RELEASE REVIEW AND EXCERPT: The Way We Burn by M. Leighton

Irresistible attraction.  Unimaginable danger. 

I knew from the moment Noah Williamson walked into the diner that he was haunted—deeply haunted—but I couldn’t resist the lure of him.  He was gorgeous and fascinating and mysterious, and like a delicate moth to a brilliant blue flame, I was drawn to him.  Drawn to his fire.

But if I’d known about his job, about what happened to his wife, I’d have run the other way.  Before I got caught up in the red-hot blaze of his life.  Before everything in my world got burned to the ground.

It’s too late to run now.  I hesitated and that was it. I fell. I fell for him before I knew there was danger in loving him.

Noah once told me that this is the way we burn—together or not at all.  At the time, I didn’t know what that meant.

Now I do.

The Way We Burn is a love story…with a kicker!  Suspense, chemistry, and twists galore, I can’t wait for you to jump in!  But don’t be afraid.  This is a stand alone VERY romantic story with a VERY satisfying ending.  I promise:)  xoxo  M

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My Review

The Way We Burn is a unique, mysterious, and insightful story about pain, about loss, and about love. It’s about two kindred souls whose eyes convey the sadness and anguish they both carry and endure, and as a reader, it’s easy to understand why Noah and Poppy are drawn to each other; like attracts like and these two desperately need rescuing and regardless of their respective torment, it seems as if Noah and Poppy can move forward together but only if the nightmares that have found their way into the characters’ reality are handled and conquered, which, when readers get an up close and personal look into Noah and Poppy’s darkness, they’ll be able to see the wounds and scars that have been left by an hellish set of circumstances that seem hellbent on destroying everything these characters love.

Throughout much of the text, the story line is unpredictable, which means that it’s difficult for readers to ascertain exactly how all of Noah and Poppy’s thoughts, spoken words, and actions align, and this is deliberate on M. Leighton’s part because she doesn’t want to reveal how all of the pieces fit together too quickly; she wants her readers to make their own assertions…come to their own conclusions before she unravels everything because that’s what keeps readers invested…it’s what has them being active readers – ones who look for clues and make inferences about content and then see how their assumptions pan out once all information is out in the open.

M. Leighton describes The Way We Burn as a ‘love story with a kicker,’ and let me tell you that ‘kick’ is as unsuspecting as it is exhilarating and it brings both Noah and Poppy full circle, but what that truly means is something that each reader will need to find out on her own because Noah and Poppy’s journey to the end of the book is beyond difficult, beyond traumatic, and beyond anything that readers could probably anticipate, which means that in order to get through the ordeal that drives the ending, readers need to dispense all outside thoughts and focus on what M. Leighton is exploring beyond the anguish in Noah’s eyes and beyond the brokenness that seems to drive both Noah and Poppy.

All I have left to say is hold on tight and enjoy the ride because it’s definitely a complex and layered one and it’s also one that doesn’t follow a clear and uninterrupted path because life’s complications always veer off course.

4.5 Poison Apples

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

NOAH

Maryland, eighteen months ago

“Mind going over the story with me one more time?”

I stare at the detective.  I see the disdain in his eyes. I see the disbelief.  He came here with his mind made up.  I’m suspect number one and we both know it.  What we both don’t know is that I did nothing to my wife.  I would never hurt her.  I don’t think I could even if I had to, even if she was trying to hurt me.  She is the only woman I’ve ever loved, the only person whose happiness means more to me than my own.

Except for our daughter.

Her happiness would’ve meant more to me than my own, too.

Would’ve.

Past tense.

Grief slices through my chest like a scalpel.  Clean. Neat.  Surgical.  Like someone is cutting out my heart.

Five months ago, we lost our daughter.  And now I’ve lost Carly.  How the hell is a man supposed to live through something like this?  A child. Then a spouse.  This is the shit nightmares are made of.

And I would know.  I’ve seen nightmares. Up close. Personal.  The kind that sink their teeth in and leave marks. Wounds.  Scars.

Sweat beads on my upper lip.  I’ve never felt such an intense sense of loss, so much pain.  So much helpless, hopeless agony.

A few months ago, I’d have said a person couldn’t bear hurt like this. I’d have said the human body couldn’t take it.

But I’d have been wrong.

It can.

I’m proof.  I’m still alive, still standing.  Damned if I know how, but I am.  Even when I’d rather not be, I am.  And now, on top of everything else, I’m being questioned like a felon.  I’m the primary suspect in my wife’s disappearance, and every second they spend focusing on me is another second she’s further from being found.

But there’s nothing I can do to change that. It’s Basic Detecting 101.  The husband is suspect numero uno.  Why?  Because it usually is the husband. I know that.  I also know there will be no convincing them otherwise.

Maybe if I could split my chest wide open, they’d believe me.  Maybe if they could see what I’m feeling, see the bruised and bleeding thing that used to be my heart, they’d understand. Maybe if they could physically see what this is doing to me, they’d look beyond the obvious.  But outside of that, there’s nothing I can say to make them understand.  That’s why there’s an edge to my voice when I answer this asshole’s questions. I may not be able to change it, but I sure as hell don’t have to like it.

“It’s not a ‘story’, Detective. It’s the truth.  Carly left for work Tuesday morning at seven. She said she had an early meeting.  I texted her at lunch to see if she needed me to bring anything from the store. She didn’t answer.  I haven’t seen or heard from her since that morning.  And that was almost sixty hours ago.”

Sixty hours.  That’s twelve hours after “we’ve got a good chance of finding her”, and twelve hours before “hope for the best, but expect the worst.”  The window is closing.

“Had you two fought before she left?”

There’s a dull throb just above the bridge of my nose. I pinch it between my index finger and thumb.  “No, we hadn’t fought.  We don’t fight anymore.  At all.  I told you we’ve both been recovering from…from…”

I can’t make the words come out. They’re stuck in my throat like tar—black and sticky and foreign.  Bitter.

“The death of your daughter. Right, right.  I feel you,” he placates, making more notes on his pad.  “But they never recovered her body, isn’t that right, Mr. Williamson?”

My eyes snap up to his.  Surely to God he’s not insinuating…

Zero to sixty in one second.  In one sentence.  That’s how long it takes my blood to come to a hard boil. Like lava down a mountainside, it rushes through my veins in a thick, hot river, destroying trees and grass and flowers and life as it goes.  Killing off a little more of what was left of me.

I take a deep breath, striving for cool.  Or even tepid.  Anything but the blazing rage that’s pumping through me.

“Detective, I’m a patient man. I work for the FBI, so I understand how this process works. I also understand that I’m at the top of your list of suspects, so I get it. I get it.  But let me make one thing crystal clear.” I take a step forward.  “My daughter was killed. My child is dead.  So while I have agreed to jump through all your hoops, make no mistake. My tolerance has its limits and you are dangerously close to finding out what happens when my patience runs out.  I’ve got nothing left to lose. Not one thing, so wiping the floor with your smug ass might actually improve my situation.  You feel that?” The last is hissed through teeth clenched so tight my jaws ache. I’m practically spitting down into his face, my chest close enough to bump his if I take a deep enough breath.

I can tell by the set of his lips and the narrowing of his eyes that I’ve pissed him off. But I can also tell that he’s not fool enough to press me one more inch right now. Not one more. It’s there in the way his pupils swell. It’s there in the way his nostrils flare.  He won’t push me.  He’s smarter than that.

My daughter is dead.

My wife is missing.

There’s nothing left.  Nothing that matters. There’s nothing they can take from me or threaten me with.  Surely this pathetic lackey knows what I know from years and years of experience—men like me are unpredictable.

Unpredictable and dangerous.

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