Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Weeds and Flowers

I’m giving away one of my books each day of this work week and using the opportunity to spotlight them and give you a little background into why I wrote them on this blog. And to sweeten the deal, I’m offering a $50 gift card for anyone who writes a review of one of my books on Amazon and posts it by August 15. Winner will be chosen by random drawing that evening. All you have to do is drop me an email at michellegflye at gmail dot com to let me know you posted the review. I want your honest take on ANY of my books (including the three published by actual publishers), not just the five I’m offering for free, but if you want a free book, here’s your chance!

Weeds and Flowers coverWeeds and Flowers is the one book I’ve written that I would not classify as a romance. It’s about growing up in a small town and losing faith and finding your first love and lots of other things, but it’s not a romance. It’s a mystery, a coming-of-age story, a story about family and friends. When someone asks me which one of my books they should start with, I usually say this one. Because at its heart, it’s what I’m really about.

Weeds and Flowers is set in a small town and it’s very loosely based on a murder that happened there when I was a girl. That murder changed things in my trusting little town. It happened just a few blocks away to a girl who lived a very similar life to my own with a family and friends who loved her. Although I’ve changed names and circumstances, it was that time period that changed so much in my town that I wrote about.

Here’s a few paragraphs from what might be my favorite of all my novels:

On Friday, I spent the night at Marleen’s. Mom didn’t really like for me to spend the night away from home, so this was a rare treat. “Have her over here,” Mom would always say, never seeming to realize how difficult that was. Mom liked Marleen because Marleen always behaved well in front of parents. “She’s quiet and ladylike,” Mom said. “Maybe some of it will rub off on you.” To which I’d reply that if Mom didn’t want a tomboy for a daughter, she shouldn’t have let my real dad give me a boy’s name.

But even Mom had to admit that if I kept turning Marleen’s invitations around and insisting she sleep over at my house, somebody would get offended. Marleen didn’t mind, but her mother was sort of touchy. Mom said Mrs. Galloway came from the wrong side of the tracks and often thought other people didn’t think she was good enough for them. Besides, I wanted an opportunity to see Kyle up close without seeming too obvious. And Friday should be perfect since Marleen’s parents were going out and leaving Kyle in charge.

“I hope Jeff doesn’t bug us too much,” Marleen said. Her brother Jeff had become a little creepy, in a greasemonkey kind of way. “God, I wish I just had one adorable brother like you do. You know Kyle’s planning to bring his new girlfriend over?”

I shrugged, as if I didn’t care. She knew, of course, but I hated to admit my hopeless crush, even to my best friend.

But Marleen just sighed. “Neither of them has an artistic soul, you know? I mean, all Jeff cares about is cars and all Kyle cares about is girls. There’s so much more to life than that. No one understands me. Well, no one but…”

She broke off, but I suspected I knew who she was talking about. She’d been over to Mrs. Whitford’s garden again, talking to Brian. I didn’t go with her when Brian was in the garden anymore. I wasn’t sure why, but it seemed weird to me that he was so interested in talking to Marleen when he was a good twenty years old than her.

Brian wasn’t in the garden when we got to Marleen’s house, and Kyle wasn’t home yet, so I let Marleen convince me to go to the garden. Most of the roses had withered, and there weren’t so many bugs as during the summer, but the garden still had a creepy feel to it. Marleen and I discussed the school Halloween dance for a while. Who was taking who. Who wasn’t going. Who would probably kiss who. Who would ask us to dance if we decided it was worth our while to go.

The back screen door at the house banged shut and we peered through the thinning bushes to see Brian pulling spades and hoes and shovels out of the storage area in the basement of the old house. He didn’t appear to have seen us, and with difficulty I managed to hold Marleen down. I didn’t want to have to talk to him. She giggled but acquiesced.

We watched as Brian pulled what seemed like every gardening tool he owned out of the storage closet, then seemed to find what he was looking for. He stood, stretched, and turned slowly, his eyes scanning the garden, a trowel in one hand, a bag of bulbs in the other. As we crouched in the garden, the scent of damp earth and rotting plants filling our nostrils, Brian drove the trowel into the ground again and again. I could hear the thud of its blade, the ripping sounds of roots and sometimes a tiny clink as it hit a rock or pebble.

Finally, tired of watching Brian thrusting into the earth, I tugged on Marleen’s shirttail. She shook her head and stayed where she was. I shrugged and headed for the fence, crawling with my head down. I wasn’t able to see Brian or tell for sure if he saw me, but the stabbing noises continued. Only later, when Marleen joined me in her yard did I realize that Brian couldn’t have escaped seeing us from his back porch as he came outside. Somehow realizing he’d known we were there and acted like he hadn’t creeped me out even more.

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Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Close Up Magic

I’m giving away one of my books each day of this work week and using the opportunity to spotlight them and give you a little background into why I wrote them on this blog. And to sweeten the deal, I’m offering a $50 gift card for anyone who writes a review of one of my books on Amazon and posts it by August 15. Winner will be chosen by random drawing that evening. All you have to do is drop me an email at michellegflye at gmail dot com to let me know you posted the review. I want your honest take on ANY of my books (including the three published by actual publishers), not just the five I’m offering for free this week, but this definitely gives you a chance to read one of my books!

CloseUpMagicEbookRev Today’s free book is Close Up Magic. Now, I will admit that a little bit of my fangirl self entered into the conception of this particular novel. I wrote it after my husband took me to see David Copperfield live on stage in Las Vegas. This was a bucket list item for me and had been since I was a tiny girl watching a gorgeous David Copperfield perform magic on a grainy black and white television set. The true magic then was the way he lit up that old tube tv and made me believe that magic could exist. The magic when I saw him on stage in Las Vegas as a forty-some year old woman? That he could still make me believe. That I’m still a fangirl after all these years.

To me, love is the greatest magic of all, and so it didn’t take long to make the connection. Why not a series of romances featuring a magician as either hero or heroine? And if my first hero bears a passing resemblance to a young David Copperfield, well, you’ll just have to understand that I’m paying homage to the little girl who watched spellbound from our nappy living room carpet while a black and white (but still handsome) young magician performed miracles on my television set.

Here’s a little taste of Close Up Magic:

She sank into a chair and Mattie handed her a bottle of water. She took an absent swig and turned to Andre. “I thought you’d told me everything.”

“I did.” He spread his hands, a classic magician gesture to indicate he had nothing up his sleeves. Bobby made a little movement, then stilled as she glared at him.

“What about the police? You failed to mention that tidbit.” She turned her full attention back to Andre.

He hesitated. “It was nothing, really.”

“They don’t call the cops for nothing in Vegas, Andre. Private security handles most disturbances in casinos.”

He sighed, resigned. “Tony got drunk, caused a little ruckus when he started losing. I wasn’t around when it started, but when I got back to the resort, I was notified of it and managed to talk the police into letting us handle it privately.”

“I imagine that took a lot of fast talking on your part.” She made a face as if she had tasted something bad and took another gulp of water.

“Not really. Tony’s a good guy, and the resort preferred to handle it privately as well. Thankfully the man Tony punched was an employee and not a guest.” He shrugged, perching on a stool with a nonchalance he didn’t feel.

She shook her head and stood, crossing the room to stand immediately in front of him, her cheeks flushed, her eyes glinting with anger. “Next time I say tell me everything, you better do it. This could’ve blown the whole thing out of the water. All it would’ve taken is a paper trail and Larry would have everything he needed.” She jabbed him in the chest. “And you’d have no one to blame but yourself when he took you down right with your brother.”

She stood close enough so he could smell her perfume and he imagined nuzzling the little hollow of her collarbone, kissing her neck just below her ear… He pulled himself out of the fantasy with difficulty. “Okay. I’m sorry.”

At her dubious look, he spread his hands again. “It’s all I can say. I guess I was still trying to protect him.”

“From me?” She raised her eyebrows a tiny bit, and he shrugged.

“Yeah. From anybody that might hurt him.”

“Great.” She nodded. “Good. You go ahead and keep that up, then. Keep on protecting him, and you’ll ruin yourself.” She brushed past him and out the door, slamming it behind her.

He stared after her, a little stunned. “She is magnificent.” He said it to himself, forgetting he had an audience. Mattie snorted and Bobby grinned, but they both–thank God–kept their comments to themselves.

One final note. Although Close Up Magic is the only book in my Sleight of Hand series that I’m featuring in this promotion, Escape Magic, the novella that is book 2 of the series, is also available. Book 3, Island Magic, should be out this fall and I’m currently working hard on Movie Magic, which will hopefully be ready for you by Spring 2015.

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Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Saturday Love

As you all probably hopefully know by now, I’m giving away one of my books each day of this work week. And to sweeten the deal, I’m offering a $50 gift card for anyone who writes a review of one of my books on Amazon and posts it by August 15. Winner will be chosen by random drawing that evening. All you have to do is drop me an email at michellegflye at gmail dot com to let me know you posted the review. I want your honest take on ANY of my books (including the three published by actual publishers), not just the five I’m offering for free this week, but this definitely gives you a chance to read one of my books!

Saturday LoveToday’s free Kindle book is Saturday Love, the sequel to Ducks in a Row. In many ways, Saturday Love is a much better romance than Ducks. It certainly sticks closer to the prescribed one hero, one heroine and a happily ever after formula, though I did take some liberties. Saturday Love is also the only one of my self-published novels to be professionally edited (by the awesome Kristin Anders). Please don’t let this scare you off the others, though. I’m pretty good at catching my own errors. It was just that this one confounded me at every turn. I wrote and rewrote it and still wasn’t satisfied. By the time I handed it over to Kristin, it was a hot mess, but she somehow helped me work through it, and the result pleased even me. I hope it will please you, too!

Here’s a snippet to get you going:

“You’ve never made scuppernong wine, though.” Will glanced up at Accalia curiously.

“No. That is true. Our wines have always been European. It’s a new venture for us. For me.” Her expression showed no concern, and even a hint of arrogance. “To be truthful, I fell in love with the taste of your scuppernong wine while on a buying trip in the States. I took some home to my father.” She smiled. “He didn’t really understand the draw, but when I showed him the numbers, even he had to admit it could be a profitable expansion if done correctly.” She paused. “Nonetheless, I am under no illusions. Although I have the backing of my father’s name and his label, this is my venture, using my capital. If I fail, I fail alone. If I succeed…” She spread her hands.

Will’s respect for the woman tripled. He recognized her passion because he’d felt it himself, working at the restaurant. It was why he’d put in such long hours there, even before Cady came to work for him. He shoved thoughts of Cady away. “Well, I look forward to seeing you succeed, Ms. Nikoulas.” He stood, holding out a hand as he stepped around the desk. “We would be more than happy to help you on your way.”

Her face broke into a smile and she stood, unfortunately a little more enthusiastically than gracefully, and fell into his chest. Without missing a beat, Will put an arm around her waist to steady her, stepping away only when he was certain she wouldn’t fall. “Are you all right?” He noticed a slight blush on her cheeks.

“Sorry.” She laughed, obviously embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to jump at you. I’m not known for being graceful.”

At the sound of a slight cough, they both turned. Lisa stood in the door, a glint of amusement in her eyes but her face schooled into a professional expression. “Ms. Nikoulas, I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I’m Lisa Hubbard, the manager of the vineyard. I trust you’ve seen everything you need to?”

“Yes. I have, and I believe we’ve reached a deal.” Accalia looked happily at Will. “Mr. Hubbard and I, that is.”

“Perfect.” Lisa took her hand. “My brother will be your contact here, but feel free to call on either of us at any time. You are, of course, welcome back here as often as you like.”

“Thank you.” Accalia nodded. “And please, call me Accalia.”

“And I’m Lisa.”

“And Will.” Will stepped in. “Accalia is a lovely name. Greek?”

She nodded. “My father is Greek, my mother American. I’ve spent half my life here and half there. The best of both worlds, I suppose.”

“What does your name mean?” Lisa tilted her head curiously, lapsing out of her businesswoman persona for a moment.

Accalia winced. “Nothing very attractive, actually. My mother told me my father chose it because it means ‘chaos’ or something like that.”

“Mary Shelley said all invention comes out of chaos.” Will smiled at her.

“He got that from his education at UNC.” Lisa waggled her eyebrows expressively.

“More than they taught you at Duke.” Will turned his back on her to find Accalia watching them with amusement. “Would you like to see any more of the vineyards? I’ll be more than happy to give you a guided tour.”

“Thank you, but I saw a good bit earlier, thanks to your map.” She turned and started down the hall. Will walked beside her, his hand resting on the small of her back as he reached around her to open the front door.

“We look forward to seeing you again, Accalia.”

She gave him an almost shy, slightly awkward but still friendly smile. “Thank you…Will.”

Will watched her cross the parking lot to her Jeep. Her figure was trim, almost athletic, and her blonde hair shone in the sun. He turned to be confronted by his sister, leaning on Natalie’s desk. When his eyes met hers, she pretended to fan herself. “Was it getting hot in here or was it just me, Natalie?”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Will frowned at her.

“You were flirting with her!” Lisa chortled.

“I was not.” Will brushed past her.

“Well, don’t get me wrong, Will. Seriously, if you get us more buyers by flirting than by giving tours of the vineyard, I’m all for it.” She laughed. “As long as our clients aren’t married.”

Will froze at his office door and glanced over his shoulder. She couldn’t have meant the remark the way it sounded, but the explosion of pain in his chest wouldn’t be denied. Lisa’s teasing smile faded and Natalie looked like she might cry. Lisa took half a step toward him and opened her mouth as if to say something but he shook his head and went into his office, shutting the door carefully behind him.

He sat at the desk, looking at his hands. God, he missed the restaurant. There was always something to do there. If you were done getting ready for the lunch rush, you’d better get started getting ready for dinner. And paperwork and orders and checks to be signed. And then Cady came and even the least favorite of his chores became a joy because he was near her. He groaned and laid his head on his arms. These memories of her had to go. He had to forget. Somehow.

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Five Days of Free Kindle Books: Ducks in a Row

Ducks_CoverToday’s free book is Ducks in a Row. Ducks came about because of a challenge posted by an agent to write a romance novel whose hero and heroine are married. Of course, what I ended up with wasn’t really a romance, although it does have (sort of) a happy ending. It turned into a sort of dissection of marriage and what happens to it after you’ve been married more than a dozen years or so and start taking each other for granted. Plus, I added in a sister who’s scared of her happy ending and my anti-hero, Will, who was so charming I actually wrote Saturday Love (look for it free tomorrow) just so he could also have a happy ending.

Click on the above image of the book cover to get your free Kindle book. And to convince you it’s worthwhile, here’s one of my favorite excerpts, which takes place after the husband answers the phone at an, ahem, inopportune time:

She’d regained an icy self-control by the time she had dressed. She pulled on a t-shirt and sweats so he wouldn’t get the idea he might still have a chance, but she paused to put on a little clear lip gloss so her lips looked fuller and more kissable in an attempt to let him know what he had missed.

He sat on the bed, his shoulders hunched in such a tired way her first reaction was one of concern, but when he lifted his head she realized he’d gotten dressed again. And not in the rumpled shirt she’d pulled off him. That still lay in the corner. He wore another dress shirt and tie and a neatly pressed pair of khakis. Cady thought about the dry cleaners and her heart hardened in her chest.

“Why did you leave?” He asked the question as if her actions didn’t make any sense at all.

“Why did you answer the damn phone?” She glared at him.

He sighed. “Cady, we’ve been over this before. You know I don’t have a job with normal hours. I have to make some sacrifices.”

“Right.” She nodded and bit back what she really wanted to say. If he had to make sacrifices, how come she felt like the one who was deprived? “Is that where you’re going now? Back to work?”

“I have to.” He looked uncomfortable. “I should have already left.”

“So go.” She picked up a magazine and settled onto the bed. “I’m fine. The shower was earth-shattering.” She stole a look at him and saw a tiny smile curve his lips. Why was she letting him off the hook?

He sat next to her, leaned over and kissed her tenderly. “I wish you hadn’t left.” He pushed a lock of her hair back from her face. “I love you.”

She sighed. “I love you too.” She kissed him briefly. “Now, go on. Save the world or whatever. I’ll be here when you get back.”

Don’t forget! Post a review on any one of my books (there are nine to choose from) between now and August 15 AND drop me an email telling me you did it (michellegflye at gmail dot com), and I’ll enter you in a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card!

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Announcing: Five days of free books! Plus, enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

I have now self-published enough full-length novels to fill a work week. To celebrate that accomplishment, I’ve decided to launch a five-day promotion starting on Monday of next week. Five days of free Kindle books! And to sweeten the deal, if you read one of my books and post an honest review of it by August 15, you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card to Amazon! Here’s the schedule of free books:

Monday: Ducks in a Row
Tuesday: Saturday Love
Wednesday: Close Up Magic
Thursday: Weeds and Flowers
Friday: Tracks in the Sand

Remember, the review should be totally honest. Whether it’s positive or negative—as long as it’s obviously about one of MY books—you’ll still be entered to win the gift card. And each review equals one entry! So if you want to read and review more than one by August 15, please do! I can only offer my self-published ones for free, but if you’d like to purchase and review Where the Heart Lies, Secrets of the Lotus, or Winter Solstice, those count, too!

Here’s how to enter:
1. Download one of my books. See the schedule for free books or purchase and review one of my pro published books.
2. Post an honest review on Amazon about the book.
3. Email me at michellegflye@gmail.com to let me know you posted a review.
4. Winner (selected by random draw) will be announced August 15 6 p.m. Eastern!

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What can I say about Tracks in the Sand? (Excerpt at end of a long and rambling post.)

Well, it’s out now, for one thing. My ninth novel. Wow. That number sort of floors me. When I wrote Secrets of the Lotus I actually worried that I might not have another one in me. For those counting, here are my novels, in (as best I can remember) order of release:

Secrets of the Lotus
Winter Solstice
Weeds and Flowers
Ducks in a Row
Where the Heart Lies
Close Up Magic
Escape Magic
Saturday Love
Tracks in the Sand

Tracks in the Sand is only the second novel I’ve set in my hometown, Brevard, N.C. (Weeds and Flowers is the other one;Winter Solstice comes close, but it’s in Asheville.) I can’t really say why that is, either. I love Brevard. I know Brevard better than any other place I’ve ever lived, I think, although it really has changed a lot since I lived there. The dime store is now an antique store. There are more restaurants near the town square than the entire TOWN used to be able to support (anybody remember Berry’s? I loved that place). The library I worked at from the age of 12 to 18 has moved into a much nicer, more modern building and the old library (previously the old post office) is, sadly, being converted into town offices.

But some things remain the same. The last time I was home, I took my kids to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ at the Coed Cinema, the same movie theater I saw “Mary Poppins” at for the first time. And the old hardware store (the one I modeled Sean Anderson’s after in Tracks in the Sand) was right there next door to the movie theater. And the county courthouse, which I also mentioned in my book still “perched on the corner of Broad and Main Streets like a large bird of prey watching the little mouse cars go past.” That’s not a very flattering description, and I’ve always loved that old building, but there really is something deliciously creepy about it.

Anyway, all this rambling is just to say, Tracks in the Sand is set in my hometown, a beautiful little place nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It’s the county seat of Transylvania County, has a population of around 7,500 and an elevation of 2,230 feet. It’s become a tourist destination but it’ll always be home to me.

Excerpt from Tracks in the Sand:

What would she do if I kissed her? Half the attraction was that he had no idea. She might kiss him back, she might hit him or bite him. She might kiss him back and then hit him. Whatever she did, he knew it would be unexpected because that was what Paige was.

“Well?” She raised her eyebrows. “What did you mean?” Her voice was so crisp and no-nonsense, he knew she had no idea what he was thinking.

And why was he thinking it now? But he knew the answer. Before she’d left ten years ago, he’d never been able to imagine his life without her in it and hadn’t been willing to do anything that might destroy what they had and scare her off in the process. But now he’d lived without her. He could do it again, if their relationship didn’t work out.

I don’t need her as a friend anymore. I want her as a woman.

“Sean? You still there?” Her expression had softened a little, concern overcoming some of her irritation.

“I meant that he never deserved you.” He took a deep breath and stepped toward her. “I meant that I can’t stand the thought of you sleeping with him. For revenge or anything else.”

Decision made, he reached for her, caught her by the arm and pulled her to him. Startled and off balance, she tipped forward into him, catching herself by grabbing his chest. Her expression when she looked up at him had changed from confused to uncertain.

“I never said I was going to sleep with him.” She sounded a little breathless…and like she was trying very hard not to sound breathless. The idea that she felt the attraction too and didn’t want him to know pleased him. And she didn’t try to push him away, either.

Maybe this would be easier than he’d thought. Probably not, though.

He slid his arms around her waist, pulling her closer as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “You don’t have to say anything. I know what you’re thinking.”

“Do you?” Her gaze flickered—instinctively and unwillingly—to his lips and back to his eyes. “Do you know what I’m thinking right now?”

“Sure.” He grinned. “You’re thinking that if I don’t let go of you you’re going to knee me in the groin.”

“Then why are you still standing so close?” She tilted her chin, her voice determined.

“Because you’re not going to do it.” He deliberately stopped smiling, and, still keeping a firm grip on her waist with one arm, he lifted a hand to trace the softness of her lips with one finger. He knew her so well. Even after all these years, he could read the nuances of her expression, could see the battle between attraction and irritation. I’m probably the only one who can do that, too. The wonder of it filled him.

“Why would that be?” Her arms slid up a little to his shoulders. She could be about to knee him in the groin or move further into his embrace. Knowing her, she probably hadn’t made up her mind yet.

For answer, he moved his hand to brush back her hair, exposing the tender skin beneath her ear. Bending, he took a deep breath of her and kissed the spot, feeling her tremble in response. Because you feel the same way I do and you’re wondering why we haven’t done this a long time ago if it feels this good. He didn’t have to speak the words. When she slid her arms around his neck, moving her lips to his, he knew she knew.

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I’m not sure I actually write romance.

It’s not that I don’t want to. Or even that I don’t try. It’s just that I’m told…over and over…that even though my stories have strong romantic elements (and…spoiler ahead…a happily-ever-after ending), they’re not really romance. Check out the following quotes from actual reviews:

“Reading this book was an odd experience, and my grade for it really depends on what it’s trying to be. As “womens’ fiction” this is quite an engaging story, but as a romance it fails.” –Amazon review for Where the Heart Lies

“Even though I was not thrilled with the romance in the book, it is still a worthwhile read.” –Amazon review for Where the Heart Lies

“a well-written, thought-provoking novel and is not what I expect from a typical romance” –Amazon review for Ducks in a Row

“Although categorized as romance, it is not the typical romance that I normally read.” –Amazon review for Ducks in a Row

You get the picture. I have had to accept the fact that I don’t always write the typical, run-of-the-mill, escapist romance. However, I feel the romances in the two books above were the meatiest (ooh, not a romantic descriptor at all) ones I have ever written. And here I am with another offering that probably won’t please all romance lovers.

Image

Tracks in the Sand has been turned down by some of the best romance publishers out there. I suspect it’s because although it fits RWA’s definition of a romance (it has a central love story with a happily ever after ending), it isn’t your mama’s romance. And it’s not what passes for romance in today’s market, either.

First of all, my heroine is a tough little bitch. Seriously, she is. In fact, one of the editors who turned Tracks down originally told me she couldn’t relate to the heroine as she was written then. I softened her a little, but I didn’t want to change her too much. She’s been through some serious shiznit in her life, and her current attitudes about people and situations reflect that.

By contrast, my hero is not an asshole. He’s warm and kind and exactly what the heroine needs to heal. He knows what he wants, he’s not afraid to go after it, he’s even successful—although not a doctor or a lawyer or any of the typical trades. He’s not even a fireman. In fact, he owns a hardware store.

And though the romance is central to the story, the heroine’s journey is fraught with many topics you don’t find in typical romances. Cancer, alcoholism, and child abuse to name a few. Not romantic subjects but perfect obstacles to add a touch of reality and depth to her story.

So I have to say…don’t read Tracks in the Sand if you’re looking for escapism. It’s not that kind of romance. However, if you want a story that’ll make you believe in the strength of love and family and forgiveness, I think this one might be it.

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