2021 Book #32 – How To Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

Title: How To Train Your Earl
Author: Amelia Grey
Date finished: 4/28/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: First Comes Love series #3
Where I got the book from: Publisher / NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher / NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A roguish earl must fight using his honor and not his sword to win his lady’s hand in How To Train Your Earl, the third book in the First Comes Love trilogy from bestseller Amelia Grey.

Brina Feld has settled into a life devoted to helping others since the sinking of the Salty Dove left her widowed. She has no need for a man in her contented life. But when the notorious and handsome Lord Blacknight returns and awakens her desires, her peace and serenity vanish. If she agrees to an alliance with him, she knows she will have to battle her heart to keep from being snared under his spell.

Zane, the Earl of Blacknight, was never supposed to inherit the earldom, so he didn’t much care to lead a respectable life before then. Fistfights, card games, and drinking are the order of the day. Now he’s determined to change his rakish ways and he knows the proper lady who can help him. There’s just one problem: He’s already bet he’ll win her hand before the Season is over. With her resolve to out-scheme him, how can he show her that his love is true?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read the first book in this series and when I saw this one I thought it sounded interesting. And I liked it but I can’t say that I loved it. It was a solid romance novel but there were parts that I didn’t care for personally. I thought Zane’s family was a little overly involved and not always very nice to him, of course he had not proven to be a very reliable fellow through his youth. Also I didn’t love that Brina was so closed-minded even though she had strong feelings for Zane. And I especially didn’t like that she wouldn’t listen to Zane at the climax of the story – I know it was necessary for the plot but it was so frustrating. Zane spends all this time proving to her how devoted he was and how much he cared about her, and she wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt and at least listen to what he had to say. It all worked out fine in the end but some parts I found frustrating. So overall I liked the book but I can’t say that I loved it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #14 – Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Title: Love at First
Author: Kate Clayborn
Date finished: 2/20/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore.
 
Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .
 
No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve come to really enjoy this author’s books lately. They are always so full of the emotional and over the top romance that really is one of the reasons I’m drawn to romance novels in the first place. Readers will be swept up by the emotions in this story too – as both Will and Nora have their own emotional baggage to deal with outside of the struggle that is falling in love. Some parts of the overall premise in this book didn’t work for me on a personal level just because of where I am in life. Nora is having trouble letting go of the way things were and making any changes at all to her apartment complex or getting rid of anything from her grandmother’s apartment that was left to her. And I’m at a point where I’m trying so hard to shed things and downsize what we need to hold onto that the idea of Nora’s struggle didn’t make logical sense to me. This was a personal thing though and honestly shouldn’t take away from anyone else’s enjoyment of the book. It was very well written and was so very romantic. Lots of tension leading up to Will and Nora finally admitting they have feelings for each other. And lots of quirky / funny side characters that really made the book so charming and enjoyable! I did really like this book and I’d definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #82 – One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase

Title: One Night at the Lake
Author: Bethany Chase
Date finished: 11/9/20
Genre: Women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Pages in book: 289
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A tragedy on a hot summer night at a lake house forever alters the lives of two best friends—and the man they both love. But the truth isn’t as simple as it appears in this intricate novel of love, friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Leah has been waiting for this moment a long time: Her boyfriend, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s home on Seneca Lake for a week of lazy summer bliss, boating, and barbeque. The couple have been together four years, and Leah is convinced that Ollie is finally going to pop the question. Leah can’t wait to share the joyous news with her best friend, June, who is joining them on their getaway, and whose presence will make everything feel more real.

Seven years later, the moment June has been dreading has finally arrived: Her fiancé, Ollie, is taking her to his family’s lake house. But this is not an ordinary visit to an ordinary place; it is a house haunted by June’s long-buried memories of her lost friend Leah—and the connection that appears to remain between Leah and the man for whom June’s love is as deep as her grief.

Alternating between the two women’s vibrant voices, One Night at the Lake is an emotional novel that explores a complex tangle of friendship, loyalty, and betrayal, all driving toward one question: Can love overcome what happened on that hot summer night?

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read another book by this author before and really liked it – and though I am very behind in reading this one, I have been looking forward to getting to it. I really enjoy this author’s books so much, they are so raw with emotions and have such genuinely written relationships in them. I loved the dual points of view in this book – switching back and forth with the past and the present and between Leah and June. I also thought this book dealt so well with grief and how it affects people, especially those who go through traumatic events like those in the book. I was hooked on this book from the start – I didn’t want to put it down and even when I had to I felt like my thoughts were still trapped inside the book. I loved the portrayals of relationships in this book, not only of romantic relationships and the interplay between the participants of those but also within strong friendships, siblings and also child-parent relationships. The characters in this book were very well written, I thought the plot and especially how the plot was approached was super, and I would definitely recommend this one – it was a great read!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #58 – Wednesday, Walks & Wags by Melissa Storm

Title: Wednesdays, Walks, & Wags
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 8/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages in book: 272
Stand alone or series: The Sunday Potluck Club series book #2
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Bestselling author Melissa Storm reunites the members of the Sunday Potluck Club—and their canine companions—in a heartwarming story of friendship and second chances.
 
In the rapidly blooming courtyard beneath Bridget Moore’s new Anchorage apartment, the signs are unmissable: spring has come. As she unpacks boxes, Bridget hopes that she too is moving forward. With her tight schedule—college, working as a vet tech, volunteering at the animal shelter, caring for her beloved dogs—Bridget strives to keep too busy to register the pain of losing her mother just months ago.

Bridget’s new neighbor, Wesley, also seems to be running from something—quite literally. He and his two energetic dogs jog by twice a day. It isn’t long before she joins him. Bridget’s fellow members of the Sunday Potluck Club encourage her to enjoy Wesley’s company, though they understand all too well how tricky it can be to navigate life after loss.

But just as nature rebounds after the toughest winter, Bridget’s friendships, both human and canine, are a reminder that love and joy go on. With each outing, Bridget is rediscovering the simple pleasures that mean so much. A warm smile, a sun-drenched evening, a waggy tail—little by little, they may help Bridget find the path to happiness again . . .

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I read the first book in this series earlier this year and enjoyed it – it was sweet and touching. And I enjoyed this one too, it was fine but maybe a little dull. Wesley’s inability to communicate was very frustrating and Bridget’s inability to stand up for herself was confusing. She seemed like a strong overall character but she was pretty young and had some things she needed to work through. This was a quick read and an ok story but it didn’t blow me away or anything. It was sweet and romantic though, and I loved how the four friends really come together to support each other. I would recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #41 – I Heart Forever by Lindsey Kelk

Title: I Heart Forever
Author: Lindsey Kelk
Date finished: 6/11/20
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #7 in the I Heart series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A wedding in Manhattan…and someone’s keeping a secret.

The day her husband Alex picks up a backpack and goes travelling, Angela Clark promises to stay out of trouble and keep both Louboutins on the ground.

So when her best friend’s boyfriend confides in her, it can’t hurt to help him pick out a ring at Tiffany’s surely?

And when her fashion magazine announces major changes, being terminally late and arguing with your boss isn’t that bad, is it?

Then suddenly there’s another big secret Angela’s got to keep – and the man she loves is still thousands of miles away. As the wedding of the year looms, Angela is going to need her friends by her side as her old life looks set to change forever.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had requested this book a long time ago and finally got around to reading it. The book was ok, I liked some parts of it. I ended up liking it more than I expected to honestly. It reminded me a bit of Confessions of a Shopaholic series, kind of bimbo-y sounding narrator and main character. And I’m sure this is just because I hadn’t read the other books in the series but I didn’t feel all that invested in the characters, therefore the story fell apart a little for me. The plot seemed a little scattered to me, fitting with how it seemed the narrator’s mind worked but not my favorite. There were still some entertaining / funny parts but overall it wasn’t my favorite.

Link to author website

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2020 Book #23 – The Sunday Potluck Club by Melissa Storm

Title: The Sunday Potluck Club
Author: Melissa Storm
Date finished: 5/6/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Pages in book: 247
Stand alone or series: #1 in Sunday Potluck Club series
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A recipe for living . . .
 
New friends can be found in unexpected places. For Bridget and Amy, that place was the cancer ward of an Anchorage hospital. Now, as each struggles to overcome loss, they lean on each other for support—sharing suppers, laughter and tears.

Bridget and Amy aren’t about to let hardship knock them down—Bridget plans to return to her veterinarian school studies, Amy to her position as a second-grade teacher—but neither feels quite ready. And so the Sunday Potluck Club is born, a way for Bridget, Amy, and other women who have lost a loved one to find solace and understanding. Savoring favorite dishes while sharing memories and the comfort of connection, the members of the Sunday Potluck Club nourish body and soul.

As weeks go by and the group grows in unforeseen ways, both Bridget and Amy are inspired to find greater purpose.  Amy reaches out to a student whose father bravely faces his own struggle. Bridget volunteers at the local animal shelter, rehabilitating dogs whose unconditional love will bring others a chance to heal. And with the help of two special men, Bridget and Amy are realizing that there’s always room at the table for love and rekindled joy . . .

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read the first couple chapters of this book in last year’s BuzzBooks Romance sampler and was really intrigued. The first couple chapters really captured my interest and even though it was 9 months until the book would be published I was still very interested in being able to read and review it. And while I really enjoyed the book, it didn’t turn out to be quite what I thought it would be from the glimpse I got in the first couple chapters. Amy’s character was a bit too much of a doormat for me. And beyond that the way she kept going back and forth about Trent it got to be a bit too much for me. Overall there were pieces of the plot and the story line I thought could’ve been developed more, and I definitely would’ve liked to see some of the characters fleshed out a little more, especially Trent. That being said, I still did enjoy the book. It was a sweet read and was quick and easy to read. The end of the book got me pretty emotional and I wished there had been more of that emotional work throughout the book. I’d recommend giving this one a try, I think there was a lot to like about this book!

Link to author’s website

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2020 Book #6 – To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

41eW9xtmdNLTitle: To Have and to Hold
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 1/19/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Pages in book: 385
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Wedding Belles series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true…but their own.

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read another book in this series awhile ago – To Love and Cherish – and really liked it! And this book has been on my list to be reviewed since back in 2016, but luckily one of my goals this year is to read a book a month from my backlog list! Sinace I’m reading another upcoming Lauren Layne release this month too it seemed like a great time to read one of her backlist books. The characters in this novel were really well drawn out, the relationships came alive for the reader. I didn’t necessarily agree with all the pieces of the plot. There’s a point where Brooke compares Seth to her ex- Clay, and I thought was a little over-dramatic. Seth and Clay were not really comparable, even with their actions at that moment. Other than that though the plot line was interesting and kept me wanting to read throughout. I especially liked the side-plot going on with Maya and Grant. And having already read Logan and Alexis’ book, it was interesting to see them mentioned right at the beginning of the series. I enjoyed this book, though not as much as I enjoyed the later book in the series I’ve read previously. I’d still recommend it as well as the rest of the series.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #98 – Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

51Roxy5neELTitle: Love Lettering
Author: Kate Clayborn
Date finished: 12/26/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts a woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
 
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her New York City clientele. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid.
 
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore a deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I haven’t read anything by this author but I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her novels from the podcasts I listen to. And I’m very glad I was able to read this one first specifically. This book was a love letter to journaling, art, and calligraphy all tied into one wonderful love story about a mathematician and an artist. Meg was so wonderfully endearing and charismatic. Her journey to self-empowerment in this novel was wonderful to see first hand. And Reid was so vulnerable and heart-wrenchingly perfect as a hero, his devotion and love for Meg was evident in the novel as it progressed and their relationship and chemistry really leaped off the page. Their love story and how it developed by walking the streets of New York and looking at hand-painted signs was a great idea. The writing is so beautifully done, it’s almost lyrical in how the characters and their stories are written. And decorative journaling is very on trend right now so the book is very well timed. Some pieces of the book weren’t an exact right fit for me. Overall though I really enjoyed this book a lot, it was extremely swoon-worthy and a wonderful read. I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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2019 Book #63 – Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

41EO-wfyVJLTitle: Conversations with the Fat Girl
Author: Liza Palmer
Date finished: 8/21/19
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: September 3, 2007 – Reprinted in 2019
Pages in book: 319
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher/Author
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Liza Palmer will have readers cheering as she explores friendship, true love, and self-acceptance in this “engaging and poignant” (Jennifer Weiner) novel. 
Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives except Maggie. At twenty-seven, she’s still serving coffee at Joe’s while her friends are getting married, having babies, and thriving in their careers. And now Olivia, Maggie’s best friend since grade school, is getting married too. The man in Maggie’s life? Well there isn’t one, except the guy she has a crush on, Domenic, who works with her at the coffee shop. Oh, and her dog, Solo (the name says it all).
When Olivia comes to town and asks Maggie to be her maid of honor, Maggie is thrilled… but she can’t help comparing herself to the new and “improved” Olivia. Way back then, they befriended each other because they both struggled with their weight. Now grown up, Maggie is still shopping in the “women’s section” while Olivia went and had gastric-bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 2. But as the wedding nears, Olivia’s seemingly perfect life starts to unravel, and Maggie realizes that happiness might not be tied to a number on the scale.
In this wonderful novel, Liza Palmer is both witty and wise, giving a voice to women everywhere who have ever wished they could stop obsessing… and start living.

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Free Space” box since I just didn’t know what to pick.

I was interested in the premise of this book after reading about it. I’ve struggled with weight issues during most of my life and after reading Kristan Higgins’ Good Luck With That last year I was hopeful that this book would give me similar feelings of connection and understanding. I didn’t end up feeling quite as connected to this book as I had hoped but I still enjoyed it. Even though I struggled with body-image issues due to my weight, I never once struggled with my self-worth. I am so thankful for the family of amazing women (and men) who raised me to be proud of who I am and realize how amazing I am as a person. I struggled connecting to the narrator of this book because for the first half (or more) of the book she doesn’t believe in herself at all, and she doesn’t think that her own life is worth standing up for. I found that hard to read as it is immensely sad. Once she was able to start picking herself up and really making strides within her own life I became more interested, but it just took so long to get there. I liked the ending but I struggled to much through the first half to say that I really liked the book – solely based on my personality not being able to connect with the narrator.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #56 – The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

41jIQ21NjHLTitle: The Right Swipe
Author: Alisha Rai
Date finished: 8/6/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 394
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Alisha Rai returns with a sizzling new novel, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2019! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because this year they have a bunch of fun games and challenges, including one of my favorite things, reading bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 1 New to You Author” box since this is the first book I’ve read by this author.

As I mentioned, I haven’t read anything by this author before, but I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I definitely think it lived up to the hype! This was a super engaging read with endearing and complex main characters. There was a lot that I really liked about this book, especially Rhi’s relationships with her various co-workers, friends and family. It was so uplifting to see the world of support that she had and it didn’t hurt that her support team was just hilarious. I especially loved her assistant and her best friend as they were just so funny. I laughed out loud reading this book, and there were some very touching scenes that made me cry also. This book made me feel a lot of things, but for some reason one of the things I couldn’t really feel was lusty. There were a couple of steamy scenes but it seemed like they were a tad rushed almost. And there were parts that I thought Rhi was pretty hard on Samson, even though he was just such a good guy. That’s easy for me to say as the reader though, since Rhi had no access to Samson’s inner thoughts like I did. Overall though I really enjoyed this book and I thought it was a great read! I’m glad I got to read it and I’d recommend other romance fans to read it as well!

Link to author website

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