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Author Archives: ChristineWarner

BOOK BLITZ ~ No Exit by Lena Diaz ~ Giveaway

Enter to Win a
Paperback copy of EXIT STRATEGY
(Exit, Inc Book One)

 

NO EXIT
EXIT Inc. #2
Lena Diaz
Releasing on January 26, 2016
Avon

 

 

Lena Diaz returns to the thrilling world of EXIT Inc., with two enemies who become unlikely allies—and discover that only through love can they save each other…
 
As an agent of the Equalizers, Jace Atwell will risk everything to destroy EXIT Inc., the corrupt antiterrorist group, before more innocent lives are lost. The only way to infiltrate EXIT is by getting close to the CEO’s beautiful daughter, but when they get a little too close, Jace finds
himself falling for the woman he is duty-bound to deceive.
 
Whatever clandestine activities EXIT is involved in, Melissa Cardenas refuses to believe that her father is responsible and is determined to prove it. So when sexy, smooth-talking Jace comes clean about his motives, Melissa drops a bombshell of her own: she’s been investigating too—and she wants to help him find the truth.
 
The chemistry between Melissa and Jace is undeniable, but their opposing views of justice make teamwork tricky. With their lives on the
line—and the truth something neither of them expected—the only way to survive will be to trust their hearts and each other . . . if they can.
 

EXCERPT

But before dealing with his out-of-control partner, he had to give a long overdue situation report to the kid that Mason Hunt had left in charge of their headquarters while the rest of the Equalizers were out of town on other missions—the most recent addition to the team, Devlin Buchanan’s baby brother, Austin.

Having never been to the Equalizer’s headquarters, even though he knew where it was, Jace had yet to meet Austin in person. And he knew very little about him except that he’d recently gotten out of rehab. For what, Jace had no idea. What he did know was that every time he’d spoken to Austin on the phone, he came away with a sour taste in his mouth. The twentysomething-year-old kid had a prickly attitude that rubbed Jace every way but right. He braced himself for another unpleasant conversation and set his phone in the console on speaker mode.

“This is Jace, calling in the sitrep.”

“It’s about damn time,” Austin’s gravelly voice bit through the phone.

“What’d you do, take a side trip down the Colorado River? You should have called an hour ago.”

“Where’s Ramsey?” Jace was determined not to rise to the bait.

“Wasting my time and making me wait, just like you. He hasn’t bothered to report in.”

Probably because he didn’t like Austin any more than Jace did. Or maybe because he didn’t want to admit he’d screwed up.

“I imagine Ramsey’s reluctant to face us after his showboating. And he got way too serious with his role as bad guy, waving a gun around and shooting at me. He risked being recognized when he got out of the van, and now my classic muscle car looks like Swiss cheese.”

“Hold it. What are you blathering about? Ramsey got out of the van? And shot at you?”

Blathering? Was this kid a jerk to everyone, or did he pull out the special treatment just for Jace?

“That’s what I said. It’s only through luck and the grace of God that no one got hurt.”

The sound of typing echoed through the phone. “Yadda, yadda. Whatever. Back it up. Tell me exactly what happened. And make it quick.”

“Are you always a jackass, or is this a side effect of your stint in rehab?” So much for not letting the kid get to him.

“Bite me, Atwell. Tell me what I need to know.” Jace reined in his temper and answered Austin’s questions. “In spite of Ramsey’s escapades, everything worked out, even better than hoped. I’m supposed to report to EXIT Inc. tomorrow morning to see about at me. He risked being recognized when he got out of the van, and now my classic muscle car looks like Swiss cheese.”

“Hold it. What are you blathering about? Ramsey got out of the van? And shot at you?” Blathering? Was this kid a jerk to everyone, or did he pull out the special treatment just for Jace?

“That’s what I said. It’s only through luck and the grace of God that no one got hurt.” The sound of typing echoed through the phone. “Yadda, yadda. Whatever. Back it up. Tell me exactly what happened. And make it quick.”

“Are you always a jackass, or is this a side effect of your stint in rehab?” So much for not letting the kid get to him.

“Bite me, Atwell. Tell me what I need to know.” Jace reined in his temper and answered Austin’s questions.

“In spite of Ramsey’s escapades, everything worked out, even better than hoped. I’m supposed to report to EXIT Inc. tomorrow morning to see about a job. Looks like I’ll be the inside mole for the next few days, or weeks, or however long it takes to bring EXIT down.”

“Time-out, genius. Something isn’t right. Ramsey’s not the type to do what you said he did. He wouldn’t go off half-cocked.” Jace sat up straighter, his irritation forgotten in lieu of the alarms that were starting to go off in his head. “I’ve only known him for a few months, so I can’t predict his behavior. How long have you known him?”

“Long enough. Plus I’ve got detailed files on all of the Equalizers. And I’m telling you this doesn’t fit his profile. Are you sure he’s the guy you saw?”

A cold feeling of dread settled in the pit of Jace’s stomach. He checked his mirrors and pulled to the shoulder of the road. Then he tried to picture Ramsey, superimposing him over the image of the gunman. At first blush, they matched up: about six feet tall, muscular build, Caucasian—something he was certain of because the gunman hadn’t worn gloves. And there was nothing remotely female about those hands or the person who owned them, so he discarded the possibility that the person underneath that ski mask could be a woman. But had the gunman been standing up straight? Or had he hunched down against the cold? If so, he could be even taller than six feet, opening up more possibilities about his identity. But if the gunman wasn’t Ramsey, who was he? And where was Ramsey?

BUY NOW
Originally from Kentucky, romantic suspense author Lena Diaz also lived in California and Louisiana before settling in Northeast Florida with her husband, two children, and a Shetland Sheepdog named Sparky. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, she’s won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and has been a finalist for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She loves to watch action movies, garden, and hike in the beautiful Tennessee Smoky Mountains.
 
 
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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Blitz/Bonanza Spotlights

 

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RELEASE DAY BLAST ~ Call Me, Maybe by Ellie Cahill ~ GIVEAWAY

Enter to Win a 
$25.00 Amazon eGift Card

 

CALL ME, MAYBE
Ellie Cahill
Releasing on February 9, 2016
Loveswept

 

 

 Ellie Cahill is definitely one to watch!” raves bestselling author Cora Carmack, and this steamy, upbeat modern romance about connecting in all the best ways proves it once again.
 
Clementine Daly knows she’s the black sheep. Her wealthy, powerful family has watched her very closely since she almost got caught in an
embarrassing scandal a few years ago. So when Clementine’s sent on a mission to live up to the Daly name, politely declining isn’t an option. Of course, the last thing she does before boarding the plane is to grab a stranger’s phone by mistake—leaving the hunky journalist with her phone. Soon his sexy voice is on the line, but he doesn’t know her real name, or her famous pedigree—which is just the way Clementine likes it.
 
Despite all the hassles, Justin Mueller is intrigued to realize that the beautiful brown-eyed girl he met at the airport is suddenly at his fingertips. They agree to exchange phones when they’re both back in town, but after a week of flirty texts and wonderfully intimate conversations, Justin
doesn’t want to let her go. The only problem? It turns out that Clemetine has been lying to him about, well, everything. Except for the one thing two people can’t fake, the only thing that matters: The heat between them is for real.

EXCERPT

I pushed my fingers through my hair. My heart was full of a feeling I’d had waiting for my grandmother to come out of her hip replacement surgery three years ago. Which was ridiculous considering my phone could be replaced for a few hundred dollars. I could replace both of ours with a few phone calls and a swipe of my American Express.

“I’m really sorry,” I repeated.

“Unless you did this on purpose, you can stop apologizing. We just have to deal with this.”

“Right.” I bit my lip.

“Who are you?” he asked.

My nerves jangled with familiar anxiety. But he had my phone. There was nothing I could do about it if he decided to play detective. Oh god, I’d worked so hard at keeping it clean. Had I missed anything? Anything that he could use? Finally, I said, “Clementine.”

“Clementine?” he repeated with a tone of total disbelief. It was a typical reaction.

“Yes.”

“I’m Justin. I’d say nice to meet you, but . . .”

“Yeah. Well, thanks for being cool about this, Justin.”

“No problem. Do you mind if I give your number to a few people?”

It took me a moment to process what he meant. He still needed a phone, and for now, mine was all he had.

“No, that’s fine. Go ahead. I don’t really think I’ll be getting many calls. Everyone knows I’m out of town.”

“You can give my number to people if you need to.”

“Same to you.”

“Okay . . .” He faded, seeming uncertain. “I guess I’ll just . . . get in touch with you if you get any messages.”

“Um . . . I guess . . . I’ll talk to you later then.”

I disconnected, finding my brother staring at me. “Was he upset?” he asked.

“Yeah, but at least he wasn’t a dick about it.”

“Why don’t you just have them both replaced? Tell him to go pick up a new phone at the nearest store.”

“I thought of that, but maybe he doesn’t have the cash to drop on a new one.”

“So pay for it.”

“People are weird about stuff like that. Besides, do you really think I should point out the fact that he has the personal phone numbers of some of the wealthiest people in the country? We have no clue who this guy is.”

He made a face, but he knew I was right.

This was so so bad. My grandparents were going to kill me. “Oh my god, Honor, you have to call Grandma right away!”

He didn’t even hesitate, just reached for his phone and dialed. He knew how it was. If she didn’t hear that we were safe and sound very soon, she was going to start calling me. And the last thing the poor schmuck whose day I’d already ruined needed was to have Miriam Schulman-Daly hitting redial until she got a response.

“Don’t tell her a stranger has it! Tell her I left it at home!” I added to Honor in a rush, tugging on his arm to make sure he was paying attention.

He waved me off, but I thought I could trust him to give me this small bit of cover. While I waited for Honor to explain the situation, the phone buzzed with a new text message from my line.

Sorry if I was a jerk on the phone. I’m frustrated.

I replied, You weren’t. No apology necessary.

We’re stuck with each other for now. An apology is definitely necessary.

I’m the one who should be giving it. My stupid brother grabbed the wrong phone.

All right, so we’re mutually sorry and we can blame your brother, agreed?

I smiled. Who was this guy?

Agreed.

BUY NOW
Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas. She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat.
 
 
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Posted by on February 9, 2016 in Day to Day Life

 

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SPECIAL GUEST ~ Lauren Baratz-Logsted author of Falling for Prince Charles ~ Giveaway

Today we have a special guest visiting the blog! Please help me welcome Lauren Baratz-Logsted :) I think you’ll enjoy Lauren’s post about the Royal family. And from there  you’ll love reading the blurb and excerpt for her latest release Falling for Prince Charles. And if you’re anything like me, all of this–including the cute cover–will have you adding this to your reading wish list.

Afterward, don’t forget to check out her giveaway. The link is toward the end of the post.

Take it away Lauren …

TO MONARCHY OR NOT TO MONARCHY

 

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

When I wrote the first draft of FALLING FOR PRINCE CHARLES nearly 20 years ago – long story behind that! – I was a huge fan of the Royal Family. Even though she’d already been divorced from Prince Charles by then, I along with the rest of the world really loved Princess Diana. But I also loved the other Royals because their lives caught my imagination.

Writers are often advised, “Write what you know!” I tend to think this is just about the worst advice to give a writer because it can so easily be misconstrued to “Write only what you know directly!” If everyone followed that version, and a surprising amount of people do, we’d have less Fantasy, less Romance, less Historical Fiction; really, there’d be a lot less of all kinds of good things. Rather, I think the advice should be: Write what you want to know; write about what you are most interested in learning.

Have I mentioned that at the time I wrote this novel, I was really interested in the Royal Family?

But not just the obvious suspects. Over time, I found myself most interested in Charles.

Before you write me off as odd – which you actually can for a whole host of reasons, but I hope not this – think about it. From the moment he was born, he was told he was going to be a particular thing in life. He seems to have so much on the surface – castles etc – but what would it be like to spend every waking moment knowing there were already specific expectations of your future, a set path for you to walk? It can be argued that he’s had less choice over his life than people who are born with far less. Something about that strikes me as tragic.

Then I thought, what if I take this to-me tragic figure and, oh, I don’t know, turn him into a romantic one? What if I take his ears, for which he was made great fun of at school – can you imagine, the queen’s your mother and still you’re the object of bullying – and instead recast those ears as the most erotic organ any man has ever possessed? For, in any romantic relationship, don’t people want a partner to listen really well to one’s desires? And who better to do that than the man with …really big ears?

So that’s what I did. I did all kinds of research into the Royal Family that I loved – I even studied floor plans of the palace so I’d get all the room positions right – and I made Charles into the romantic hero I wanted him to be.

It’s funny. In the last two decades, I’d say that worldwide interest in the Royal Family has waned from its heyday of Princess Diana. Certainly, it’s not something I hear my 15-year-old daughter and her friends discussing, not something I hear people talking about as I go about town.

There is, on the other hand, always discussion about whether or not the institution of the monarchy should even continue.

The nice thing about being an American is that I don’t have to weigh in on that because, as the saying goes, not my monkey, not my circus. I do, however, still get to enjoy the Royal Family from afar. And I get to go on doing what writers have always done, not focusing only on what I already know, not writing lives just like my own, but rather, looking at a life as different from mine as can be imagined and asking: Now, what must that life be like?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for adults (The Thin Pink Line; The Sisters Club), teens (The Twin’s Daughter; The Education of Bet; Little Women and Me) and children (The Sisters 8 series for young readers which she created with her husband and daughter). Read more about her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com or follow her @LaurenBaratzL on Twitter.

 

 

 

Enter to Win a Print Copy of
FALLING FOR PRINCE CHARLES

 

 

FALLING FOR PRINCE CHARLES
Lauren
Baratz-Logsted
Releasing on February 9, 2016
Diversion Books

 

 

Daisy Silverman has always been obsessed with His Royal Highness, Prince Charles. When the underachieving 30-something cleaning lady
wins a million dollars, she follows her lifelong dream to go to London. Once there, she meets Prince Charles—the real Prince Charles. Through a series of misunderstandings, the Royal Family doesn’t realize that Daisy’s Jewish or that she’s spent her life up to the elbows in the wrong kind of toilet water. By the time they do, Daisy is in love with Charles, Charles is in love with Daisy, and the Queen’s white gloves are off.
 
FALLING FOR PRINCE CHARLES is an offbeat alternate-universe romantic comedy showing the heir to the British throne in a light quite unlike any he’s been seen in before.
 
Daisy’s madcap adventure is more comedy than
romance, and her most unusual and unlikely relationship with Prince Charles
will appeal to reads looking for lots of giggles.”
 —Publishers
Weekly
 
“Lauren Baratz-Logsted has mastered the real life
fairy tale in her explosive and hilarious FALLING FOR PRINCE CHARLES. It’s all
here, lovelorn Daisy Silverman flush with cash and high hopes, Prince Charles
who can’t resist her, and London in all its splendor. Curl up and get ready to
laugh long into the foggy night.”
 —Adriana Trigiani, New York
Times bestselling author of THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE

EXCERPT

As Daisy Silverman squatted in front of the toilet bowl, first depressing the flush lever and then watching as the milky outgoing spiral removed the mildew and replaced it with fresh water, the thought occurred to her for at least the thousandth time that if the fickle hand of fate hadn’t cast her as a cleaning lady, working in wealthy households and offices in Westport, Connecticut, she would most certainly have made a perfectly lovely Princess of Wales.

This was a fantasy that Daisy had entertained off and on since 1981, the same year that the late Princess Diana had first become Princess Diana. And to this day, eighteen years later, whenever she thought about it, Daisy still thought that she could have done the job better.

Oh, sure, Daisy had loved the late Princess, would have said that she loved her more than anybody. Well, actually even Daisy was aware enough not to say that; she did know that Diana’s family and friends had surely loved her more. But Daisy could legitimately claim to love her easily as much as anybody who had never met her, and that was plenty. So, if Daisy felt a little competitive with a dead Princess that she had loved beyond reason, what matter that? After all, there were some compelling reasons for making a comparison between the two women.

Just like the woman who had possessed the most photographed profile in the world, Daisy had a genius for making the kind of seemingly interested, throwaway comment that left others feeling a little cheerier about their own lot in life. Although even Daisy had felt that the Princess had been pushing things a bit, several years back, when she had blithely informed a widow on the dole with a flat full of small children: “Oh, yes, I just love those microwave pizzas too. Whenever the Heir and the Spare start to look a little peaked, I just nuke a couple of them in the Palace micro, and we’re all set to go skiing in Klosters or windsurfing on Necker.” Or, if those hadn’t been her exact words, it had been something equally inappropriate…

 

 
BUY NOW

 

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 25 books for adults, teens (including The Twin’s Daughter and Little Women and Me), and children (The Sisters 8, a nine-book series she created with her husband and daughter). Before becoming an author, Lauren was an independent bookseller, freelance editor, Publishers Weekly reviewer, sort-of librarian and window washer. She lives with her family in Danbury, CT. Visit her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com or follow her @LaurenBaratzL on Twitter.
 
 
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Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Blitz/Bonanza Spotlights

 

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BOOK BLITZ ~ I Wish You Were Mine by Lauren Layne ~ GIVEAWAY

In Honor of Superbowl Winning Quarterback Jackson Burke, 
Enter to Win a  Ladies “TEAM” T-Shirt from 
Lady Fanatics Sports Apparel Winners Choice 
(up to $40.00 Value)

 

I WISH YOU WERE MINE
Oxford #2
Lauren Layne
Releasing on February 2, 2016
Loveswept

 

Perfect for fans of Alice Clayton and Emma Chase, Lauren Layne’s Oxford series heats up in this story of forbidden desire as a brooding jock hoping for a comeback falls for a woman who’s strictly off-limits.
 
A year ago, Jackson Burke was married to the love of his life and playing quarterback for the Texas Redhawks. Now he’s retired, courtesy
of the car accident that ruined his career—and single, after a nasty scandal torpedoed his marriage. Just as he’s starting to get used to his new life as a health and fitness columnist for Oxford magazine, his unpredictable ex shows up on his doorstep in Manhattan. Jackson should be thrilled. But he can’t stop thinking about the one person who’s always been there for him, the one girl he could never have: her younger sister.
 
Mollie Carrington can’t say no to Madison. After all, her older sister practically raised her. So when Madison begs for help in winning her ex-husband back, Mollie’s just glad she got over her own crush on Jackson ages ago—or so she thought. Because as Mollie reconnects with Jackson, she quickly forgets all her reasons to stay loyal to her sister. Tempted by Jackson’s mellow drawl and cowboy good looks, Mollie is sick and tired of coming in second place. But she can’t win if she doesn’t play the game.

EXCERPT

Jackson took a sip. Perfection. Although what did it mean that Jackson’s life had turned into one where the highlight of his day was a well-made cocktail?

It wasn’t that Jackson needed the booze. He enjoyed it, certainly. Had relied on it more than he probably should have in those first few days when he’d gotten out of the hospital and come home to a whole lot of nothingness.

But these days he could take it or leave it.

Tonight, however, he was taking it. Sobriety had no place when you had to sit across from the most off-limits woman on the planet.

Knowing that didn’t stop the anticipation, however. He hadn’t seen her since she’d shown up in his hospital room to deliver a bag of Gatlin’s BBQ and . . .

His divorce papers.

That had been eight months ago.

He’d avoided her ever since, and he couldn’t even say why except that he’d avoided pretty much everyone. Jackson still spoke with his parents every Sunday, but everyone else—all the old teammates, the old neighbors—had eventually stopped calling.

Mollie hadn’t, though. Mollie had never given up on him. Until today, he hadn’t responded to a single text, a single email, and yet she hadn’t stopped sending them. That was Mollie for you. Fiercely loyal to both him and Madison, even when things had started to go to hell.

Mollie had been accepted to Columbia just about the time that he and Madison started coming apart at the seams. In hindsight, he was grateful that Mollie had been in New York when things started to go to hell in his marriage. That she hadn’t seen him at his worst.

At the time, however, he’d been hit with an unfair sense of abandonment. He hadn’t realized how much he’d come to rely on the much younger Mollie to mediate things between him and the volatile Madison until she was in a different time zone.

Even now, more than a decade since first meeting Mollie, he struggled to reconcile the fact that she and Madison had come from the same parents. Madison was perfectly coiffed, charming only when she was in the mood, and manipulative as all hell. Mollie, on the other hand, was adorably awkward—a brainy research assistant who cared a hell of a lot more about her scientific journals than her manicure.

But somewhere along the line, Mollie Carrington had ceased to be that awkward kid who talked about bugs at inopportune times. Somewhere along the line, she’d become his rock. The one person in the world, save for perhaps his parents, who always knew the exact right thing to say to make him feel like a human whenever he’d started to feel like a caricature of himself.

For years he’d tried to tell himself that it was just sibling affection—that he cared about her the way he would a sister. But then things had gotten worse with Madison—way worse. And Jackson had been hit upside the head with the truth: that maybe he’d married the wrong sister. That he didn’t want to spend the rest of his days married to the beautiful, brittle Madison.

He wanted someone who made him laugh. Who listened. Someone who cared more about people than she did about hair appointments.

Someone like Mollie.

BUY NOW
Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than a dozen contemporary romance novels.

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. A year after moving from Seattle to NYC to pursue a writing career, she had a fabulous agent and multiple New York publishing deals.

Lauren currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and plus-sized Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll likely find her running (rarely), reading (sometimes), or at happy hour (often).

Don’t Miss IRRESISTIBLY YOURS
Oxford Book One
 
 
 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Blitz/Bonanza Spotlights

 

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What to Read Wednesday with Melanie Hansen ~ Giveaway

Thanks for coming back for another round of What to Read Wednesday :) Today author Melanie Hansen has stopped by and she’s sharing an interview she conducted with her characters from her book UNQUIET. You won’t be disappointed :)

Don’t forget to enter her giveaway, too!

Let’s get started …

 

The coffee shop is warm and inviting, one of those little boutique places with comfortable chairs and even a fireplace.  White lights are strung throughout, and the aroma of pumpkin spice washes over me.  I settle in a leather wingback chair not too far from the crackling fire, clutching a peppermint mocha, to wait for my guests.  I’m a little early, but that’s okay; this way I can observe them together in the split second before they notice me.

A few chocolatey sips later, and the door swings open to admit two men, obviously the ones I’m waiting for.  One of them is very tall, his navy-blue peacoat doing nothing to disguise his muscular frame.  He has dark hair, and a lean scruffy jaw I find very appealing.  His companion is a few inches shorter, blond, with bright green eyes that scan the room and fall on me.  They immediately light up with a delightful enthusiasm, and he approaches me with his hand out.  I stand to take it.

“Mrs. Hansen?” he asks, his voice deep and pleasant.  I squeeze his hand warmly and smile.

“Yes, but please call me Melanie, or even Mel.  All my friends do.”  That makes his eyes crinkle even more, and he pulls me into an impulsive hug.  I’m startled, but since I’m a hugger too, I return it.

“You can never have too many friends, right?” he says, and before I can reply, goes on, “You said you’d be wearing a really colorful scarf, and that’s the first thing I noticed.  It’s beautiful.  The colors are woven together so nicely, and I love the way it goes with your red hair.  Who would have thought purple would—“

“El.”  The taller man touches him on the shoulder, breaking into his speech.  “You didn’t even tell her your name.”  His voice is gently teasing, and the blond man’s eyes widen before he shoots me a grin so beautiful it hurts.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he says cheerfully.  “I’m Eliot Devlin, and this is my partner, Loren Smith.”

“Ma’am,” Loren murmurs, shaking my hand as well.

“Mel,” I correct him, and then sit back down in my chair, watching as they both remove their coats and drape them with care over the back of the loveseat opposite me.

Eliot perches on the cushions for a moment and then jumps back up.  “You want some coffee, honey?” he asks Loren.  “I’ll get myself an herbal tea.”  Without waiting for an answer he heads off to the counter.

Loren watches him go, then stretches his hands out toward the fire, quirking his lips at me.  “I’m always surprised by how cold it gets in Phoenix this time of year.  Hard to believe a few short months ago we were burning in hell.”

“I know, right?” I reply, returning his rueful look.  “And we’ll complain about the cold like we complain about the heat.  Arizonans are never happy.”

We share another grin before a loud shout of laughter captures our attention.  I glance toward Eliot, who’s talking with the barista in an overly animated tone, waving his hands.  She looks a little overwhelmed, but seems to be going along with the conversation gamely.

“He’s been a tad elevated this past month or so,” Loren remarks, watching me watching Eliot, as if looking for signs of judgment.  “But he’s okay.”

I give him a reassuring smile.  “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.  My cousin was bipolar.”

Loren’s face shows surprise.  “Oh.  I didn’t know.  When you said you wanted to write our story, I honestly wondered why you’d take on such a challenge.  It’s not an easy story to tell.”

I shrug, unable to meet his eyes.  “My cousin—she used to say how she’d never find anyone to love her.  She had a hard time seeing that she was loved.  So much.  She was brilliant, accomplished, beautiful…”

“Was?” Loren asked, his voice soft.  I suddenly find myself blinking back tears.

“She’s—she’s at peace now.”  My voice is a whisper.  “But I miss her.  I guess in writing your story I’m trying to show her that no matter what she thought, she was worthy of love.  Everyone is, no matter their challenges.  She never believed it.”

Loren reaches out to touch my knee.  “I’m sorry.”

I take another determined sip of my mocha, sitting up straighter.  “But tonight isn’t about that, it’s about finally meeting you and Eliot in person.  I’ve waited so long for this.”

All of a sudden Eliot’s voice gets even louder, and a few profanities drift to our ears.  Loren doesn’t get up, but he calls out, “El!”  When Eliot looks at him, Loren pinches the bridge of his nose as if staving off a sneeze.

Eliot nods, taking the drinks from the clearly relieved barista before heading back over to Loren and me.

Loren sips the coffee Eliot hands him, then grimaces.  “I think I’ll add a little sweetener,” he murmurs, getting up and walking over to the creamer table.

Eliot puts his tea down untouched and leans toward me.  “So Mel,” he exclaims, “how’s it hanging?”

“Fine,” I say with a smile.  “How are you?”

“Great!”  He launches into a detailed explanation of the decorating he and Loren have done on their home so far, and it sounds enchanting.  I tell him so.

“It is really fucking beautiful, Mel, just fucking awesome!”

I’m married to a sailor so I’m not fazed in the least by the F-bombs, but there are a couple of families with small children around us who shoot us dirty looks.  Loren catches Eliot’s eye as he returns to the couch and pinches the bridge of his nose again, and I realize it’s some kind of signal between them.

I ask Eliot about it, and he gives me a little smile.  “Busted.  If I’m getting too loud or profane, Loren will do that to remind me to tone it down.  A lot of times when I’m hypomanic, like I am now, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”

“I never want him to feel as if I’m reprimanding him,” Loren explains, putting his hand on Eliot’s leg, which is jiggling wildly up and down.  “So we decided on a way for me to alert him to what’s going on, and once he’s aware of it, he can usually correct it.”

I nod, and Loren continues, “We want to lead the most normal lives possible.  Hiding out at home isn’t an option for us, and we’ve developed our own ways of coping when things get…interesting.”

“Mentally interesting, that’s me,” Eliot chimes in, and Loren bends down to give him a gentle kiss.

“The most interesting guy I know.”

They nuzzle their noses together for a moment, the affection between them palpable.  I sip my mocha and gaze into the fire to give them some privacy, until Loren sits back again, his hand still resting on Eliot’s leg.   Eliot reaches down and twines their fingers together.

“All we can do is take things one day at a time,” Loren says quietly, his eyes haunted.  “This past year has been a little…rough.”  Eliot squeezes Loren’s hand, his thumb caressing the back of it.

I wince, knowing the word ‘rough’ is the understatement of the century.  I can’t deny they’ve been through hell.

Our conversation turns to future plans, then Loren and Eliot’s upcoming trip to Hawaii as guests of a friend of theirs.

Eliot grins at me.  “I can’t wait!” he exclaims, his leg jiggling faster.  “As kids, Loren and I used to dream about going, and it’s finally going to happen.”

“I know you’ll love it.”  We talk briefly about my experiences living there, and with each passing moment I dare to relax a little more.  I’ve been so worried about them…

Eliot seems to be having trouble reigning in his pressured speech again, so I stand up to leave, not wanting to keep them.

“Is that all, Mel?” Eliot looks up at me, his beautiful green eyes enquiring.

“It is,” I tell him.

“You can ask us anything, you know.”

“I know.  But I don’t need to.  Seeing you together like this is enough.  That’s all I really wanted anyway.”

They both stand for hugs and kisses on the cheek, and then they walk me out.  I watch as they head off down the street arm in arm, blond head and dark head bent close together.  At the end of the block, Loren roars with laughter at something Eliot says, and he wraps him up in a hug so tight he lifts Eliot clear off his feet.

“I love you, Eliot Devlin,” echoes back to me on the crisp night air.

I think about all they’ve been through already, about how the future stretches before them in all its uncertainty, and I know Loren’s right…

One day at a time.

 

Enter to Win a 
$50.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller 
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UNQUIET
Resilient Love #3
Melanie Hansen
Releasing on January 22, 2016.
Dreamspinner Press

 

Loren Smith has been in love with Eliot Devlin almost his entire life. During their turbulent childhood and teen years, Loren didn’t always understand Eliot, and sometimes he could be a challenge, but Eliot was the only one to ever truly ease Loren’s deep loneliness and accept him. When Eliot’s increasingly erratic and self-destructive behavior culminates in a suicide attempt at seventeen, Loren is devastated.
 
Upon meeting again by chance nine years later, Loren is enjoying a successful career as a police officer while Eliot’s life has been a
constant struggle for stability. In and out of mental hospitals, with a rap sheet a mile long, he continues to be buffeted by the twin storms of mania and depression. Loren’s love and protectiveness for Eliot are deeply ingrained in him, however, and their feelings for each other are quickly rekindled.
 
Loren has issues of his own he’s dealing with, and trying to understand and cope with Eliot’s bipolar disorder isn’t easy. They believe
they’re meant to be, and Eliot brings a fulfillment to Loren’s life that no one else will ever match. But as they both come to realize, love by itself can’t cure all. 

EXCERPT

When they woke the next morning, they packed an overnight bag and headed north on I-17. Eliot was amazed at the view out his window, craggy rocks and towering saguaro cactus eventually giving way to the pine trees of the Coconino National Forest.

In Flagstaff they stopped for gas, and both of them shivered at the cold bite in the air. They ran by a sporting goods store to buy some fleece pullovers, and Eliot goofed off with a couple of plaid hunting caps, complete with fuzzy earflaps. He grinned at Loren, trying to keep the hat from falling forward into his eyes.

“You look about twelve years old,” Loren said drily. “That hat swallows you whole.”

As Loren reached out to take it off of him, he stroked his thumb along Eliot’s cheek.

“I love to see you smile, to see you happy,” he whispered. He grabbed a simple knit cap and pulled it over Eliot’s head, fussing with it a minute before saying, “Much better.” Eliot scanned the room and, not seeing anyone, stretched up to give Loren a kiss.

Soon they were on the road again heading north, and Loren took Eliot’s hand, twining their fingers together and resting their joined hands on his knee. Eliot could sense Loren was turning something over in his mind, so he just waited.

Are you happy, El?” Loren finally asked. “I’ve seen so many different incarnations of your moods, but I honestly don’t know if I’d recognize happiness in you.” His voice held a faint note of apology for asking, and Eliot glanced at him, surprised but pleased by Loren’s candor.

“I don’t know if I’d recognize happiness either, Loren,” he admitted, rubbing his thumb over the back of Loren’s hand when he threw Eliot a stricken look. “Hey, hey,” Eliot said reassuringly. “I don’t mean that the way it sounds.”

Eliot blew out a breath, thinking about how to explain this. Loren waited, but his lips were pressed together in a tight line, and Eliot squeezed his fingers.

“Usually when I wake up in the morning, I’m afraid,” he said slowly, and Loren opened his mouth to speak but then didn’t say anything. Eliot glanced at him again, then continued, “I feel the craziness, the madness lurking, just waiting for me. It feels like it’s attached to me, that when I get out of bed, I’m dragging it with me. It’s always there, ready to pounce and swallow me up.”

“Oh, El,” Loren whispered achingly.

Eliot stroked his hand. “And this morning when I woke up, I wasn’t afraid. I think that’s what it feels like to be happy. It’s enough for me.”

Loren didn’t say anything, but a lone tear slid down his cheek. Eliot reached up and wiped it away with his thumb, stroking Loren’s jaw tenderly.

“What’s the matter, honey?”

Just then the sign for a scenic lookout appeared, and Loren took the exit, parking the truck. He stared through the windshield, blinking fast, more tears welling up.

“The thought of you for all those years, waking up afraid,” he whispered brokenly. “And I wasn’t there, Eliot. I wasn’t there.” Eliot could see Loren’s throat working as he fought not to cry, and with a soft exclamation, Eliot opened his arms, gathering him close. He stroked Loren’s hair, feeling the hot wetness of tears against his neck.

“But you were there, Loren. Shhh,” he murmured.

When Loren calmed a little, Eliot pulled back and took Loren’s face in his hands, forcing him to meet his eyes.

“I’ve been in a lot of therapy over the years, and they always ask me the same thing, what my best memories are, what memories do I have of feeling happy or safe. I’m supposed to bring them to mind when I’m stressed or scared or angry. It’s part of cognitive therapy, learning to readjust your thinking, to focus on good things and not negative things.”

Eliot caressed Loren’s face. “And Loren, there’s a lot I don’t remember, but what I do, every single one of those types of memories is about you. Being kids, riding our bikes, playing with toys, laughing at stupid jokes. Then later the way you held me in the dark after a nightmare or sat with me when I was so sad and hurting that I wanted to die. The way you—the way you loved me, loved my batshit crazy and fucked-up mess.

“You’ve always been with me, Loren, through my memories. Always.”

Loren completely lost it then, and Eliot let him cry it out, murmuring to him, rocking him, reveling in being the one to comfort, to soothe, of being able to shore up the man he loved when he needed it.

Finally the storm passed and Loren pulled away, sitting up and scrubbing his hands over his face.

“I’m glad, El,” he said hoarsely, clearing his throat several times before starting the truck and pulling back onto the interstate. “I’m glad I’m your best memories.”

 

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Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer
who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.
 
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring
these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
 
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She
currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
 
 
Don’t Miss the other Resilient Love Romances

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in What to Read Wednesday

 

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INTERVIEW with Brenda Gayle author of Me + You ~ Giveaway

Welcome to the blog! Please help me welcome Brenda Gayle. She’s agreed to take a comfy seat and answer a few questions about herself as well as her release Me + You!

Don’t forget to enter her awesome giveaway as well. The link is toward the end of the post :)

Let’s get started …

Tell us about yourself tweet style :) That’s right, you get 140 characters!

Contemporary romance author. Lover of words, wine & wisdom. If only I could leave but one mark on life, it would have to be a question mark.

Awesome! Tell us the last restaurant you ate out at.

I’m not going to count the take-out Mediterranean wrap I got from McDonalds last weekend as I was taking my son to a water polo tournament. The last restaurant I actually sat down and ate at was The Black Dog Bistro, which is located in the small town next to ours. Great name. Great food.

I do like the name :) What was the main goal you accomplished in 2015 and the one main goal you hope to accomplish in 2016?

In 2015 I wanted to push myself outside my comfort zone. After four full length contemporary romances and four novellas, I had been toying with the idea of a women’s fiction story—a 20th Century historical—but have been afraid to actually start working on it. Last year I began the plotting & researching of it, and this year my goal is to write it.

I hope you reach your goal. It’s wonderful to stretch yourself. What’s the one question you’re asked most often when it comes to your writing?

That’s a funny one. Everyone always asks when my next book is coming out. I expect most authors get this question. While the publishing process is faster now than it has ever been, the creative muse often has her own agenda.

True words :) When did you first know you wanted to become an author?

I’m sure this is going to sound cliché, but I’ve always known my life would involve writing in some way. I come from a family of writers, many published in a number of different genres.

It doesn’t sound cliche at all. I knew from an early age I wanted to write, but didn’t take the leap until my sister shoved me. lol Who was the first person you told when you were contracted for Me+You?

My husband. He’s always been very supportive of my writing, so he’s always the first to know of both my successes and disappointments.

I love choosing character names. Tell us how you came up with your character’s names in Me+You.

I love choosing character names, too. Often when I’m in the outlining phase, the names come to me as being appropriate for the type of people who’ll be populating the story. The hero of Me+You is Mark Wilder, and it made perfect sense for a guy who runs a Jeep Tour company. Plus, the company could be named Wilder Jeep Tours. In the original synopsis I sent to my editor at The Wild Rose Press, the heroine’s name was Jenn. However, between when the synopsis was accepted and when I actually started writing the story, I wrote another novella with a heroine name Jill and I was afraid I’d confuse myself, so I changed it to Lori.

I don’t necessarily think about people I know with the same name when I decide on names for my characters. A couple of times, I’ve changed names just prior to submitting to my editor when I’ve suddenly realized I’ve named a particularly nasty character the same as a family member or friend. Totally unintentional. Really.

What inspired you to write Me+You?

I wrote this story after visiting Sedona, Arizona. I’d been there, briefly, many years ago and had wanted to return for a long time. Last March, my husband and two kids travelled there for a week and it was amazing. The spectacular scenery, the new age atmosphere with its vortexes and crystals, and the combination of locals and tons of tourists all come together to create a truly unique and wonderful world. I really wanted to make that come across in this story not just in terms of setting, but as a character.

What’s the one scene from your book that stands out in your mind as being your favorite to write?

My favorite scenes to write involved the heroine, Lori, and her best friend Sharon. They each lead very different lives and they have an idealized image of the other’s life. I chose to have most of their scenes involve some sort of physical fitness activity—spinning, yoga, Nordic walking—that Sharon is keen on. Lori participates only because she knows it’s good for her and she can reward herself with a treat afterward.

Do you have a writing ritual—as in do you wear a lucky pair of socks, drink a certain drink, light a candle, play music?

At the start of each day I need 30-60 minutes to sit quietly and drink my coffee (which my husband brings me in bed—even on weekends). The radio may be on, but I am rarely listening to it. I need to be alone with my thoughts, which may range from the practical what I need to do that day to daydreaming about living in a warmer climate, although more often than not, they are merely wisps of ideas or wishes or nothing at all. If I don’t have this time, I feel totally out of sync for the rest of the day, and no writing gets done.

When writing do you try and reach a certain word count each day, or do you write for a certain amount of time, or do you just write and don’t worry about either?

Unfortunately, I don’t write every day. I have a weekly goal of what I want to get accomplished and try to arrange my schedule around that. I am fortunate that I work from home so my schedule is more flexible than those with an “outside” job, but it also means more distractions.

Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

I’ve started writing my 20th Century women’s fiction story, which is loosely based on a family legend. After writing contemporary heroines, it’s an interesting process to imagine my heroine as a woman living in the 1930s without many of the modern conveniences I take for granted, and having to deal with the prevailing attitudes of society.

RANDOM FUN: FINISH THIS SENTENCE…

If I could go anywhere in the world … I’d go to Fiji.

My toothbrush is … purple.

I’ll never eat … lima beans again!

When I was a kid … I wanted to grow up. Now I wish I could take back that wish.

My favorite television show … is no longer on the air.

My favorite quote is …The secret of getting ahead is getting started” by Mark Twain.
The last book I read was … Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

 

 

 

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$25.00 Amazon eGift Card

 

ME + YOU
A Candy Hearts Romance
Brenda Gayle
Released January 20th 2016
Wild Rose Press

 

 

Teacher Lori Tait has always wanted a family, but now she’s 40, she’s pretty much decided all the good men are taken. Instead, she
devotes herself to her students, particularly one little girl whose struggle with math seems inconsistent with an otherwise brilliant and artistic mind.
 
Mark Wilder hadn’t planned to become a father, but when a fling resulted in his daughter, Grace, he whole-heartedly embraced the role.
Raised in a family of boys, what does he know about women and girls? Once he learns of Grace’s inability to comprehend basic math, he welcomes the role of tutor as a way to connect with his daughter; the opportunity to spend time with her sexy teacher is an added bonus.
 
When Lori cracks the mystery of Grace’s problem Mark’s world is thrown into turmoil; he’s the last person who can help his daughter.
He pushes everyone away, confirming Lori’s theory about men. Grace, however, has other plans. Using her new-found understanding of math, she sets out to prove to her father and teacher that, together, they add up to the perfect match.

EXCERPT

“…if I wait much longer I will be too old to be accepted into an IVF program.”

“I could give you one of my kids on a rotating basis.” Sharon grinned. “You could take a different one every week. Heck, I’d even throw in Tom for a week, he’s almost as bad as the young ones.”

“I’m serious!”

“I know.” Sharon sobered. “But raising a child isn’t easy, especially if you have to do it on your own. For all I rag on Tom about being a big kid, I couldn’t manage without him.”

“Lots of women do it,” Lori said stubbornly.

“True,” Sharon conceded. She took a sip of her drink and then seriously observed Lori over the rim of her cup. “Okay.” She put the cup down on the table and sat up straighter. “But if you’re determined to have a child, don’t do in vitro. Find some sexy hot stud and, at least, have the fun of doing it the old-fashioned way.”

Lori gagged on a mouthful of mochaccino, trying not to spit it out with laughter. “And where do you think I will find such a specimen?” she asked when she managed to compose herself.

Sharon shrugged. “What about Mr. Tall, Dark, and Yummy?” She pointed over Lori’s shoulder.

Lori swiveled in her chair and found herself staring at the crotch of a poster-sized Mark Wilder exiting one of his famous purple Jeeps. She quickly raised her gaze to the familiar stubbled chin and deep brown eyes, but not before she felt the crimson rush of embarrassment flood her face. He was the only man she’d met recently that looked better than his picture. Take a Trip to the Wild Side with Sedona’s Wilder Jeep Tours, the poster proclaimed.

Yessiree, if she was picking a partner on looks alone, she’d definitely take a trip to the wild side with him.

 
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I’ve been a writer all my life but returned to my love of fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communications–although some might argue there is plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. I have a Master’s degree in journalism and an undergraduate degree in psychology. A fan of many genres, I am drawn to contemporary romance and enjoy creating deeply emotional stories with elements
of mystery and suspense.
 
I live in eastern Ontario with my wonderful husband, two fabulous children, a rescued cat, two Siberian Huskies, and assorted aquatic
wildlife.



 
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Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Blitz/Bonanza Spotlights

 

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RELEASE DAY BLAST ~ His Pregnant Princess Bride by Catherine Mann ~ GIVEAWAY

Two Exciting Giveaways to Enter Below!

 

HIS PREGNANT PRINCESS BRIDE
Bayou Billionaires #1
Catherine Mann
Releasing on February 1st, 2016 (Digital) 
and February
9th, 2016 (Print)
Harlequin Desire 

 

 

A princess and a Southern billionaire are expecting twins! Only from USA TODAY bestselling author Catherine Mann!
 
His focus is on his family’s football dynasty. Louisiana billionaire Gervais Reynaud has no time for romance. But he can’t say no to a
tryst with Erika Mitras. True, she’s a princess, but in no way prim…or proper. Their time together is unbelievable…and all too short.
 
When Erika said goodbye, she meant it. But now she must tell Gervais the truth. He’s about to be a father…to royal twins. After leaving
her overbearing family, Erika wants nothing from Gervais. But the tempting tycoon just may charm her into a future she desires all too much.

EXCERPT

His dark eyes heated her with memories as he strode toward her. His long legs ate the ground in giant slices, his khakis and sports jacket declaring him in the middle of a work day. He stopped in front of her, his broad shoulders blocking the sun and casting his handsome face in shadows. But she didn’t have to see to know his jaw would be peppered with the stubble that seemed to grow in seconds after he shaved. Her fingers – her body – remembered the texture of that rasp well.

Her breath caught somewhere in her chest.

He folded his arms over his chest, just under the Hurricanes logo stitched on the front of his jacket. “Welcome to the States, Erika. No one mentioned your intention to visit. I thought you don’t like sports.”

“And yet, here I am.” And in need of privacy out of the bright Louisiana sun and the even brighter curious eyes of his team and staff. She needed space and courage to tell him why she’d made this unexpected journey across the Atlantic to this muggy bayou state. “This is not an official royal visit.”

“And you’re not in uniform.” His eyes glided over her wrap around dress.

“I’m out of the service now.” About to return to school to be a nurse, the career field she’d hoped to pursue in the military but they would not allow her such an in-the-field position, instead preferring to dress her up and trot her around as a figure-head translator. “I am here for a conference on homeopathic herbs and scents.” A part of her passion in the nursing field, and a totally made up excuse for being here today.

“Are you here to share specially scented deodorant to my players? Because they could certainly use it.” His mouth tipped with a smile.

“Are you interested in such a line?” Still jet-lagged from the transatlantic flight, she was ill-prepared to exchange pleasantries.

“Is that why you are here? For business?”

She could not just banter with him. She simply could not. “Please, can we go somewhere private to talk?”

He searched her eyes with for a long moment before gesturing over his shoulder. “I’m in the middle of a meeting with sponsors. How about supper?”

“I am not here for seduction,” she stated bluntly.

“Okay.” His eye brows shot upward. “I thought I asked you to join me for gumbo, not sex. But now that we’re talking about sex–”

“We are not.” She cut him short. “Finish your meeting if you must, but I need to speak with you as soon as possible. Privately. Unless you want your personal business and mine overheard by all of your team straining to listen.”

She definitely was not ready for them to hear she was pregnant with the heir to the Reynaud family dynasty.

 
BUY NOW

USA Today bestseller and RITA Award winning author Catherine Mann writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Tule. With over sixty books released in more than twenty countries, she has also celebrated six RITA finals, an RT Reviewer’s Award finalist, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win. Catherine and her flyboy husband live on the Florida coast where they brought up their 4 children – and still have 5 four-legged, furry “children” (aka pets). Catherine is an active volunteer with an animal rescue, serving on their Board of Directors and fostering over 200 puppies, ill dogs, and dogs with service/working potential.


 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Blitz/Bonanza Spotlights

 

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