Let's Talk About Love is likely the most diverse book I've ever read. Not only is the pr ♥ Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings
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* 3.5 stars *
Let's Talk About Love is likely the most diverse book I've ever read. Not only is the protagonist asexual, but also a woman of color, and biromantic. And her love interest? Japanese. Lovely! Did you all think 2017 was the year of diverse books? Nah, it's 2018.
So, the book starts off with a bang. Alice is getting dumped. Her girlfriend just bursts into their shared dorm and drops the news on her in two seconds flat. Alice is shocked, and also not shocked. She knew her asexuality was the issue. Margot (the now-ex) is not aware of her asexuality and the reason for that is that Alice knows Margot wouldn't understand it. This is obvious because of the fact that as she is dumping her, Margot basically tells her she isn't “normal”—gosh, what even IS normal anymore? Get into the present, Margot. *eyeroll*
Anyway, so we begin the story with Alice being heartbroken and feeling pretty negative about her situation. She has two amazing best friends that support her and are there for her. I loved the dynamic between the three of them (her two best friends, Ryan and Feenie, are a couple). They are like family to each other and they have adorable traditions and I just love it. Near the middle of the book, the three of them do begin to struggle with their three-way friendship a bit and this really adds a lot to the story. I think it fit in perfectly; it highlighted some of the flaws in our protagonist and allowed her to come to admit these flaws to herself and grow as a person. Top-notch character-growth right here. A+++ on that front.
The actual diverse aspect of this book, in the sexuality sense, was tough for me at first. I had to remember that just because someone is asexual doesn't mean they can't be attracted to someone in other ways—such as aesthetically or romantically, as in the case of Alice. I consider myself to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, but I am still a sexual human being. I am just gay. It is pretty simple for me, you know? I had to put my brain outside the box and really try to understand, because you need to do this to understand Alice and to get how she feels. I feel very enlightened after reading this book. The author did a fantastic job of explaining asexuality and biromaticism. I will admit ignorance when it comes to some of these things. I am but a mere lesbian in this world of diverse and interesting humans.
The romance aspect of this book was great, and pretty important. I appreciated that the author truly let Takumi and Alice get to know each other and actually begin to fall in love, rather than just WHAM—instalove, you know? These two spent a lot of time together and really got to know each other. If course, Alice hid her asexuality for a long time, but this is understandable. She needed to do that so we, as readers, could see how tough it can be for someone to come out about this. She and Takumi had to be close, had to be invested in each other already, for us to really feel Alice's fear at the possibility of Takumi's rejection. It was an emotional rollercoaster near the end, I have to admit.
Throughout the book, we also watch Alice struggle with her plans for the future, school and career wise. Her parents are pressuring her to go to law school...which Alice isn't too keen on. This element of the story wasn't really necessary in my opinion. It was just sort of throw-away.
The book also moved a bit slow for my liking. I think this was, in part, due to the multiple subplots being laid out and tied up. It wasn't too bad, but something to note. It just dragged a little in the middle of the book.
Overall, this book was great! I thoroughly enjoyed Alice as a character. She is so damn quirky, unique, and memorable. I will never forget her. She is definitely the most diverse character I've ever come across and her personality is lovely. The romance was well thought-out and very true to what I think a real-life situation would be like for someone like Alice. The dynamics between all of the characters were amazing and the story was, overall, very enlightening and interesting. I am very happy I read this book and learned from it as well. I definitely recommend this one!
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Book source: Sent for review by the publisher Publisher: Swoon Reads
• For more of my reviews, check out my blog! • You can also find them via my YouTube channel here!
The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) is one of the best books I've read thi • Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings
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The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) is one of the best books I've read this year!
This book follows Abby—seventeen years old, plus-size fashion blogger, lesbian. Abby is adorably quirky in her bright, fruity (literally, her clothes have fruit on them) outfits and pink hair. She is a plus-size MC, which is amazing to me. We begin the story with Abby going into her first day at a new internship. She's interning at her favorite boutique in Los Angeles, and when he arrives she learns that she's competing for a part-time position at the boutique in the fall. Jordi Perez, an edgy girl from her high school, is also interning as a photographer for the boutique.
It goes without saying that Jordi and Abby begin to crush on each other and develop a romance. I am IN LOVE with these two together! They are very much contrasting characters, and I love that. Abby is cheerful, talkative, and bright. Jordi is laid-back, more quiet, and neutral. Neither of them are struggling with their sexuality or anything, which is actually nice. I like that this isn't about sexuality; it's just a cute story about first love. The focus isn't really on the fact that they are both females. It makes it seem more the "norm", you know? As a gay gal myself, I adore this. It's a small detail, I suppose, but still one that I appreciate.
Side note on the sexuality, though: Abby is completely feminine. I do, as a feminine lesbian, appreciate the femme visibility. Abby isn't the stereotypical tomboyish lesbian.
The girls go through the cutest, most simple romance. It wasn't epic or anything, but so freaking cute! Dare I say... fluffy. But, this is not a bad thing. I love a fluffy, light romance. Not everything needs to be so epic and angsty, right? I would definitely call this a beach read. Quick, easy, fun, cute.
Along with the romance, we follow Abby through slight family drama (very slight...her mother is a health-nut and it's a drag for Abby) and also a new friendship with a lacrosse player from her school (and their quest to find the best burger in LA). It was great to see a guy/girl friendship that didn't develop into a romance! Love love love! Then, obviously, we watch her meander through her internship and struggle with the fact that her girlfriend is also her competition. It was just enough extra to pad the romance storyline.
Overall, this book was just wonderful all around! It's diverse, romantic, and fun. I adore the main character and I was very impressed with the way she was portrayed. The romance was so sweet and so well done. The friendship dynamics with the side characters was also very well written, as were the family issues. I just loved the fashion, the romance, the quirkiness, the entire thing! I definitely recommend this for anyone who wants a nice, sweet story of first love with a side of laughter. ♥
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Book source: From the publisher for review Publisher: Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing
Kasie West is a beloved YA author. I was late to the party and binge-read all of her books within the • Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings
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Kasie West is a beloved YA author. I was late to the party and binge-read all of her books within the past few weeks. This is my most recent read, and I noticed it doesn't seem to be as popular as most of her other books. I don't get it, because I thought this was really sweet!
Lucky in Love had everything I expect from Kasie West: high school drama, cutesy love story, quirky teen protagonist, family issues, etc.
The first thing of note (to me) is the premise of a newly 18-year-old girl winning the lottery when she doesn't even seem to know what it is or how to play. I mean, come on, what is this girl going to do with 50 million dollars? I had to know! I think Kasie West accurately portrayed how an average teen would spend that kind of money as well as the negative complications that can come along with having so much money at your disposal; and so publicly.
Maddie was an adorable and lovable protagonist. She was so trusting and sweet that it made my teeth ache. The poor girl just never knew what was coming, lol. I enjoyed her dynamic with her friends, family, and love interest. All of the characters were surprisingly well-written for such a short, light story.
The romance, as always, was cute and clean. Don't get me wrong, I love a good, raunchy novel, but it is refreshing to read a clean romance every now and then, and Kasie West's are some of the best! I also completely loved the fact that Seth was Vietnamese. It is rare to see an asian love interest in YA (or any book not set within the country) and I appreciate the diversity.
Also, one last note... and this is something I appreciate about a lot of Kasie's books. She never villainizes the popular girls at school. Kasie writes stories where everyone seems to fit in together even while having differences. I always enjoy this step outside the box.
Overall, this book was great! Is it deeper than the ocean? Not really, but it is a lovely, romantic beach read that will make you smile. I definitely recommend it if you enjoy YA romance with a bit of humor and an interesting plot.
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Book source: Purchased myself Publisher: Scholastic
• For more of my reviews, check out my blog! • You can also find them via my YouTube channel here!
The last person Riya Johnson expected to run into at her new summer cam ♥ Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings
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Synopsis: Two girls. One Kiss.
The last person Riya Johnson expected to run into at her new summer camp is Courtney Chastain—her childhood best friend and the girl who broke her heart after a secret, mind-blowing, life-altering kiss. She definitely didn’t expect to be sharing a bunk bed with her for four long weeks.
Courtney has what every girl wants—she’s beautiful, rich, and the object of every boy’s desire at Camp Pine Ridge. Too bad none of them make her feel an iota of what Riya’s kiss did all those years ago. But Courtney needs to uphold appearances at all costs—even if it means instigating an all-out prank war with Riya as her main target.
Neither girl can stop thinking about the other…but that doesn’t mean they can give up past hurts and take a chance on a future together.
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Keeping Her Secret was one of the sweetest love stories I've read in pretty much forever.
The book begins with Riya heading to summer camp before her final year of high school. Little does she know she is about to run into her childhood best friend and crush/first kiss. ;) Courtney Chastain. But, she does see her and the two don't get along right off the bat. They both harbor some bitterness over how things were left between then when they parted ways as pre-teens. An all-out prank war ensues, with Riya and Courtney at the head of opposing "teams"—but it isn't long before the girls begin spending some time one-on-one and old feelings resurface.
The problem is that while Riya has come into herself—as in she knows she is and is open about being bisexual, Courtney is in denial and determined to remain so.
Until they kiss. It's all downhill (or uphill, really) from there.
The only complaint I have about this book is that something about it felt fake, or artificial. I can't even really place my finger on it. It was too "perfect" I guess.
WHAT I LIKED:
• The characters. They were well written and very personable and relatable. Riya was a sweet, sporty gal who was going for a volleyball scholarship. Courtney was a rich, spoiled, but also sweet gal trying to make her way into Juillliard for ballet. They both had great backstories and were very much multi-dimensional, especially considering this was a short-ish book. Supporting characters were also done very well.
• The LGBT theme. I think this author did a nice job highlighting what it may be like for a teen struggling with her sexuality, and also a teen who is comfortable with hers. She showed us both sides of the spectrum!
• The romance! It was sweet and melt-in-your-mouth. ^-^ I liked that the girls had their mushy moments, their sexy moments (PG-13, if you are wondering), their heated arguments, and their tear-jerker moments. Yes, this romance was so freaking sweet and touching it made me cry. The end of this book will probably have you in tears.
This book has a HEA. I am glad for that. I would definitely consider this book a beach read. It's funny, light, but also just enough substance to make it a book you won't want to put down.
I definitely recommend this one if you enjoy a really sweet YA romance that'll make you laugh ad cry all in one shot.
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Book source: From the author for review Publisher: Entangled: Crush
• For more of my reviews, check out my blog! • You can also find them via my YouTube channel here!
Ancient demons roam an ancient land. They dwell in the valleys and lurk in the mountains. The demons play their games and inflict their pain [...] and the humans blame themselves... The demons just laugh. And thus the eons pass. Until one of the humans finally wakes up, opens her eyes, and decides to fight back.
Moon at Nine is a story based on true events. 15-year-old Farrin comes from a wealthy family in Iran. This is both a blessing and a curse, as it keeps Farrin in comfort and gives her the occasional privilege—but also cements her into a less-than-popular standing in her school. Farrin has always been somewhat invisible; this is, in part, because her family has chosen a political standing that is illegal in 1980's Iran—they wish to bring the Shah back into power. Farrin has always been told to keep quiet, lay low, and not call attention to herself or the family.
Farrin's entire world changes the day she meets the new girl in school, Sadira.
“Looking for something?” Farrin opened her eyes. Farrin felt something like a jolt of electricity through her body as the most intense green eyes looked right into hers.
Sadira and Farrin become friends instantly. Their relationship evolves from friendship into love. When the two girls are caught kissing, the consequences are severe. They are not to see or speak to each other, and their families are pressured to marry the girls off as soon as possible to sway their “deviant” behavior.
The girls insist they are simply in love and want nothing more than to be together; they wish to harm no one. Their families shun them none-the-less.
In a country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death, Farrin and Sadira have a truly arduous fight ahead of them.
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Moon at Nine is a powerful story of love and human rights. I enjoyed it, although it left me very much teary-eyed (more than once).
The love shared between Farrin and Sadira inspired me and made me feel full of hope. These two girls couldn't have been in a more inconvenient place for a lesbian or gay during this time period. Even their young age could not save them from a death sentence.
Upon being caught together in a physical embrace a second time, both girls are arrested by the Revolutionary Guard and taken to prison. They are interrogated, beaten, and sentenced to hang. All through their horrible experience, both girls hold onto their love as if it were a lifeline. They both sacrifice and they both suffer. From the very beginning until the very end, they never deny that they love one another. They stand up against the cruelty and the oppression together and apart. They fight back even when there is no hope left in sight. How easy would it be to claim ignorance and just go back to their previous lives? Do they? No, not even for a moment. This is inspiration. This... this is why those of us with sexual orientations that stray from the so-called norm (heterosexuality), in the 21st century, can live easier lives and do so more openly. We still have a long way to go, but we wouldn't even be where we are now if it weren't for people like Farrin and Sadira; people who stand up and fight, take the blows, and pave the way for the rest of us.
Deborah Ellis has created a detailed picture of what Iranian life and culture was like during this era. It is stark and ugly at times, but also quite peaceful and beautiful at others. I was impressed with the thoroughness with which the history was explained. I also appreciate that it wasn't info-dumpy or monotonous. There was just the right amount of history and politics mixed in with the love story and the message behind it. Ellis also made sure to stay away from the stereotypes of Iranian people and their culture/religion. This must have been tough.
I do believe the relationship between Farrin and Sadira could've been elaborated on just a bit more. Their love was palpable, don't get me wrong on that. It was the lead-up to that point that I was a bit disappointed with. If this weren't based on a true story I'd shout insta-love, but I know better in this case.
All in all, Moon at Nine was a truly beautiful, yet sorrowful, story. There are sweet parts that are filled with innocence and love, but there are also those inevitable parts that show you just how close-minded some of humanity could be back then and can still be today. Farrin is a wonderful protagonist and it was a pleasure to read from her point of view. Sadira was mysterious and strong; a gorgeous person who did not deserve what life handed to her. The two together are pure inspiration.
“You won't be lonely ever again,” Farrin said. “It's a pact...” “Look at the moon,” Sadira said “I don't think I've ever seen a moon so bright.” ...it felt like she and Sadira were all alone in Tehran. “It's shining down on the two of us,” Sadira said. She looked at her watch. “It's almost nine o'clock. Let's make another pact. Let's look at the moon every night at nine, and that way, if we are not physically together, we will be together in spirit.” “The nine o'clock moon... Every night,” she promised.
I loved this book and I recommend it to anyone fighting the fight for LGBT rights, women's rights, or human rights in general. Love is love and there is hope. We can do this!
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Book source: From the publisher for review Publisher: Pajama Press ...more
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Angeli doesn’t "fit in." She’s never been on a single dat ♥ Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings
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Synopsis (via Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Angeli doesn’t "fit in." She’s never been on a single date, and she lives vicariously through an online world of storytelling. With the pressures of choosing a practical future path bearing down, she needs a drastic change. Too old to run away from home, she opts instead to embark on a solo 2-month road trip. But her freedom is tempered by loneliness — and anxiety tests her resolve as she comes face-to-face with her quirky internet friends.
Aside from contracting mono and repeatedly getting herself lost, Angeli's adventure is mired by more unforeseen glitches — like being detained by Canadian authorities, and a near-death experience at the hands of an overzealous amateur wrestler. Her odyssey is complicated further when she unwittingly earns the affections of two young men. One a privileged martial artist; the other a talented techie with a colorful past.
Bewildered by the emotions they stir, Angeli spurns the idea of a doomed long-distance relationship. But she is unprepared for the determination of her hopeful suitors. In the wake of her refusal, one man will betray her, and the other will prove himself worthy of a place in her future.
Angeli sets off in search of a better understanding of herself, the world, and her place in it. What she finds is an impractical love, with the potential to restore her faith in happy endings.
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Upon realizing this book was a true story; a memoir, I changed my rating from 2 stars to 3 stars. One of the reasons for my lower rating was the story's realism factor. This is a moot point considering it is a true story. So, I am editing myself here. For some reason I completely missed the fact that this was a memoir. I may have not chosen to accept it for review had I known. I never feel quite right reviewing a memoir. I don't want to insult someone, you know? But I am just going to tell you what I honestly thought. :)
Okay, let me start with Angeli. Angeli was a protagonist I had some trouble with. She goes on this road trip to discover herself; to find out what is missing so to speak, but it ends up being too much about which boy is the best choice for her. I don't feel as if finding yourself a boyfriend or girlfriend is something that should shape the way you see yourself—in fact, I feel it'll do just the opposite. So, Angie has plans to visit a bunch of her online friends throughout her trip. NONE OF WHICH ARE FEMALE. She plans to room with them at their homes. This struck a cord with me. It was pointed out in the book that doing what she was doing may not be the most safe or smart idea, but I have to stress it even more. I don't know what would possess an 18-year-old girl to drive across the country alone (I would've felt differently had she traveled with a friend) and stay with random men for days or weeks.
My point ended up being proven when Angie is nearly raped by one of the guys she stays with. Not only does she stay with him once, but she goes to stay with him a second time. While in a hotel, sleeping in the same bed, he sexually assaults her. He claims he did it in his sleep and Angeli actually entertains the idea! She even starts to feel guilty! I have 100% honest trouble believing any woman of 18 years could be so completely naïve. Maybe Angie was sheltered, as is stated in the book, but even so... I just cannot wrap my head around this.
Anyway, second issue. There were some slightly sexist comments and something akin to slut-shaming going on in this book. I never like that sort of thing. Angie was attracted to three of the 5 or 6 guys she went to visit. She nearly slept with two of them. So, her road trip was a make-out fest with guys she'd just met. Hmmm... hypocrite, much?
My main issue lies in the fact that this book is supposed to be about a road trip, yet it lacks something essential to a road trip story—a road trip! Part of what I adore about road trip novels is the actual traveling part. I mean, it makes sense right? Well, in this book we sort of skip over that. Sure, there are some key places Angie decides to visit, some landmarks and such, but never do we actually get to follow her while she is driving through all these places. The road trip aspect of the book was severely dulled in favor of the weird love triangle going on. For me it made the book a bit on the boring side. I got to the point where I was skimming a little.
Although Angie was romantically interested in a few of the people she visited, she also had a good time with others. I really liked that with a couple of the guys, she helped them. She helped one learn to drive. She helped another with a medical/mental issue. She also learned some things along her journey, which I suppose is inevitable. She obviously learned not to trust everyone so blindly (unfortunately).
Everybody's damaged. It's just a question of how badly, and whether you're healing or still bleeding.
She gained a sort of strength and insight by the end of the book. I mean, she did it! Went on a cross-country road trip all on her own. Stellar! I am sort of very jealous. ;)
There was a slightly spiritual undercurrent to the book. I appreciated that Angela Blount didn't make it preachy. She kept it light, but it made an impact on the story all the same. I liked reading about her view of “religious” vs. “spiritual”. I can definitely relate to that and respect it.
All in all, this was a good, clean read. The story got off to a quick start and kept going at a steady pace. I think this book had aspects that were both good and bad. I think the most important message, though, is that you learn from your mistakes and you make better choices in the future. I enjoyed the romance, even if it seemed a bit unbelievable. Your biggest obstacle will be getting past the protagonist's naïveté. Once you do that, it's a good story! It was clean (especially for New Adult) and I'd definitely consider this a beach read. This memoir is a humorous, fun, lighthearted, and spiritual journey.
Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.
I can definitely recommend it to those who enjoy a YA/NA contemporary.
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Book source: From the author for review Publisher: Artifice Press ...more
Grace Warren lives a mellow life. Some would even call it boring; mundane, if you will. She's a physi ♥ Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings
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Grace Warren lives a mellow life. Some would even call it boring; mundane, if you will. She's a physical therapist—one of the very best in her field, but aside from that, her life mostly consists of taking care of her paraplegic brother.
Grace's life changes when she's convinced to attend a charity event to help out a friend. At this event, Grace is kissed by a complete stranger. A handsome, suave, great-kissing stranger—but a stranger all the same. Grace doesn't even care to get more than his first name as she storms out. She just tries to forget about him and move on.
Moving on turns out to be a pretty impossible feat when, not more than days later, Seth ends up in her physical therapy office due to a skiing accident.
And doesn't remember her.
Grace is beyond frustrated. He's gorgeous, sarcastic, and stubborn. Everything he says is suggestive. Everything he does makes her want to screech. And yet... Grace finds herself attracted to him.
Thus, their whirlwind of a relationship begins.
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This was my first read by Rachael Renee Anderson, and I was insanely impressed! I had my doubts because I normally don't read clean romance, and when I saw that this was LDS Fiction, I went into it with even more reservation. Imagine my surprise when I ended up falling in love with this story and the characters inside it! I guess I was expecting it to be something it wasn't—I don't know what, exactly. Maybe lack of flair, spark, or excitement? No matter. I was put in my place! Working It Out was fantastic!!!
The first thing that really stuck out with me was the romance, of course. I usually like my books down and dirty, which this book is very far from. And yet, it's now one of my most favorite romance stories. Anderson gave me intensity, she gave me sexy, she gave me electricity. Working It Out is a clean, fun romance, yet passionate and sensual at the same time. There are definitely some intense physical moments between Seth and Grace, but the focal point is their emotional bond; their connection aside from physical attraction. The author balanced it all out quite perfectly.
As a side-story, we learn that Grace feels responsible for her brother's paraplegia. When they were in high school, she was the one to convince her brother, Alec, to skip out on class one day and go skiing—a venture that ended in his accident and paralysis. This is originally what makes Grace take an actual liking to Seth. Upon seeing her wheelchair-confined brother, Seth immediately invites him to play wheelchair basketball with he and some friends. This turns into a beacon of hope for Grace; hope that her brother will come back out of his shell. So not only do we have a romance plot, but we have this familial healing as well. I very much enjoyed Alec's character and seeing his journey back to life.
Okay, before I go on, let me get to why I didn't give this book 5 stars. Grace. You see, Seth is into extreme sports. Heli-skiing, mountain biking, sky-diving, etc. Grace lives in fear that he will end up like Alec, paralyzed, or worse—dead. This is something she struggles with all throughout the book. She wants him to stop being so reckless, but doesn't want to ask him to change who he is for her. She battles herself constantly. My problem came in here. It began to get whiny and a little too repetitive for me. I may have even rolled my eyes at her a couple times. But it's really a minor detail when laid out next to the good things this story has to offer.
All in all, Working It Out is a winner! The characters are beyond lovable and relatable. The plot isn't too heavy, but not too fluffy. This would be a great beach read! It's about family, friendship, and love. It's about moving on and coming to terms. It's about seeing what's important in life and embracing it. It's about acceptance. The romance is clean, yet still passionate and emotional. I was very much moved by this book and I have no doubt it'll be the same for anyone else who reads it. And to top that off, there is a lot of humor and fun mixed into the story as well—so it had me laughing and smiling all over the place. It's an all-around great book. I recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance story. :)
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Book source: From the author for review Publisher: HEA Publishing ...more