What happens after the happily ever after? Is not a question that is asked, let alone answered, too often. This book does it, and it might get uncomfortable.
Constellations by Patricia Leavy released in April in the Women’s Fiction/Romance genre.
Constellations follows Tess Lee and Jack Miller after three years of marriage as they navigate the meaning of love and family over a series of holidays. Tess is a wildly successful and world-famous novelist. Her inspirational books explore our innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Jack is a former federal agent. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. Both healing from past trauma, together they have finally built the life they wish to live. What will happen to their blissful union when Jack’s childhood family resurfaces? When Tess and Jack visit the Millers for Christmas, how will insecurity, a sense of missed opportunities, and the need for redemption test their relationship? When a terrible accident threatens everything in an instant, will they learn the true meaning of unconditional love? Their loved ones are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who calls her Butterfly; the female president of the United States, with whom Tess talks politics and bakes cookies; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; Bobby and Gina, their younger friends who never fail to lighten the mood; and the Miller family. Constellations is a novel about family – those into which we’re born and those we create – the human desire to belong and feel connected, the true nature of intimacy, and the power of love to heal and redeem. Written as unfolding action, Constellations is a poignant novel that moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy.
The next morning, Bobby, Gina, Joe, and Luciana thanked their hosts profusely for an unforgettable experience and then flew back to DC on Tess’s jet. Omar and Clay spent the next two weeks enjoying their luxurious honeymoon at the Four Seasons, meeting up with Tess and Jack several times. They spent the last day of their vacation at Tess and Jack’s house.
The foursome lounged on the beach under umbrellas, and Omar said, “Butterfly, do you want to take a walk?”
“Sure,” she said, rising. She slipped on her oversized straw hat and took Omar’s hand. They walked along the ocean’s edge, letting the warm water splash across their feet.
“You look so relaxed,” Tess said.
“Well, I’ve had two weeks of nonstop sex, days spent lying on the beach, and a steady flow of rum cocktails; who would have guessed that it’s a relaxing way to live?” Omar said with a smile. “Oh, and the ninety-minute massage I had yesterday wasn’t too shabby either. Don’t tell Clay, but wow, my masseur was quite the bit of man candy. If I weren’t married, I tell ya.”
Tess giggled. “Was the wedding and honeymoon everything you imagined?”
“More,” he replied. “I can never thank you and Jack enough for making everything so wonderful.”
“There’s no need. We’re so thrilled for you and Clay. When I see the two of you together, I could burst with joy.”
“That’s because you know how alone I felt for so many years. Only people like us could really understand,” he said. “Of course we’ve always had each other, which has been a lifeline in every way, but having someone to grow old with, someone to wake up with every day, it’s immeasurably special. I’ve had a lot of happiness in my life, sometimes more than you, ironically because I’ve so enjoyed your spectacular life. But happiness and contentment aren’t the same. Dare I say, I truly feel at peace now.”
Tess squeezed his hand.
“I knew you would understand,” he said.
“I was telling Jack the same thing recently. When you’ve had to take care of yourself for ages, you don’t take it for granted when you find someone you can count on to always be there. I think that’s why the connection is so strong between me and Jack. People don’t understand why we’re always so affectionate, but from the first night we met, we both knew the other had gone without a certain kind of love, that we had each survived unspeakable pain and loss. From the very beginning, we made an unspoken decision to just love each other with everything we have.”
“You make it look easy.”
“It is easy,” she replied.
“Watching the two of you these past few years is what really pushed me to make my commitment to Clay official. I’ve seen the change in your eyes, and I guess I wanted to experience it too.”
“I’m so glad you have it,” she said, smiling.
“You know, I was thinking about how you said our senior year Christmas together was your favorite holiday until you met Jack. Perhaps it was more sacred than I realized, that toxic, all-American meal of ours notwithstanding.”
“Promise me something, Butterfly.”
“Promise me we will always have this,” he said, holding her hand in his and giving it a squeeze. “We will always have us, together with others and quiet moments alone.”
She stopped, hugged him tightly, and whispered, “Of course. Now you promise me the same.”
“I promise,” he whispered, squeezing her tighter.
When they parted, she said, “Are you ready to get back to our gorgeous men?”
“Well, I do love watching how they glisten in the sun. When they come out of the ocean all wet, holy hell.”
They both laughed.
“But I think I could use a little more time alone with you, Butterfly.”
She smiled. “Me too.”
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 books, earning commercial and critical success in both fiction and nonfiction, and her work has been translated into many languages. She is also series creator and editor for ten book series with Oxford University Press, Guilford Press, and Brill/Sense, including the ground-breaking Social Fictions series. Patricia has received dozens of accolades for her books. Recently, her novel Film won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Inspirational Fiction, her 3-novel set Candy Floss Collection won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Anthologies, and her novel Spark won the 2019 American Fiction Award for Inspirational Fiction and the 2019 Living Now Book Award for Adventure 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 has residences in Maine and Massachusetts where she lives with her husband, daughter (when she’s not away at college), and her dog. Patricia loves writing, reading, watching films, and traveling.
What will the characters learn by the end of the story?
Constellations is a novel about love and family – those into which we’re born and those we create – the human desire to belong and feel connected, the true nature of intimacy, and the power of love to heal and redeem.
In the end, the characters learn that true intimacy is possible when we love unconditionally, whether it comes in the form of sexual passion, the way we laugh with one another, or the way we take care of one another during our darkest or most vulnerable moments. Redemption is possible. If we reflect on missed opportunities, we can try harder and do better. Relationships can be repaired. Every relationship matters. Those we’ve loved are never really gone, even when they are no longer in our lives, and even when they return to stardust.
In all the Tess Lee and Jack Miller novels, the characters learn how to love themselves and others better—and to treat each other gently and with grace. In doing so, they provide a model for us all. I hope the warmth the characters feel by the end of the story lives inside of readers, too.
This post is part of a tour. The tour dates can be found here:
- a signed set of 3 novels: Shooting Stars, Twinkle, and Constellations to two (US only) randomly drawn winners