Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

Tag: Christian fiction

Book Review–More Than Words Can Say

About the Book


Title: More Than Words Can Say
Series Info: A Patchwork Family Novel, Book #2
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Book Info: Bethany House Publishers, June 4, 2019, 362 pages


Tag Line

An Impossible Situation. An Unlikely Couple.
A Recipe for Love?


Blurb

More Than Words Can Say (A Patchwork Family Novel Book #2) by [Witemeyer, Karen]After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free. No family entanglements. No disappointing those around him. Just the quiet bachelor existence he’s always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away when the baker of his favorite breakfast bun is railroaded by the city council. Despite not wanting to get involved, he can’t turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. That person definitely isn’t the stoic lumberman who oozes silent confidence whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him.
When vows are spoken, Abigail’s troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. Can she put ever more trust in Zach without losing her dreams of independence?


My Thoughts

“Choosing a husband was much like choosing a good baguette. One looked for a strong outer shell, a tender interior, and most importantly, a tractability of dough to hold whatever shape the baker deemed appropriate. Abigail needed a good baguette by the end of the week.”

With writing like that, it didn’t take long to remember why Karen Witemeyer remains one of my favorite Christian historical romance authors.

I have to admit I’m a sucker for a good marriage-of-convenience story and this one was just thoroughly entertaining. I loved that Abby found herself doing the asking so she could get a man’s name on the deed to her bakery in order to save her family business. Right from the beginning the subtle attraction between these two lit curiosity in me wondering how in the world they’d find love inside their hasty marriage. Witemeyer delighted me with witty and often charmingly-awkward moments between Abby & Zach and I found myself rooting for them from the very beginning.

But if you want to know my favorite part of this book, it’s that the heroine, Abigail Kemp, had a less than perfect figure. As a woman who has had a life-long struggle with this issue, I definitely related to Abby’s self-doubts and insecurities. And Witemeyer’s hero, Zacharias Hamilton, endeared himself to me immediately because he never minded Abby’s fuller curves. Instead, he relished them. I think we often put too much emphasis on the physical appearance of the opposite sex and don’t concern ourselves enough with our potential spouse’s character. Zacharias saw both in Abby and helped her see that about herself. My only regret is that Bethany House publishers didn’t choose a cover model that more accurately represented the heroine.

In More Than Words Can Say, Witemeyer has the perfect blend of well-developed characters and an intriguing plot, then she tosses in a hearty helping of humor, hope, and love which just might mean that More Than Words Can Say is the perfect recipe for a wonderful read!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“Her fingers twined with his, and for the first time in nine years, the weight on his soul lessend just a little.”

“His glare was fierce enough to fire her bread oven without kindling.”

“Just because they’d lost didn’t mean the battle hadn’t been worth waging. A man did what was right even when the odds were stacked against him.”

“They had laid their hearts bare to each other, exposing the raw and ugly places. Anger, jealousy, and self-derision had swirled within her, yet Zach hadn’t shrunk back. Even when the muck inside her spilled onto him. Instead, he stepped into the fray, fought for her—for them.”

“The future is in God’s hands, Zach. Not yours, and not mine. Trusting him to bring about what is best is the only choice we need to make.”


Spiritual Takeaway

“I can believe all the ones that tell me I’m not good enough, or pretty enough, or brave enough and let them skew my perception of events, or I can push aside the clamor and seek out the voice that tells me I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.”

“We have to let God heal our wounds so we can move forward.”

Oh, Abby, I feel you, girl.

I could relate to Abby’s angst and self-doubt because I’d worn those garments myself for way too long. I think if Abby were a real person we’d sit in her lovely bakery and chat about our struggle with body image. Abby’s spiritual journey to overcome self-doubt and learning to see herself as the beautiful woman God made her to be is one many women will relate to. Unfortunately, it is easier to believe the lies, but just as the above mentioned quote states, we have to choose to believe the truth about who God says we are.

I’m going to get a little preachy now so please forgive me. In case you’re not sure what that is, here is just a sampling about what the Bible has to say about who God thinks you are:

1 Thes.1: 4      You are chosen and dearly loved of God.

Ps. 139:14       You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Zech. 2:8         You are the apple of God’s eyes. (I just love that one!)

2 Cor. 5:17      You are a new creation in Christ.

John 1:12        You are a child of God.

Col. 1:14         You have been forgiven.

Rom. 8:1         You are free forever from condemnation.

Eph. 2:6          You are his masterpiece. (Can you just imagine?)

If you’re ever tempted to listen to the ugly words Satan will whisper in your ear, repeat these words of life to yourself instead.

Choose truth.


Links for purchase

Amazon           Barnes & Noble        Christian Book Distributors


Other Books in the Series:

More Than Meets the Eye (A Patchwork Family Novel, Book #1)

When Her Family Is Threatened, She Doesn’t Expect Falling in Love to Be Their Best Defense

More Than Meets the Eye (A Patchwork Family Novel Book #1) by [Witemeyer, Karen]Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?

Amazon   Barnes & Noble  Christian Book Distributors


About the Author

Karen WitemeyerFor those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warm-hearted historical romances with a flair of humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. A transplant from California, Karen came to Texas for college, met a cowboy disguised as a computer nerd, married him, and never left the state that had become home.

Winner of the HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website. To learn more about Karen and her books, or to join her subscriber list, please visit www.karenwitemeyer.com.


 

 

A Good Old-Fashioned Shivaree

Today I’m excited to host my friend, and fellow author, Cynthia Roemer, on Romancing History. You can learn more about Cynthia’s new release, Under Prairie Skies, below. Leave a comment below to be entered into a drawing for a FREE Kindle copy of Under Prairie Skies.


A Good Old-Fashioned Shivaree

I’m willing to bet not many of you have heard of a Shivaree. It’s an almost forgotten bit of wedding history. Nowadays, we celebrate marriages with banquets, toasts, honeymoons, and photo shoots. But there was a time, friends and neighbors gathered to give the happy couple a send-off they wouldn’t soon forget, one that included a surprise visit in the dead of night and lots of noise!

Shivarees were a rather raucous and fun-loving way of celebrating a newly married couple’s nuptials. It could take place days, weeks, or months following the actual wedding. The element of surprise was key.

Though more prevalent in the 1800’s, my parents told me stories of shivarees that took place in their growing up years extending into the mid-1900s. According to them, the Shivaree began with a late-night wake-up call of banging pans and noise-makers, include a serenade of songs such as Let Me Call You Sweetheart, and ended with the sharing of snacks and desserts, often provided by the newly married couple.

Shivarees of the nineteenth century were much bolder and at times down right ornery. I didn’t realize just how ornery until I did some research for a scene in my novel, Under Prairie Skies. Set in 1855, the scene has my main characters, Chad and Charlotte, and a host of others, traveling by the light of the moon to the unsuspecting couple’s home.

There, the bride and groom are awakened by rifle fire and banging pans. The barefoot groom is then blindfolded and spirited away in his nightshirt into the timber and left to fend for himself until daybreak. All the while, his poor, bewildered bride is wailing and calling his name. Not the best way to wish a new couple a joyous marriage! I won’t share any spoilers by telling how the scene evolves, but during it, Chad’s actions further endear him to Charlotte.

Though I’ve not participated in or even known anyone to be shivareed, my husband attended one for his cousin when he was a boy. So, when we married, my husband had me more than a little nervous we would end up with his extended family outside our bedroom window some dark night banging pans and serenading us.

My fears never came to fruition, but all that first summer, I did a lot of baking and learned to be a very light sleeper.


About the Book

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths were destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

Under Prairie Skies is available at  Amazon  Barnes & Noble and  Book Bub


Meet the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon Best-Seller Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, due to release September 10, 2019. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of twenty-five years and two college-aged sons.

Visit Cynthia online on her website, or connect with her on  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or sign up for her author newsletter.


Giveaway

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to Paual Shreckhise the winner of the Kindle copy of Under Prairie Skies! Thanks to all who entered our giveaway!

To be entered into a drawing for a FREE Kindle copy of Under Prairie Skies, comment below and let us know if you’ve ever heard of a shivaree or some other unusual custom to celebrate a wedding or betrothal.

Book Review — Daughters of Northern Shores

About the Book


Title: Daughters of Northern Shores
Series Info: Blackbird Mountain #2
Author: Joanne Bischof
Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Book Info: Paperback & ebook, 368 pages, released March 12, 2019 by Thomas Nelson


Heartache and regret, boldness and sacrifice. What will restoration cost the beloved Norgaard family?

Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.Having fled the farm after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s which is already at stake through a grave illness brought to him as the first prick of warfare.

Now Haaken faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.

From Christy Award–winning author Joanne Bischof comes Daughters of Northern Shores: the highly anticipated sequel to her moving novel Sons of Blackbird Mountain.


My Thoughts

It’s been way too long since I’ve finished a book that has left me as satisfied as Daughters of Northern Shores or one that made my writers heart cry out to the Lord wishing I could weave words as well as the author whose story I’d just finished. Daughters of Northern Shores is all that and more.

I’ll begin by stating that just like my last review, I hadn’t read the first installment in the series, Sons of Blackbird Mountain. That is a tragedy I intend to soon rectify. While you can easily pick up and enjoy Daughters of Northern Shores as a stand alone, I don’t recommend it. Not because you won’t be able to understand the plot or will struggle to familiarize yourself with the characters, but because I’m positive you will have cheated yourself out of a profoundly amazing reading experience.

I was completely enthralled with Bischoff’s characters. From the hearing impaired, Thor, to his younger brother, Haakon, the prodigal who has returned home seeking forgiveness and a new start with the family he left behind. I’ve never read a story with a deaf main character and wondered how that would work since he had no spoken dialogue. I have to say, Thor captured my heart with his wisdom, spiritual strength, and devoted heart for Aven. I was immediately drawn to Haakon and his courage to return home and face the mistakes he’d made and right the wrongs he’d committed against his family members. Nothing like a bad boy who turns his life around to win this romance reader’s heart.

The women in this story don’t take a back seat either. Aven, Thor’s wife, is as gentle as they come, yet she possesses a determined spirit that serves her well as she faces many challenges, including a contagious illness that threatens her unborn child. Ida and Cora, freedwomen who live on the Norgaard property, display profound courage when monstrous evil returns and places everyone on the Norgaard’s farm in imminent danger. It is Cora’s deep faith and her willingness to speak boldly that steers Haakon back to his faith

Daughters of Northern Shores is so well-written that the Norgaard’s Appalachian farm comes to life with beautiful descriptions the reader can see and smell vividly. Filled with the type of rich historical details, my history-loving, nerd girl heart was filled to the brim. The author’s beautiful prose sing like the melody of a well-written symphony and will leave you desperately wanting more from this writer and the story world she has created for us.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Spiritual Takeaway

I loved that Daughters of Northern Shores explored themes of forgiveness and grace. The prodigal Haakon encounters the consequences of breaking his brothers trust when he returns. While surprised to see him again after four years with no word of his whereabouts, all are cautiously optimistic and hope his arrival signals Haakon’s willingness to restore bonds with the family, not merely to collect his inheritance, a small plot of land on the Norgaard farm.

I like that Bischoff didn’t make the family too eager to welcome Haakon into their good graces, but instead made him earn their trust. Forgiveness and trust are not one in the same. As believers we are encouraged to give forgiveness as freely as Christ has given it to us, whether or not the offender seeks it or changes their behavior. It is an act of obedience between the believer and God. Trust however is earned over time through altered behavior and a determination by the offender to change their attitude and actions. Bischoff writes a beautifully believable transformation in Haakon, one that both the family and the reader can embrace as authentic.


Links for Purchase

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookTNZ Fiction


Other Books in the Series

Title: Sons of Blackbird Mountain
Series Info: Blackbird Mountain #1
Author: Joanne Bischof
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info: Paperback & ebook, 339 pages, released July 3rd, 2018 by Thomas Nelson

From the bestselling award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart

“Beloved author Joanne Bischof doesn’t disappoint with her latest beautifully written, heartrending tale . . . a quick favorite for historical romance readers.” —Elizabeth Byler Younts, author of The Solace of Water

A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

Praise for Sons of Blackbird Mountain:

“Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a quiet gem of a historical romance. Refreshingly real and honest in its depiction of flawed but lovable individuals, it introduces characters readers will want to meet again.” – CBA Market

“. . . the novel provides an interesting glimpse of the time period and some complex social issues among neighbors in an area still recovering from the Civil War.” – Historical Novels Review

“VERDICT Christy- and Carol Award-winning author Bischof (The Lady and the Lionheart) creates endearing characters and a heartwarming story line in this unforgettable novel about the power of family, love, and the true meaning of home. Fans of Kristy Cambron, Julie Klassen, and Susan Meissner will love this one.” – Library Journal

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookTNZ Fiction


About the Author

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.

Picture courtesy of https://joannebischof.com

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram


Giveaway

One winner will receive a print copy of DAUGHTERS OF NORTHERN SHORES and a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan custom tote bag (book and bag shown are examples, not actual prize)

US only

Ends March 20, 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Review: A Desperate Hope

About the Book

Title: A Desperate Hope
Series Info: Empire State #3
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Book Info: Paperback & eBook, Released February 5, 2019, 352 pages, Bethany House Publishers


Blurb

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she believes is finally behind her. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them.


My Thoughts

What a fantastic introduction to new-to-me author, Elizabeth Camden. Camden’s voice is lovely. She paints scenes beautifully for the reader and her prose flow effortlessly through the novel carrying the reader on a delightful journey back in time.

Camden’s heroine, Eloise Drake, is smart, efficient and logical. Unfortunately for Eloise, the man who makes her heart pound, Alex Duval, is a romantic dreamer with a larger-than-life vision to save his beloved town of Duval Springs before its flooded to make a reservoir to provide water to New York City. Everything in Eloise’s play-it-safe, number crunching, CPA mind knows it’s an impossible task, but she longs to live an adventure like the ones she’s spent her whole life reading about. Of course this is exactly the kind of opposites-attract-chemistry that will leave the reader with great angst wondering when these two will finally mange to get together.

As a helpless romantic, I was drawn to Alex immediately. I loved his “nothing will keep me down” attitude. I thought Eloise was the perfect balance for Alex, providing just enough sense and responsibility to keep Alex on track to achieve his dream of saving the town—his perfect “ballast.” Just like any good couple, Alex’s risk-taking nature helped draw Eloise out of her protective shell and encouraged her to not only take a chance on his crazy scheme to relocate Duval Springs, but to risk her heart on Alex himself one more time.

I was mesmerized by the historical facts and technical details that Camden wove into the story. Everything from accounting details like evaluating the value of condemned properties and project costs to the mechanics of raising a building from its foundation. While Duval Springs is a fictional town, Camden was inspired by true life events that occurred in upstate New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Instead of allowing their towns to be flooded, residents painstakingly relocated their towns board by board, building by building to higher ground.

The author also wove many suspenseful elements into the story. I do not want to give any spoilers here but I must say that I was surprised as to the motives of those involved in sabotaging the town’s relocation efforts. Once the guilty culprits came to light, I realized the author had skillfully laid the trail of tiny bread crumbs leading me right where she wanted to me go, clues I hadn’t put together. I was delighted to not have figured out “the who and why” ahead of the story.

As for the setting, Duval Springs is the type of quintessential fictional town you’d like to be real. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Walnut Grove or Jan Karon’s Mitford, Duval Springs leaps to life filled with secondary characters that become your friends and have you routing for them to overcome every obstacle that this seemingly impossible task presents. Of Duval Springs Camden writes, “…get to church on Sunday morning to thank God for the blessing of being born in a place like Duval Springs, where we laugh, work, and cry together.”

When I signed up to read A Desperate Hope as part of its tour with Prism Book Tours, I didn’t know it was third book in the Empire State series. In fact, I had read more than a hundred pages before I saw the advertisements in the back of the novel for the previous two books. The story flowed that well that I can highly recommend it as a stand alone.

I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Spiritual Takeaway

Throughout the story, Camden’s characters trust in God and rely on His providence every time a new impediment to their progress occurs. Just as the title suggests, hope is the central spiritual theme of this book. Hope in God, His faithfulness, and also in the inspiration and the dreams He places in our hearts. Nothing is impossible with God.

My one criticism would be the handling of the premarital sexual encounter between Alex and Eloise that occurs off page and long before the story begins. My issues is not that the characters are flawed in this way. To the contrary, I think it makes them relatable to many modern readers. My issue is that Eloise seems more embarrassed by their past actions than sorry that she sinned. Although Alex does not come across as cavalier, he doesn’t seem to have any regrets either, except that he wished he’d married Eloise before her guardian whisked her away upon his discovery of their trysts. I recognize that the transgression mentioned occurred long ago, their reunion stirs up old memories and I can’t help but feel the author missed the opportunity to paint a beautiful picture of God’s grace and redemption for the reader.


Available for Purchase on

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookiBooksKobo


Other Books in the Series


About the Author

Elizabeth Camden is the author of twelve historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida.


Book Tour Giveaway

  • One Grand Prize winner will receive print copies of all three books in the Empire State series: A Dangerous LegacyA Daring Venture, and A Desperate Hope
  • Two additional winners will receive a print copy of A Desperate Hope
  • US only
  • Ends March 1 2019

Enter the Rafflecopeter giveaway here.



A Desperate Hope On Tour with Prism Book Tours


TOUR SCHEDULE
February 18th:
Launch
The Power of Words – Review
Kelly Goshorn @ Romancing History – Review
February 19th:
Remembrancy – Review
Labor Not in Vain – Review
February 20th:
Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt
Locks, Hooks and Books – Review
Uplifting Reads – Excerpt
February 21st:
Books n Baubles – Review
The Barefoot Reader – Excerpt
February 22nd:
Among the Reads – Review (ebook)
Faithfully Bookish – Review
February 25th:
I’m Going on an Adventure – Review
Beauty in the Binding – Review
February 26th:
All-of-a-kind Mom – Review
Wishful Endings – Review
Kat’s Corner Books – Review (ebook)
February 27th:
Jorie Loves A Story – Review
Loraine D Nunley, Author – Review
February 28th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews – Review
Hallie Reads – Review
Splashes of Joy – Review
March 1st:
Heidi Reads… – Excerpt
Flowers of Quiet Happiness – Review (ebook)

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Book Review– Starving Hearts

Book Review

Starving Hearts

by Janine Mendenhall

My Rating: 4 stars

 

About the Book


Series: Triangular Trade Trilogy
Genre: historical romance, suspense, Regency Era
Publisher: Heritage Beacon Fiction
Publication date: May 16, 2016
Number of pages: 300

Blurb


Plagued by nightmares, Annette yearns to find her anonymous rescuer — the man who saved her life from a near deadly assault. Deep inside she is starving for companionship and a mutually respectful relationship. When Mr. Peter Adsley, an abolitionist pastor dealing with his own emotional baggage, agrees to a clandestine meeting, the event appears providential. But self-doubt, deception, and the schemes of a mutual enemy threaten to keep the pair apart. A phantom adversary will stop at nothing to win Annette’s dowry for himself, even if it means killing Peter.

My Thoughts


I thoroughly enjoyed Starving Hearts. I found the lead characters to be compelling and engaging. I enjoyed the author’s ability to balance the duality of reserve common to the Regency era with the hero and heroine’s determination not to let the rules of society direct the course of their lives. Both Annette & Peter experience very deep losses that make you wonder how a person could manage to keep on going. I found Peter to be especially likeable. He was a very godly man who showed no weakness in the face of unspeakable evil and never let dire circumstances unravel his strong faith in God.

I especially enjoyed the villain, Slike. He is a terrible wretch that was fun to dislike as the story built to a surprising climax as the author did manage to build a bit of sympathy for this character which I wasn’t expecting. I did find Captain Bledsoe’s “pirate” dialect to be a bit off-putting and cliche, especially since before he’d been forced into life at sea he was a proficient pianist and music tutor.

Mendenhall did an excellent job portraying historical details of the Regency era as well, something I can be quite harsh on if not done well. I felt immersed in Regency England from the believable dialogue, to the balls and the constant reminder of the rigid social etiquette of the era.

Starving Hearts wrestles with some disturbing issues that may upset some readers including detailed yet historically accurate depictions of the slave trade including life on the slave ship Terona. As a historical romance author myself, I applaud the author for addressing these issues. In fact, the way the hero is affected by life on the Terona is so real, my heart ached for the abolitionist preacher who learns that his family’s wealth and his inheritance has been built on the backs of slaves.

Spiritual Takeaway


While some of the subject matter and scenes depicted in Starving Hearts can be dark at times, overall, I found the book to be uplifting as evil is punished and good vindicated. The author doesn’t shy away from testing the faith and strength of her characters. I think trusting in God even when situations seem impossible to overcome is the key spiritual lesson that Annette and Peter learn throughout the story. Peter frequently reminds Annette of Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”

Praise for Starving Hearts


Carol Award Finalist

Selah Award Finalist

“Not only is this a delightful regency romance but it is also suspense filled mystery of the very best kind.” ~ Amazon review

“The author did a great job, maybe too great a job, describing the slave scenes. Spine tingling and suspenseful. I was biting my nails throughout much of this book.” ~ Amazon review

GoodreadsAmazonB&N

About the Author


Janine MendenhallAfter thirty-eight years of living in Los Angeles, I’ve landed in western NC where I’m amazed by colored trees, four seasons, and the awesome opportunity to write.

When I’m not grading papers, writing, or researching, I help my husband and our two golden retrievers manage our five children and two lap cats.

 


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed above are my own.

 

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Christmas Book Bonanza–Contemporary Novella Collections

Hi All,

This week’s post highlights some wonderful Contemporary Christian Christmas novellas to warm your holiday reader’s heart. Books are not listed in any preferential order, simply alphabetical by collection title.

Just like the previous week’s historical and contemporary editions of the Christmas Book Bonanza, each set will have the back cover blurb and a purchase link.

Novella Collections


A Christmas to Remember: Eight Christian Authors Celebrating the Gift of Christmas

 

A Christmas to Remember: Eight Christian Romances Celebrating the Gift of Christmas by [Johnson, Kimberly Rose, Comer, Valerie, Maddrey, Elizabeth, Solomon, Ginger, Peterson, Lindi, Arduini, Julie, Kastner, Deb, Ferguson, Janet W.]Laugh, cry, and fall in love as you savor these brand-new Christmas romances from some of your favorite authors.

Until I Met You by award-winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson
After a difficult breakup, Brandi Prescott is taking a hiatus from men and focusing on her career, the Lord, and getting to know herself. Everything is going according to plan until one fateful, rainy morning in Seattle when a passing car drenches her and everything changes.

The Cowboy’s Christmas Reunion by USA Today bestselling author Valerie Comer
The Cowboy Santa program is supposed to be a chance to help his neighbors. When Kade Delgado’s ex-fiancée, now a single mom, shows up on his list, neither of them are thrilled. Is there any hope for a second chance at love?

Hope for Christmas by Elizabeth Maddrey
When he arrived at the ranch, he wasn’t sure what he was looking for. She wasn’t looking for anything beyond stability for her son. Christmas might be a season of hope, but do they dare risk everything for love?

Can’t Live without You by Ginger Solomon
Clarissa Harding’s fiancé’s betrayal doesn’t hurt as much as learning her best friend, Sawyer Chasin, knew his brother’s secret and didn’t tell her. The marriage would have been fake, but her feelings for Sawyer aren’t.

Beautiful Heart of His by Lindi Peterson
Two wrongs don’t make a right has never been more true. Will Mason’s past wrongs push Scarlett away or help her fall in love with him?

Restoring Christmas by Julie Arduini
Filled with grief and regret, Holly Christmas returns to Geneseo Valley and the family business, The Christmas Mansion. Can Kevin Holt restore her love for the season and the memories she left behind?

The Cowgirl’s Christmas Gift by Publishers Weekly bestselling author Deb Kastner
Cowgirl Maisey Gray knows horses, not six-year-olds. But when her socially-awkward, VR glasses-wearing neighbor needs help creating the perfect Christmas for his nephews, it’s up to Maisey to make sure Cam and the boys have a Christmas they’ll never forget.

Falling for Grace by Janet W. Ferguson
Grace Logan needs a place to pick herself up now that her ex is marrying her former best friend. Grief drives Seth Gibbs to his family’s vacation home, and three years later, he has no plans to leave. Until Grace falls into his life.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2z8gs9U


A Merry Navidad: 4 Latino Christmas Novellas

 

Each story comes with traditional Latino Christmas recipes. Only 99 cents and free on Kindle Unlimited.

La Familia Es Todo by Kathi Macias

A large, once-close family that has drifted apart for various reasons. Will their longtime tradition of making tamales on Christmas Eve be enough to bring them back together?

Navidad & Familia by Allison K. García

When a blizzard traps the Campana family in their trailer on Christmas Eve with no electricity, internet, gifts, or Christmas decorations, will they drive each other crazy or will they discover the true reason for the season?

A Tamale Christmas by Linda K. Rodante

She’s an unwed mother at a Christian college. He’s a Latino student who left home and career to attend. Will the secret one of them carries keep them apart or will God perform another Christmas miracle?

Have Yourself A Merry Little Cocoa by Cynthia Marcano

Every Christmas, Isidora Lopez tries to spend her way into the hearts of those she loves, while Firefighter Gabriel Ramirez has spent his, trying to move on from a lost one, until a chance encounter unexpectedly sparks both their lives.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2DCK2If


Comfort & Joy, The 3rd Annual Christmas Lights Collection

 

Four heartwarming stories to fill this Christmas season with comfort and joy.

Comfort & Joy: The Christmas Lights Collection 2018 by [Havig, Chautona, Shiloh, Toni , Swanson, Cathe , Terry, Alana]Frost Heaves by Alana Terry- A missing child. A single mom. An Alaskan trooper. There’s more to fear this winter than just the cold.

Deck the Shelves by Toni Shiloh- Can a bookstore owner looking for swoon-worthy romance and a mechanic hesitant to trust his heart find love that will last?

The Christmas Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson- Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish homestead, and a family mystery. What more could you want from a Minnesota Christmas romance?

The Ghosts of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig- When Mitchell Bogaert’s inheritance involves a ghost story, that’s bad enough. His Christmas is looking ghastly on more than one score, though.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2z7Cw4y


The Heart of Christmas: A Romantic Christmas Novella Collection

 

The Heart of Christmas: A Romantic Christmas Novella Collection by [McCoy, Bonita, Solomon, Ginger, Winsell, Janie, Fornier, Leah, Boyd, Betty, Fornier, Darcy]Announcing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.

On Angels’ Wings by Ginger Solomon
Bakery owner, Jenna Wing prepares to spend Thanksgiving alone—her first without her family. When her former neighbor, Thomas Hayes, invites her to dinner, she finds that she can’t say no. Their previous friendship turns to something more, but Thomas’s family issues threatens their new-found relationship.

No Room in His Heart by Bonita McCoy
What happens when Evie’s car breaks down on the highway and her only hope is the handsome, sure of himself inn owner who can’t find his phone and lives off pizza?
A sweet Christmas romance … with lots of zing that will have you laughing.

Born for You by Leah Fornier
Ryder has never set foot in a church. But when his best friend, Kenna, begs him to direct a church Christmas play, he can’t refuse. As he and Kenna work through a series of mishaps, Ryder finds himself drawn to the One born for him. And also to Kenna.

Finding Wisdom in Noel by Janie Winsell
Travel photographer Billie accepts an assignment in Noel, Montana, to escape her ex-fiance’s wedding. Aiden takes custody of his nephew Kris and embarks on a journey of parenthood. When a luggage mishap brings Billie and Aiden together, they must find healing and wisdom in order for their love to flourish.

Season of Forgiveness by Darcy Fornier
Ruby Larson adopted Ivy Carlyle as her granddaughter when Ivy helped her arrange her funeral. When Ruby’s estranged grandson, Denver Reese, appears, Ivy is reluctant to share Ruby’s attention. As the two plan Ruby’s Christmas, unexpected attraction draws them closer. But Ivy’s painful past challenges their friendship.

Introductory poems by Betty Boyd

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2Q28Rn7


I’ll be back next week highlighting my favorite Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies but until then, I’d like to know who on this list you’ve read before and which story collection above you intend to grab first.

Christmas Book Bonanza–Contemporary Romance Edition

Hi All,

This week’s post highlights some wonderful Contemporary Christian Fiction to warm your holiday reader’s heart. Books are not listed in any preferential order, simply alphabetical by author.

Just like last week’s historical edition of the Christmas Book Bonanza, each title will have the back cover blurb and a purchase link.

Christmas in Jungle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin

 

Christmas in Jingle Junction by [Bouldin, Tabitha]

Jump into Jingle Junction for a fast-paced Christmas romance.

The last thing coffee shop owner Holly Winters expected was to have dream-boy Patrick Cooper walk through the back door of her shop. He would only be delivering this one time. He made sure she knew he was going home as soon as Henry was well enough to start making deliveries again.

Patrick instantly attracts Holly’s attention, but he has three strikes against him…he hates coffee, he doesn’t like Christmas, and he has a girlfriend. That’s all fine with Holly, until she starts to get to know the man hiding behind the bright green eyes. Patrick is in the one place he shouldn’t be if he wants to avoid Christmas. Jingle Junction is famous for it’s Christmas lights, parade, and their year-round Christmas spirit.

Can this apparent ‘bad boy’ find the joy of Christmas?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2PrzFNM


Mistletoe Kiss by Andrea Boyd

Mistletoe Kiss (Sweet Tea Holiday Collection) by [Boyd, Andrea]

Chase Spencer had been firmly planted in the friend-zone ever since he first met Rachel Anthony back when they were in grade school and it looks like that’s where he’s destined to remain. And her latest scheme is bound to be torture. She wants them to help break the Guinness World Record for the most couples kissing under the mistletoe at one time. How should he handle this? Should the kiss be a chaste, friendly kiss like she envisions? Or should he do it in a way that leaves Rachel without a doubt that he wants to be more than friends?

It had always been Rachel’s dream to break a world record, and who better to do it with than her best friend Chase? And it wasn’t as if they hadn’t kissed before—sixth grade, spin-the-bottle at Iona Puckett’s party—a peck of the lips and it’d be over. Except she missed the part where they had to hold the kiss for ten seconds. And no one warned her of how she would feel afterwards—confused and longing for more.

How can she convince Chase to change her status from friend to girlfriend?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2z82Mf1


Christmas on a Mission by Hannah R. Conway

 

Christmas on a Mission by [Conway, Hannah R.]Fitting Christmas in a shoe box has been her mission…until now.

Audria Rylatt is the school system’s liaison for homeless students. She strives to make Christmas bright for hundreds, while the season brings only heartache after her fiancé was killed in combat nearly two years ago. So when her family decides to play matchmaker, she is less than thrilled. To make matters worse, they’ve invited a soldier friend of her deceased fiancé to the family cabin for the holiday.

But she’s surprised to find this soldier, Quinton Nolan, standing at the door of heart. Faced with painful memories, the despair Christmas brings her, and the fear to love again, Audria is in desperate need of a Christmas miracle. Or at least some of the hope Christmas seems to offer so many. Can she embrace a new mission? If so, Christmas may stand to deliver a lifetime of magical memories.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2PwyT2e


Moostletoe by Jan Elder

 

Moostletoe (Moose Creek Book 1) by [Elder, Jan]

Fresh out of divinity school, Rev. Samantha Evans is ready to conquer the world for Christ. She lands in Moose Creek, Maine, a tiny backwater town with more moose per square mile than men. Even worse, one of her new parishioners chews up new ministers for breakfast, and he’s hell-bent on sending her packing.

Forest ranger Eric Palmer is done with women. Determined to live simply with no encumbrances, he’s moved to Northern Maine to study the moose population. With Christmas right around the corner, he runs into his buddy, Sammie, the girl who’d been his best friend when they were teenagers. Unlike most of the women in his life, he trusts her implicitly. But could she ever be more than a friend?

When Samantha’s career is on the line, Eric must save her job and rescue his own shattered heart in the process. But how does Matilda the town moose factor in?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2DlWdIT


Operation Mistletoe by Elizabeth Maddrey (Operation Romance, Bk #1)

 

Operation Mistletoe (Operation Romance Book 1) by [Maddrey, Elizabeth]Victoria Spencer hates Christmas.

For the last ten years, disaster has struck on Christmas Eve, leaving Tori dreading the holidays. When she’s assigned to cover the light displays for her newspaper, she’s determined to spend as little time on the article as possible. Especially once she realizes she’s to feature frat boy Gabe “The Babe” Robertson, her former college crush.

Gabe Robertson is a different man than he was in college. Every December, he transforms his acreage into a winter wonderland designed to celebrate the birth of Christ and share God’s love with the community. He also uses the lights to raise money for Operation Mistletoe, an organization that sends Christmas to troops stationed overseas.

Unable to set aside her prejudice, Tori looks for ulterior motives in Gabe’s actions and determines to dig deeper. Will her investigations destroy any chance of a Merry Christmas?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2Dgw26c


The Washwoman’s Christmas by Elaine Manders

 

The Washwoman's Christmas by [Manders, Elaine]

With her husband away on a job until Christmas, newly-wed Amanda moves to the house they’ve inherited from his grandmother in order to prepare it for sale. In the isolated woods of northwestern South Carolina, her nearest neighbor is an elderly woman who holds onto a past way of life, even taking in wash to earn money for Christmas. As the two women work together to renovate the house, Amanda comes to realize the washwoman isn’t the eccentric kook she first thought, but a woman of wisdom and grace who helps Amanda face the demons of her past and find release from her present insecurities.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2qKiM2k


Ordinary Snowflakes by Jennifer Rodewald

Ordinary Snowflakes: A Rock Creek Romance Christmas Novella by [Rodewald, Jennifer]

A single mom, a snowy Christmas, and a Secret Santa gift. Perhaps her romance days aren’t over after all. Someone has noticed me. A secret admirer? A man with a good heart, who sees how much I actually need help, even though I never admit it? Maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful story—a romance full of hope and second chances and love.

Maybe…

A secret Santa gift left on Kale Brennan’s front porch opens up a fresh view of her ordinary life, and perhaps of God. Maybe she does matter. Maybe God sees her—as does a new-to-town music teacher who has her seven-year-old daughter gushing and her own knees buckling with his killer smile. But as Kale embraces new possibilities, a staple in her life—a man who is kind and steady, not to mention necessary for her injured daughter’s recovery—also snatches her attention in an unexpected way. Will the one pursuing her with his secret gift and kind gestures be the one her heart longs for in the end?

Purchase Link:  https://amzn.to/2zNCkH5


Keri’s Christmas Wish by Pamela Thibodeaux

 

For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

Purchase Link: http://amzn.to/2ePnias


Christmas with the Enemy by Mary Vee

 

Christmas With The Enemy: A Blizzard Novel by [Vee, Mary]

Christmas doesn’t turn out as planned for either the Chicago Windermeres or the Montana Tuckers. It’s like a glacier helping of Scrooge’s spirit invades the festivities during their chance meeting at the lodge. Only Samantha Windermere and Hank Tucker have any desire to invite Peace on Earth for this Christmas blizzard.

A reviewer says: “A Hallmark Contender.”

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2S09DhD

 


Love, Laughter & Luminarias by Jaycee Weaver

Love, Laughter, and Luminarias by [Weaver, Jaycee]

He has his books. She has her fandoms. They’ve always had their friendship. Could Christmas projects, snowball fights, and local traditions spark feelings neither knew were there?

Surprisingly successful action-suspense author Garrett Wilson is struggling to write a summer novel in December. That is, until he witnesses his best friend, Nina, chase down a shoplifter and realizes that maybe his tough, attractive heroine might not be based solely in fiction.

Geeky-chic Nina Trujillo finds herself contemplating a God she’s never believed in after her brush with danger taking down a thief. That one decision could change the whole course of her life, and quite possibly, her feelings for the one guy she’s never considered more than a friend.

When Nina dives head-first into a series of Christmas projects and ideas for new traditions, she drags Garrett along for the ride. Will her newfound courage and all the extra time together bring their feelings out into the open, or will Nina escape back into the comfort of her fandoms and lose him forever?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2Dm0GeD


 

I’ll be back next week with some wonderful contemporary Christian romance Christmas novella collections. In  the meantime, tell me which of these authors you’ve already read and which book you’d like to cuddle up with first.

 

 

The History that Inspired A Love Restored (Part 1)

As a writer of historical romance, I’m often asked questions about how I research my stories. I thought today, I’d start a blog series that would give you some insight into how real-life history inspired many of the scenes in A Love Restored.

First, let me give you a little background on the story. A Love Restored is based on my real-life romance with my husband, Mike. I just set the story in the past because I’m a HUGE history nerd. If you’re one of my faithful readers, I’m sure you can relate.

I am blessed to live in northern Virginia, an area rich in our nation’s history. I knew if I set my story in post-Civil War Loudoun County, where I’ve lived since 1972, I would have plenty of historical details to give the reader that would draw them into the period and setting of my story. I decided to use my own home town of Purcellville at the time the Washington & Ohio Railroad arrived in the “sleepy little hamlet” so that my hero, Benjamin Coulter could be a surveyor planning the railroad’s route.

Negro Schoolhouse, Ashburn, Virginia

Since the story is based on my life, it was a natural choice to make my heroine, Ruth Ann Sutton, a teacher as well. While researching the post-Civil War history of my town and the county as a whole, I wandered off track down a historical rabbit trail so to speak and began reading about the life of the freed slaves in the area and the Freedmen’s Schools to educate them.

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandon Lands, commonly referred to as the The Freedmen’s Bureau, was established in 1865 to help provide for the hundreds of thousands of freed slaves in the aftermath of America’s Civil War.

While researching, I discovered that Fannie Wood, a white woman from Middleboro, Massachusetts, came to the area to teach in one of the newly authorized Freedmen’s Bureau schools in the nearby town of Warrenton. This was a common arrangement at the time. Many northern organizations, frequently organized by Quakers, funded Freedmen’s Bureau schools in the South and provided the teacher’s salary as well as their room and board with local families. The Richmond Times, an influential newspaper at the time, referred to such teachers as “pretty Yankee girls,” and “missionaries” in an effort to diminish their noble purpose.

But in Reconstruction Era Virginia, Miss Wood’s tenure would not be without opposition from those who did not want the freed slaves educated. A Warrenton newspaper, The True Index, printed the first paragraph of a threatening letter sent to Miss Wood:

“We the young men of this town think you are a disgrace to decent society and therefore wish you to leave this town before the first of March and if you don’t there will be violence used to make you comply to this request.”

 

At this point I knew that my heroine would now teach a Freedman’s School providing plenty of tension for my story. While Freedmen’s Schools existed in nearby Leesburg, Waterford and Lincoln, no school for African Americans existed in my town, Purcellville, until the 1890s. At this point I decided to change the name of Ruth Ann’s town to Catoctin Creek after the little stream that runs through Purcellville.

My research further discovered reports in The True Index that Wood had been “serenaded” by “songs and expressions not intended for ears polite.” Federal troops, used to enforce the Bureau’s efforts to educate the freed slaves, were sent to Warrenton to prevent any escalation of hostilities. This calmed the tension for a while but after the soldiers left, her classroom was pelted with stones. Union Lieutenant, William Augustus McNulty, who was the head of the Freedman’s Bureau for the Warrenton area, continued protecting Miss Wood. In fact, he and his wife, Abbie, eventually helped her teach the adult students in the evening.

Can you just imagine the sight of a white Federal officer teaching freed slaves in post-Civil War Virginia?

I knew immediately that I wanted to capture this scene in A Love Restored. When Benjamin discovers the threatening letters Ruth Ann had been receiving, letters she took great pains to hide from him, Benjamin seeks the aid of Federal officers assigned to protect the Freedmen’s Schools in the area. My secondary story line really came to life now birthing the character of Union Army Captain John Reynolds who would aid Benjamin in the protection of Ruth Ann and her students.

In A Love Restored, the danger escalates to a dramatic raid on the Freedmen’s School by hooded-vigilantes. Although inspired by many real-life accounts of violence against Freedmen’s Schools throughout the South, nothing of that magnitude happened in my county.

Thank you for joining me on this little excursion through one of history’s interesting paths. You never know what you might discover when following a rabbit trail. For me, I found the glue that tied so many smaller plot lines together as well as a way to add historical depth to my story.

This post first appeared on Connie’s History Classroom  (July 10, 2018)

Your Turn: What interesting historical fact have you learned roaming the internet?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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