Shadow & Bone – Leigh Bardugo

10194157Title: Shadow & Bone
Series:
(
The Grisha, #1)
Author:
Leigh Bardugo
Category: Young Adult
Rating: 5

Goodreads

 

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

MY REVIEW

“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me.”

Leigh Bargudo has created a very beautiful, albeit ravaged mystical world of Ravka where the Grisha (people with…supernatural abilities) serve the King and yield to the being named the Darkling.

Alina Starkov is an orphan, completely overlooked and unaware of what she is. She’s serving as a junior cartographer in the army, where her best friend Mal is serving as a soldier. As the army passes through the horrific darkness called The Shadow Fold, they are attacked by vocra, monsterous beings that make traveling through the Fold deadly. Mal is attached, and Alina unsurfaces her ability that she’s buried so far deep within herself, she never knew it existed. A sun summoner, the only of her kind, she is whisked away to the Little Palace by the Darkling to learn to hone her abilities and help him destroy the Fold.

Within moments, I was in love with the mystic, perilous world Bargudo has created, even pouring over the map of Ravka as I read the book to determine where our heroine was every moment. I devoured this book every little chance I had to sneak a moment to read. I was enticed by the Darkling, same as Alina. Even though I predicted what he would become, it didn’t stop me from loving him any less. Until he did it, then I was like:

And the relationship between Mal and Alina? Even if he wasn’t there for nearly half of the book, when they were together, you could see their connection. They were both orphaned, growing up in Kerazim, and their friendship was a natural bond that some authors have trouble showcasing it.

All in all, I can’t believe I left this unattended on my bookshelf for months. I was afraid to read it in fear of not liking it, but I am grateful it was such a good read, and once I tore through Shadow and Bone, I went and kindle’d Storm and Siege because I absolutely could not wait to go to the bookstore eventually and pick it up. Especially with that jawdropping cliffy. Definitely a 2013 favorite must-read!

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Masque of the Red Death – Bethany Griffin

15745753Title: Masque of the Red Death
Series:
(
Masque of the Red Death, #1)
Author:
Bethany Griffin
Category:
Young Adult
Rating: 4

Goodreads

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

MY REVIEW

“And I’m falling in love with you,” he whispers. “But I would throw you in the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought that doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me.”

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, this is a lovely work. I loved the gothic style mood, the streampunk, the haunting melody that flows within the pages. Bethany Griffin has taken a dark influence from Poe and created a similarly dark gothic adaptation.

Araby Worth is a teenager living in a world consumed by the plague. Haunted by the death of her twin brother Finn, she spends her nights with April attending parties, losing herself in the numbness that drugs provide. It is there she meets April’s brother, Elliot, the nephew of the evil Prince Prospero, and Will, who works at the Debauchery Club while trying to take care of his younger siblings. Araby is thrust into the real world, away from the careless that her drugs provide, and discovers that she may be able to help save countless lives from the plague and the villainous Prince Prospero.

Throughout the story, I was enchanted. I’ve never read much Poe, but I loved the darkness of this story, where no one has a shred of innocence and those who appear good do bad things. I loved the descriptions of the porcelain masks and the nights of debauchery and the constant threat of disease and death. Even the love triangle wasn’t obnoxious as they tend to be in countless YA novels. Will isn’t the perfect guy he comes across as, and Elliot isn’t entirely bad. Everyone is human, and there is both good and bad in them as they try to navigate the devastation in the city. Even April, who seems like the annoying best friend that doesn’t give a damn about anything but herself grows as a character for the little time she is present while still remaining herself.

I really loved the Masque of the Red Death and would definitely read the upcoming sequels. Even if you aren’t a fan of Poe, this haunting influence pays homeage to the original story without dwelling in it constantly. If you like slow but never boring stories and being thrust into a dark and enchanting world, look no further.

Incarnate – Jodi Matthews

15745753Title: Incarnate
Series:
(Newsoul, #1)
Author:
Jodi Matthews
Category:
Young Adult
Rating: 3

Goodreads

NEWSOUL
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

 

MY REVIEW

“Im not going to waste time being angry about things I cant control. If I only have one life, I should make the most of it.”

Ana is a newsoul, the first born in five thousand years. And since the day of birth, she has been both hated and feared. Other souls have been reincarnated over and over for the last five-thousand years, and Ana’s appearence and the disappearence of Ciana instills fear into many that she may be the beginning of the end.

Raised by a bitter mother who believed she was a “nosoul”, incapable of true emotion or feeling, Ana sets out on her eighteenth birthday for a journey in self discovery. She wishes to travel to Range and implore the library for any explanation there may be as to why she was born and replaced Ciana. Along her path to self-discovery, she meets Sam, who shows her that she isn’t the nosoul her mother claimed her to be, but a newsoul. Tensions rise when dragons attack, and everyone knows that one attack will lead to others. Many blame this sudden attack on Ana’s arrival in Range.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about Incarnate. There are many aspects I found creative, such as the world building and how Ana is the first soul born in five milennia. The narrative flowed well, and Ana is a fighter, but there were things I had a difficult time accepting. If these thousands of humans have been reincarnated and remember everything from their previous lives, why haven’t in five milennia have they came up with ways to dominate over the dragon and sylph that attack them so frequently? Even Sam has died thirty times by dragons, but no one has developped much of a defense system?

Not to mention, I often worried about the romance between Sam and Ana. No, not the fact he’s technically five thousand years old to her meagar eighteen years of existence. He’s been reborn over and over, and many have stated that he had lovers in the past, even Ciana, whom Ana replaced. It made me wonder if he only loved Ana because she’s the first new thing thats ever happened to him in several lifetimes. I won’t even go into the fact that reincarnation isn’t gender specific and Sam has been a woman in several lifetimes and everything is all wibbly wobbly.

Most of the book is spent on the romance building between Sam and Ana, rather than her trying to find things out. And the end was lackluster, as if that was the big reveal? That’s it? It feels like Jodi freaked out about her ending and had no great idea as to Ana’s background so she made it as simple as possible and leaves us with a boring resolution.

I grant this three stars for the world building and the beautiful cover. But honestly, it didn’t make me feel anything at all, really. I’m not sure if that’s worse than raving mad and hating it, because at least then I feel something toward it. It’s okay. I won’t be screaming in joy to read the sequel nor will I be ripping my hair out raving stark mad about how much it annoyed me.

The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

15745753Title: The 5th Wave
Series:
(The 5th Wave, #1)
Author:
Rick Yancey
Category:
Young Adult
Rating: 5

Goodreads

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

MY REVIEW

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”

Do you like alien invasions? What about intense action and mild romance? Or maybe you like apocalyptic novels? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions (or all of them), then this is the book for you! Told in multiple pov’s ranging from protagonist Cassie to a broken soldier nicknamed Zombie, this story is compelling from each.

1st wave: Goodbye cell phones, cars, planes, television and electricit.
2nd wave: Adios coastal cities that are now underwater.
3rd wave: Sayonara to a hefty percent of whats left of the world’s population. Birds are spreading a horrific, epidemic disease.
4th wave: Trust no one. How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.
5th wave: Well… Read to find out?

Cassie Sullivan believes she very well may be the last person on Earth. She hasn’t seen another human being since her first kill of a gutted, dying soldier in a corner store outside of what was once civilization.

Unbeknownst to Cassie, she’s being hunted, stalked, by someone she called a Silencer. Silencer’s are those that were once as human as you or, well, you, (don’t stare at my third eye and tentacles, please), who were invaded by a silent intruder in the womb. A Trojan Horse, if you will. This Silencer has been waiting to pick off Cassie for a long time, hoping that her human survival instincts compel her to seek out other survivors.

Elsewhere, we have Zombie, whom once was just a teenage boy that harbored guilt that he left his baby sister to die. Now, he’s a soldier, training to eradicate the infected on the eve of the 5th Wave.

Other mentionables are Sammy, Cassie’s younger brother, who was taken, and sweet farmboy, Evan Walker, who nurses Cassie back to health and may be hiding a deadly secret.

The characters are so real and flawed, trying to survive and willing themselves to find something to live for, and none of them are willing to lay down and let the aliens win. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy or check this out at the local library! It’s even being optioned for a movie!

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

15745753Title: Eleanor & Park
Series:
Standalone
Author:
Rainbow Rowell
Category:
Young Adult
Rating: 5

Goodreads

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

MY REVIEW

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

1986. The Space Shuttle Columbia is launched. Voyager 2 makes its first encounter with Uranus. Eleanor, an overweight redhead steps onto a school bus and sits next to Park Sheridan.

Park is a half Korean boy who lives a fairly nice life, with two loving parents and doesn’t know what its like to go to bed hungry or share his bedroom. Eleanor Douglas shares her room with her three brothers and younger sister, living in a highly dysfunctional family in a small, run down home with no bathroom door.

While these two may live within walking distance of another, they come from different words. From the moment Eleanor stepped on the school bus for the first time, she was already an outsider, with her flaming red hair and odd thrift store clothes. When no one offers her a seat, Park angrily tells her to sit down next to him, and proceeds to ignore her for the duration of the trip. For days and weeks, the two ignores each’s existence despite sitting six inches from one another to and fro. One day, Park catches her reading his comics over his shoulder, and begins to lend her his comics. They bond over music, with Park making mixtapes for Eleanor to listen to. Eventually, they even begin holding hands on the bus.

That’s whats so great about this novel – there isn’t some insta-love between the characters that you find in your typical high school romance novels. These flawed characters are very much opposites and over time, develop an reluctant friendship that eventually leads to love. And even then, everything is not all lovey-dovey and cutesy, and the two fight and argue a lot and kiss and makeup, just like almost any other teenage couple.

Overall, I liked this, even if it didn’t have more plot than two teenagers falling in love despite all their differences and the world trying to keep them apart. If you’re looking for a realistic romance of high school and first love, look no further.

Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson

7719248Title: Tiger Lily
Series:
Standalone
Author:
Jodi Lynn Anderson
Category:
Young Adult
Rating: 5

Goodreads

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

MY REVIEW

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve ever heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.”

Oh my. Where do I even begin? Jodi Lynn Anderson, you deserve all the awards. This novel is sheer brilliance – a novel in which we hear the tale of Tiger Lily, as told by Tinker Bell. While Tink herself cannot speak, as faeries have no language, they can sort of read minds and emotions. Tiger Lily has been part of Tinker Bell’s life for a long time. Tink is viciously loyal to Tiger Lily, even if she cannot speak and the outcast Tiger Lily never really acknowledges her, there are precious moments in which Tink is surprised by how Tiger Lily cares for her, even saving her when she becomes waterlogged.

When the lonely Tiger Lily meets Peter, the story delves into their friendship and eventually, their romance. After all, before Wendy came along, he belonged to Tiger Lily. This isn’t the cute rainbows and sunshine Disney Peter Pan, and there are instances of murder and suicide throughout the work. To the others in Tiger Lily’s tribe, Peter is a murderous and ruthless killer. Tiger Lily sees that these stories are in fact just that, stories. After their chance encounter, Tiger Lily seeks him out and the pair quickly fall in love. During the day, she lives her life in the village, where her impending marriage to Giant taunts her, while at night, she lives the life of the lost boys in the burrow.

As I hungrily devoured this book, I was led through a roller-coaster of emotions. It’s happy and sometimes joyful, but others make you cry and hate certain characters for being human and changing their minds. This isn’t the cutesy happy ending in fairytales. The characters you root for don’t get what they want, and people get hurt and people die.

Anderson’s Neverland is magical place, but it carries its weight of darkness that is filled with pain and heartbreak. However, happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. Yes, I just went Dumbledore there. Sue me.

Spirit Walk – Richie Tankersley Cusick

16000235Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Rating: 4/5

Purchase from

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Book Depository | Books A Million

SYNOPSIS

Something haunts Miranda Barnes.  It’s in the distant pleading voice that wakes her from sleep, the lingering smell of roses, and the shadows that seem to follow her everywhere. Miranda begins to understand that she has a special gift for communicating with spirits of the dead.  But this “gift” feels more like a curse, and Miranda has no one to confide in.  When Etienne, the mysterious boy from her class, offers to help, Miranda is initially skeptical, but can’t help feeling drawn to him. As paranormal activity escalates, passion  grows, and soon Miranda is caught up in both romance…and tragedy.

MY REVIEW. BEWARE, POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

After a hurricane demolishes her home, Miranda Barnes and her mother pack up whats left of their life and move to St. Yvette, Louisiana to live with Miranda’s grandfather and aunt. Miranda has never met her grandfather, even after days of living in the same vicinity as him. So when Miranda’s new group of friends question how its like to live with the Town Crazy, Miranda is thrust into a world filled with ghosts and spirits. Like her supposed crazy grandpa, Miranda is able to communicate with ghosts and spirits that need her help to move on.

It doesn’t help that there’s many spirits in St. Yvette, home to a vicious battle during the Civil War, where hundreds of spirits are at unrest. While worming on a school project, Miranda and her group of misfits team up to help some of these lost souls, particularly a soldier, Nathan, a soldier that was tortured and murdered during the Civil War, and his love, the actress Ellena Rose, who was a spy spilling Confederate secrets.

I really loved Cusick’s The Unseen series, because those were so chilling and we’re just as in the dark as the characters. Spirit Walk, however, lacks the suspense and the luster of The Unseen. A lot of it is slow, and much of the first book was just working on the school project Spirit Walk where Miranda and her friends put together a history of death and mayhem that has happened in buildings around town, and have a sort of ghost walk. If you’ve ever been to towns like Savannah, Georgia, these are fun little experiences to learn about the history of an old city.

In the second book of this two-parter tome, we find a whole new adventure with Miranda and her friends, especially Etienne. I usually don’t care much for minor characters, usually just one or two at most, but I loved all of Miranda’s friends. The typical Southern Belle, Ashley, whose voice is described as melted honey. Roo, the snarky goth chick whose entirely different from Ashley, but the two step-sisters are thicker than maple syrup. Parker, Ashley’s boyfriend and sarcastic rich boy. Gage, cute and shy, and his cousin Etienne, the drool worthy boy every YA book seems to have.

While it didn’t have the same zest as other books by Cusick, it had spirit all on it’s own.

Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins

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Author: Stephanie Perkins

Rating: 4/5

Purchase from

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Books A Million

SYNOPSIS

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

MY REVIEW. BEWARE, POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

Stephanie Perkins made a fan out of me with her debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss, which was amazing and one of my top reads for this year. However, Lola and the Boy Next Door falls short.

I liked Lola in the beginning, all colorful and quirky with her costumes and wigs and her love for organic food. However, she soon became whiny and moaned and groaned about Cricket, and I expected a big falling out between them, but she carried these hurt feelings and resentment for like two years because a boy rejected her. Not to mention, she had all these feelings when she already had a boyfriend. She led Cricket around, knowing how he felt about her now, for a majority of the book because she didn’t want to break up with her jerk boyfriend.

Cricket… I didn’t much care for him at first, but he grows on you. Of course, not in the same way Etienne grows on you. Plus, who names their kid after a bug? I live in the South where you’d imagine stuff like that happens, but I’ve never heard of such a weird name. Cricket, however, turned out exactly like you’d expect him… the boy next door.

The story itself, for me anyway, was just too drawn out in many places and could have been shorter in places. I found myself getting bored and scanning the page, which becomes a nasty habit when I’m bored.

I’m glad I powered to the ending, even though this is basically the same plot as Anna, this time being Lola has a significant other. Like most YA girls in romance novels, Lola realizes what a dunce she was being and unlike YA novels, instead of crying and whatnot, she tries to earn Cricket. I like that instead of the perfect male specimen and the average girl that most YA features, both of the characters are oddballs – Lola with her costumes, Cricket with his cogs and gadgets.

All in all, it was a decent read, and makes me want to read the third in the series.

Paper Valentine – Brenna Yovanoff

12109772Author: Breena Yovanoff

Rating: 2/5

Purchase from

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Books A Million

SYNOPSIS

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

MY REVIEW. BEWARE, POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

Hannah’s just trying to deal with the death of her best friend, Lillian, when a string of murders occur in her small suburban town. It doesn’t help that her best friend is, for a lack of a better word, haunting her. For some unknown reason, Hannah can see and speak to Lillian, even though they are separated between the living and the dead. While juggling the loss of her best friend and the emergence of a love interest in Finny, Hannah begins to investigate who is murdering girls in her small town of Ludlow.

Pros: Yovanoff has impeccable writing. She describes everything so perfectly, you rarely find your eyes scanning the text for something of interest. Brenna can write about issues that afflict human beings without turning the story into one of those Issue stories. Lillian died of anorexia, Finny had cigarette burns and scars all over him, but it never turned into preachyness nor was it taken lightly.

Cons: I was hoping for a serial killer novel, one that gripped you and held you until the very last page. However, the plot seemed to take a backseat to Hannah and Finny falling for one another. I found myself often sighing, wondering when something good was going to happen. It wasn’t until the last few pages did the serial killer really come to light. Which was surprising, considering that no one seemed to give a damn about a serial killer and went about walking around at night. In a town as small as Ludlow, there would be curfews enforced and parents would be keeping their children under lock and key.

If you’re looking for a romance with a backdrop of murder, this is for you. If you want to be riveted by a thrilling who-dun-it, look elsewhere.

Teaser Tuesday

teasetues

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

 

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

This week’s teaser is brought to you by my current read, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. It is a gem, I stayed up late reading until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, giggling madly throughout.

 

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And that was the moment St. Clair’s head landed between my thighs. Breathe, Anna. Breathe.

 

“He’s jealous. That she loves me more than she loves him.”

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