#BookReview Dark Bliss by Shay Mills

Dark Bliss: Love Knows No Bounds by Shay Mills is a historical, fantasy read full of vampires.

This is a relatively short read packed with lots of content! Vampires, fantasy, history and romance are packed tight all within this book. I was honestly shocked how short it was for how much drama and content there is (which isn’t a bad thing! Sometimes a girl wants a short book with lots going on).

I did find that this book wasn’t aimed at me for it’s audience, but I can appreciate the novel for what it is. Fans of historical romance with a splash of fantasy and horror will enjoy this book.

You might be asking, “So, Briar… Why wasn’t this book for you?” Well, let me explain.

This book started with a strong opening paragraph that had me feeling some incredible horror vibes. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be a romance or purely fantasy novel. That horror element quickly dissipates and unfolds into a period drama. I really wanted that horror element to stick – I thought it was going to be a really cool vibe mixed in with the fantasy and romance. There is the odd splash of horror later on, but it’s not as big of an element as I thought it would be (since it was in that initial opening).

So we keep going – we’ve got lots of characters coming out of the woodworks fast, and some of them only in flashbacks. I wanted a little more description out of these moments. I found this book was heavy in dialogue and not in description. Don’t get me wrong (again), I love some incredible dialogue but I also need a writer to spell out how the setting looks and feels, how the characters are, and so on. Just a pinch more description would have made me a happy reader, but this trend continues throughout the book. That being said, the style is interesting. This book makes it feel like someone is re-telling the story to a friend. It’s how I imagine my buddies telling me about their works of fiction that they write.

The characters were an interesting collection of people. Some you can relate to, some you want to throw off a cliff, and others you wonder if they might have a bigger meaning to the story than they actually do. Alma was a character I loved to hate. I did wonder if she was going to be more of a “big baddie” than she was… But she was pretty insane.

My biggest gripe with this book is the romance. The sex happens ridiculous amounts of times, the orgasms seem unrealistic for how many and how often, and the descriptions of sex felt like a man was writing it. Now, don’t get me wrong again – men can write romance and sex scenes – but sometimes you can tell it’s a man trying to write for a woman. Vibrating junk, orgasms that happen excessive times in a row that would probably kill the woman and just unrealistic sex scenes make me grimace. I like disappearing into a book, but really odd sex scenes tear me out of it.

Add in a few trigger warnings for this book: Abuse towards women, abuse towards pregnant women, miscarriage. All those fun things some readers don’t like – be warned.

Overall, this book is an interesting read. It’s nice to take a trip down a different path in my reading journey. It’s a historical book that takes place in the dark time of slaves with lots of twists and turns.

Three out of five stars.

This book was sent to me in exchange of an honest review.

Give this book a look see by following the links below:
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Amazon.com

Learn more about the author, Shay Mills, through these websites:
https://www.shaymillsauthor.com/
Goodreads Author Page – Shay Mills

Check out some other books on my blog that you might enjoy:
Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell
His Name was Zach by Peter Matruneac
Spiral by Khaled Talib

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#BookReview Winds of Darkness by Rebecca L. Snowe

Winds of Darkness by Rebecca L. Snowe opened my eyes to the wonderful world of fantasy novels.

I normally despise fantasy novels. I have a slew of reasons why they don’t normally vibe with me, yet this book proved to me that maybe it’s just the book and not the genre. Why? Because this book was incredible, kept me hooked and wasn’t confusing.

Seriously, this book made me love fantasy! This kind of book makes me realize why people love digging into these books. There are so many characters, so much world building and yet it didn’t feel like it was all that long. This book is over 600 pages but you wouldn’t know it! Rebecca L. Snowe has a real talent and I hope she continues using it with the sequel to this book (because it left on a massive cliffhanger and MAN do I hate cliffhangers).

Rebecca also does an excellent job with making me enjoy most of the characters. There are always going to be characters you don’t like, but having them all weave together somehow in the story was truly fun and interesting! I loved the Queen (Azkanysh) and the plot line there. The cliffhanger it left for her… Ooh, I need the next book as soon as possible! Rebecca is so mean leaving us hanging there! I also enjoyed Dark Moon and Nathaira. I didn’t expect so many worlds to collide so quickly, but I loved every second of it!

Shapeshifters, Queens taking the thrones over the males (when women aren’t respected), a headstrong Princess trying to make a name for herself, an assassin and more are all apart of this truly mesmerizing book. I highly recommend it if you love fantasy or are just starting out! This is what I hoped Game of Thrones would have been. So, yeah, by my standards this is better than Game of Thrones. With a great, fast paced environment with lots of descriptions and character development, this book is a winner!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Check out this book on:
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Find out urgent updates about Rebecca L. Snowe on:
Goodreads
https://rebeccalsnowe.com/about/
Twitter: @RebeccaLSnowe

Do you love fantasy? Here are some other books featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview Fallen: Princeborn Stolen by Jean Lee
#BookReview Valyo Rising by R.A. Mendsen
#BookReview Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda

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#BookReview Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms by Kiyohisa Tanaka

Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms Volume 1 is an absolutely adorable manga!

I truly loved this little manga and I cannot get enough of it! It’s sweet, fast paced, adorable and magical. It’s also super relatable since it’s dealing with outcast-like characters!

Nid, a young dragonewt, comes across a human girl named Juana. They do not speak the same language and Juana is an unknown species to Nid. Nid is an anxious fellow who doesn’t fit in and is a carnivore among herbivores. He feels misplaced yet somewhat familial with Juana. He decides to go on a quest to help his new friend.

Nid is our eye into the story. We see Juana and watch her interact with the dragons, but Nid is the true lead of this story. His frustrations, anxieties and sense of adventure are all present. It’s really fun to see the non-human side of things for once. Plus, making Nid so relatable to the population of readers that is going to read this book is wickedly smart.

This book is super heart warming and sweet. I need the remainder of this series ASAP. It’s just so kind and lovely and everything I need during a stressful time. It’s a great and happy way to escape everything going on right now. I will say that this book will not be for everything. It did seem kinda niche, but I still think it’s lovely and everything I needed and wanted it to be. Additionally, I could see middle graders, YA readers and adults loving this story. It’s universal for it’s age group.

Also, I love the art style of this manga. The cover itself drew me in and then the illustrations kept me there. It’s colourful, fun and whimsical. I love it!

Five out of five stars!

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Kobo
Indigo

 

If you like fantasy and manga, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you’ll love:
#BookReview The Boy Who Cried Ghost by Richard Clark
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
#BookReview Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing

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#BookReview Tamora Carter: Goblin Queen by Jim C. Hines

If you’re seeking a fun, fantasy book aimed at middle graders then this book is absolutely perfect!

Tamora Carter: Goblin Queen is an eccentric, delightful and over the top book that brought my worlds of joy! Our lead, Tamora Carter, is a roller derbying girl with lots of sass. Her friend goes missing and she’s concerned, like any normal girl would be. Suddenly, goblins and other magical creatures have found their way into her city and things start to get weird. Tamora will work together with her magical creature friends to learn the value of friendship, loyalty and leadership.

There’s so many good things about this book! It’s fast paced, full of fantasy nods to lore and myths, Tamora’s brother is on the Autism Spectrum (he’s non-verbal), and is one incredibly awesome character (never once is his abilities put into question, which is the way it should be), it has a Korean-American lead and it’s action packed. The representation in this book is on point and written in a very friendly manner. The entire book screams fantastic because it’s exactly what I want in a middle grade novel.

The descriptions of the universe and people also make the entire book feel very real. You could almost start squinting at the sewers to see if any magical creatures will pop up.

Adults and children alike will love this book. There is some fighting and swearing, but nothing most kids haven’t heard before. This book felt like the slightly rebellious middle grade book I yearned for as a kid. Seriously, I love it! There needs to be more books like this floating around – fun, action-packed, kid and adult friendly, and full of honest but not preachy representation. Jim C. Hines has crafted a middle grade masterpiece. So, what are you doing? Go read it!

Five out of five stars.

You can find this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
B&N

Find out more about Jim C. Hines by clicking on the following links:
Goodreads
http://www.jimchines.com/
Twitter: @Jimchines

If you love middle grade books, you might enjoy some of these:
#BookReview Snowbound by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
#BookReview I Told You So, Three Strikes You’re Out by Mark Gunning

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#BookReview Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell

Nothing Is Strange or everything is strange?

Mike Russell is a master at oddball books. I always go into these books not knowing what to expect and come out with my mind blown. It’s a similar feeling to watching David Bowie music videos or trying to come up with a valid WandaVision theory (Mephisto or Magneto?).

This selection of short stories is an easy to read and mind boggling adventure. You can jump in and out without the need to worry or fear that you’ll forget something. Each story stands alone and will mess with your mind (in a good way, I promise). This book will grab your attention and keep in the a strange and exciting way. If you love bizarre and want to be enticed, welcome to the world of Mike Russell.

I really enjoyed these stories, if I’m being honest. Their kooky, odd, curious, bizarre, strange and all of the other synonyms you can come up with. It’s the oddity of Alice in Wonderland – it’s delightfully fun yet makes you question reality. The absurdity is what makes it so much fun. Is there meaning there? What is normality anymore?

My personal favourites: Cream Tea, The Diaries of Sun City, and Dunce. The entire book has stories about love, death and grief, some tentacles, miracles and insanity.

This will definitely be a niche book! It’s not for every reader and that’s okay. The books aren’t always straight forward so it can be hard to read in that respect. Either way, these stories will make you grin or grimace in a world full of fun.

Four out of five stars.

I received the book for free from StrangeBooks in exchange of an honest review. Thank you yet again for another lovely and mind boggling book.

Go give this book a gander:
Goodreads: Nothing is Strange
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Check out the fabulous world of Mike Russell by clicking on the links below:
http://www.strangebooks.com/
Twitter: @strangebookseye
Goodreads: Mike Russell

If you love this book (or even the review) clickity clack some of these other links that will take you to other books you might love:
#BookReview ExtraHumans by Susan Jane Bigelow
#BookReview Strungballs by Mike Russell
#BookReview Strange Medicine by Mike Russell

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**Featured image/cover provided by the Publisher – StrangeBooks.

#BookReview GENMOS: Gathering Storms by Stephen M. Coghlan

GENMOS: Gathering Storms by Stephen M. Coghlan is one of the most underrated and under-read books, in my humble opinion.

For one, I am not normally into a lot of sci-fi books. It’s one of those genres that is really hit or miss for me because they can be slow, boring or too technical (or completely wrong in technicality, don’t even get me going on that one). Then in walks GENMOS and man does it change my opinion on sci-fi. If all sci-fi books were this thrilling and interesting to read then I wouldn’t have such a distaste for the genre.

GENMOS stands for Genetically Modified, which shouldn’t be too surprising if you read the synopsis. If you haven’t, let me fill you in. We have all of these GENMOS subjects, who are people who were genetically modified to have animal characteristics. They were designed to help people have the opportunity to live, but you know how the government and evil corporations get: SUPER WEAPON TIME! So, we end up following a giant band of misfit GENMOS who are being sought after but need to fight to stay alive. There’s a lot of them and they are all mixed with cool creatures and have interesting abilities. This is the first book in their tale.

Dude, this was GOOD! It was fast paced, thrilling and kept me interested the whole time. I normally lose patience and interest in sci-fi books but Stephen kept my attention. I’m totally impressed.

The characters are all different and unique and for sure you will find at least one you adore. I especially loved Kobalt (cool name, eh?) but Anna, Tabitha and the rest of the kooky crew will surely grab your attention. It may just take some time to meet your favourite character as they get introduced one at a time. Also, at the end of each chapter, the characters who are introduced get a little stats card of sorts and I LOVE IT. I’m a nerdy reader and love having a little inventory of characters in case I forget or jump away from the book for a while. I highly appreciate it.

Bonus marks: Ontario locations! St. Lawrence River! I’m sorry, but I’m a sucker for books that actually feature Canada. Proud Canadian, eh?

Overall, this action-packed book is full of familial love, loss and growth. It’s a great sci-fi series to dip into that is good from adventurous middle grade readers all the way up to adults.

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Stephen M. Coghlan, in exchange of an honest review.

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Find out more about the author, Stephen M. Coghlan on:
Goodreads Author Page
https://scoghlan.com

If you love sci-fi or fantasy, you might enjoy some of these other books featured on my blog:
#BookReview Urban Gothic by Stephen M. Coghlan
#BookReview Fury by Rachel Vincent
#BookReview Vanishing Hour by Lisa King

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#BookReview Succubus on Top by Richelle Mead

Succubus Blues (the first book in this miraculous series) was one of my top books for 2019. Ever since I was in high school, Richelle Mead was one of my faves. Vampire Academy, Gameboard of the Gods and the Storm Born series ranked high on my list! It seemed only natural to finally pick this seires up.

Georgina Kincaid is a succubus with a mortal, author boyfriend named Seth (she is his ultimate fangirl, by the way). After the contents of the last novel, she learns that they cannot touch or get it on without killing him (that’s a good way to kill the vibe in a relationship). Meanwhile, one of her co-workers has been acting pretty strange, and to top it all off her old incubus buddy Bastien is back in town. Can’t a girl catch a break?

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first one, if I’m being brutally honest. The first book felt like a fairy tail and put really high expectations in my head! Unfortunately, Succubus on Top just didn’t meet those expectations. That being said, it was still a fun ride and worth the read. Everyone I talk to says the series only gets better, and I’m up for the challenge.

Georgina is a relatable character (despite the fact she basically has to sell her body to stay alive). She has flaws, her relationship isn’t perfect and she has temptations. I think we can all relate to that in some way. There are moments where I’m yelling in my head that this is a bad idea, but I know full well I’ve probably made one similar. Then, to top it all off, Seth is the dream man that every girl dreams of and more! That’s probably why this is making out to be an excellent love story. He cares and understands her in ways most people just don’t get, and it’s super romantic. Yet, this isn’t the typical romance novel. It’s not ooey, gooey or mushy gushy – it’s an adult relationship with depth and character (that might sound boring, but I promise you, there’s lots of sex and sexy scenes in this book).

I found the plot to be predictable in this book, while I didn’t really see everything coming in the first book. It’s not the end of the world, but for a sequel I was surprised it didn’t hit me as well as the first book did. Also… there was some quick forgiveness in this book and I feel like it’s not entirely… accurate? Maybe it’s just me.

Another plus for me is all of the side characters – the vampires, demons, angels, etc. Seriously, Carter seems like a fun guy, just saying.

Overall, Richelle Mead is a great writer with lots of grand ideas. I’d recommend picking up this series if you want a romance novel that is so much more (but still packs a good punch!). If you’re tired of the tired billionaire or jerky bad boy, meet Seth the nerdy, sweet and understanding author. He’ll give you chills and be the ultimate book boyfriend.

Three out of five stars.

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Indigo
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If you love fantasy and romance, here’s some other books I’ve loved that you might love too:
#BookReview White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
#BookReview Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda
#TopBooksList Briar’s Top Fantasy Reads, Part 1

 

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#BookReview Bunnicula by James & Deborah Howe

Happy Spooky Month!
This is my favourite time of year, so it’s time to share some of my fave spooky reads! This particular book is a personal fave from my youth. Enjoy!

 

Back in the day, Bunnicula was THE book to read in elementary school. The class clambered to the front of the classroom to sit in our little circle and have story time. This book turned us all into little book loving zombies and we were desperate for more. Unfortunately, our school and teachers were only ever able to get the first book, but that didn’t deter us. We all had it memorized by the end of the day.

Fast forward to 2020. I see this book in a local used bookstore and I decide, “Hey, why not read it again and see if it holds up?” I can see this book for what it is – an absolute delightful middle grade novel that introduces fun horror to youthful eyes. As an adult, it didn’t hold up for me but I still have a special place in my heart for it. Who doesn’t love Bunnicula? Seriously.

Vampire Bunnies. It’s such a unique idea and I LOVE it. This book sits with Goosebumps on my happy, little, Halloween-loving shelf. This bunny goes and drains vegetables, because obviously it was owned by Dracula! It’s a fun concept and super silly! It’s definitely a book I would recommend for parents and educators. Get your little readers into a spooky, Halloween spirit with this little gem!

As an adult, it feels like a funny SNL skit. It’s not scary to us because we know it’s fiction but to little kids it’s a potential nightmare (in a good way, it’s not THAT scary). The anticipation as a child was not there as an adult, but I can still appreciate how wonderfully written this book is. It’s short and sweet but packed full of story!

Also, surprise ending! I forgot how this book ended so I was pleasantly surprised!

The only negative I had with this book was some of the adult references: classic books, taxes, etc. Kids might not understand these terms, but if they have a great adult reader helping them along, it might be a good educational opportunity, I guess.

Overall, this book is a childhood fave of mine that I would still highly recommend! It’s so nostalgic for me and I truly miss the whimsical nature of reading these books!

Four out of five stars.

 

You can find out more about this childhood classic on:
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Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo

 

Looking for more middle grade books? Here’s some recently featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Great Grain Elevator Incident by Kevin Miller
#BookReview Seizure by Kathy Reichs
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr

 

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#BookReview Urban Gothic by Stephen M. Coghlan

Urban Gothic by Stephen M. Coghlan is the dark, mythic novel I’ve been searching for.

Do you remember back in English class where they said don’t use words in the sentence to describe the sentence? Well, I’m gonna break that rule. This book FELT gothic. It gave me goth vibes in so many ways, and somehow Urban Gothic fit the book just right.

The writing is tremendous. I felt whisked away and enchanted, unable to pull myself from the beautiful writing in this book. It felt like artwork, which I can’t always say for reading (yeah, yeah… I know… writing is an art… hush now).

Our lead Alec works in a hospital as a cleaner (but used to be a Medical Technician – what a down grade. That majorly sucks). His past trauma weighs down on him and makes it impossible for him to truly experience his life and dreams. We open on his walking about, and suddenly he sees a woman and three men. It’s not looking good for the lady, so he kills those three wicked attackers, and then tries to save our lady Veleda. She’s quite mystical and fantastical, making Alec’s life forever changed. He chooses to go on quite the adventure with her, and disappear into a world of gothic insanity.

The dreamscape and the other realm with different people (and their kooky abilities) was so cool. It’s one of those unique imaginative ideas that you’ve probably dreamed about and wanted to write about, but never did. It gave me those dreamy vibes and made me just so impressed. The story really pulled me in, and I am totally enchanted by Stephen’s writing and ideas. Like, I can’t express it enough. The descriptions alone gave me wonderful and intense images in my head. I love this! It’s so cool! The story is so good at whisking the reader away.

But that’s just me – me and my nostalgic love of gothic reading. It gave me dark Alice in Wonderland vibes, mixed with Donnie Darko and Rocky Horror-esque niche-ness.

There’s also a fair amount of action throughout the pages. I loved the mix of dramatic story telling and thrills packed tight in this story. It’s just enough to pull you along but also keep you intrigued.

Ah, I love this.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free from the author, Stephen M. Coghlan, in exchange of an honest review.

Check out this marvellous book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo
B&N

Find out more about the author, Stephen M. Coghlan on:
Goodreads Author Page

If you enjoyed this review, check out some other books featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview Fallen: Princeborn Stolen by Jean Lee
#Book Review Boston Metaphysical Society By Madeleine Holly-Rosing
#BookReview The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis

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#BookReview How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

So, it’s Halloween time around the blog. You might not like all the horror featured here, so I figured I might add some other genres in too! Werewolves are related to Halloween, so a little romance featuring a werewolf couldn’t hurt, right? Not everyone wants horror books to fill up their TBR shelves. Lucky for you, I have other awesome books to stock up your TBR. Molly Harper’s sexy series is definitely one of my faves! Check out my review below:

 

I accidentally stumbled across this book as a local discount store and the cover instantly caught my eye. I kept eying this book down, knowing full well I needed to pick it up, and I finally caved. To no one’s surprise, I have been eying this cutesy romance on my book shelf for AGES and I finally knew it was time to pick it up. Nothing is better than my guilty pleasure – romances with a pinch of fantasy!

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf follows our lead Mo when she moves to a distant, small town in Alaska. She wants to get away from her parents overly obsessive nature of basically controlling her life. It’s like this move was meant to be, because suddenly she has friends and a job, and a hot man chasing after her. One day, sexy Cooper wakes up naked on her door step, and guess what? He’s the naked werewolf! But is he the werewolf/creature killing the people showing up dead in their town? Mo and Cooper will have to investigate. Will their relationship survive? You’ll need to read to find out…

This book was super funny and an absolute delight. I felt myself sinking into this book and disappeared until I have binged the whole thing. It really is a lovely, HEA type romance with just enough fantasy and paranormal in it to make it interesting. I really enjoyed watching Mo develop relationships and finally fit in somewhere. It’s what every reader seems to want – just to fit in – so it was easy to relate to her. I really liked Mo’s arc and that quite a few characters developed over time and became more likable. Also, Mo is thirty years old! Do you know how great it is to see a romance book where the character is an actual ADULT who doesn’t have her life figured out yet? RELATABLE. SUPER RELATABLE. THANK YOU!

Cooper is a more rough character and maybe not the most romantic of men, but I didn’t care. I was more focused on the fun Mo was having and the amazing sex scenes those two were romping in. This book is also a wee bit predictable, but that’s what I like in my guilty pleasure reads. Anywho, it seems like every plot has been done to death anyways.

There was a few “rougher” parts of this book – brutal death of a character who deserved some bad things to him, and a really sad loss – but other than that it’s a great contemporary, paranormal romance. I honestly don’t see anything bad with it because any “issues” that were there were so minor it didn’t matter. Sooner or later, I will need to find the remaining books in this series and binge it. Molly Harper is gearing up to be one of my new fave authors.

Overall, I loved this book! It’s sweet, light, full of romance, funny, mushy, sexy and just a great all around read!

Four out of five stars.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo
B&N

You can find more Molly Harper books on:
Goodreads Author Page
http://www.mollyharper.com/

If you love romance, here’s some other books you might enjoy (regardless of the spooky time of the year or not):
#BookReview Love Comes for the Army Ranger by Savannah Adams
#BookReview The Perfect Fit by Mary Jayne Baker
#BookReview For Her Own Good by Tamsen Parker

 

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