Celestial Bodies: The Tess Lee and Jack Miller Novels by Patricia Leavy
GENRE: Romance/Women’s fiction
Heart-warming and wonderfully romantic, written with the sharp wit of Candace Bushnell and the sensitivity of Meg Donahue, comes best-selling author Patricia Leavy’s tour de force about learning to balance darkness and light in our lives.
Celestial Bodies is a series of six novels that follow the epic romance of Tess and Jack: Shooting Stars, Twinkle, Constellations, Supernova, North Star, and Stardust. An exploration of the power of love, each novel focuses on love at the intersection of another topic: healing, doubt, intimacy, trust, commitment, and faith. While external threats occur in each book, this is ultimately a story about internal threats—the audio playing in our own heads.
Tess Lee is a world-famous novelist. Her inspirational books explore people’s innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite her extraordinary success, she’s been unable to find happiness in her personal life. Jack Miller is a federal agent who specializes in counterterrorism. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. He’s dedicated everything to his job, leaving nothing for himself. The night Tess and Jack meet, their connection is palpable. She examines the scars on his body and says, “I’ve never seen anyone whose outsides match my insides.” The two embark on a beautiful love story that asks the questions: What happens when people truly see each other? Can unconditional love change the way we see ourselves? Their friends are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who calls her Butterfly; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; and Bobby and Gina, Jack’s younger friends who never fail to lighten the mood. Along the way, others join their journey: the female president of the United States, with whom Tess bakes cookies and talks politics; the Millers, Jack’s childhood family; and many others. Celestial Bodies is about walking through our past traumas, moving from darkness to light, learning to live in color, and the ways in which love—from lovers, friends, or the art we experience—can heal us. Written as unfolding action, this collection moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy. It can be read for pleasure or selected for book clubs.
Tess clung to Jack as they sped along the cliffside road on their Harley, winding around the last curve as they approached their house. When they arrived home, Jack carefully took off Tess’s helmet, kissed her, and grabbed the bag of fruit they’d bought at the farmers’ market. She pulled the scrunchie out of her hair, releasing dirty blonde locks down to her waist. They headed inside. “You thirsty, baby?” he asked.
He quickly tapped a coconut, stuck a paper straw in, and handed it to her.
“You’ve gotten so good at that,” she said, taking a sip.
“Yeah, just in time to go back to DC. I can’t believe we have to leave our Hawaiian paradise tomorrow morning. We’re crazy to leave Maui this time of year.”
“I know, baby. But we’ll be back in less than three months to throw Omar and Clay the tropical Valentine’s Day wedding of their dreams. Besides, it’ll be fun to see our friends.”
He smiled and kissed her forehead.
“Here, have some,” she said, handing him the coconut. “Let’s leave the pineapple out. We can grill it tonight for our Thanksgiving feast while we sit on the lanai and watch the sunset.” She kicked her shoes off, slipped her T-shirt over her head, and shimmied out of her shorts, revealing a hot pink string bikini. “Bet I can beat you to the ocean,” she teased, darting off.
Soon, they were splashing around in the warm water, the sun beating down on them. Jack wrapped his tanned arms around Tess and kissed her. They stared at each other, the energy between them electric.
“I could get lost in your big, brown eyes,” he said.
She smiled and said, “Come on, let’s dry off.” They walked to their pool and lay together on a chaise lounge.
“Jack?” Tess whispered.
“I know you hold back sometimes, but you don’t need to.”
“Baby, I know you do. There’s nothing that could ever happen between us that I wouldn’t want.”
He caressed the side of her face. “You’re so beautiful and delicate. I just want you to feel safe and loved.”
“I do and I always will.”
“You’ve been through so much. It wasn’t that long ago that Ray was stalking you; I know that brought up memories of your childhood abuse. I don’t ever want to be the cause of your pain or remind you of the ways you have suffered.”
“You couldn’t. You only push those thoughts further away. I trust you, Jack. Nothing could ever change that. I want to share everything with you. I’ve never felt as close to another human being as I do to you.” She ran her fingers through his wet, salty hair and said, “I still remember the first time we came here, before we owned this place. You took me in the shower and we were so free.”
He grazed his fingers along her cheek.
“I’m gonna rinse off,” she said. She untied her bikini top, let it fall to the floor, and headed for the outdoor shower.
Jack hustled out of his swim trunks and followed her. She flipped the water on, turned toward him, and smiled. He cupped her face in his hands, kissed her softly, and with one swift movement, swung her around and pulled her bathing suit bottom down. “Don’t let me hurt you,” he whispered. He pushed her against the wall and they made love passionately.
With his quivering body pressed tightly against hers, Jack kissed Tess’s neck and nibbled on her ear. Finally satiated, he turned the shower off and wrapped towels around each of them. He picked her up and cradled her in his arms as he carried her to a lounge chair. They resumed their tender kisses, Jack caressing the side of her face. He looked at her with unadulterated adoration.
“I love you so much,” he said.
“I love you too. More than anything.”
Can you describe your dream home?
A beach house with views of the ocean from every room and a big deck where I could sit and write, smelling the briny sea air.
If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?
I live in Maine and so guests always want lobster. I’d either make a lobster curry over rice, lobster nachos, lobster rolls, or lobster quiche.
Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.
There have been so many over my career that are truly meaningful to me. Recently, someone sent a note telling me that Celestial Bodies helped heal wounds she didn’t think could ever be healed and that the book had her whole heart and she’d forever carry it with her. That kind of comment is everything. Very humbling.
Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
Tokyo. It’s an incredible city and very inspiring.
Who designed the book cover for the book you are touring?
Mindi Rhoades. She’s an incredibly talented artist and scholar. We collaborated on the cover and the result completely captured the idea I had in my imagination. In fact, what she created was even better than I had dreamed it up. She also created six black and white pieces of art for inside the book, one for each novel. I loved every minute of working with her and hope we can collaborate again.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Patricia Leavy, Ph.D., is a bestselling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chair of Sociology and Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. She has published over thirty-five books, earning commercial and critical success in both fiction and nonfiction, and her work has been translated into many languages. Patricia has received dozens of accolades for her books. Recently, her novel Shooting Stars won the 2021 Independent Press Award Distinguished Favorite Contemporary Novel, her novel Film won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Inspirational Fiction, the 2021 NYC Big Book Award for Chick-Lit, and the 2021 Independent Press Award Distinguished Favorite Chick-Lit, her 3-novel set Candy Floss Collection won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Anthologies and the 2021 NYC Big Book Award for Anthology, and her novel Spark won the 2019 American Fiction Award for Inspirational Fiction, the 2019 Living Now Book Award for Adventure Fiction, and the 2021 National Indie Excellence Award for New Adult Fiction. She has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2016 Mogul, a global women’s empowerment network, named her an “Influencer.” In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” She lives in Maine with her husband, daughter (when she’s not away at college), and her dog. Patricia loves writing, reading, watching films, and traveling.
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Celestial-Bodies-Tess-Miller-Novels-ebook/dp/B09WZGRGML/
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
Thanks for hosting!
Great interview, thanks for sharing Celestial Bodies with me, Patricia, your book sounds like one that I really enjoy!
Have a marvelous TGIF!
Thank you for sharing your interview and book details, I have enjoyed reading about you and your stories. Do you have any reading or writing plans for the weekend?
Thanks for the excerpt and author interview!