Would you walk a mile for someone you love? What about 300 miles? In John Meyer’s Shadows, Shells and Spain this adult fictionalized travel memoir tells the story of Jamie Draper’s journey on the Camino de Santiago trail.
Jamie Draper was a happily married man who loved his wife Pamela very much. But when she surprised him with a divorce, it had caught him off guard. Ever since he received a postcard addressed to him from Spain, it had sent him on a journey. He quit his job as a history teacher in Canada and moved to Palma, Spain, hoping to reconnect with his wife and discover why she so abruptly left him. He then starts a journey to follow the Camino trail to find his wife by following the subtle hidden clues in her letters to him. Along the way he makes interesting friends and explores the trail with some intriguing strangers. He meets a British woman named Brie Bletcher, who’s estranged from her husband Martin. When Jamie tells her his story, she joins him on the trip. Gaining clues and traveling along a striking trail they hit some snags from missing letters to some stained by the weather. When Jamie discovers that his wife is very sick in a new batch of letters, it gives his mission a new urgency.
This story takes place in present day Spain and some parts of Canada. These are beautiful landscapes on their own and John Meyer is able to bring them to life with vivid details. This being a fictional travel memoir I expected some heavy scene descriptions, but these were broken up by the curious characters that pop up along the trail as well as Jamie’s intereactions with Brie. The story was well written and grows more profound the longer he travels the trail. It had a bit of literary fiction, romance, mystery and drama all wrapped into one story. The theme, I felt, is about life, loss and love, and how to move on from grief. This would be ideal for people who love travelogues and who love tear-jerking novels.
Although I enjoyed reading this book, there’s a lot of factual and historical tidbits that slow the pace of the story. I wish this was streamlined so that I could get back to my favorite part, the characters. Although travel readers will enjoy the architectural highlights of each town and accompanying history. If you can’t make it to Spain, this is your next best option.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B0756JF632
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Liars by Steven Gillis is a page turner up until the very end. Jaded by his own marriage breakdown, a writer struggling to capture lightning in a bottle twice spies a couple in the supermarket and becomes fixated on them. Eric McManus is the author who has branched out into owning a recording studio, but still chases the dream of again capturing the success that was had with his first book.
I loved this book. I was immediately hooked from the first chapter. The first person narrative style has appealed to me since I devoured Gone Girl, and it’s been rare for me to find a book that I can devour as quickly as I did that one. Liars is well on its way to becoming this.
What I enjoyed most about this book is that the writer doesn’t try to justify how shitty the main character is. He simply paints the character as he is, flaws and all, and leaves you as the reader to deal with it.
This book also brings forth some very interesting ideas about enlightenment as a concept. My favourite quote is from the main character’s live in lover but not girlfriend Gloria, where she explains to McManus that she doesn’t think enlightenment is that great anyway as it only ends up with people being hurt. It’s good that the main character has people who disagree with him and show him alternate views as it becomes very clear that he gets fixated on things and tries to destroy them.
The fixation on the couple in the supermarket only grows throughout the novel, as McManus inserts himself into their relationship by contacting where the female works and getting her to help him with his back garden. I’m glad that the creepiness of this was addressed again by Gloria, because it made me a bit uncomfortable to read this. McManus’ almost compulsive need to destroy this couple and expose their happiness as a ‘lie’, as the title suggests, gets more and more obvious throughout the book. This is especially shown through the passages where McManus says ‘years on, I will write’. It’s almost as if he is using their relationship as an idea for his book because he is stunted and annoyed at his own lack of creative growth.
The book also brings up interesting ideals about love. While McManus is still obviously hurting from the breakdown in his marriage and his tried and failed attempt at having an open relationship with his partner, it’s interesting to read a book that explores this more commonplace idea. I have always been a bit interested in the dynamics of open relationships, and it’s interesting to see whether or not people can put aside their jealousy and truly engage in an open relationship. McManus also mentions that he had sex with women without his wife’s consent, which is another way that open relationships engage. It’s nice that he’s at least a little bit self aware, otherwise this novel would be very difficult to read indeed. I loved reading this book!
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B075F32YR1
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There is no greater test of love than that which Chadwick and JaLana faced 11 years into their marriage. JaLana thought her marriage and life would be like any other couple attempting to live a life of faith in God. While they had met their fair share of troubles and setbacks in life, they were always united together. All of that was suddenly wiped away the morning JaLana saw her husband exiting the garage with another woman that had been living with them. The next day, Chadwick came forth about the affair he had been having for the past six months with the sister of a friend they both had allowed in their home. Stunned and shocked, JaLana had a choice to make. Her husband had made it clear that he didn’t want to be in a relationship with her anymore. He wanted a divorce.
Twelve years later, the couple remains together. How did they do it? Why didn’t JaLana give up and give her husband the divorce he wanted? Learn how the love of Christ was able to touch both JaLana and her husband Chadwick Walsh. Discover how God’s truth came into the marriage, moving them both to humility enough to feel the burning love He had, and will always have for each and every one of His children.
Chadwick and his wife have now teamed together to retell the story of one of the most vulnerable moments they have shared as a couple. They explain the steps they took to regain their marriage completely without any remaining residue. They have laid everything bare to bring the world their personal experience of adultery and how God led them through the fire to a marriage completely healed.
In a completely new take on a book about adultery, you will read from both perspectives of husband and wife, how adultery had broken them both. They discuss the common pitfalls man and wife can face on the road to recovery and offer practical guidance for grieving couples who might know the same pain they have faced.
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Dead Men Walking follows Nate as he is fighting for his marriage and career while getting involved in a case involving a mysterious man, a bullet and a whole range of unanswered questions. How did you decide on the direction for this second book in the series?
Book One, The Tenth Nail, ended with several unresolved issues and questions. Book Two felt as if I was writing an additional chapter to the first book. Nate is a strong but flawed man. Just as his strength is a result of his efforts, his weaknesses are the totals of his flaws. He finds himself where he is forced to ask for help in order to survive in the world he has created from himself. Some of that sought for help has to come from people he has wronged. Mystery man and the killing involved Nate in a case that for all practical purposes was unsolvable. I felt the case assigned Nate had to be as complicated as the killing of the girl in book one. It had to be part of the stressors that pushed Nate to the brink.
Dead Men Walking begins with an intricately described murder scene. What was your inspiration for this crime and murder scene?
In truth, most crimes, especially murders, are not complicated. Most victims know their killers and in a high percentage of time are on a first name basis. Most of us really have to know a person well to hate them enough to kill them. I wanted the opening crime, the murder, to be as tough to figure out as I could make it. I hoped to detail a killing, done in broad daylight, in public view and witnessed, that yielded no easy to find clues and little evidence. I hoped to create a feeling in the reader that they, along with Nate, had to work to solve the killing. I hoped the reader would feel as if they walked along beside the big detective as he tried to solve the killing.
Between Nate dealing with his old demons, family problems, and exploring a mysterious case, we get to dig more into Nate’s character. Was there anything that surprised you about his character while you were writing all this?
Nate takes pride in being an uncomplicated man. He has always been resistant to self-examination and some of that, I think, is that he is afraid of what he’ll find if he was to risk looking beneath the superficial layer. Throughout writing the book, I felt Nate and I were in synch. There was really nothing he did that surprised me. The same cannot be said for Clare. Clare is more cerebral than her husband and she is more willing to work through mistakes than Nate. In truth, I thought she would make other choices than she did for most of the book. In fact, an original storyline was made up of different choices I expected from her. Clare, like Nate, faces challenges and is forced to make life altering decisions. She caught me off guard with some of hers.
Where does book three in the Nate & Clare series take Nate and when will it be available?
Currently, I am working on the second book of the Jack and Terri Series and as readers know, Jack and Nate become acquainted in The Tenth Nail. It is Nate’s effort to repay Jack that is a strong undercurrent of Dead Men Walking. Book three for Nate and Clare, “Dance With the Devils”, will force Nate and Jack into a closer working relationship and slightly uncomfortable friendship. The book is planned for publication in the winter of 2017.
There was no doubt the man was dead. A bullet through the head will do that. But, who was dead? The man had no identification, no known address, no Social Security information could be found, and the fingerprint search came up empty.
Detective Nate Burns, Albuquerque Police Department knew two things. The man was dead and he was blood type was O+. The most common type of blood in the country.
Dead Men Walking is a fast paced police drama that tells the story of Detective Nate Burns, a man haunted by his past. That haunting has suddenly appeared in the present.
His Captain wants him fired.
A friend is calling in a favor.
A convict wants to make a bargain
His wife is thinking of divorce.
It’s a good thing he’s serving a suspension. He’ll find time to work all this out.
Dead Men Walking is the follow up to the award winning first Nate and Clare novel, The Tenth Nail. The story continues with Nate being assigned to a most difficult case. At the same time, he is trying to salvage his marriage, and since his wife, Clare, has returned to college, he must make sure he is not late picking up his daughter from her summer reading class.
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Pink Slips is a riveting tale of one woman’s desperate plight to keep her loved ones safe, even in the sights of a mysterious stalker. What served as the inspiration that made you want to write this suspenseful novel?
Fourteen years ago I was home alone with my newborn baby when I received a violent anonymous phone call. Flash forward to this year… I was working on a writing prompt asking to recount “receiving an anonymous phone call or note”. I instantly was transported to that frightful night. The story evolved as I fueled the idea with the “remembered fear” I experienced that night. I imagine that many women have had a similar scary situation, which made me think it would be a relatable story.
I found Betsy to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for her and her emotional turmoil in the story?
Betsy is modeled after me in some ways. I have some of the little habits that she has, including talking to her dog as if Barney understood her. I’m confident my two Tibetan Terriers understand every word I say! I fueled some of my fears and concerns for safety into her persona, however the violence she experiences is completely fictional. Like Betsy, I’ve had my share of pregnancy issues, giving me authentic experiences to draw upon. My marriage is very happy, whereas Betsy’s needs some work! The emotional turmoil within Betsy grew with her characterization. At first she was just a victim of a parking lot mugging, but as the story developed, she gets pummeled in every chapter. Once I read a article about writing, where it said, “…happy stories are boring… add conflict where you can.” I throw a lot at Betsy, but as the story progresses, so does her strength and belief in herself; so I guess the conflict was needed in my manuscript.
What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this book?
The key theme in the book was shining the light on women’s safety in an information-sharing world. Nowadays, you can learn so much about people through social media, everyday forms we fill out, and even in medical offices. I’ve always tried to teach my children the importance of security, but this book highlights how we are all vulnerable. Another theme in the story, focuses on humans special contact with their pets. They are a part of our family and they rely on us. It’s only natural that there’s a mutual love and respect between us. Another theme is being “open” to your own intuition. We all have it (especially pregnant women), yet are often too busy, moving, talking, and “doing” every day, that we don’t always take the time to “listen”. There’s a lot to learn in silence.
Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into Betsy’s life?
One emotion Betsy shares with me is the intense pain and sadness from losing a pregnancy. No one can understand that feeling unless they experience it. A memory that I share with Betsy is time spent in the kitchen with “Grandma”. I grew up loving food, cooking, and learning from both of my Grandmas. I studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, so it felt natural to make Betsy an expert chef. She has much more working experience than I have, however I did publish a healthy living and eating book (Real Moms Love to Eat; Penguin/NAL, 2012), whereas Betsy hasn’t written her book yet, but I don’t put anything past her… I bet she will publish a cookbook soon 🙂
Betsy Ryan is pregnant with her third child, and receiving threatening notes from an anonymous person. During what should be a joyful time in her life, she’s forced to face a decade old memory, and relive one of the most devastating nights of her life.
To uncover the mystery behind the threats, she enlists the help of an unlikely, but oddly reliable source, her dog Barney. As the menacing notes continue to arrive, her husband is still out of town for work, and she struggles to keep her composure while shielding her two young sons from danger. She trusts no one except her parents, best friend Misty, and her extraordinary dog—who has proven to literally understand everything she says. Is this person out to harm her? And how do they have so much personal information about Betsy? She can’t help but think it’s the same person who attacked her at the train station almost a decade ago, and changed the course of her life forever. To save herself and her unborn child—Betsy must face her fears and find her strength, to reveal who is after her and most importantly…why.
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Dead Men Walking, written by Kwen D Griffeth, follows Detective Nate Burns as he deals with the ramifications of a previous case that led him to fight for his job whilst he is suspended from the force. Meanwhile, Nate’s personal life is on the rocks as Clare, his wife, reveals that she is unhappy with their marriage and the anger that surrounds Nate on a daily basis. Between fighting for his marriage and career, Nate finds himself involved in a case involving a mysterious man, a bullet and a whole range of unanswered questions. Will Nate be able to save his relationship, his job and still solve one of the most complicated cases he has encountered?
Dead Men Walking begins with a intricately described murder scene that will leave nothing to the imagination. The reader will be walked through the exploding bullet, the impact and finally the target. You are given the impression that these details are important and the vivid imagery will be one that doesn’t leave your mind for some time.
Dead Men Walking is the second novel in the series and in this book we are shown a side of Nate that is normally hidden away. Nate starts to get in touch with his emotions as his love for his family and wife are brought to the surface. Old wounds will be exposed and history will be revisited in an attempt to heal the turmoil surrounding Nate. Dead Men Walking once again shows us that men and women in the police force are people too, who feel and experience the tragedies they encounter daily in order to protect our families. At times the story line was quite emotive and made you consider the impact of what everyday people are experiencing in order to keep us safe.
Between Nate dealing with his old demons and family problems, he is exploring a case of a mysterious man who has basically been labelled as a “well dressed homeless man” with no identity. The case is quickly slipping into being closed with the force running low with murder investigators but Nate is determined to find out more details. This launches the story into a whodunit style police investigation and the reader will be kept on the edge of their seat as clues to the puzzle are uncovered.
The story line is smooth, the writing vivid and the characters complex. Griffeth has a beautiful way of describing a scene and every intricate detail without drawing away from the plot line or boring the reader. Never been inside a police station or seen how their operations work? Dead Men Walking will take you through the inside, allowing you to visualize the physical attributes of a police station as well as the mental and emotional parts of those who serve. You will also be treated to the other side, where criminals in jail show their softer side as they desperately want to help their family.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a crime story mixed with a dash of romance and adventure.
Pages: 350 | ASIN: B071FLPQZ8
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Mountain Green, Corporate Blue, by L.J. Saunders, takes readers on a journey through time with a series of flashbacks, slowly revealing both joy and heartache.This third person account opens with Matthew Reynolds as a young, wide-eyed child from an affluent but troubled New York family. Paralleling the account of his life is the retelling of Grace Collier’s experiences as a young girl in the Appalachian Mountains. Their lives become intertwined when the Dickenson Corporation, the source of the Reynolds family’s fortune, faces major legal setbacks. A chance meeting sets in place a string of events leading to more than one unconventional pairing during a time in history when social norms were beginning to see their first challenges.
L.J. Saunders has shaped strong characters within the pages of Mountain Green Corporate Blue. The unlikely relationship of Matthew Reynolds and Grace Collier, seemingly the book’s focal point, is nontraditional in a time and place when couples from varying economic backgrounds would have been discouraged from marrying. They do so, in fact, after an almost nonexistent courtship and begin a life together. Grace is an extremely powerful character, and for a while, I felt the book would be centered around her. She exudes a sense of reason, a calmness, and has an amazing sense of her own self-worth. She radiates an energy that is infectious throughout the plot and manages, without ever realizing it, to impact the lives of several of Matthew’s relatives.
Grace’s role in the book is, without a doubt, significant. The flashes back and forth between her early years in the mountains of Springdale County, Georgia to her later years as a grandmother make that clear. Her strength is evident when she is challenged by Matthew’s uppity family upon first meeting. Firm and focused, she replies to his father’s disparaging remarks, “I am not good at debate, but I excel at discussion.” She clearly affects Matthew’s parents and brother. However, I found the addition of some storylines somewhat puzzling. I read with the idea in mind that Grace was central to each subplot. While the introduction of the relationship between Trinity and Marcus made perfect sense and added an element of suspense, the storyline surrounding Trinity at the book’s conclusion did not seem to fit the rest of the book’s theme.
With regards to subplots, I found two characters to be standouts. Old man Duncan, an integral part of the main characters’ wedding, provides a type of comic relief and endears himself to readers as he cashes in many a sketchy favor. In addition, Matthew’s father, John Reynolds is a character worthy of evoking every conceivable emotion. He is vividly described and draws both love and hate from the reader. As much as I wanted to despise him, the author gave me multiple reasons to easily single out John as my favorite character.
Periodic plot twists and commentary on social injustice succeed in keeping the reader guessing and work well in preventing the book from appearing as purely a romance. Saunders has given readers a tale of love, inspiration, and courage while exposing relatable struggles and vulnerabilities via a multitude of well-developed characters.
Pages: 247 | ASIN: B071NCX77D
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Hart St. Martin takes us back to the lands of Garla and Thristas in Protector of Thristas, a novel that takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War. Rinli is the daughter of Korin and Lisen, and due to a prophecy created at her birth, she’s destined to be the Protector of the desert land of Thristas. While trying to guide Rinli on her path to becoming Protector, Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before: she must do everything in her power to gain her teenage daughter’s long-lost sense of trust.
After becoming so invested in the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, I was thrilled to grab a copy of Protector of Thristas. There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a fantasy world evolve over generations. Lisen and Korin have three children – Rinli, Nasera, and Insenlo – but Rinli is the only one who has a prophecy that she must fulfill.
Through highly emotional moments in the novel, the story definitely emulates how exhausting it is for the whole family when they are all separated. The story jumps between Avaret (the city where Lisen rules as Empir of Garla) and Thristas, where Rinli is required to stay for periods of time. The two lands have a very tense relationship, which forced Lisen to designate Rinli as the Protector of Thristas in an attempt to resolve these issues. As a result, Rinli and Korin must travel between the two lands several times a year.
As a sucker for romantic subplots, I loved seeing how fifteen years of marriage has impacted Korin and Lisen – due to the constant traveling on Korin’s end, they’ve grown even closer than they were in the first trilogy. Their bond even causes Korin to develop psychic-like powers, where he can sense when something bad is happening to Lisen or Rinli.
One of my favorite things about this novel is how Rinli has Lisen’s stubbornness and Korin’s perceptiveness, and her development throughout the novel kept the story captivating and fun. Something that separates her from her mother is that Rinli has an affinity for the desert land of Thristas, and her loyalty to Thristas is compounded by her close relationship with Madlen, her most trusted companion. She is especially resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities, and this gets her into trouble at a few points in the novel.
Themes of forgiveness and trust pop up throughout the novel, highlighting the tense mother-daughter relationship between Lisen and Rinli. Hart weaves this tension throughout the entire plot, bringing the reader closer to these characters. Lisen can’t forgive herself for sentencing Rinli to her fate as the Protector of Thristas, while Rinli struggles to trust her mother. When Rinli discovers she may need her mother’s wisdom in order to understand her responsibility as a Protector, the two begin to develop a relationship.
Protector of Thristas is an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least, and it’s a breath of fresh air in a sea full of action-forward fantasy novels. As entrenched in fantasy as it is, this novel does a beautiful job of capturing raw human emotions of happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear, especially when dealing with challenging mother-daughter relationships and the connections between a parent and a child. The cliffhanger ending left me feeling some of those emotions myself, and I can’t wait to see if Hart will continue sharing more adventures from this world.
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B01E7NYLRI
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Another Summer, written by Sue Lilley, tells the story of Evie and Joe, a married couple who have hit a rocky patch after uncovering lies and secrets within their marriage. Evie escapes to Cliff Cottage, a house left by her grandmother to do some soul searching whilst Joe stumbles through the countryside in an effort to find her. Old and new romances will be sparked as the couple reflect on their marriage and the twists and turns of their relationship. Will they reignite their old romance or will the lies and deceit be the final straw for Evie and Joe?
Another Summer begins with an awkward phone call that will change the marriage of Joe and Evie forever. Evie manages her grief through running away whilst her husband, dressed in expensive Hugo Boss attire, drowns his sorrows in a bar contemplating his next move. Prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions as Joe decides to chase after the leading lady of his life.
Summer flings, beach shacks and indie bands will come together for a teasing storyline that at times is hot and heavy with its seductive characters. Though the plot is steamy, the pace of the book is a little slow at times. I believe this was intentionally done to drive the readers to develop a burning desire to learn more. Another Summer questions the integrity of relationships and whether you would return to a partner after deceit. Many of us perceive relationships to be black and white, however, this love story opens the door to the possibility that love may be a grey area instead.
Sue Lilley’s ability to bring the characters to life left me feeling genuinely concerned for the fate of each character and their relationships. Even the small roles of the story had their own individual plot that I quickly became invested in. One of the characters, Lisa, is a lost and lonely teenager, desperate for answers and acceptance of a male figure in her life. Even though she seems like a lost cause, the reader will be inclined to fall for her sweet demeanour as she tackles her own demons alongside the ride with Joe.
The dreamy Jake will enter Evie’s life at a time where she feels the most vulnerable. With his boyish good looks and charming personality, it’s hard not to find yourself hoping he ends up whisking her away on a much deserved romantic holiday! But just like all of us, Jake is only human and has his own flaws and nuances to match.
I enjoyed how the story paralleled real life with places in the present sparking memories of the past for Evie and Joe. The flashbacks into the past will remind the reader of their own teenage romances and the hormonal dramas that came with first kisses, parties and summer romances.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a romantic novel that questions whether relationships have the strength to survive the test of time. Does time heal old wounds? Should Evie return to Joe? Only time will tell.
Pages: 215 | ASIN: B00R9S9TFI
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Our tale centers around the life of one woman, Angie Brown, as she struggles to live and love in an unforgiving world. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance was originally written by Lillian Jones Horace 68 years ago. Angie Brown is a window to the past: a look at what life was like for black people during the Jim Crow era. It opens with heartbreak as Angie is denied medical care for her ailing child. Angie is at a disadvantage for her entire life simply for being black. Her child is black. Therefore, they are treated as less than second-class citizens. The beginning of Angie’s heartbreak occurred before that moment, but is amplified as her child dies in her arms: denied a potentially life-saving treatment solely based on the color of his skin.
Many books about this subject can feel like textbooks, but this book is beautiful and heartfelt. Wrapped up in an emotional love story, Angie Brown will teach its readers about life from the point of view of a young woman. She has loved, she has lost both her husband, Jim, and her son. She finds herself abandoned with no way to return home. Her religious mother has forsaken her and Angie must persevere if she wants to survive. Through her sorrow and her uncertainty Angie rises above the hand that life has dealt her. She works her hardest to become someone she can deem as worthy.
While there is activism in this book on Angie’s part, it doesn’t overshadow the romance. It is important to understand that Angie is not going to take her fate lying down. As she learns and exposes herself to the world she begins to understand that she can make a difference if she wants to. Her eyes are opened to the trappings of the world and she realizes that someone must stand up for the young black children who are disadvantaged solely because of their skin color. Described with powerful words the reader may feel as though they are there as Angie involves herself with politics and does her best to support Roosevelt in his bid for president. He desires to be a president for all people, something that Angie believes in.
Angie loves. She loses and she finds herself in sorrow. She sees the disgusting side of the world and she sees the beauty in it as well. She builds herself up from the timid young girl to the successful woman at the end of our tale. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance by Lillian Jones Horace will show readers the beauty and agony of love against the backdrop of a time where injustice was rampant in the South. There are reading comprehension questions at the end of the book which make this an excellent selection for further classroom reading or even as an addition to a book club roster. The romance is beautiful in this tale but the underlying message is just as important. Whether you’re reading for fun or reading to learn more, you will not be disappointed with this book. Even though so much time has passed, this timeless piece remains poignant and elegant.
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