dragon is his story. I’ve just started writing it, so I’m not quite sure where the story will take me, but it will be a Romantic Suspense / Psychological Thriller. Serial Killers, hit men, and some steamy bedroom action. ;-)
Oh, and after that will be something COMPLETELY different for me. A romantic comedy titled “The Other Side of Someday.” Here’s the synopsis:
You know how you always say someday I will?
Well, I’ve hit my someday.
Someday begins today.
Baylee Morgan is at a crossroads of her life. Leaving her marriage of ten years and the only life she’s ever known, she starts over in a penthouse ocean-front condo in Santa Monica, California. She soon finds herself immersed, albeit reluctantly, in the daunting and perilous world of dating as an almost thirty-something in Los Angeles, unsure of how to act, what to do, or whether that hot guy she meets in yoga class is straight.
Sebby Powers’ dream has always been to work in the film industry. At the age of thirty-five, he’s one of the youngest up-and-coming producers in Hollywood. His life is perfect. Perfect apartment. Perfect girlfriend. Perfect dog. Until a friendship with a beautiful new neighbor with vibrant red hair and a similar taste in cheesy movies throws his perfect life into a tailspin.
The Other Side Of Someday is a fun, sexy story of looking for Mr. Right in a world full of Mr. Wrongs, when Mr. Right could be just next door.
Brittany: What can we find you doing when you’re not writing?
Tk: Running or reading. And I’ve just discovered audiobooks so now I can “read” when I run! BOOM!
Brittany: What authors do you read, whenever you get to read?
Tk: Everything and anything. I don’t stick to just one genre, although I’m not a fan of paranormal or science fiction. Other than that, I love all different types of books. Anyone wanting a really good ugly cry, read “The Art of Racing In The Rain” by Garth Stein.
Brittany: I wanted to thank you, once again for taking the time to answer my questions. I know you’re super busy, and I kept this interview short, so I didn’t hog all your time. Congratulations on your new release and I can’t wait to read more from you!
Tk: Thanks so much for everything!