Tattered by Devney Perry ~ Sarah A’s Review

Thea Landry has always known her place in modern-day society. It’s somewhere just above the trash can her mother dumped her in as a newborn but below the class where much comes easy. With her tattered shoes and bargain-bin clothes, her life has never been full of glamour.

So when a rich and charismatic man takes interest, she doesn’t fool herself into thinking their encounter is anything more than a one-night stand. Months later, she’s kicking herself for not getting his phone number. Or his last name. She’s given up hope of seeing him ever again.

Until one day, years later, Logan Kendrick waltzes into her life once more and turns everything she’s built upside down. This time around, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s going to fight to keep him in her life—not for herself.

But for their daughter.

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Freakin’-A, man. Devney Perry knows how to deliver a fantastic story. Tattered had me in knots, completely obsessed with finishing the book, while never wanting it to end. While it may not have surpassed The Birthday List as my favorite book by her, it comes in a close second. Thea and Logan’s story was sublime and just completely sated a need in my heart for a therapeutic romance I didn’t know was there.

Tattered hit on a some of my favorite tropes, rich-poor, surprise-child, family-by-love-not-blood, and did it beautifully. I can’t express how masterfully Ms. Perry constructed this story and made several moving parts, not all harmonious, work together and create such a poignant tale of love and healing. Thea’s story, in particular, ripped my heart to pieces, but in true Devney Perry style, she knit those pieces back together and made my simultaneously more compassionate and more resilient.

Thea was everything. She may have come from less than nothing, but her strength, her drive, her fierce love and protection for those she loved made her worth more than anyone she encountered – maybe not Hazel, that woman was amazing, too. I loved that she never allowed anything to come before her and her daughter’s needs and happiness. She knew herself well enough and had fought hard enough in her life, to know loving herself was the key to making all the other parts of her life work. She was phenomenal.

Logan surprised me. From the beginning of the story, he was completely different than I had expected, better. Even when he was being obtuse and planning a life he hadn’t consulted Thea about, there was still something charming and compassionate about his choices. I appreciated that he was able to identify when he’d done something wrong and took steps to rectify those poor choices. Most of all, I loved how completely devoted he was to Charlie (their daughter) as soon as he found out about her.

Tattered is the first book in Devney Perry’s Lark Cove series. These books are interconnected standalones and will not need to be read in order for continuity, but honestly, if you read Devney Perry’s work, you’re going to want to read them all. Tattered is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Thea and Logan.

Devney Perry is proving herself to be the master of emotionally charged, put-my-heart-through-a-blender stories. She has an impeccable style that lends well to the type of powerful storylines and can deliver wonderful healing arcs for her characters with ease. Every time I pick up one of her books I am more impressed with how gifted a wordsmith she is, and I’m in awe of her skill.

He stared at me for a long moment. “You’re sure she’s mine?”

“She’s yours.”

“Then that’s good enough.”

“I—really?” I blinked. He didn’t want to verify paternity? He just . . . trusted me?

He nodded. “Really.”

“I swear, I tried to find you, Logan. On my life, I swear it. But the hotel wouldn’t give me your name no matter how much I begged. And you paid cash for your drinks and never mentioned your last name. I tried, but I just . . . didn’t know where to start.”

“It’s not your fault. I believe you.”

The sincerity in his voice made my throat burn. Goddamn it. I was going to cry.

I’d worked so hard not to cry today. I’d fought to keep my emotions in check and my head from spinning out of control. But this was going to make me break.

I wanted so badly for Logan to believe that I hadn’t kept Charlie from him intentionally. The fact that a man like him would trust someone like me without proof meant more than he’d ever know.

“Thank you,” I choked out past the lump in my throat.

“So, um, is Charlie inside with your husband? Or boyfriend?”

The urge to cry disappeared and I barked out a laugh. “Smooth.”

He chuckled. “It’s been a long day for me. Give me a break, will you? This morning I was in New York, then I came to Montana for a business meeting and discovered a daughter. I’m off my game.”

Devney lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own stories.

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NEW RELEASE!! Crazy, Stupid Love by KL Grayson ~ Sarah A’s Review

There’s a special place in hell for a man like me—a man who shamelessly sleeps with his best friend’s little sister, knowing he’ll never be what she needs. A man who takes because the only thing he has to offer in return is a broken past that’s destined to destroy his future.

I was the kid who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks with shit parents and clothes that had been handed down one too many times. I stole to feed my sister, fought to protect her, and I’ll always be the guy your parents don’t want you to bring home.

So yeah, that’s me. Lincoln Bennett. Adley Allen’s walk on the wild side. Her dirty little secret. And I’m okay with that—ninety-nine percent of the time. Unfortunately, today is in that one percent when it doesn’t sit well with me. For some strange reason, I want to be around to celebrate all of Adley’s successes. I want to be here when she gets her first job and take her out to dinner after her first shift. I want to be the one she depends on, the person she calls when she has a bad day. Or a great day. Or any kind of day.

I want more than her body. I want her heart. But men like me don’t get women like her.

At least not to keep.

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After reading Crazy, Hot Love I was in love with the idea of Adley and Lincoln. Getting to read their story was so much better than I could have hoped. They were phenomenal together, and their story was overflowing with the kind of healing, effortless love I most appreciate.

I always feel like there is something special about books that begin with the couple already together. While the angst of will they/won’t they has its place, navigating the pitfalls of a relationship always pulls on my heartstrings. Adley and Lincoln had their share of things to overcome, many of those issues constructed in their own heads, and taking the journey with them to conquer them was a beautiful ride.

Adley and Lincoln had both been on the periphery of the first two books in this series, and while I loved the idea of them together – who doesn’t love a brother’s best friend story – I didn’t have a great read on who they were. After getting to know them in Crazy, Stupid Love, I honestly couldn’t think of two people who were better suited for one another. Adley needed someone who would love and protect her without smothering her and Lincoln needed someone strong enough to show him what love truly was when he’d never experienced healthy love. Together they were able to help one another overcome their fears and struggles exquisitely.

As much as I loved Adley and Lincoln’s journey together, Lincoln’s secondary storyline with his dad – and sister, to some extent – pushed this novel from the land of good love story into the realm of a great story of healing. Seeing the three of them start taking steps to put their past behind them made Crazy, Stupid love something incredibly special.

Crazy, Stupid Love is the third book in KL Grayson’s Dirty Dicks series. These books are interconnected standalones, and the series doesn’t need to be read in its entirety to enjoy each story. This book, in particular, has few ties to the two previous novels beyond mentions of the other couples. Crazy, Stupid Love is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Adley and Lincoln.

KL Grayson continues to impress me with her writing. She continually chooses sensitive topics to write about and does it in a way that feels respectful and real, without feeling exploitative of people who have dealt with the situations in real life. Her writing effortlessly flows from deep and meaningful to light and comedic. Having read all her published works, I can tell you Ms. Grayson continues to grow and learn her art, and I am in love with her work.

Three-time world champion bull rider Rhett Allen has never been afraid to get his hands dirty. Hard work, sweat, and determination have gotten him where he is today—and that’s holed up in a hospital room, wondering how he let that damn bull buck him off. He’s also wondering why he thought it was a good idea to let his twin brother talk him into returning home to heal.

Rhett has a million reasons to come home to Heaven, Texas, and only one reason to stay away. That reason comes in the form of a sweet and feisty girl who stole his heart long before he ever thought to give it away. The only problem…that girl has turned into a stunning woman.

Monroe Gallagher is downright sexy with more curves than he has notches in his bed post. It’s been six years since he’s seen her, six years since he’s felt any form of peace, and six years since she gripped his heart in her delicate little hands and squeezed the life out of it. The longer he’s in Heaven, the more he starts to realize that the heart she took from him—the one she crushed into a million pieces—she also never gave back.

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Claire Daniels is good at a lot of things, but dating isn’t one of them. Although she enjoys men of all different shapes, colors, and sizes, she has one requirement: they must have a job on her approved-occupation list. It has to be safe, so they can come home every night, which means no cops, pilots, doctors, ranchers, and absolutely no firefighters.

She’s kept to her rules thus far—as long as you ignore the tiny crush she has on Trevor Allen, a crush that cannot move toward anything physical because Trevor is a firefighter and a rancher. Not to mention, he’s four years younger than she is and the brother of her two best friends.

Still, it sure would be nice to have him put out her fire.

Trevor Allen also has a few rules when it comes to Claire Daniels: no staring, flirting, smokin’ hot fantasies, or touching of any kind. He’s been lusting after Claire his whole life, but with a steady stream of willing women and two demanding jobs to hold his attention, he’s somehow managed to keep his hands off her.

Until they end up in a bathroom together—a small bathroom with very little room to move, leaving him pressed against Claire’s lush curves. What’s he supposed to do when she looks up at him with those big, green doe eyes and licks her lips? The only thing he can do: kiss the hell out of her, then convince her it can’t happen again.

Too bad he can’t convince himself.

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K.L. Grayson resides in a small town outside of St. Louis, MO. She is entertained daily by her extraordinary husband, who will forever inspire every good quality she writes in a man. Her entire life rests in the palms of six dirty little hands, and when the day is over and those pint-sized cherubs have been washed and tucked into bed, you can find her typing away furiously on her computer. She has a love for alpha-males, brownies, reading, tattoos, sunglasses, and happy endings…and not particularly in that order.

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Double Down by Alessandra Torre ~ Sarah A’s Review

The stunning conclusion to the All In Duet…

In Vegas, there was one man who was off limits. One man… and I fell for him.

I knew there were risks. Still, I played the game. When Dario Capece called, I answered. When he beckoned, I came. When he broke all my rules, I looked the other way.

I knew there were risks. I just never realized they included death.

*Note, this book is the second and final book in the All In Duet. It should be read After Even Money.*

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If I thought Even Money was an intense thrill-ride, I have no idea how to classify Double Down. The book picked up right where book one left off and ran full-steam ahead. The action continued to ramp up until there was nothing left but for the entire thing to fly off the rails and leave no one unscathed. The fever pitch with which this book moved left me reeling when it was all said and done.

Bell and Dario and their seemingly mismatched dynamic continued to fascinate me in this book. They were so different; Dario, ordered, in control, dominating, while Bell was more of an independent free-spirit. I loved how they challenged one another when it was appropriate, but still knew when to acquiesce to each other’s insecurities.

While Even Money showcased the shine and polish of Vegas, with subtle hints to the seedy underbelly of the city, Double Down lived in that underbelly, with little concern with the façade Vegas presents to its admirers. It unraveled decades of treachery and lies, exposing the horrors that laid waiting to be unearthed.

Double Down was such a compelling ending to this fabulous duet. I was swept up in the suspense and trying to tie all the loose ends into a finished product, but there are still some ends that refused to be bound, which gave the book a feeling of reality. I am wholly satisfied with the story we got and the state of Bell and Dario’s relationship, but I’m sure I’ll be thinking about the unfinished parts for a while. I feel like I could live in this world for several more books and still have a desperate need to know more, as it’s just that intriguing.

The only wish I had for this book was what seemed to be a pretty significant continuity error. All mentions of Claudia’s disappearance by law enforcement said she’d been gone for two years, but when she spoke of it, she said she’d been put in a cell by Robert four years earlier. I’m sure the two years is right, and I have no idea where the four years came from.

Double Down is the second and final book in Alessandra Torre’s All In duet. These books form one complete story and must be read in order. Double Down is written in both first-person and third-person limited perspective. Bell’s passages are written in first-person, while all other voices are written in third.

Alessandra Torre has won herself a reader for life with this duet. I was so drawn in by her writing, enamored by her storytelling, consumed by her characterizations, I can’t imagine letting another of her releases pass me by.

Sometimes it only takes a minute. A connection of eyes across a room, a quickened heartbeat, and everything changes.

I was a cocktail waitress with a fondness for partying and meaningless sex.
He owned half of Vegas and had the reputation to match.

I should have turned away. Instead, I stepped closer.

Then, the lies started.
Rumors spread.
Stalking commenced.
And someone died.

None of it stopped me from falling in love.

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Alessandra Torre is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense. Her new release, The Ghostwriter, is available now!
Additional pseudonym: AR Torre

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NOW AVAILABLE!! Ghostgirl by JB Salsbury ~ Sarah A’s Review

She was brainwashed into believing she could save mankind.

Now, she’s the one who needs saving.

Abandoned with his two younger brothers, Milo Vega was placed in foster care. Now a twenty-year-old high-school senior covered in gang tattoos and working as the school’s janitor, he is living a life vastly different from the one he was destined for.

When another foster joins the family, this one from the psychiatric facility, Milo’s skeptical. A rare genetic condition makes her unlike any girl he’s ever seen, and he wants nothing to do with the one he calls Ghostgirl.

Despite his reluctance, his protective instincts flare when she enrolls in school, and eventually, an unlikely friendship grows between them. When a tragic event snaps her fragile psyche, Milo is faced with the possibility of never seeing her again.

Unless he risks it all to save her.

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Ghostgirl was completely unexpected.  I couldn’t have anticipated the intensity of either Emilio or Mercy’s history, how profound their connection would be, or the lengths they’d go to to protect one another.  I was blown away by every part of this book and look forward to reading more.

Every second of this book was fraught with tension.  I was completely engrossed with putting together the details of both of their pasts; hers more so, since she didn’t recall much of what she’d been through.  The things she’d endured before she’d come to live with Emilio’s foster family were insane.  Every time we got a flashback to her life before she was found I was disgusted by how she was exploited by the only people she knew.  Emilio’s past, while not as much of a mystery, was equally exploitative and may have been even more upsetting since the person putting him through things a child shouldn’t have to endure was his father.

Mercy’s unfettered trust in Emilio was both fabulously naïve and exactly what he needed.  Their connection may have been sudden and somewhat unexplainable, but it felt real.  Their relationship, from the very beginning, was something they both needed.  Mercy needed someone to protect her without suffocating her, someone to help her find herself after years of being told she was something else, and Emilio did all of that for her.  Emilio needed someone outside his family to see him as more than his father’s son, more than the gang-banger school janitor, someone to give him another reason to be more than society expected from him; Mercy gave him all that and more.  Their dynamic was full of compassion and understanding, their love for one another shone like a beacon, regardless of any consequences they might face.

Ghostgirl is the first book in this duet from JB Salsbury.  The second book, Saint, will conclude Mercy and Emilio’s story, so these books can not be read as standalones.  This book ended in a comfortable place, so while I’m eagerly anticipating the next one, I don’t feel like I was left in the lurch.  Ghostgirl is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Mercy and Emilio.

This is the first book of JB Salsbury’s I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  Her writing was emotionally powerful and drew me completely into her story.  She painted vivid pictures with her prose and kept me completely entranced with her world and her characters.  I was wholly impressed with her storytelling and look forward to reading more of her work.

J.B. Salsbury is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Her love of good storytelling led her to earn a degree in Media Communications. With her journalistic background, writing has always been at the forefront, and her love of romance propelled her career as an author.

She spends the majority of her day behind the computer where a world of battling alphas, budding romance, and impossible obstacles claws away at her subconscious and begs to be released to the page.

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NEW RELEASE!! Mister Tonight by Kendall Ryan ~ Sarah A’s Review

From New York Times bestselling author Kendall Ryan comes a standalone romance about a swoony single dad and the new neighbor he falls for.

Last night was the most embarrassing night of my life.

I was THAT girl.

You know, the highly intoxicated chick celebrating her thirtieth with her two best friends—the ones who are happily married. And the more I drank, the more I wanted to do something reckless to celebrate.

By reckless, I meant the sexy and alluring man dressed in a business suit standing near the bar. You know his type—tall, dark, and handsome. I was sure he was out of my league, but I’d had just enough alcohol that things like that no longer seemed to matter. I’m not fat, mind you, but you can tell I like French fries, so there’s that.

He took me home and I enjoyed the hottest birthday sex of my life, well until it came to a screeching, and rather unwelcome halt.

There’s nothing quite like being interrupted mid-ride with a little voice asking:
“What are you doing to my daddy?”

Just kill me now…… or so I thought.

Come to find out the man I rode like a bull at the rodeo is my new landlord.

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Mister Tonight was a fun, light, read. It’s relatively short, so it would make for a great book to take to the pool while you’re watching the kiddos splash around. You know, if you don’t mind reading some pretty steamy intimate scenes in public. Kendall Ryan delivered a great angst-free romance with Mister Tonight.

There were some serious laugh-out-loud moments in this book, four-year-old daughter walking in on ‘adult snuggle time,’ anyone? Little Maddie was adorable, precocious, and maybe a little well-spoken and mature for her age. Her constant blunt candor combined with the innocence of a child layered the story with a layer of amusement that can only be reached with the help of kids.

I loved Kate’s independence, her confidence in herself. I loved that she had no reservations about knowing what she wanted and going for it. She was a fascinating character, and I’d love to have the lack of inhibitions regarding sexuality she had. She gave me something to strive for in asking for what I want. I did, however, have a hard time understanding her reluctance to have a committed relationship, she was so terrified of the idea it seemed like there had to be more going on that the throwaway explanation given in the book, it just seemed incongruous.

I’m a sucker for a single dad, especially one as involved as Hunter. He never discounted Maddie or Kate’s abilities to take care of themselves and strove to ensure he wasn’t encroaching on either of their individualism. It clear from the off he valued more than just a quick lay or a night off from his kid. There was a quiet intensity about him – and the way he loved – that jumped off the pages without ever having to be detailed. He really was quite a catch; Kate couldn’t have done better.

After reading a slew of emotionally exhausting books, Mister Tonight was a nice reprieve. It was sweet enough to keep me interested, funny enough to lift my spirit, and romantic enough to make me swoon. I appreciated how short and sweet it was, and love to load up on these kinds of for the summer. My favorite part of the book was how effortless the whole thing felt. Kate’s refusal to let them put expectations on their relationship made it so much easier for them to be open and honest, ultimately it allowed them to build a solid foundation for the more she never wanted.

Kendall Ryan delivered a great summertime read with Mister Tonight. It was written with such ease and comfort, it felt like cuddling up with an old friend. I love how easily Ms. Ryan shifts back and forth between her more intense work and these lighter romcoms.

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

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Hidden in a Small Town by Stacy M Wray ~ Sarah A’s Review

She’s being attacked, losing her footing as she falls to the dusty ground littered with pine needles. Scurrying like a crab, she attempts to stand and then… nothing.

A cold sweat trickles down Slater Montgomery’s spine as he struggles to control his breathing. It’s been years since he’s felt them – years since he’s seen them. The visions which nearly destroyed his childhood. Back then, ignorance and getting high were his allies, providing a false sense of security. Now? He can’t get her out of his head. The girl with the wild curls and fear-riddled eyes – the girl of his dreams.

Except, Slater knows this is no dream. It’s too real, too raw. The details, her emotion… before he can convince himself not to, Slater finds himself packing a bag and leaving his picturesque Wyoming home in search of the woman haunting his every waking moment. He just needs to see her once, just to be certain she’s safe. Just to be sure he’s not losing his mind.

What Slater imagined to be impossible – actually finding the mysterious woman – proves to be just the beginning. As secrets are exposed, Slater finds himself trapped in a web darker than he ever could have imagined. One which he’s not quite sure either of them will survive.

It started as a vision. A dream-like scene flashing through his mind. The ending?

A nightmare.

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I read thrillers, and I read romance; I read tons of books that are both, in fact, romantic thrillers are my favorite subgenre.  Hidden in a Small Town definitely qualifies more as a thriller than a romance, though there is a romantic vein running throughout it.  Some parts of the book were absolutely fabulous, while there were some places where it just fell short for me.

I struggled with how Nora was depicted on page and how she seemed to see herself.  While we did only know her in the worst part of her life, I felt like the way she was written was in contrast to the way we were supposed to see her.  She talked about how tough and sassy she was, even Slater mentioned her strength, but she felt shy, mousy, maybe even a little insecure.  I loved her as she was; I thought her actions despite her meekness, made her feel stronger than the words written about her strength.  Her concern for Slater and his involvement, even her desire to care for the vilest of human beings, showed her compassion, which she had in spades.  Her growth from the mysterious woman in Slater’s head to the empowered woman we see in the final chapters was fabulous.

Slater is still somewhat of a question mark for me.  Beyond his need to unravel the mystery of his visions, I had little idea of what drove him as a person.  His need to protect and care for Nora was wonderful, admirable even, but his single-minded pursuit of her safety seemed to curtail any chance he had for a growth arc of his own.  Hidden in a Small Town was Nora’s story, though, so it wasn’t something I noticed I was missing until I was finished reading and realized I had a thousand questions left about him.

The plot of Hidden in a Small Town was compelling.  It moved with enough speed to keep my interest piqued while still leaving enough time to develop each moment fully and make me invested in the resolution of Nora’s story (and root for Nora and Slater to find their happily ever after).  Parts of this story were so completely unexpected, while others were much more formulaic.  The mix of both lent to an interesting feeling of complacency and unsettledness.  I very much enjoyed the ride I was taken on in Hidden in a Small Town.

I do have a few wishes for this book.  First, in the beginning chapters, I felt like there was a lot of extraneous information, stuff that didn’t add to the story and never came into play later.  I prefer my books to be streamlined and devoid of ‘fluff’ so I would love if some of that had been cut.  Second, there were several places in the book where something seemingly impossible, but very convenient, happened with little to no explanation.  I’m well aware this is fiction, and some suspension of belief is par for the course, but I need a little more than ‘oops, we have no idea what happened’ to satiate me.  Finally, there was one chapter written by a third POV; I think it was a disservice to the story.  It ruined the climax of the story for me and didn’t enhance the story in any way.

Hidden in a Small Town is a standalone, suspense novel.  It is written in three parts, from dual first-person perspective, narrated by Nora and Slater.

Stacy M. Wray is a new to me author.  I was fairly impressed with her writing, though there was a green-ness to her work.  I am quite sure with some practice and continued refinement, she will prove herself to be an excellent writer.

Stacy M Wray loves writing and reading anything romance – Judy Blume was one of the first authors she read in middle school. After all, a world without love, heartache, and angst would prove a boring place to live.

Lover of gray and white cats, craver of all things sweet, enthusiast of hiking and camping, wife of an extremely supportive husband, and mom to two amusing adult children, she realizes life is pretty damn good.

She also appreciates that it’s never too late to try something new. Never.

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More Than Words by Mia Sheridan ~ Sarah A’s Review

No one lays open the heart and soul quite like New York Times bestselling author Mia Sheridan.

The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other’s refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed herJessica’s first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen’s music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It’s only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don’t belong in each other’s worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that need—and something that looks dangerously like love.

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I can’t express how excited I was to get my hands on this book, Mia Sheridan has long been one of very few authors who’ve never disappointed me, and I eagerly anticipate each of her new releases.  Sometimes some things are just too good to continue indefinitely, and that is what happened with More Than Words.  I was a miss for me, I nearly DNF’d it several times, but pushed on because I love Ms. Sheridan’s work so deeply. The last half of the book redeemed the first, somewhat, but I felt like this novel was missing the ‘Mia Magic’ I’ve come to expect from her work.

There were parts of this book that were absolutely perfect.  The beginning of Jessica and Callen’s relationship tore my heart out.  Both for the little boy who was obviously broken beyond repair and for the little girl who was left without a goodbye.  Part Three of their story was also wonderful.  I loved how Ms. Sheridan brought this story together and gave them the ending they both deserved.  Among my favorite aspects of More Than Words was the story Jessica had been hired to translate, it added such a phenomenal dimension to the book and mirror to Jessica and Callen’s story.

Callen called to my heart, between his love for music and how broken he was I found him highly endearing.  He was the reason I kept reading this book.  I needed to know why he was so broken, why he felt so badly of himself, why he refused to believe in himself.  The way he grew, matured, and healed throughout the novel was sublime.  That growth arc wouldn’t have been possible without Jessica, and for that, I loved her, even though I had a harder time connecting with her character.

I have so many wishes for this book, but my biggest would be that several of the scenes with supporting characters be reworked.  I’m not sure what was going on with them, but several interactions Jessica and Callen had with those characters felt forced and awkward, particularly the dialogue.  Secondly, I wish the connection between Jessica and Callen would have been stronger.  There were a few perfectly beautiful scenes between them where I could feel their love for one another, but a lot of it fell flat.  Finally, I wish the beginning of the book had been more quick-paced, it seemed like there was so much scene setting and history telling, I had a hard time connecting with the characters or wanting to know how their lives were going to play out.

More Than Words is a standalone novel and is not connected to any of Mia Sheridan’s other works.  It is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Jessica and Callen.

Mia Sheridan has always been at the top of my list of must-read authors.  Her stories are deeply emotional and profoundly romantic.  Her prose is usually flawless and poetic, lending an added layer of romanticism to her writing.  I don’t feel like More Than Words demonstrated the depth of her talent and I am heartbroken to have not seen her signature style and gift.

Mia Sheridan is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. Her passion is weaving true love stories about people destined to be together. Mia lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband. They have four children here on earth and one in heaven.

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Unconscious Hearts by Harper Sloan ~ Sarah A’s Review

Ari Daniels didn’t count on her whole world tumbling down around her in a mess of shredded promises, broken love, and unbelievable heartbreak. Alone and stricken with grief, she shouldered the blame and eventually closed her heart off, refusing to open it for another.  After all, anytime she tried, guilt and regret were waiting in the wings to remind her how painful it was.

A bet and one steamy night with a stranger force Ari to confront all she’s been hiding behind.  She tries to move on, but he refuses to stand down, wanting what she is terrified to give—herself.  This man may very well destroy her in the end, especially when it’s clear he has his own demons.

What happens when two broken souls come together, finally allowing themselves to believe in the beauty of love … only to have to fight harder than ever to keep it.

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Unconscious Hearts was heartbreaking in a way I never saw coming. The entire book took me through the emotional wringer, but that climax? Earth shattering, in so many ways. From the second I opened the book I was beyond obsessed with Ari and Thorn, the more I read, the stronger the addiction got. By the time I was finished reading, I wanted to erase it from my memory and start back from the beginning.

Ari and Thorn were both phenomenal. They’d each been so broken, so incapable of giving or feeling love before they stumbled into each other’s lives, watching them overcome their pasts to become whole and healed for each other, was beautiful. While each of their growth arcs were distinct and the catalysts for their decisions to change different, the ends results allowed them to find more love and happiness than either of them had ever imagined.

I was enamored with Ari and Thorn’s relationship. From the first second they saw each other, to the final chapter they set themselves apart from many other couples in the romance genre. I adored their honesty with one another, the way they trusted and supported each other, and just how wholly involved they were in being together. Their connection was electric regardless of what situation they were in, their need for one another seeped from the pages and colored every second of my reading experience. My reading experience was heightened because I believed so wholly in them.

The plot of Unconscious Hearts was intense and fast-paced. Between Ari and Thorn navigating a relationship unlike any they’d ever experienced, to their love and concern for their friends, to their pasts and how they’d been shaped by them, to the shadowy third voice hell-bent on seeing the world burn, there wasn’t a second when I felt a lull in the reading. Ms. Sloan did a fabulous job of weaving all those moving pieces into a coherent story that was twisted into a perfect tapestry of life and love by the end of the novel.

Unconscious Hearts is the first book in Harper Sloan’s Hearts of Vegas series. These books will be interconnected standalones. This book was a complete story and did not leave us with any questions as to Ari and Thorn’s relationship, though I am DYING to get my hands on the next book because I have SO many questions about those characters. Unconscious Hearts is primarily written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Ari and Thorn.

Harper Sloan is an author I’ve promised myself I’d carve out time to read. However, I’m better with intentions than follow through when it comes to doing that. When I heard she had a new series coming out, I jumped at the chance to start at the beginning of something, rather than trying to catch-up with one of her other series. She more than lived up to my expectations with this novel. I was completely immersed in the world she built, in love with her characters, and blown away by how captivating and en pointe her plotting was. In short, I found every part of her creative process compelling and can’t wait to read more of her work.

His eyes get hard for a beat before his features smooth back out.  “Yeah, beyond sure.  No one to pass this shit down to, and even if there was, I wouldn’t be givin’ someone ideas of materialistic bullshit if I did.  More to life than all this shit.”

“Okay, well, in that case …” I cough, not wanting to fight with him about our views when it comes to expensive wants versus needs.  Last time I tried to argue the benefits of learning to care for and value something you work hard to buy, I had a black eye for almost two weeks.   “In that case, I’m prepared to offer you a lump sum as a buyout for the whole collection, but I also want to mention, again, that consignment would be a more lucrative approach.  Our buyout is just a standard percent of resale value, but consignment would allow us to mark up each to give you a larger profit.”

“Told you, babe, want it gone.  I don’t give a shit about making it more lucrative.  Look around you, hardly hurting.”

“Still, it’s my obligation to make sure you’re informed.”

“Consider me informed.”

“Okay … so I can offer a tentative amount of three million.  I would need more time to inspect each item in depth for any defects that could affect the value and also to research a few pieces I feel may be limited editions so that could also affect the value.  Meaning that amount could go up or down, but I wouldn’t expect it to be less than two point five or more than four point seven-ish.  I wouldn’t need but maybe five days tops, and I can come during the day if that works better for your schedule.”

“You get this gone in two days, and I’ll take one mil.”

My whole body jerks back as if I had been slapped, staring at him like he was absolutely insane. 

“That’s absolutely insane,” I tell him, voicing my thoughts.

“No, that’s me not giving a shit and wanting it gone so I can get out of this place and sell it and all this shit some hand with care placed around each room.  Woulda left this shit in and sold it with the house, but for some reason I’ll never understand, you’re here, and I still just want it gone.  You don’t need five days when I’m taking a two mil hit, babe.  That would waste your time and mine, and I’m not a huge fan of wasting my time.  Way I see it, you win, and I get a cold mil for some shit I didn’t buy nor care about.  So you get this shit outta here, and all I need is that.”

“Thorn, I can’t in good conscience accept that.”

“Then dirty that conscience up and laugh your tight little ass all the way to the bank.  Don’t give a shit as long as it’s gone, and I don’t have to do anything to make it that way.”

“This is insanity.”

“Insanity would be tossing it all at the Goodwill drop-off.  I’m making money.  You’re making money.  Only thing sweeter than making money is doing it while I’m getting my cock wet, and babe, that only happens when my stock rises at the same time my cock does.”  He steps closer, and I back into the island, my chest burning as I hold my breath.  “Course, never had four mil worth of shit to sell to a woman who makes my cock rise without even trying.”

“Thorn,” I whisper, placing my hand against his hard chest with the intention of pushing him back.  Only, the second his warmth burns through his shirt and hits my skin, I can’t move an inch.

“Ari,” he mocks, his eyes bright.

“I, uh, the paperwork …” I close my eyes and focus on my breaths and the words my mouth can’t seem to form.  When my heart slows enough that I won’t die of a heart attack right here in heaven, I look back up at him.  “You’re breaking my brain, Thorn.  Please step back so I can think clearly without my body trying to die on me.”

The corners of his eyes crinkle as he continues to gaze down at me, but he does step back.  My arm falling down to my side.

“As much as I wish I could have this room cleared out for you tomorrow, it will take at least until late Monday.  I’ll need to meet with you beforehand to have some legal paperwork signed for the sale due to its size.  But my lawyer is an old family friend, so I can have that by tomorrow around dinnertime, if you wouldn’t mind meeting me to take care of that.  I won’t be able to get the cashier’s check until after those are signed, so late Monday is the best I can offer you.”

“Want this shit gone, but it’s hardly a hardship to wait a few more days if that means I’ve got a few more opportunities to try to make you want me as much as you want this shit around you,” he says, his deep voice thick with desire.

“Good heavens, you don’t stop, do you?”

“Not unless you beg, babe.”

“I think it’s best we went back to keeping things professional, Mr. Evans.”

This time, it isn’t a ghost of a smile on his lips.  Oh, no.  Not this time.  If I thought he was handsome before this moment, I was a fool.  Because Thorn Evans giving you his full, unhindered smile and a gaze so thick with unspoken promise as it washes over you and creates a fire of the desire you already felt … well, that expression on him turns him from sinfully hot to heart-stopping and irresistible instantly.

“It would take me five minutes to get you to beg me for it, Ms. Daniels.  Admit it.”

Offended at the thought that I’m easy, I narrow my eyes.  Finally.  At least anger is an emotion I’ve had plenty of practice dealing with.  “I’m not sure what kind of women you’re used to, but I promise you, I am not that type of woman.”

“Maybe three,” he oddly says, ignoring me.

“Three, what?” I snap.

“Minutes, sweetness.  Three minutes and you’d be begging me for all this shit and my cock.”

My mouth flounders, and I gasp.

“Though, pretty sure I could get that in less than a minute and get you doin’ all the work while I watch from my back.”

My arm is up, palm cracking against his cheek before I have the ability to do anything to stop it.  “I think we’re done here.”

I walk around him, ready to find my way out and let him find someone else to take all of this off his hands even if it kills a little part of my lux loving soul.  When his hand curls around my bicep—not painfully, but firm enough to make me stop—I look over my shoulder with a frown.  For a man who was just slapped, he looks almost gleeful.

“One minute, Ari.  Give me a minute and if you aren’t ready to beg me for it, when those sixty seconds are up, you can take this shit and not give me a penny for it.”

Walk away, Ari.  Walk.  Away.  No amount of money is worth being some man’s whore.

Spinning away from his hold, I jerk my arm free and step toward him with a roll up to my toes, getting my face as close to his as I can.  His scent overwhelms me. The subtle notes of his cologne fog my rational thought, making me drunk with need, and I sway slightly before correcting myself.

“Thirty seconds,”  I retort, my jaw tight with stubbornness.  

I’m not sure who I shocked more—him or me.  I have my answer, though, when I see victory flash in his eyes.  Oh, my God … what have I done?

“You’re on,” he agrees, his eyes alight with the promise backed up by his devilish grin.

I nod, incapable of anything more.  I stand there in shocked silence as he takes my phone, his thick fingers moving quickly over the screen.  I vaguely hear a chime from his pocket and before I can so much as blink, he’s handing me my things.

“Tomorrow, I’ll text you.  Paperwork first, then you beg.”

I gulp, jerk my head in what I hope resembles a nod of agreement, and then … I flee.

Harper is a NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL and USA TODAY bestselling author residing in Georgia with her husband and three daughters. She has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books, hibachi, tattoos and Game of Thrones. When she isn’t writing you can almost always find her with a book in hand.

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Unexpected Love Story by Natasha Madison ~ Sarah A’s Review

When one man’s death exposes a complex web of lies, three couples discover the true meaning of love, loss and redemption.

Crystal

I was the strong one, they said, until two words brought me to my knees.
It was a secret I didn’t share with anyone. A secret that made me promise I’d never fall in love.
I no longer wanted that white picket fence of every woman’s dreams.
Until the unthinkable happened.

Gabe

I thought I had it all with the best medical practice in the state and the woman of my dreams.
I wore a smile on my face every single day.
I couldn’t wait to watch her walk down the aisle and start our forever, except she never did.
My runaway bride made me realize love isn’t worth it.

What happens when your dreams unexpectedly come true?

This is the story of unexpected love.

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After reading Perfect Love Story, I was so excited to get Crystal and Gabe’s story. Their side dalliances were so intriguing in that book; I wanted to know how they looked from the inside. Unexpected Love Story was okay but didn’t quite capture my heart the way its predecessor did.

I loved Crystal (though I hate the name, it reminds me of a stripper) in Perfect Love Story, and she was a great character in this book. My heart broke for her in the first chapter of this book. She was strong, though, and did everything she could to protect herself and those she loved. I loved her snark and her refusal to back down when she was certain of herself. I would have liked to have seen a little more organic growth from her, as I felt she only allowed herself to change when the choice was taken away from her. Gabe was the far more interesting character, in terms of growth, in Unexpected Love Story. Watching him change from the jaded, surly man he’d been at the beginning to the passionate, considerate man he was, in the end, was wonderfully heartwarming.

After reading Perfect Love Story, the plot of Unexpected Love Story was fairly predictable. There weren’t a lot of new scenes, just retellings of the scenes established in PLS, which lent to the feeling of knowing exactly what was coming. That being said, I did love getting to see what Crystal and Gabe were doing in all those secret moments from the first book. It was obvious – in both books – that their connection was explosive and unrestrainable. Their back and forth was exciting and served to show how well they really knew each other.

I have a few wishes for this book. First, it needs another round of editing. There were a lot of grammatical and continuity issues. Second, Crystal’s personal struggle and how that all planned out was too far-fetched – even for fiction – for me to be able to suspend my beliefs for. Finally, I felt like recapping the entirety of what had happened before Crystal and Hailey moved was redundant. Very little of it had anything to do with Crystal and Gabe’s story, and those pages could have been far better used in helping flesh out Crystal and Gabe’s journey.

Unexpected Love Story is the second book in Natasha Madison’s Love series. These books are technically interconnected standalones, as they each deal with a different couple, but reading them in order gives a better experience in understanding the nuances of what has happened to bring them to the point they’re at. Unexpected Love Story is written in dual first-person perspective, narrated by Crystal & Gabe.

Natasha Madison blew me away with when I read her first novel. This one didn’t seem to have the same magic as that one, however. There were glimpses of that same intense storytelling, and I loved those. As I was reading, I felt as if this book was an obligation, a bridge to reach from one story she wanted to tell, to the next, but not something that had the author’s heart and soul in it.

Perfect Love Story – Available Now
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Broken Love Story ~ Cover Reveal June 29, 2018
***  PREORDER NOW ~ Releases July 10, 2018  ***
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When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four-inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…

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Order of Protection by Lexi Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

To high-end defense attorney Henry Garrison, Win Hughes is a woman he met during one of the most trying times of his life. She’s soft and warm, and he finds solace in their brief relationship. But Win has a secret. She’s actually Taylor Winston-Hughes—born to one of the wealthiest families in the country, orphaned as a child by a tragic accident. Win moves in the wealthiest circles, but her lavish lifestyle hides her pain.

When her best friend is murdered in the midst of a glittering New York gala, Win’s charged with the crime, and the only person in the world she wants to see is Henry.

Henry is shocked at the true identity of his lover, but he can’t reject the case. This case could take his new firm into the stratosphere. Still, he’s not getting burned by Win again. And yet every turn brings them closer together.

As the case takes a wild turn and Win’s entire life is upended, she must look to the people she’s closest to in order to find a killer. And Henry must decide between making his case and saving the woman he loves…

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Just when I was sure I knew exactly what to expect from a Lexi Blake book, she released Order of Protection and completely blew all my assumptions to pieces.  The one thing that didn’t change at all was how addictive this story was, I was completely pulled in and couldn’t stop thinking about what was coming next for Win and Henry any time I had to put Order of Protection down.

Win was a force, she battled so much, been through so much, had so few people in her corner, but she never let any of that dim her light.  I admired her strength to fight to get her life back, to make Henry see they were more than he wanted to admit, to be more than what the world had labeled her as.  Henry was harder to love, he made it a battle for me to find his silver lining, but when I did, when I understood why he was so callous, my heart ached for him, and I wanted nothing more than for him to allow himself to find happiness.

My favorite part of this book was how Win and Henry understood each other.  It came from such a painful place and could have easily destroyed them alone, but they allowed their struggles to strengthen them and their bond.  I loved how, even when they were angry with one another, they did everything they could to ensure the demons that haunted them didn’t pull them under.

Order of Protection was quite a ride.  From Win and Henry’s meet-cute to the final nitty-gritty reveals in the end, I couldn’t get enough of this book.   There were so many different kinds of conflict in this novel, so many pitfalls the characters were trying to navigate; there seemed never to be a second where thing settled enough for me to find a comfortable place to rest.  Lexi Blake kept her characters – and her readers – on their toes throughout this novel.  It was a high-octane crime thriller with a beautiful love story mixed in.

My only wish for this book, and it’s a selfish one at that, would have been to have seen those first two weeks Win and Henry spent together.  The story wasn’t lacking for not having it, but I loved these two together so much I would have loved to have seen more of the initial stages of their relationship.

Order of Protection is the first book in Lexi Blake’s Courting Justice series.  This was a complete story and can be read as a standalone.  There are connections to a few of Ms. Blake’s other series, though reading them is completely unnecessary to enjoy and understand this book.  Order of Protection is written in third-person limited perspective, alternating between Win and Henry’s perspective.

Lexi Blake continues to impress me with her storytelling.  As much as I love her usual fair of the world of BDSM, it was nice to have this departure from that and lean more toward vanilla.  She did an excellent job of showing her versatility as an author by taking this foray into something her readers aren’t used to seeing from her, while still leaving her distinct voice in the pages and on the characters.

Henry glanced up at the clock. Two thirty p.m. Somehow he’d expected Win to show up bright and early this morning. He’d woken up and made a pot of coffee, and he’d gone over all the ways he would explain to her that this was a bad idea.

Because it was still a bad idea.

Alicia might have given in to Noah and Drew Lawless’s blackmail, but she would be back at some point. Then there was the fact that he dealt with unsavory clients on a daily basis. He took on high-profile cases and often got dragged through the mud along with the client.

There were plenty of people out there who hated him. Loathed him and despised the very fact that he existed and cheered if he failed. He was used to it. Sweet little Win was not and would be horrified.

So he was going to tell her how amazing their night together was and then turn her down gently.

Except she hadn’t shown up and that bugged the hell out of him.

She’d been the one to claim she would be here despite the fact that he’d told her not to come. She’d told him she didn’t care what he thought.

It was perverse, but if he’d had her number, he might have called and said a few things about setting expectations and then not meeting them.

He started another pot of coffee. This was completely foolish. She’d put some distance between the two of them and realized how little they had in common. At least one of them had some sense.

The scent of French roast hit the air and he realized he was pro-crastinating. He was putting off the moment when he had to step back into the city and face the music. He would have to work his ass off to find anyone who wanted to hire a lawyer with his tarnished reputation. It didn’t matter that his addiction issues had never cost a client a dime. The perception would be there, and perception was over half the battle in life.

He should pack up tonight and leave it all to the agent. It’s what he should have done yesterday, but he’d enjoyed spending time with David, showing him places on the island and telling him stories.

It was time to go home now. Time to forget about pretending to be someone he couldn’t afford to be anymore. Time to put away thoughts of quiet and peace and get back to being the Monster of Manhattan. That was the only way he was going to survive.

The Monster of Manhattan didn’t give in to urges. He plowed through all problems with a single-minded, ruthless intent. The Monster didn’t need attention, though he tended to get it. Attention didn’t matter to the Monster. Money mattered. Power mattered.

He would get them both back.

The Monster certainly didn’t need some do-gooder in his bed. He would select a woman, rationally discuss his needs with her, and pay her for her services, whether they be as a plus-one to gatherings or as a body in bed. That was how he would view it. Transactional.

Transactional was safe.

So he was going to stop being such a whiny asshole and be grateful that Win had some sense.

A knock broke through the quiet of the house.

He practically ran for the door.


He opened it and there was Win, standing in the soft light of the afternoon, her hair up in a ponytail. She was wearing denim shorts and a blousy, feminine shirt. She had a bag of groceries in one hand and what looked like a duffel in the other.

“I know you said I shouldn’t come back, but you’re wrong and I’m going to give you all my reasons why.”

He didn’t care. She was here. He walked straight up to her and cupped that pretty face in his hands and kissed her for all he was worth.

Fuck transactional. He wanted something real for once in his damn life.

When he came back up, he was rewarded with a soft look in her eyes, her lips curving into a small smile.

“No arguing with me?”

He did have some problems they should discuss. “You’re late.”

Her smile went brilliant. “I had some things to clear up. I thought if you didn’t mind, I might stay with you for a few nights.”

He took the bag of groceries out of her hand and led her inside. “I think that sounds like a great idea.”

“This is way easier than I thought it would be,” she admitted. “Have you had lunch? I could whip up some sandwiches and we could have a picnic.”

He stashed the grocery bag in the fridge. She set down her duffel, and that made it much easier to scoop her up and into his arms. “I know exactly what I want for lunch.”

Her eyes went wide, but she didn’t struggle at all. Her arms went around his shoulders as he carried her to the big bedroom.

It had been cozy in his old room, but he needed more space if she was going to live here with him for a few weeks.

He stopped at the edge of the big bed he’d had brought in after he’d inherited the place. It was the only room he’d redone, with the thought of spending long weekends with his friends up here. He never had managed the time, but now he was happy he’d spent the cash to do it because he could share it with her.

The last few weeks of being Henry before going back to the real world.

He set her down on the bed and pulled his shirt over his head. He wasn’t playing around this time. That was for later. It had been entirely too long since he’d had her.

He needed her.

He knew it was something he should question, even be slightly afraid of, but he didn’t care in the moment. All that mattered was she was here and he could put off any thoughts of letting her go for a few days. He could sink into her.

She was his reward for every crappy thing he’d been through in the last couple of years.

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

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