A Caryn Review: Midnight Flit (The Carstairs Affairs #2) by Elin Gregory

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I did not know when I read Eleventh Hour 3 years ago that there would be a sequel.  Three years, for me, is plenty of time to forget a book that wasn’t a standout, especially when I’m not waiting for a sequel.  Well, I remembered this book, and these characters, and was very excited to see they were coming back for another adventure!  This is another action story with espionage, danger, exotic locales including – wait for it – the Orient Express!  And, of course, silk stockings and fabulous frocks for my favorite cross dressing spy.

1931.  London.  A time of considerable political unrest in Europe, with the rise of the fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany, and Britain trying to determine who were allies and who enemies.  Miles Seward, linguist, cipher clerk, and occasional cross-dressing spy, received an encoded message from his mother, stationed at the British embassy in Bucharest.  She was in danger, and he embarked upon what was supposed to be a quick and simple extraction to bring her back to London.  The stakes were much higher than either of them thought, and they were immediately ambushed on their way to the air strip.  Fortunately, Miles brought the accoutrements for his transformation into his alter ego, Millie, and with some quick thinking they escaped Bucharest and made their way to Belgrade, where Briers Allerdale was stationed undercover.  Miles and Briers had maintained and deepened the relationship they started three years earlier during their joint mission in London, and despite the peril, working together as Brian and Millie Carstairs was a true pleasure.

The rest of the story is a classic high class spy adventure – evening dress and beautiful jewelry, aristocrats, luxury trains, explosions, car chases, gunfights, witty banter, blackmail – as Miles, Lady Siward, and Briers made their way across Europe to deliver the secrets Lady Siward had so carefully guarded to British Intelligence in London.  It was more than a little over the top, to me reminiscent of a James Bond adventure – Roger Moore rather than Daniel Craig – but I loved it anyway.  As in the first book, alongside the adventure was the romance between Miles and Briers.  There was actually a little more emphasis on the romance in this book than in the first, with both men considering what life might be like if they were out of the intelligence game.  What life could be like together.  And again, the complex role that Millie played in both the men’s psyches.

The cast of secondary characters included some old friends from book one – including Falk, the German spy once again temporarily allied with them but with his own agenda – as well as new ones including several clever and kick ass women.  Millie wasn’t the only woman who was strong and resourceful and took no crap from men.  Lady Siward, her secretary-cum-bodyguard, and the American actress were all courageous, intelligent, and the type of female character I think we need to see more of in historical fiction.

Once again, overall an excellent read.  Beautiful descriptions of scenery, strong characters, fast pace, humor, with well researched historical details and period appropriate dialogue and slang.  There is also what I considered to be a mostly satisfying ending that makes it clear this time there WILL be a sequel.  Which I am eagerly looking forward to, and hoping it doesn’t take another 3 years to come out!

Cover art by Manifold Press implies a darker and more serious story, but the train was totally appropriate.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book Details;

Kindle Edition, 210 pages
Published March 14th 2019
ASINB07NWFJCN2
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Carstairs Affairs #2
Characters Miles Siward, Briers Allerdale

Carstairs Affairs Series:

Eleventh Hour

Midnight Flit

An Ali Audio Review: Handle with Care by Cari Z and John Solo (Narrator)

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 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A fragile heart needs extra care.

Burned-out social worker Aaron McCoy is on vacation for the first time in years–boss’s orders. Road-tripping to his brother’s wedding with his best friend, Tyler, seems a fun way to spend the mandatory two-week leave, and they set out for Kansas–and a difficult homecoming.

Aaron’s mother was a drug addict, and his adorable younger brother was quickly adopted, while Aaron spent his childhood in foster care. As Aaron mends fences, Tyler hopes to show him that this time, he won’t be left behind to face his problems alone.

Aaron’s opening up to how right it feels to be with Tyler and to the possibility of taking the leap from friends to lovers. But along with the wedding celebration comes a painful reminder of the past. Aaron’s heart is still breakable. Can he put it in Tyler’s hands?

I am always leery about reading books where a MC is a social worker. That’s the field I work in and I drive myself crazy when authors don’t get stuff right.  I decided to give it a try anyways because I’m a fan of this author’s and it includes two of my favorite tropes: friends to lovers and road trips. 
 
This was well done and I enjoyed it.  Aaron and his best friend take off for Kansas to go to a wedding.  Along the way Aaron has to deal with a variety of insecurities and unresolved issues from his childhood.  Tyler is there to be a support and as they go along they realize that they’re falling in love.
 
The book is fairly short so a lot of the issues were dealt with a bit more superficially than I would have preferred  (I want ALL the angst) but it was still entertaining.  Their romance was lovely and sweet and I really liked them together.  It was one of those book couples you are rooting for.
 
The audiobook is narrated by John Solo and I thought he did a very good job.  I have liked all of his narrations that I have listened to.  I think a good narrator can really add depth and emotion to a story which I feel was the case here.
 
Cover Art:  This cover was done by Alexandria Corza.  I don’t really care for it.  The Dreamspun series has had various formats for the books in it and this format was one of my least favorites. 
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible
Audio Details:
Audible Audio, 6 pages
Published February 21st 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 16th 2018)
ASIN1644054906
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: Hearts of Fire (Chevalier #1) by Kay Doherty

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Luca Duray has been quite happy living a solitary existence for decades. But when a steel trap around his leg catches him when he’s weak and hungry, his life is irrevocably changed. He knows the wolf shifter who offers him assistance is more than he appears and immediately makes plans to keep the pup close.

 

Disowned by his pack for being gay, Tanner McBane is forced to become a lone wolf. While on a hunt, he stumbles upon an injured dragon shifter and provides aid. It’s not easy surviving on his own and when money gets tight, he finds himself face-to-face with the dragon shifter once again during an interview. Tanner isn’t sure a wolf should be working for a dragon, but he accepts the job and unknowingly creates a bond to his new boss. Soon, Tanner learns Luca isn’t just his boss—he’s his mate.

 

The mating of a wolf and dragon shifter is uncharted territory for both Luca and Tanner, but they are determined to make it work despite widespread prejudice, death threats, and the untraditional pack Tanner finds himself leading. Tanner only hopes that the bond he forms with Luca will prove to be unbreakable.

 

This is one of those stories with a ragtag group of shifters that are brought together by circumstances.  The thing is that everyone says it’s wrong but won’t give any reasoning behind it.  Once they learn about the past they refuse to let the past repeat itself.

 

Tanner is so strong in his own right though he doesn’t know it and gets even stronger with Luca by his side growing their bond and his bond with the pack.  Luca takes to Tanner right away but takes a little to accept the pack but it doesn’t take that long when he knows it would be good for Tanner.

 

This book was a lot of basis for this series and then trying to navigate their new relationship.  I look forward to seeing the others find their mates, hopefully seeing Ross come back from the bloodlust that has started when he was without a pack bond for so long and seeing more of Tanner and Luca.

 

I absolutely love the cover art by Natasha Snow and the few visuals for the story.

 

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 40,100 words

Published: March 11, 2019 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-950412-22-8

Edition Language: English

Series: Chevalier #1

Check Out the New Book Release for The Soulstealers by Jacqueline Rohrbach (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Soulstealers

Author: Jacqueline Rohrbach

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 1, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 90100

Genre: Fantasy YA, LGBT, Magic, soldiers, power struggle, spirits, Penumbra, slow burn

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Synopsis

Arnaka Skytree grew up believing she was chosen to bring new magic to the world. As the heir to the cult of druids responsible for keeping their floating palace habitable for the wealthy aristocracy, she’s expected to wield her power as those before her did: by culling the souls of peasant women.

But when Arnaka learns more about the source of her magic, and that her best friend’s soul will be harvested, she embarks on a journey to end the barbarous practice and to restore a long-forgotten harmonious system of magic practiced by the original druids. Along the way, she discovers she’s not the only girl chosen to restore balance to their world—many others have powerful magic inside, and with them, she will tear the floating palace from the sky so everyone can live in the sun—out of the shadow of the eclipse.

Excerpt

Soulstealers
Jacqueline Rohrbach © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1
The Choosing

Flowers bloomed around Arnaka Skytree. Tiger lilies tickled her feet while orchids pried open one eye. Rose, the pricklier of the three, stuck her with one of its thorns. She puffed some air up in its direction, fluttering petals and her bangs. Late for her Choosing, Arnaka forced the insistent garden out of her mind, to focus on the currents of air traveling around her, picking out the magic radiating from the flowers the way her older brother picked out soldiers to die for him—delicately, decidedly.

Strong magic ran in her family. The ritual she had to go to was nothing but a mere formality. She would be a druid like all the other women in her family before her, down to the original matriarch—Arnaka the Creator—whose name she shouldered. She was bound to it the way her magic was bound to living things. Soon, it would be the last tattoo burned by magical fire into her skin.

Squeezing her eyes shut, she pressed her finger deep into the sifted dirt around her, begging the world to swallow her whole. The flowers, sensing her sadness, bowed their heads, but they couldn’t give her what she wanted. Destiny’s feet were too heavy for soft petals.

“Lady Arnaka? Are you here?”

Nara, one of her maids, stumbled into the conservatory. Arnaka felt the young woman’s life force before she opened her eyes to watch the bony girl blunder over the flowers, which recoiled from her steps, lifting their leafy underparts to avoid a trampling. Arnaka gave Nara’s approach a small, fond smile.

When she finally saw Arnaka, Nara jumped as if surprised. Her brown eyes widened, giving her the appearance of a deer about to be speared. “Lady Arnaka. Your mother wants you in the hall for the ceremony.”

“I know.”

“She sent me here to get you.”

“I assumed.”

“Lady Arnaka…” the poor girl prompted her.

Arnaka sighed. Nara, who was brought here as a servant and lived on the daily whims of her captors, had no choice but to play her role in today’s events. She wasn’t trying to drag Arnaka to the ceremony out of spite, avarice, or revenge. Doing her job without getting hurt was her only goal.

Pity softened Arnaka’s voice. “Of course. Tell Mother I’ll be right there.”

Nara hopped from one foot to the other. Voice barely above a whisper, she said, “I’m supposed to escort you, Lady Arnaka.”

Arnaka lifted her head and glowered at the servant, hoping the severe expression might be enough to send her on her way. Having company on the long trek toward the hall forced Arnaka to be strong. Really, all she wanted to do was run, hide, vanish.

You promised, she reminded herself. You promised you’d go through with this, and that you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

With a wince, the servant tried again. “My lady, please. Your mother. She’ll—”

“Very well. Come on,” Arnaka interjected before Nara completed the statement with “punish me.” Hearing about her mother’s temper coupled with her propensity to harshly correct servants for slight failures would only twist Arnaka’s already knotted emotions.

“Thank you, Lady Arnaka.”

Said as if she had a choice. “You’re welcome.”

Banter wasn’t something Arnaka lavished on the silly, sweet girl. The walk down the hall was silent. Nara didn’t seem to mind the quiet, or notice. Newly employed, she occupied a world where magic was still magical. The diamond archways casting rainbows to the reflective surface beneath their feet dazzled. Gold shone. Ruby and sapphire mosaics sparked her brown eyes to flame. Tiredly, Arnaka grabbed the gawking servant, who tripped over her own feet as she ogled the spectacle, by the upper arm to drag her inside the transport.

“Ceremonial hall.”

In moments, they arrived. In front of them, the entire court gathered. Thousands of nobles, maybe more, in their best attire.

Her mother broke from the crowd and rushed over. “Arnaka, my daughter. You are radiant today.”

Both of them had black skin that always seemed moonlit and black hair that grew in thick waves. Her mother’s was always swept up into elaborate twists. Arnaka cut hers rebelliously short, letting her curly bangs cover her golden eyes, the pride of her family line. Look into your future mirror, the elder druids always liked to say, you are the spitting image of your mother.

Although her mother was undeniably beautiful with her high cheekbones and angular features, Arnaka’s pleasure in hearing about their resemblance waned. She didn’t want to be kin to a monster.

The swirl of Mother’s elaborate gown extended a foot or two in each direction. Mercurial as the woman herself, its folds, bows, frills, and ruffles shifted on whim in color and in style until she settled on a deep royal purple with a long ivory lace train that fluttered in the air like a cobweb in the breeze.

“Wasteful as always, Mother.” Arnaka pointed to the dress, to which she still made minor adjustments. Meanwhile, the living gathered around her looked wary. Druid magic required life, willing or not. “Glad you settled on something before the whole assembly was depleted.”

A few of the nobles glanced at their feet and cleared their throats but did not comment on the awkward exchange. Her brother puffed his chest. “Sister,” he bellowed, not unlike a braying goat. “We have waited for this moment your whole life.”

Lacking the refinement of magic, Escan’s features looked blunt and staggered as though whoever carved him had jittered uncontrollably during the process. Only his eyes, the color of golden flame that was his family’s legacy, rendered him attractive. Every girl wanted babies with ladder-climbing genes and nothing said advancement quite like the bloodline of old aristocracy. Otherwise, her brother lacked figurative magic as well as literal. He was doing his best to steal the moment despite it.

Arnaka looked at the assembly of aristocrats before her. Like her mother, they wanted all the religion with none of the sacrifice religion required. Servants were there to pay the life price for their magic. In a pinch, merchants would do. Who better to understand there was a cost to doing business? This was probably the first time in centuries any of them felt the intrusive pull of magic’s touch at their own doorstep.

Resigned to what was to be, Arnaka raised her voice to carry across the room. “I am here to bring new magic.”

Applause broke out. Arnaka winced away from it, hating the fact they clapped for her, for the evil thing they were about to do. You promised her, Arnaka had to remind herself again. You looked her in the eye and said you’d go through with this, then you’d keep it from happening to anyone else.

She’d been so focused on remembering her vow that she forgot the ceremony. The pain from the burning as her final tattoo, a small circle on her forehead, seared her skin surprised her. More than any of the other tattoos branded into her arms and back, it hurt with pain beyond the smell of her own flesh, beyond the residual throb of the wound. It foretold what was to come after.

As the smoke around her cleared, a young woman a few years older than her was escorted forward. Unnamed at birth, she existed to be Arnaka’s spirit sister until she became a soul familiar, forever bound to serve as an instant source of magic. But Arnaka knew her name, a deep secret between them that she’d sworn to keep. She held onto it even as the knife plunged into the young woman’s throat. She thought it when the soul heeled at her side—Hannah. Again when she went to bed with the thing looming over her shoulder—Hannah. Only once more after that.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion! Follow Jacqueline on Twitter.

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Review Tour for Midnight Flit (The Carstairs Affairs #2) by Elin Gregory (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 73,000 words approx.
 
Publisher: Manifold Press
 
The Carstairs Affairs Series
 
Book 1 – Eleventh Hour – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
 
Blurb


Miles Siward and Briers Allerdale return for another thrilling Jazz Age adventure .

“Silk stockings on expenses.”

Miles’s aristocratic mother has information of importance to the British Government and he must escort her home from Bucharest immediately, but their plans go violently awry and Miles and Lady Siward find themselves on a train to Belgrade – where Miles’s lover is posted. Since their pursuers are looking for a man and a woman, might two women slip past them unnoticed?

“Is anyone on this train who they say they are?”

Briers doesn’t know whether to kiss Miles or punch him but is delighted to accompany him and his mother on their journey. All he has to do is keep an eye open for their enemies – but who exactly are they; the enormous Russian, the sinister priest, the handsome jazz pianist, or maybe the winsome young movie star? And his mother-in-law might just be the most terrifying of all!

All aboard for the ride of a lifetime, with a cast of characters you’ll never forget!


Excerpt


Secret Intelligence service operative, Miles Siward, is preparing for a mission with the assistance of his gentleman’s gentleman, Pritchard.

“Do you miss working for Father?” Miles asked after a moment. “I feel bad that I’ve never asked before, but I was so grateful when you agreed to come back with me and run my little establishment that I suppose it never occurred to me to ask.”

Pritchard paused, his hands full of snowy linen. “Lord bless you, sir, no. Ronald and I were heartily sick of exchanging letters by then, and maybe seeing each other once a year – your father’s commitments allowing. To be offered the chance to come here, with private accommodation provided, was a Godsend. My only worry was that a relationship started in the trenches and continued on paper might not weather more frequent contact.”

Ronald – professional stage manager, natty dresser, a full head taller than Pritchard – was perhaps a little shrill, but one had to be shrill to be heard in theatrical circles. From what little Miles had seen of Pritchard and Ron together, though, they seemed blissfully happy and he wished them well and envied them with all his heart.

“I’m glad,” he said. “Going from valet to His Majesty’s Ambassador in Bucharest to the man-of-all-work of a clerk seems such a come down.”

“We both know that you are far more than a clerk, sir,” Pritchard grinned. “And speaking of more, Bucharest is not that far from Belgrade. While you are there, will there be any chance of meeting with the master?”

Miles snorted. “You mustn’t call Briers that, it only encourages him. He’ll turn up in plus fours and a monocle next, you wait and see!”

“It’s meant affectionately, sir.” Pritchard gave him a serene smile and tucked a rolled black tie and a pair of silk socks in beside the shirt.

“I know, and he loves it.” Miles paused in smiling contemplation of Briers Allerdale – tall where Miles was short, dark where he was fair, a hard-bitten field agent where Miles spent a lot of time at his desk − and thanked his lucky stars that opposites attract. “But sadly I am only going for one night, solely to retrieve Ma and bring her home safely in time for her appointment. A side trip is completely out of the question.

“I understand, sir.” From the sympathetic glint in Pritchard’s eye, Miles knew that he did understand, very well.

 Check out Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here!

 
About Elin
 

Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and works in a museum in a castle built on the edge of a Roman Fort! She reckons that’s a pretty cool job.

Elin usually writes on historical subjects, and enjoys weaving the weird and wonderful facts she comes across in her research into her plots. She likes her heroes hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Often they are in danger, frequently they have to make hard choices, but happy endings are always assured.

Current works in progress include one set during the Great War, another in WW2, one set in the Dark Ages and a series of contemporary romances set in a small town on the Welsh border.

www.elingregory.com
www.facebook.com/elin.gregory
@ElinGregory
www.elingregory.wordpress.com

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Join Us for the New Release Blitz and Giveaway for Honeythorn by Marina Vivancos! Out Now!

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Length: 58,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb
 

Omega Milan Pryor knows his duty. He must travel North through the continent towards the snow, the cold, and his new betrothed. They say that Lord Alpha Raphael Ledford, the man he is to marry, is as artic as the weather of his land. But Milan has always been an optimist. Perhaps he might find friendship in the arranged marriage. Even love.


It doesn’t take long for Milan to realize that all the rumours about Lord Raphael are true. Reclusive, distant, frigid. Milan finds himself unwelcome in what he must now call his new home. He’s used to fighting for what he wants—but can he survive a husband as cruel as Lord Raphael?


Being bonded to one who rejects you is a painful thing. Will Milan be able to win his husband’s regard? What terrible secret is Lord Raphael keeping, and will Milan be able to discover it before it’s too late?


Or will Milan perish along with his heart?

 
Author Bio


When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.


Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.


Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.


Marina tends to keep to herself unless prompted, so don’t be shy in approaching her!

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Cover Reveal for Play Hard (A Glasgow Lads Novella) by Avery Cockburn (giveaway)

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Cover Design: Damonza
 
Release Date: April 23 2019
 
Length: 32,000 words approx.
 
Glasgow Lads Series
 

The Glasgow Lads series centers around an all-LGBTQ football/soccer team in contemporary Scotland. Though the series has an overarching storyline, each novel features a new couple and a happy ending, so they can be read in any order. The series also includes a prequel novella and two (soon to be three) “happier-ever-after” followup stories.


Book 0.5 – Play On – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book 1 – Playing For Keeps – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book 2 – Playing To Win – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book 2.5 – Play It Safe – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book 3 – Playing With Fire – Amazon US | Amazon UK 
Book 3.5 – Play Dead – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Throwing Stones (A Glasgow Lads On Ice Novella) – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book 4 – Playing In The Dark – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

“I’ll always want more of you.”


Robert McKenzie lives to work. He’s fresh out of university as a video-game entrepreneur, and his new app could actually save lives. But burning the candle at both ends means missing out on the best parts of his own life—including his boyfriend, Liam.


Liam Carroll works to live. His job as a bartender pays the rent—if not always the heating bill—and that’s plenty for now. But Robert’s workaholism reminds Liam his own life is going nowhere, and his own dreams are scaring the pants off him.


To jolt them out of their ruts, Robert invents a new game: He and Liam are to take turns offering each other sexy new challenges with irresistible rewards.


Of course, Robert gets more than he bargained for, as Liam takes their game in one surprising direction after another. Whether it’s in the bedroom, on the football pitch, or at the pub (or even the supermarket?), the things they learn about each other—and themselves—could change their lives forever.


Play Hard is the feel-good, staying-in-love story the world needs right now!


Note: This happier-ever-after novella features the main characters of Playing With Fire but can be read as a stand-alone story.


About The Author


Hiya, I’m Avery Cockburn (rhymes with Savory Slow Churn). Under my real name (Jeri Smith-Ready) I wrote over a dozen novels for major publishers. As an indie author, my days are filled with beautiful men who play beautiful games in the most beautiful place in the world. Thanks to my pure awesome readers, it’s pretty much the best job ever.


I live in the United States with one infinitely patient man and two infinitely impatient cats. Join my quarterly-ish newsletter at www.averycockburn.com/signup to receive a free book plus loads of exclusive bonus material. Cheers!

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