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Archive for January, 2015

Last year I read and loved new-to-me author Georgie Lee’s THE COURTESAN’S BOOK OF SECRETS (SEE MY 5* REVIEW HERE) and so I jumped at the chance of reading this one.

Source: Complimentary copy received from the author in return for an honest review.

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

“What am I to him? A contract? A convenient solution?”

Laura Townsend’s plan to reclaim her family’s merchandise backfires when she creeps into moneylender Philip Rathbone’s house and threatens him with a pistol, only to find him reclining naked in his bath!

The last thing she expects is to see this guarded widower on her doorstep a couple of days later armed with a very surprising proposal. A marriage of convenience may be Laura’s chance to reclaim her future, but she won’t settle for anything less than true passion. Can she hope to find it in Philip’s arms?

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Jane Lark is another author whose books I discovered last year when I read the first book in this series, THE ILLICIT LOVE OF A COURTESAN (SEE MY 5* REVIEW HERE). I am way behind with reading this series and really need to catch up.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Marlow Intrigues, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The next book in Jane Lark’s Kindle best-selling Regency romance series!

“The game is on with Pembroke’s little sister…” Lord Andrew Framlington watched Miss Mary Marlow. The woman had been warned to keep away from him, but she had a little contrary in her soul. She had not been deterred. Perhaps she had a taste for bad hidden beneath her cold denials, or a liking for naughtiness in her soul – either of which appealed.

“Stop pretending you do not like me…” Drew had urged Mary, “Stop running…” Her body urged her to as much as he did. Something pulled her towards him. Something unknown and all consuming… and yet how could she disobey her father and her brother…

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Although I don’t read many Contemporary Romances, I love Courtney Milan’s writing and decided to read this series.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Cyclone, #1)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Blurb:

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart…but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

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(Horsemen of the Apocalyse, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance(Regency)

Cover Blurb:

War hero and Horseman of the Apocalypse William Tyler de Sayre, Lord Clun, happens upon love while intending to avoid the catastrophe altogether by arranging a marriage to someone he’s never met.

Meanwhile, Lady Elizabeth Damogan, whose father betrothed her to the baron without so much as a ‘by your leave,’ will be damned if she marries a man she’s never met, much less a man who refuses to consider the possibility of love.

Until she realizes, sometimes it’s the hero who needs saving.

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I had high expectations of this book after reading THE DUKE’S TATTOO and I wasn’t disappointed. It is still witty and funny but with a slightly darker edge to it.

She strode from the shadowy depths of the stable and gave William Tyler de Sayre, Baron Clun, a bold, calculating look.

I liked Elizabeth from the very start. She is no simpering, timid miss but an intelligent, witty, strong-willed woman. She owes this to the influence of her free-thinking governess and chaperone, Mrs Abeel, her father’s cousin. She not only taught Elizabeth all the accomplishments required to be a lady but also to think for herself. She has managed her father’s household for many years and can cook, bake and milk a cow.

She wants what her parents had, a marriage based on love and will settle for nothing less. It’s not surprising then that, faced with an arranged marriage to a stranger who is most likely old and decrepit, she chooses to run away.

…men respected him, virginal women feared him and even experienced women treated him with trepidation . Put simply, he was too big, too dark and too daunting.

Clun is just the sort of hero I adore…big, gruff, stubborn but in desperate need of some tender, loving care from the right woman. How could I not love a hero with ‘a deep, melodic voice sweetened with Welsh (every time he spoke, I couldn’t help but hear the wonderful, rich voice of Richard Burton).

Thus, years of observation and empirical evidence informed Clun’s definition of a happy marriage as a union founded on sensible, unemotional expectations. As a result, arranging his marriage to a stranger suited Clun to a fare-thee-well.

Clun doesn’t believe in love.  He watched his parents’ marriage descend into one of ‘disappointment, bitterness and irreconcilable marital strife’. It was heart-breaking to imagine the young, impressionable Clun subjected to the vitriolic outpourings of his embittered mother against his absentee father. He grew up believing himself to be cold and incapable of love, a belief subtly reinforced by his mother over the years.

…true love rarely progressed from start to finish on a straight without ruts.

Elizabeth and Clun’s journey was definitely full of ups and downs but I enjoyed every eventful moment especially Clun having a bit of fun at Elizabeth’s expense, some rather delicious misbehaving on a bearskin rug and Clun having a rather embarrassing moment in the privy.

Once again, there is a well-drawn cast of secondary characters including the other three Horsemen, Tyler Rodwell, Clun’s steward and half-brother, Lady Clun, his virago of a mother, and Elizabeth’s father. The Epilogue was unusually dramatic in tone but Clun’s actions and words at the end were just lovely.

I can’t finish this review without highlighting Ms Davis’s wonderful writing with a few of my favourite quotes.

He was rational, clear and consistent while she was female, full of fanciful delusions and therefore prone to spouting twaddle about a man divulging signs of phantom emotions and not knowing his own damned mind.

In the absence of soap, she felt herself ripening like a wheel of Stilton cheese.

If he hadn’t beaten his hasty retreat, he would’ve divulged yet another sure sign of a man’s affection: a display of happily-agitated man parts in protruding buckskins.

It happened at the castle when Lord Clun said ‘flutte Rrrby’ and rocked her back and forth in his arms, laughing. That was the precise moment Elizabeth knew she loved William Tyler de Sayre.

This is another winner from Miranda Davis and hopefully book 3, His Lordship’s Last Wager: A Regency Romance Between Bitter Enemies, will be published this year.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read  January 2015

Horsemen of the Apocalypse series to date (click on the book cover for more details):

The Duke's Tattoo (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse , #1) by Miranda Davis The Baron's Betrothal  An On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2) by Miranda Davis His Lordship's Last Wager  A Regency Romance Between Bitter Enemies (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #3) by Miranda Davis – expected 2015

 

 

 

 

 

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I don’t think Julia Quinn will ever surpass her Bridgerton series but I am enjoying this spin off series about the members of the infamous Smythe-Smith Quartet. I have added this to my bookshelves.

(Smythe-Smith Quartet, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second—or third—look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s the one.

Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can’t quite believe it’s all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can’t help thinking that he’s hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

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Violetta Rand,  best known for her exciting Viking Blind series, has now ventured into the world of hot contemporary romance with her Devil’s Den series.

(Devil’s Den, #1)

Genre: Contemporary New Adult

Cover Blurb:

Welcome to the Devil’s Den, a Texas strip club where the air is heavy with desire—and sometimes dreams come true.

Ever since her mother kicked her out, twenty-year-old Robyn Gonzalez has been working the poles at the Devil’s Den, saving up to finish college and travel the world. With only her wits and her gorgeous body to rely on, Robyn has learned to be independent—fiercely independent. She’s never been tempted to let a man distract her from her dreams . . . until she meets the dead-sexy Garrick Dempsey.

The club’s new head of security, Garrick had walked away from a career as a mechanical engineer to return to his roots in Corpus Christi. He hadn’t planned on getting to know someone like Robyn, with her sinfully sweet combination of vulnerability and strength, at the Devil’s Den. She acts tough, but only because she’s been hurt. Soon Garrick knows he will do anything to win Robyn’s trust. And if that means surrendering to the red-hot chemistry between them, all the better.

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I  am a great fan of Laura Lee Guhrke’s books. They are set during the late 19th or early 20th century, a time of far-reaching social and economic changes when the role of women in society is evolving and the balance of power is moving away from the landed aristocracy to the nouveau riche industrialists.

(An American Heiress in London, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

She’s an American heiress. He’s a devilish earl. When these two collide, the sparks ignite a shocking scandal in USA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke’s unforgettable Victorian-era romance.

Linnet Holland wants nothing to do with fortune hunters. No, she’s determined to marry a man who loves her. But just as she’s about to accept the perfect marriage proposal from the man she wants, the rakish Earl of Featherstone interrupts and ruins everything, including her reputation, with his smoldering kiss.

Jack Featherstone knows all about Linnet’s “intended”, and he’s determined she won’t fall prey to that villain as other women have in the past. But when his attempt to save Linnet ruins her instead, he knows he has to make things right. So he sets out to win this golden beauty . . . and prove to her that being ruined by him was the best thing that could have happened to her

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Maggie Craig is a new-to-me author but I downloaded this book because it came highly recommended by my friend, Wendy Loveridge., who shares the same taste in books as myself.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A romantic tale of young love and old Edinburgh from the pen of a consummate storyteller and acclaimed Scottish historian.

It’s 1822 and Scotland’s capital is a city of both splendour and squalor. Kate Dunbar is worked like a slave all day and preyed upon at night in the gloomy vaults that lurk under the Old Town’s South Bridge but never gives up hope of a better life for herself and her beloved young brother Andrew.

When wealthy young medical student Richard Hope walks into her life, Kate knows that his interest in her could lead them both into danger. Yet it’s not long before the two of them have fallen head-over-heels in love.

Others are watching the young lovers. Radical booksellers Peggy and Nathaniel Henderson have Kate and Andrew’s best interests at heart. Their greedy and grasping uncle doesn’t, and he soon soon starts laying his own evil plans.

Kate and Richard’s passionate and poignant romance intertwines with the richly-imagined colour and pageantry of King George IV’s historic visit to Edinburgh in 1822, and culminates in the heart-stopping drama of the Great Fire of Edinburgh of 1824.

Can their love affair have a happy ending or will fate, the evil that threatens them and the rigid rules of class and society allow them only one sweet moment of happiness?

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Last year I read and loved FOREVER BETROTHED, NEVER THE BRIDE, the first book in Christi Caldwell’s Scandalous Seasons series. I already have book 2, NEVER COURTED, SUDDENLY WED and so I’ve bought the remaining books in the series.

Source: All purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Scandalous Seasons, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Geoffrey Winters, Viscount Redbrooke was not always the hard, unrelenting lord driven by propriety. After a tragic mistake, he resolved to honor his responsibility to the Redbrooke line and live a life, free of scandal. Knowing his duty is to wed a proper, respectable English miss, he selects Lady Beatrice Dennington, daughter of the Duke of Somerset, the perfect woman for him. Until he meets Miss Abigail Stone…

To distance herself from a personal scandal, Abigail Stone flees America to visit her uncle, the Duke of Somerset. She finds herself helplessly intrigued by the hard, too-proper Geoffrey. With his strict appreciation for decorum and order, he is nothing like the man she’s always dreamed of.

Abigail is everything Geoffrey does not need. She upends his carefully ordered world at every encounter. As they begin to care for one another, Abigail carefully guards the secret that resulted in her journey to England.

Only, if Geoffrey learns the truth about Abigail, he must decide which he holds most dear–his place in Society or Abigail’s place in his heart.

(Scandalous Seasons, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Miss Juliet Marshville is spitting mad. With one guardian missing, and the other singularly uninterested in her fate, she is at the mercy of her wastrel brother who loses her beloved childhood home to a man known as Sin. Determined to reclaim control of Rosecliff Cottage and her own fate, Juliet arranges a meeting with the notorious rogue and demands the return of her property.

Jonathan Tidemore, 5th Earl of Sinclair, known to the ton as Sin, is exceptionally lucky in life and at the gaming tables. He has just one problem. Well…four, really. His incorrigible sisters have driven off yet another governess. This time, however, his mother demands he find an appropriate replacement.

When Miss Juliet Marshville boldly demands the return of her precious cottage, he takes advantage of his sudden good fortune and puts an offer to her; turn his sisters into proper English ladies, and he’ll return Rosecliff Cottage to Juliet’s possession.

Jonathan comes to appreciate Juliet’s spirit, courage, and clever wit, and decides to claim the fiery beauty as his mistress. Juliet, however, will be mistress for no man. Nor could she ever love a man who callously stole her home in a game of cards. As Jonathan begins to see Juliet as more than a spirited beauty to warm his bed, he realizes she could be a lady he could love the rest of his life, if only he can convince the proud Juliet that he’s worthy of her hand and heart.

 

I also bought this prequel novella to her latest series, The Heart of a Duke.

(Heart of a Duke, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Author’s Note: This is a prequel novella to “The Heart of a Duke” series by Christi Caldwell. It was originally available in “The Heart of a Duke” Collection and is now being published as an individual novella. ***It features a new prologue and epilogue.

Years earlier, a gypsy woman passed to Lady Aldora Adamson and her friends a heart pendant that promised them each the heart of a duke.

Now, a young lady, with her family facing ruin and scandal, Lady Aldora doesn’t have time for mythical stories about cheap baubles. She needs to save her sisters and brother by marrying a titled gentleman with wealth and power to his name. She sets her bespectacled sights upon the Marquess of St. James.

Turned out by his father after a tragic scandal, Lord Michael Knightly has grown into a powerful, but self-made man. With the whispers and stares that still follow him, he would rather be anywhere but London…

Until he meets Lady Aldora, a young woman who mistakes him for his brother, the Marquess of St. James. The connection between Aldora and Michael is immediate and as they come to know one another, Aldora’s feelings for Michael war with her sisterly responsibilities. With her family’s dire situation, a man of Michael’s scandalous past wlll never do.

Ultimately, Aldora must choose between her responsibilities as a sister and her love for Michael.

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(Horsemen of the Apocalypse, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

First comes revenge then comes love and marriage in The Duke’s Tattoo, a historical romance set in Regency England.

After being grievously wounded at Waterloo, Jeremy Maubrey returns from war to find his new life as the tenth Duke of Ainsworth painful, dull and full of obligations. That is, until he wakes to find himself indelibly decorated in a mortifying place and mocking manner.

Though he cannot recall much of the hellish night when he was abducted and tattooed, he cannot forget the waif-like villainess responsible or her haunting eyes. Ducal duties must wait till he finds the culprit and takes his revenge.

Miss Prudence Haversham, Bath’s only female apothecary, knows she has a problem. A big, broad shouldered problem. At least she will have, if the tenth Duke of Ainsworth ever discovers she is to blame for tattooing him. Unfortunately, she meant to have tattooed the previous Duke of Ainsworth, who tried to debauch her and disgraced her with his lies. Worse yet, she learns this duke is one of four infamously implacable cavalry officers known as ‘The Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’

No sooner has the vengeful duke traced his abductress to Bath, than Prudence Haversham overturns the duke’s every expectation and intention. In turn, the duke proves himself an honorable and surprisingly forgiving man who earns the wary apothecary’s love.

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WOW! I loved this book! It was refreshingly different and brimming with humour. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect, as other reviewers will no doubt attest to, but it was so entertaining that I didn’t really care.

I was totally swept away by Miranda Davis’s unique writing style. To give you a flavour, here are a few of my favourite quotes:

Hers was a full-blown, snot-discharging, eye-swelling and nose-reddening deluge of despair.

Delicate laces effervesced at swanlike ivory throats. Dyed ostrich plumes erupted from fanciful spoke bonnets. Sable and cream muffs cosseted delicate, pale hands sheathed in thin, pastel kid gloves. The women floated along Bond Street like bits of brightly dyed eiderdown.

So salubrious to relax under the Tuscan sun half potted on Chianti and fully stuffed with the local proscuitto ham.

He kissed her back lightly and struggled to stay calm. Unfortunately, the crazed timpanist in his chest took up his mallets and began to flail away.

Ms Davis’s winning blend of witty dialogue and funny scenes made the romance between Jem and Pru a pleasure to follow. I enjoyed seeing Jem’s plans to reap his revenge on the “vicious little harridan” start to unravel. At first, he enjoys toying with Pru “like a cat with a shrew” but gradually finds himself irresistibly drawn to her and can’t keep away. One of the funniest scenes is where he climbs the ivy vine up to her bedroom to propose for a third time and, for his troubles, finds the window slammed in his face and his ducal backside landing in some “damned vicious roses” Ouch!

Another favourite, laughter-inducing scene is when Jem is trying to compose a love letter to Pru.

…so the Man of Action Not Words very reluctantly opted to write Prudence a love letter.

Composing this letter made Ainsworth suffer greatly. Indeed, it couldn’t have pained him more if he’d used his own blood as ink and gouged it from his arm with a rusty fork.

The duke sat at his massive desk in a state of inert agony. Resting his chin on stacked fists, he glared at the blank sheet of crested stationery before him. Words, where were the blasted words? He sat. He thought. He questioned his thoughts. The longer he sat, the more his inarticulate misery compounded itself.

As you can tell, Jem has problems putting his feelings down on paper and, if you want read those romantic words he sweats blood over, then I’m afraid you will have to read the book!

There is such a diversity of secondary characters who enrich this story:

Jem’s stalwart but interfering friends, the Hon. George Chase Percy, William Tyler de Sayre, Baron Clun & Lord Burton Seelye who add to the fun with their jocular banter.

The redoubtable Dowager Countess of Abingdon , “as majestic as a frigate under full sail and in similar proportions”, Pru’s godmother and staunch supporter.

Pru’s “spineless, pudgy chucklehead” of a brother, Sir Oswald Dabney and his “malicious termagant” of a wife who I didn’t feel were as well developed as the other characters but that’s only a minor criticism.

Last but not least, Jem’s one-legged valet, one-armed butler and his motley pack of mongrels. I loved the scene where Jem takes Attila, his placid but brutish looking mastiff, to a meeting with Pru in the hope of terrifying her, but things don’t quite go to plan!

To Ainsworth’s undisguised disgust, Attila leaned into her hands, closed his eyes and drooled ecstatically.

I think the book titles themselves are hilarious and I love the clever chapter headings  which summarise the plot so succinctly: Chapter 11 – In which adversaries skirmish over scones and clotted cream

My love of a charming Epilogue was more than fulfilled and The Duke’s Tattoo is finally revealed in all its glory!

I can heartily recommend this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I just had to start reading the next one, The Baron’ s Betrothal: An-On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance, straightaway.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2015

Horsemen of the Apocalypse series to date (click on the book cover for more details):
The Duke's Tattoo (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse , #1) by Miranda Davis The Baron's Betrothal  An On-Again, Off-Again, On-Again Regency Romance (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2) by Miranda Davis His Lordship's Last Wager  A Regency Romance Between Bitter Enemies (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #3) by Miranda Davis – expected 2015

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Source: ARC received from the author in return for an honest review.

Marguerite Kaye has has become of my  favourite authors since reading NEVER FORGET ME (My Review) and STRANGERS AT THE ALTAR (My Review). So I was thrilled when she asked me to review this book, the first of two full-length stories in her new Comrades in Arms series.

I love this gorgeous cover!

(Comrades in Arms, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The truth behind the hero Officer Jack Trestain may have been one of Wellington’s most valued code-breakers, but since Waterloo, he’s hung up his uniform. If only he could just as easily put aside the tortured memories he carries deep within; Perhaps enchanting French artist Celeste Marmion might be the distraction he so desperately craves?

Except Celeste harbors secrets of her own, and questions that she needs Jack’s help to solve! With Celeste’s every touch an exquisite temptation, how close can Jack get without revealing his darkest secret of all?

Comrades in Arms

War heroes, heartbreakers & husbands?

Expected date of Publication: 1 March 2015

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You can read an excerpt on Marguerite’s website. Just follow this link:

http://www.margueritekaye.com/bookshelf-2/the-soldiers-dark-secret/tsds-excerpt/

There is also a prequel to this mini series, SEDUCED BY THE SOLDIER, which is a free on-line read on the Harlequin website. It is running in weekly instalments from January 5th through to February 23rd. Here is the link:

http://www.harlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1968&chapter=1

 

 

Source: ARC received from the author in return for an honest review.

I think it was my lucky day today because I also received a copy of A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT, Book 4 in the Sons of Sin series by another of my favourite authors,  the fabulous Anna Campbell.

(Sons of Sin, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Anything can happen in the moonlight . . .

Justice. That’s all Nell Trim wants-for her sister and for the countless other young women the Marquess of Leath has ruined with his wildly seductive ways. Now she has a bold plan to take him down . . . as long as she can resist the scoundrel’s temptations herself.

From the moment Nell meets James Fairbrother, the air positively sizzles. Yet for all his size and power, there’s something amazingly tender in his touch. Could he really be such a depraved rogue? The only way to find out is to beat the devil at his own game . . . one tempting kiss at a time.

Expected Date of Publication : 28 April 2015

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 I can highly recommend this series and if you would like to read my reviews of the other books in the series, here are the links:

SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BEDMy Review

A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISSMy Review

WHAT A DUKE DARESMy Review

 

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My darling Grace wished only to marry a man who loved her. She met with astonishing success in that regard. For I loved her yesterday, I love her today, and I shall love her for all eternity.

Whether or not the Fates are kind.

(Henry, Duke of Lovingdon)

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Mother. Blogger. Southern Belle. Makeup geek. Avid reader. Books are my addiction. Highlanders are my passion.

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