Leaving Lukens: Historical Fiction Set on N.C. Coast Near New Bern, Oriental, Ocracoke

Leaving Lukens
My second novel is set in 1942 in a small fishing village near Oriental, N.C. New Bern and Ocracoke figure prominently. As you may have guessed if you know me and what I like to write about, there's a boat involved in this historical fiction. I won't give away the surprise ending, but I will tease you a bit here:

 Ella’s throbbing head absorbed vibrations from Susanna’s engine as the boat slid through the gentle rocking of the Atlantic Ocean. Hoping against hope that she’d had some horrible nightmare, she looked up at the helm praying to see Griff. The man she saw steering Susanna was dressed in Griff’s t-shirt and floppy hat. It wasn’t Griff, though. It was the same Nazi who had cornered her in the woods beyond her cove in Lukens.
 As friends move from the safe enclave 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. Is Griff really what he appears to be?
 Praise for Leaving Lukens
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
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 and Second Time’s a Charm

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: N.Y. Reviewer

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