A seventeen-year-old girl shouldn't have to make this choice.

A seventeen-year-old girl shouldn’t have to make this choice.

As friends move from the safety of Lukens that always has been her home, Ella Marie Hutchins struggles with the decision to leave the disappearing coastal town near Oriental. Her choice might be made for her when World War II edges closer to the North Carolina village, but not before a visiting sailor named Griff teaches her how to see anew all the treasures of life both above and below the ocean’s surface.

But is Griff really what he appears to be? Leaving Lukens is part fast-paced adventure, part historical fiction, and part steamy summer romance that will leave readers spell-bound until a surprising end! (This book is suitable for adventure readers ages 13 and up.)

Top Ten Best Books of 2012 (Fran Lewis, New York Reviewer)
Readers Choice Award
B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree


Fine Work of Historical Fiction
The allure of life can quickly be soured by the truth. Leaving Lukens is a novel set around the eve of World War II, and follows Ella Marie Hutchens as she lives her life in a small North Carolinian fishing village and meets Griff. But as time marches on, she quickly finds Griff has many secrets and few of them are good. Leaving Lukens is a fine work of historical fiction and romance, highly recommended.
~ Midwest Book Reviews

Bittersweet Story
Wharton is excellent at describing her characters and in creating a historical atmosphere. She has clearly researched the time period, the music, the details of the Navy and other military affairs during World War II, and the history of Lukens itself. She writes with a grace and smoothness, and despite her book having a Nazi subplot, she does not rely on sensationalism or extreme plot twists to gain her readers’ attention. She creates nostalgia and wistfulness in her writing without falling into sentimentality, and in the end, the reader fully understands all the reasons why Ella, the main character, does not want to leave Lukens, along with the reasons she finds for wanting to start over. Far more than a story about the war, Leaving Lukens is about finding happiness, and finding that home is in the heart and not a physical place.
~ Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D., author of the award-winning Narrow Lives

Steamy, Spell-Binding Story
Leaving Lukens is part fast-paced adventure, part historical fiction, and part steamy summer romance that will leave the reader spell-bound until the surprising end! A fine read! Mary Flinn, author of The One, Second Time’s a Charm, and Three Gifts

 Ending Blew Me Away
I have read Ms. Wharton’s first book, The Pirate’s Bastard. I did enjoy it a lot. Yet, as I began to read this book, I found she was not just a onetime author. In fact I enjoyed this book even more than the first. I loved the characters in this book and the way, Ms. Wharton has created them. The flow of the story is excellent and l did not find even one page or paragraph that was boring. You are captured from the start. The book starts on May 2000 at a reunion and then goes back to WWII. There we find adventure, love and intrigue. The ending blew me away. I had to read it twice and then it hit me. (It was a slap me silly moment for me.) Just one sentence told me what I longed to hear. I did not want this story to end. Nor do I think you will either, and that is why I am giving this book a five star rating.
~Sandra Heptinstall, Reviewer

A novel about growing and moving on with your life
Leaving Lukens is an adventure novel that starts out in the present and reverts back to the past that entails a summer romance that will grab the reader and hold on right to the very end. What is a young girl to do when she is told they are moving from the only home she has known? The year 2000; 58 years have passed and Ella Marie Hutchins has returned to North Carolina to attend Lukens Descendants Day picnic and the trip across the river back to Lukens Island. Once upon the island and visiting the family plot in the cemetery Ella dozes off back to the year 1942. Born and raised on Lukens Island, Ella is now seventeen years old, and plans to marry her boyfriend Jarrett and live in Lukens. One problem, Jarrett can’t seem to give up his drinking habit and he is going into the army right away and there will be no marriage before he leaves. Now the school is closing down and everyone is moving off of the Island including Ella and her mother. No matter how hard she tries and begs there will be no staying. When an encounter with a German officer, she meets Griff, a nephew of a resident of Lukens. As the summer goes along they become closer and do things together, sailing and diving for treasure. Griff will return to Florida after his uncle leaves the island also. With their relationship growing will the war destroy what they now have? Will Ella be able to stay on the island? Is Griff all that he claims to be or is he hiding something?

Once I started reading this book I really got involved with it. Ella was so easy to get connected with. The novel is about growing up and moving on with one’s life. There are a few intense moments in the book dealing with the war, but mainly the story revolves around the life of Ella and Griff. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the novel, the location and the historical aspect. If you are looking for a historical novel that will keep you entertained from beginning to end, and then grab a copy of Leaving Lukens. This is the first book that I have read by this author but I found it very enlightening and I feel you will, too.
Miss Lynn, Book Reviewer

A Good Read
The book moved at a good pace and the historical details seemed well-researched. It was a good read and the characters were believable; I enjoyed the story. I could see this as a made-for-TV movie. I like this author’s books.
North Carolina Reader

Exciting New Adventure
In June of 1942, Lukens is a small town on the North Carolina coast, and it’s getting smaller. Residents left first in trickles, but now they’re crossing the Neuse in a torrent to places like Oriental, with its modern conveniences and thriving community. Ella Marie Hutchins, seventeen, is dead set against leaving. Everything she loves is in Lukens: her house, her Grandmother, and her handsome boyfriend, soon-to-be naval officer Jarrett Migette. When Jarrett announces he’s leaving earlier than planned, and her mother decides that they’re moving, Ella is distraught. Leaving Lukens might be the safest idea, however, as the war is closer than anyone thinks. Walking alone near the tideline one evening, Ella is threatened by a vicious Nazi scout, and barely escapes unscathed. Luckily, she’s assisted by a young stranger named Griff, who just happens to be passing by. Griff’s story makes sense–he’s a recreational sailor and treasure-hunter, visiting his uncle in Lukens on his prize sailboat Susanna. Soon he and Ella are fast friends, and as they spend more time together sailing, biking, and picnicking throughout the long, hot, Lukens summer, they begin to feel more for one another. But Griff is more than he seems, and the secret mission he is bound to fulfill will push Ella into danger greater than she’s ever faced before.
Filled with sailing lore, secrecy, Nazis, and romance, Leaving Lukens is an exciting new adventure from the author of The Pirate’s Bastard. Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.
~Read North Carolina Novels

Packed with Adventure and Mystery
Leaving Lukens opens in the year 2000 with Ella Marie Hutchins returning to her childhood home for a reunion of the families of Lukens. Ella was only 17 years old in 1942, when World War II hit her small coastal town hard, and residents quickly moved away to larger areas with better jobs. As she looks back over that year, she recalls the hardship of leaving home, and the young man that changed her perspective on the future. Interspersed throughout this historical romance are vignettes of life during wartime, that bring the fear of the Nazis to the forefront. I was especially impressed with Ms. Wharton’s grasp of the historical during this time period, especially regarding the innocence and embedded fear of the War. Much research had to have been done regarding the area and its people, and it is evident in the content of the story. While a topic such as the Nazis could take over a story, the characters in Leaving Lukens are what truly shine. Ella is a young girl conflicted with the changes in her life, but soon learns to come to terms with the future. Griff, meanwhile, is a mysterious force that beckons to Ella, changing her future, forever. Leaving Lukens reads so smoothly you can devour it in no time. It is engrossing in its theme, and in its lyrical style. Part historic fiction, part romance, packed with adventure and mystery, it holds your attention throughout. The ending was very climactic, and surprising. I truly hated to see it end, but enjoyed every minute spent in its pages.
~Literary R&R

Another Five-Star Novel by Laura S. Wharton
Take the journey back in time to 1942 along with Ella Marie Hutchins and her friends where a girl’s dreams are shattered, her life will be changed the course of the world set in many different directions. Welcome to Lukens. With the threat of the Nazis and the lack of employment, many of her friends’ families and hers will make the journey across the river to start over again.

The history and research related to World War II, the Spanish treasures, the Nazi subplot creates a certain mystique about this story and the ever-evolving plot. Laura Wharton has definitely done her homework. A visiting sailor named Griff has a calming personality. But things are about to change as they miss an elusive figure that is watching them in the background and Ella will come face to face with someone she hoped never to see again. Will Griff protect her, or is he part of what is about to happen?

Deception, deceit, loyalty, friendship and so much more are part of this outstanding and intricate plot. As Ella becomes more involved in Griff’s world we see a marked change in her. Through meeting his friends, helping him on his boat, diving, treasure hunting and much more, Ella grows up right before the reader’s eyes and her perspective changes as the enemy is not only those called Nazi, but others hiding in plain sight.

This is a great historical novel and I would love to learn more about Lukens before the War. From the author of The Pirate’s Bastard comes another Five Star Novel–or in this case, FIVE SPANISH TREASURED GOLD COINS.
~Fran Lewis, New Year Reviewer

Do you love to read great fiction that takes place in locations where you’re cruising to or that you’ve cruised to before? I know I do and after living aboard in Oriental and New Bern, NC for several years, I really enjoyed reading Leaving Lukens, a nautical adventure/love story that takes place in these locales. This award winning historical novel is set in 1942 as WWII encroaches on a small North Carolina coastal village. Weave in some North Carolina sailing and treasure diving adventures, a few Nazis, and characters that soon become old friends and you’ve got yourself a great read. The surprise ending is perfect. This is just the right book to grab as you’re heading down the ICW this fall. SSCA Member Laura Wharton is also the author of The Pirate’s Bastard, a historical fiction adventure set in colonial North Carolina in and around Wilmington, N.C. Visit her website, laurawhartonbooks.com
~Barbara Theisen, Editor, Seven Seas Cruising Association Bulletin