Love That Hint of the Magical in your Stories? Check Out the New Release Blitz for He Dreams Magic by Emme C. Taylor (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: He Dreams Magic

Author: Emme C. Taylor

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 28, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 88100

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, alternate universe, literature, horror, captivity, magic, magic users, action/adventure, monsters, slow burn

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Synopsis

Ren has always wanted to leave, to escape his quiet village life. He wakes up from gold-tinged dreams with his heart pounding and a yearning for something he can’t name, can’t hold. He longs to experience something magical just once in his life.

Nico’s monsters don’t lurk under the bed. They walk in daylight. They haunt him every day of his life. He’s possibly the strongest magician of his time, yet he’s trapped. All he wants is an out.

At a magical carnival in the middle of a forest, Ren and Nico collide. They’ve been on this collision course their entire lives, always hurtling toward each other. For both men, escape is now. They have no choice but to flee together. Monsters and betrayal hunt them across strange lands. They find themselves on a journey to save each other—and possibly the world. All they have is one another, Nico’s magic, and a lifetime of half-remembered dreams. But finding each other, finally having someone to rely on, might be the strongest magic of all.

Excerpt

He Dreams Magic
Emme C. Taylor © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Ren

The lake was on fire. Ren dipped his oars into the water and swept himself closer to the blaze, each stroke an exultation. He’d been waiting months for this, counting down the hot summer weeks to autumn and rain and flames.

He was ready to throw himself into the burn.

The fire came on time, as it did every year. The first rainstorm of autumn brought them down from the sky. Or so the story was told. Ren couldn’t quite bring himself to believe they rode through the skies on storm clouds and dropped to the ground between thunderclaps, stealing their impossible power from the lightning.

Then again, they were magicians. Anything was possible.

Ren’s village, Klein, lay huddled in the dark at his back. On the opposite shore, half the forest flickered red. The low clouds caught and held the glowing light from below. The spectacle could be seen from every village in the surrounding valley, a beacon: come, step into the heat, play with us, burn with us.

For the first time in his life, he was going to see it up close. From the quiet safety of Klein, the spectacle always gave the impression of a town set aflame. So near to it, it wasn’t like that at all. More like the whole world had ignited. His fingers around the wood paddles twitched with anticipation. This was it. Finally. Finally.

By the time Ren reached the middle of the lake, half of it alight, a bright crimson flared across the surface and leaped like waves in wind. Reflections set the rest of the lake ablaze so that it seemed to Ren he was sitting in the very middle of the conflagration. So far, he had avoided the areas of the lake that had caught flame.

Magic. God, yes. He could practically taste it in the air, and he wanted more of it. He’d dreamed of magic for years, a gold thread of it always in his mind’s eye. Since childhood, magic remained a ball of yearning lodged in his chest. Ren had to see it for himself. Touch it. Experience it. He wanted to drink it, have it sear his throat.

For years, he’d heard whispers of this from people in nearby villages, those who had gotten close to it over the years.

Those who’d walked through it—and come out on the other side.

Ren paused in the middle of the lake to take it all in. He would be seeing fire in his dreams that night.

His turn had come to walk into this wild world.

He dug his oars into the lake, his reflection rippling away from the boat with each stroke. Ren pushed himself closer to the ruby burn, a moth drawn to the dangerous lure of light.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Emme C. Taylor can be found wandering stormy beaches with a pen and notebook in hand, waiting for inspiration or lightning to strike. She believes the atmospheric environment helps her to write the grittiest parts of her stories. Crochet and dark chocolate ease her mind when her characters aren’t cooperating. Emme will happily talk about almost anything to avoid having to talk about herself. How about this weather, huh?

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A Free Dreamer Review: Master of Restless Shadows (Master of Restless Shadows #1) by Ginn Hale

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm has left his home in Anacleto and journeyed to the imposing royal capital of Cieloalta intent upon keeping the youthful oath he made to a troubled writer. But in the decade since Narsi gave his pledge, Atreau Vediya has grown from an anonymous delinquent to a man renowned for penning bawdy operas and engaging in scandalous affairs.

What Narsi―and most of the larger world―cannot know is the secret role Atreau plays as spymaster for the Duke of Rauma.

After the Cadeleonian royal bishop launches an unprovoked attack against the witches in neighboring Labara, Atreau will require every resource he can lay his hands upon to avert a war. A physician is exactly what he needs. But with a relentless assassin hunting the city and ancient magic waking, Atreau fears that his actions could cost more than his own honor. The price of peace could be his friends’ lives.

“Master of Restless Shadows” is the kind of book that should come with the warning “This book will make you late. Do not read if punctuality matters to you.” There aren’t many books that have made me lose track of time so completely.

I read somewhere that this was a spin-off of the author’s well known “Lord of the White Hell” series and that you should read that series before starting with this one. Well, this is the first book I’ve ever read by Ginn Hale and I had no trouble understanding what was going on. I guess it might be set in the same universe.

I will admit it took a little bit to get into the book, mostly because the religion reminded me a lot of Christianity, especially of the Roman Catholic variety. I don’t like it when fantasy religions are so clearly inspired by real ones. But once I got over that, I started to really enjoy the story and when my tardiness started to become an issue. I still think “Sorry, can’t work today, I can’t stop reading” should be an official reason to stay home or at least be late.

The world-building is stellar. It’s very complex and, other than the main religion, utterly fascinating.  It’s never confusing, though, and it’s perfectly interwoven with the plot itself. There’s no boring info-dump and yet you learn everything you need to know.

This is mostly brilliant Fantasy with a very slow-burn romance. The first kiss happens somewhere around the 70% mark, if I remember correctly. But that allowed for a natural development of the relationships and when that kiss finally happened, I was inwardly cheering them on.

The magic system was really interesting. It was a good mix of people who can do magic and those who can’t.

To sum it up, “Master of Restless Shadows” is a brilliant book. I do have on tiny criticism, but since I enjoyed the rest of it so much, I rounded it up to a generous 5 stars.

If you like well-written Fantasy with a bit of romance that happens to be of the m/m variety, then this I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book. Just don’t expect a super romantic love story with a Fantasy backdrop.

I’m a bit on the fence about the cover by Zaya Feli. I wouldn’t expect a Fantasy novel hiding behind it, it looks more historical. It still looks nice, though.

Order it now:  Blind Eye Books  | Amazon | Smashwords

 

 

Book details: Kindle Edition, 671 pages

Published October 8th 2019 by Blind Eye Books (first published October 6th 2019)

Love Epic Fantasy? Check Out the Blog Post for The Twelfth Knight (Guardians of Camelot #1) by Victoria Sue (excerpt and giveaway)

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The Twelfth Knight (Guardians of Camelot #1) by Victoria Sue

Published October 1st 2019

Buy Links:

Amazon US |  Amazon UK

Bitly: bit.ly/TwelfthKnight

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ginn Hale here today on tour for her latest novel The Twelfth Knight.  Ginn has brought along an excerpt as well as a great giveaway.  Check out both below!

✒︎

 

Blurb

To battle an ancient evil, the greatest weapon each hero will have is each other.

Hundreds of years ago, facing defeat, the witch Morgana sent monsters into the future to vanquish a humanity King Arthur wouldn’t be able to save. The King might have won the battle, but now, centuries later, a few chosen men will have to fight the war.

Merlin always hated being named after some mythological wizard. His dad had been obsessed with the magic man of King Arthur’s Court before his untimely death – a loss that had sent Mel reeling in a downward spiral. He is ill-prepared, to say the least, for the outrageous claims of a proper English knight bent on overcoming evil.

Born a commoner, Lancelot was never supposed to be a knight in his own time, never mind now in a modern world he is so woefully untrained to protect. Thrown into a battle centuries in the making, this flawed hero, and a young man too-used to battling monsters of the present day, will have to come together in a last desperate fight to save humanity.

Can Mel and Lance defeat the greatest enemy the world has ever known? Or in the midst of fighting evil, will they discover the real threat has always been a shattered heart?

And what if the one fight they cannot ever hope to win is with themselves?

Excerpt

We know there is something different about you because you can see them. That is an absolute fact,” Gawain said at last.

“You think?”

Mel looked up at the mildly sarcastic tone Ali used, wondering why she sounded irritated.

“Merlin told Lance that he would know when the final battle was nearing. That something would happen to him. A sign.” Gawain stretched out his hands, almost in supplication.

“But I’m not yours, you said so.” Mel stared at Lance, unsure why he still felt the need to point it out. Turn the knife as his gran would say.

Lance bent his head, looking at the floor and frowning in concentration, and Mel felt almost bereft if that was the right word. Like he’d lost something he didn’t know he had in the first place. Am I mad? He barely existed in a crappy apartment and sold his body every night. He’d been originally going to save for something else, to be something else. It had been temporary, he had promised himself. And somehow nearly five years had gone. Would he still be selling sex in another five years, or would some psycho have slit his throat by then? Mel stared at the computer screen. He was protesting the loss of something he didn’t have in the first place.

A change is as good as a rest. His gran said that all the time as well. His earliest memories of his dad were being pulled onto his knee and told stories of knights and dragons and all the heroes his little heart could ever wish for.

And one day it had just stopped. It had seemed like his whole world had been on fire when his dad had woken him frantically and told him to run, as fast and as far as he could, and wait until he came for him.

But he never had. He’d hidden behind some old car and cried until a cop had found him. He’d been reunited with his mom a few hours later, and they’d had to go live in some awful motel. Then the other nightmare started—not worse than losing his dad, but like he’d lost him all over again. He used to lie in that room and have nightmares, some while he was asleep and some while he was awake. His mom was drinking, and it wasn’t long until she had gotten a boyfriend. And more importantly, no one had ever tried to explain what had happened. The sickening realization that his father might have died trying to protect him was a horrible one.

His life became a downward spiral, and his dad had never found them no matter which city Mom dragged him to. As a child he used to sit out at the end of the road and just wait for his dad to show up because he never believed he was dead. And somehow in the years that followed, he had forgotten that.

“What about my dad? I don’t believe with what you have told me his death was accidental, but I would have been easily found if they had looked. And I definitely didn’t meet any mysterious strangers that wanted to look after me.”

He wasn’t that lucky.

“I don’t know,” Lance admitted again. “The only clues we were given were fifteen hundred years ago from a dying man. You may be different because of the name.”

“No,” Mel challenged. “You are clutching at excuses because you refuse to believe Guinevere isn’t coming for you. You have this idea you are going to get her as a reward, but I have news for you, oh mighty knight of the realm or whatever you are. Life isn’t like that. Shit happens. Good guys die and bad guys win.”

His ears screamed with how loud the silence was.

Then Lance jumped up so quickly his chair toppled back, but he was out of the room before it hit the floor.

And Mel deflated. That wasn’t fair. He was sick of never being good enough, but that wasn’t Lance’s fault. “Should I go after him?”

“It depends if you are staying, I guess,” Ali said bluntly and righted the chair.

Mel stared at all of them, their expressions equal with hope and worry. He chewed at his bottom lip. He didn’t feel special, and he wasn’t sure even if Thor decided Mel was his he wanted to belong to him anyway.

Liar. He glanced around the room and weighed up the possibilities before him. Gawain? He wasn’t into the tortured-genius vibe really and had a feeling—even unintentionally—being around Gawain might make him feel a little inadequate.

Kay? On the surface Kay seemed to be as capable as Lance. He was certainly as hot—maybe even better-looking—but there was something about Kay that hinted at a great hurt and hidden vulnerability. He had a feeling it was going to take a strong man or woman to unravel him, and Mel wasn’t sure he was in the right headspace at the moment to be fair to either of them.

Ali? She was a badass, and he had a feeling they could become great friends, but the other half of her soul? Maybe not.

Lucan? Appearance-wise, Lucan was exactly what Mel would go for. Large, brooding, probably dominating in the bedroom, and muscles in exactly the right places…but.

But? Mel nearly screamed the frustrated thought. What was it about Mel that always made him want the very thing he could never have? Stability, honesty. Love?

He pushed the little voice away. “Is it safe here?”

Kay nodded to the computer screen. “More of Gawain’s genius.”

But Thor was still in his head no matter how much he wanted to push him away. How his gray eyes lit with determination. The strong lines of his face that screamed dependability. Mel could imagine him on a horse—would have to be a stallion. Full armor, arm brandishing the huge sword as he yelled his battle cry.

“Show me what to do.”

It was a decision. He lowered his eyes, not wanting to see either triumph or gratitude in theirs. Their enemy might be something unspeakably evil, but becoming dependent on Lance especially was just as dangerous. Someone who—despite his less than definite denials—was in love with someone else, a dead woman. It would be too easy to get carried away and imagine this knight belonged to him.

Giveaway

Victoria Sue is generously offering a $5 Amazon US gift card and an eBook of choice from her backlist to one lucky reader.  Please leave a comment and your email address where you can be reached if picked.  Must be  18 years or older to enter.

About the Author

Victoria Sue

Victoria Sue fell in love with love stories as a child when she would hide away with her mom’s library books and dream of the dashing hero coming to rescue her from math homework. She never mastered math but never stopped loving her heroes and decided to give them the happy ever afters they fight so hard for. 
She loves reading and writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best—and creating a family for them to adore. Thrilled to hear from her readers, she can be found most days lurking on Facebook where she doesn’t need factor 1000 sun-cream to hide her freckles.

www.victoriasue.com

@vickysuewrites

https://www.facebook.com/victoriasueauthor

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1182647028418709/

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/VictoriaSueNewsletter

Don’t Miss Out on the Blog Post for Into The Deep by Amara Lynn (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Exclusive ExcerptWhen he was ready to give up, Lamark finally got a small spark, the beginnings of a fire.

“Yes!”

Yuvie jolted from his nap.

Lamark cupped the little flame and blew gently on it to kindle it, then lowered it into the sticks and brush.

Yuvie leaned closer to the flame, staring at it in awe. Of course, he’d never seen fire, Lamark presumed.

“Careful,” he said, waving his hand between the flames and Yuvie’s nose. “It’s hot.”

“It’s hot?” Yuvie repeated and pointed to the fire.

“Aye, I mean—no.” Lamark fumbled for words. He extended his finger towards the fire. “Fire.”

“Fiiire?”

“Aye.” Lamark nodded.

“Fire!” Yuvie reached out his hand and Lamark had to dive to snatch it back from the flames.

“No, it’ll hurt you.” Lamark made a hissing sound to symbolize pain. “Ouch. Hurt.” He hoped Yuvie would understand and not try to touch it again.

“Ouuuch. Hurt! Fire!”

Yuvie still seemed fascinated, likely at both the words and the flames. At the same time, they both seemed to realize just how close their faces were, and that Lamark was still clasping Yuvie’s hand.

Yuvie jumped, and Lamark skittered back to the opposite side of the fire automatically. His heart thumped wildly against his chest at the sudden proximity, and at the thought of scaring off Yuvie. He looked to Yuvie, at his wide-eyed stare and heaving chest, and feared the merman might disappear back into the deep.

“Please don’t go,” Lamark said. Yuvie was tense, as if he’d jump into the water at any moment.

Thankfully after a moment, he seemed to relax and offered Lamark a gentle smile. His golden hair was illuminated by the setting sun on the horizon, and now it was Lamark’s turn to be rapt.

Lamark shook himself out of it and returned his attention to the fire. He skewered the fish on sticks sharpened on a rock, then held them over the flames. Yuvie watched with keen interest as the fish cooked, even trying to touch them a few times, despite Lamark’s multiple discouragements from doing so.

Once the fish was browned and crisp on the outside, Lamark broke the stick into three kabobs and held one out to Yuvie. “Here, now you can touch it.”

Lamark bit into his and gave a moan of satisfaction. After all the time spent getting a fire going, he was famished, and the fish tasted heavenly. Dirt probably would’ve tasted like fine cuisine, as hungry as he’d been. Slaving over sticks and stones to cook the fish had been worth it.

He looked over at Yuvie, laughing when he saw how quickly the merman was gobbling up his fish.

That must mean he liked it. For Yuvie, biting into a raw fish was probably considered normal, and this was likely his first time experiencing a cooked fish.

After Lamark had finished his fish, he had to split the third one with Yuvie, since he stared at it with pleading, ravenous eyes. Yuvie scarfed his half just as quickly as the first fish, then started reaching for Lamark’s half.

“H-Hey!” Lamark laughed and batted him away playfully.

Once they were finished, Lamark stared across the fire at Yuvie. He couldn’t help it. Yuvie was too intriguing not to gawk at. His skin was lean, tanned, and littered with scars, from shoulders to hips, probably from his life deep under the sea fighting with sharks and swordfish, or hunting grey whales, or whatever it was merfolk did. Around his neck were a few necklaces made of shells and coral, vibrant hues of pink and purple and sea green unlike anything Lamark had ever seen. Several shells were woven into his hair. There were small green keyhole limpets, bright orange and pink scallop shells, and tiny golden conches and cockles that almost blended in with the color of Yuvie’s hair.

Lamark was most enraptured by Yuvie’s eyes, which seemed to be ever changing shades of blue, ranging from light to dark. Would Yuvie let him move closer again without flinching? His body leaned forward of its own accord, his hand outstretched, closing in on Yuvie’s cheek. Yuvie showed no sign of retreating, smiling warmly at Lamark at looking back at him.

Lamark leaned in just a little more…

Suddenly the sand shifted, and he went flopping down on his belly. “Ouch,” Lamark groaned. Then the heat of the fire hit him. “Ack!” He flopped about, rolling and patting his shirt to extinguish the flame.

A splash of water hit him, and the flames sizzled out. Lamark sat up, panting and heart pounding. He’d somehow ended up right next to Yuvie in his rolling about.

Yuvie laughed at him and poked his wet, slightly singed shirt. “Afeuy,” he said softly.


A sudden wave crashed into them, knocking Lamark off balance. When the water receded, Yuvie was lying on top of him, nose to nose. Lamark’s face burned at the proximity. Yuvie tilted his head, and his lips, which were surprisingly soft and slick, brushed against Lamark’s.
In an instant the kiss was over, Yuvie jumping off of him and splashing into the water, into the ocean, into the unknown, leaving Lamark blushing, bewildered, and mystified by what had just happened.

Lamark moved his fire out of range of the rising tides, adding sticks to increase the size and keep him warm through the night.
As he lay by the fire, watching the rise and fall of the waves, he wondered if Yuvie would return in the morning.Lamark had a feeling he would, if that parting kiss was anything to go by.
 
Length: 45,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Luck has never been on Lamark’s side.


After his father’s untimely death, the new captain casts Lamark off the ship, leaving him in a dinghy in the middle of the ocean. Lamark is sure his life is over.


In a stroke of luck, Lamark encounters a merman, who saves him from drowning and brings him to a deserted island. Lamark quickly learns that on this mysterious island, not everything is as it seems, and danger lurks in every nook. This island may very well be the death of him.


Adventure, romance, and maybe some swashbuckling await Lamark, so long as he’s not too lily-livered to venture into the deep…


Into the Deep is a 45k pirate fantasy adventure novel with a heavy helping of slapstick comedy and a sweet, steamy m/m romance.

 

Amara Lynn has always been a quiet daydreamer. Coming up with characters and worlds since childhood, Amara eventually found an outlet in writing. Amara loves anything to do with pirates, villains and superheroes, and angels and demons.



Amara is addicted to music and gets the most inspiration from moving songs and lyrics. When not writing, Amara usually reads, listens to podcasts, watches anime, plays a video game here and there (but mostly collects them), and takes way too many cat pictures.


Amara is non-binary/enby and queer and uses they/them pronouns.

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Love a Fantasy Romance? Check out the Book Blitz for A Noble Cause (Legacy #2) by Mickie B. Ashling (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: A Noble Cause

Series: Legacy, Book Two

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 26, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64500

Genre: Fantasy, NineStar Press, LGBT, fantasy, mpreg, magic, royalty, gay, age-gap, men with children, intersex, demons, wedding, kilts

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Synopsis

Having achieved his heart’s desire at a high price, Prince Colin of Sendorra and his fiancé, Nobel Prize winner Alain de Gris, find themselves at the epicenter of a twisted plot. Colin’s cousin, Drake Bradford, and his grandmother Maura, the high priestess of the Bradford Coven, have conspired for years to bring down the royal family.

Resembling his cousin in features and coloring, Drake, the soulless rat, has been using their similarities—and black magic—to his advantage. Princess Charlotte, Colin’s ex-girlfriend, is unwittingly drawn into the feud, blissfully unaware she’s been sleeping with an impostor.

In this anticipated sequel to A Tangled Legacy, Colin and Alain, along with their fearless group of witches, ghosts, and familiars, embark on a convoluted journey to save the people they love and ensure the royal succession.

Excerpt

A Noble Cause
Mickie B. Ashling © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Charlie’s head lolled back against the leather seat of the BMW as Drake Bradford, still in his disguise as Prince Colin of Sendorra, navigated the crowded streets of Biarritz before merging onto the toll road heading toward Paris. He’d cast a sleeping spell on his “fiancé” to avoid the interrogation he was sure would follow once she realized they were on their way out of town. He needed privacy to confer with Granny Maura to formulate a new plan while the royals were busy drawing up countermeasures to deal with him.

Drake grew impatient as Granny’s phone rang and rang. Like many seniors, she didn’t have her mobile at her fingertips, defeating the whole purpose of instant availability. Finally, after the seventh ring, she picked up.

“It’s about bloody time.”

“I couldn’t find my phone,” she replied apologetically.

“We’ve already talked about this on several occasions,” Drake scolded. “Put it on your kitchen counter so you know where to look.”

“What’s the problem?” she asked dismissively.

“I’ve managed to kill off the dowager and Colin in one fell swoop.”

“You what!”

“They should have stayed out of my business,” Drake defended.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” Maura ordered tersely.

“Plans started to unravel the minute Colin showed up unexpectedly. He wasn’t due home for another couple of days, and Charlie and I would have announced our engagement by then. There was nothing he could have done to stop us from marrying, but then it all went to shit.”

“Where are you?”

“Driving to Paris.”

“Is Charlie with you?”

“Of course she is,” Drake snapped. “She’s mine and I have every intention of marrying her. Plus, she’s carrying my child.”

“Don’t come to Paris,” Maura advised. “It’s the first place they’ll look.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Let me find you an apartment in Prague.”

“Why there?”

“It’s a good place to hide in plain sight.”

“Get back to me with details once you’ve made the arrangements.”

“It might take a few hours.”

He grunted. “Doesn’t matter, Granny. This is going to be one long-ass drive.”

“All right.”

Drake gunned the engine and put the car on cruise control the minute he was on the toll road. He was still seething at having been foiled—by an incompetent witch, no less—and wasn’t the least bit sorry he’d destroyed a dynasty. The only downside to this turn of events was figuring out how to deal with Charlie and her parents. He’d have to use her pregnancy and his powers of persuasion to convince her he was a far better choice than Colin could ever be. Granted, he didn’t have a kingdom to lay at her feet, but he and Charlie had great chemistry, and the girl melted into a pliant fool the minute he laid hands on her. He’d keep her so sexed up she wouldn’t dream of rejecting him.

His phone rang an hour later, and he was stunned by Maura’s news.

“Colin isn’t dead.”

Drake slammed on the brakes, and the car fishtailed to a stop on the shoulder, narrowly avoiding a six-car pileup.

“Impossible!” he thundered. “I stopped his heart.”

“Isabelle Simon and her son managed to bring him back to life,” she deadpanned. “The coven has already received a lengthy email demanding retribution.”

“Or what?”

“We’ll have a war on our hands, Drake. I’m not sure I can get the other members to stand by our side when your actions were completely unjustified.”

“Fuck the coven,” Drake snarled. “I don’t want their help. And need I remind you this was your plan all along? What about the dowager?”

“She’s dead.”

“So, you got what you wanted,” Drake pointed out malevolently. He sucked in air through his clenched teeth and gripped the steering wheel. “Now it’s my turn, and you’d better back me up.”

“I’ll see you in Prague.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and fulfilled in April 2009.

Mickie discovered gay romance in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from the LGBTQA community and their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her characters work damn hard for their happy endings.

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A Free Dreamer Review: Sword Dance (Sword Dance #1) by A.J. Demas

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Five years ago, Damiskos’s brilliant military career was cut short, leaving him with a permanent disability and scars that are not all physical. Adrift and still grieving, he tries to find meaning in an unsatisfying job.

Work takes him to the remote seaside villa of an old friend, where, among an odd assortment of guests, he meets the eunuch sword-dancer Varazda. Enigmatic and beautiful but distinctly prickly, Varazda is the antithesis of the straightforward and serious Damiskos. Yet as they keep getting in each other’s way at the villa, their mutual dislike is complicated by a spark of undeniable attraction.

Then the villa’s guests begin to reveal their true characters and motives—no one here is what they seem—and Damiskos finds himself at the centre of a bizarre web of espionage, theft, and assassination. Varazda may need Damiskos’s help, but not as much as Damiskos, finally awakening to a new sense of life and purpose, needs Varazda.

Sword Dance is the first book in the Sword Dance trilogy, an m/m romance set in an imaginary ancient world, with murderous philosophy students, sex acts named after fruit, and love blossoming in the midst of mayhem.

I honestly can’t remember why I asked for this book. The blurb doesn’t sound like something I’d normally be interested in. But “Sword Dance” turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, so I’m glad I decided to give it a try.

The setting was quite interesting. It was well fleshed out and I got a real sense of place from it. Sometimes the many country and city names were a little confusing though and I found it a bit hard to remember them and their significance to the story. A map would have been a huge help. A.J. Demas clearly put some serious work into this world and I was very impressed by all the cultural  details.

The romance part takes a while to get started and I liked how well it fit in with the rest of the plot. It’s not an easy relationship between Damiskos and Varazda, considering their past experiences. And it was great to watch them work it out.

Damiskos is a former soldier,  who’s feeling a little lost now that he can no longer fight. I liked him from the start. He’s a very level-headed, reliable man, who might have some difficulties in the romance department. I also liked that the author decided to make him bisexual and gave him an important relationship with a woman, where the woman didn’t turn out to be a horrible person.

Varazda was quite the surprise. Let’s just say he has some very surprising secrets. And he’s just plain gorgeous. I think he’s the first eunuch MC I’ve read about and I would’ve loved some scenes form his POV. And I must admit I would have liked some more anatomical details. I wanted to know exactly what was done to him and how it was functioning now.

The plot itself was certainly unusual. You don’t often see a bunch of murderous philosophy students trying to overthrow the country to create the Ideal Republic. I’ve never heard any intelligent person spout so much nonsense. It’s a clear sign that intelligence doesn’t prevent you from being stupid.

I liked the ending. It’s obvious this is only part one of a new trilogy, because there are most definitely some loose ends. But it wasn’t a horrible cliffhanger and the story was wrapped up neatly. Plus, it just generally fit the tone of the whole book.

Overall, “Sword Dance” was a great read. It took me a bit of time to really get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t stop. I definitely want to find out what happens next and I’ll also take a look at the author’s other books, some of which are set in the same world as this one.

Cover art: Aud Koch, Cover design by Lennan Adams. I know I said I didn’t remember why I wanted this book. But I have a strong suspicion it was probably due to that utterly gorgeous cover. It’s so different and kind of reminds me of a painting on an ancient vase. The perfect cover for this book!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 265 pages
Published July 31st 2019 by Sexton’s Cottage
ASIN B07VPDNCRG
Edition Language English
Series Sword Dance #1

An Alisa Review: The Midspring Rebellion by Doreen Heron

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Rating:  2.5 stars out of 5

Things are amiss in the fairy court, made worse one spring morning when King Oberon’s wife decides to leave him. His decision to gather his thoughts in the human realm lead him into the path, and arms, of workaholic human Nick Chandler. But when Oberon’s throne is threatened, will he be able to retain his kingship and his newfound love?

I liked how this book first started and the interactions between Oberon and Nick.  Oberon wants to get away after his wife leaves him while Nick is still trying to bury his grief and guilt in work.

Oberon and Nick just seemed to click and both opened up well with each other.  However, the story quickly went off track with the whole Oberon kidnapping and rescue.  I just didn’t get the point of it and it wasn’t cohesive with the first part of the story.  I just felt confused and when the story ended I didn’t feel like anything was resolved because it just jumped ahead and seriously how is King Oberon living in the human world and not in the fairy realm.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is nice and I like the visual of Oberon, even if I don’t think it exactly fits him.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 25,100 words

Published: July 22, 2019 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-951057-08-4

Edition Language: English

Love Fantasy? Check Out the Book Blitz for The Exile Prince (The Castaway Prince #2) by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Exile Prince

Series: The Castaway Prince, Book Two

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 22, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 22900

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT fantasy, royalty, androgyny, gender-bending, cross-dressing

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Synopsis

Having chosen exile rather than face persecution at the hands of his family, Prince Stephan of Seveihar has finally found refuge in the south kingdom of Segor with his lover and former servant, Warren. For the first time in his life, Stephan is free to be who he really is, to explore his sexual identity and his fascination with all things feminine.

But it seems life has other plans, and the quiet happiness Stephan has run so far away to find is once again threatened by sinister forces from his past. Will Stephan and Warren’s newfound love be strong enough to weather the danger that could rip them apart forever?

Excerpt

The Exile Prince
Isabelle Adler © 2019
All Rights Reserved

The warm morning breeze carried the smell of sea salt, exotic spices, and the promise of a distant sandstorm.

Stephan breathed deeply, closing his eyes against the gentle currents, and leaned on the windowsill, offering his face up to the sun. It was not yet noon, but the heat was already building up. Soon the busy streets of the port city of Varta would empty, the denizens taking a brief respite during the midday hours to hide in the relative cool of their homes, away from the glare of the ruthless sun. At dusk, all activity would renew with rekindled vigor as the streets around the harbor filled with the cries of peddlers hawking their wares, the music of wandering performers, and the general hubbub of a large city going about its business. But for now, Stephan simply enjoyed the bright sunshine, which had been so rare in his native Seveihar, before he’d be forced to retreat to the shade of his rooms.

No, their rooms. He’d been living with Warren, his former footman and current lover, for the past six months, sharing the two cozy rooms in one of the quieter districts of Varta. The modest appointments were a far cry from the richness of his father’s royal palace in Sever, but luxury was low on Stephan’s priority list. These short months were the happiest he’d been in his entire life. Granted, at twenty years old, he was still at the beginning of his journey, but with his father gone and the rest of the family actively persecuting him, he’d had his fair share of misery.

Stephan sighed and closed the wooden shutters. Even so, the room was still softly illuminated, filled with translucent, soporific light. The hem of his white silk robe trailed after him as he made his way to the large writing desk, cluttered with sheaves of paper and different-colored inkwells. Warren, being the son of a merchant, was the one with the experience and a practical grasp for business, and he had been the one to suggest they invest the money left from selling Stephan’s extensive collection of jewelry in local commerce. For centuries, Varta, the second largest city of Segor, had been a crucial junction for the passage of goods between the deep south and the northern countries and provinces—including Seveihar and rival Esnia. With trade burgeoning in recent years, investing in independent shipping ventures seemed like a sound plan, although they were only now beginning to see any returns. None of it was enough to make a fortune, but for now, at least, they were able to live comfortably.

Stephan settled in a chair and pulled out a stack of letters he wanted to sift through one more time. While Warren was responsible for the finances, Stephan handled the records and correspondence. As a member of the royal family, he was well-versed in several languages, including Segati—a dialect spoken in Segor and along the long stretch of the southern coast. But reading and writing with a teacher weren’t the same as practicing the language among native speakers, and Stephan wanted to brush up on his communication skills as much as possible to be able to navigate the often-equivocal patterns of business negotiations with Segorian merchants and ship owners.

He was writing down some notes on a piece of paper when the door opened, and Warren stepped in, letting out a long-suffering sigh as he closed the door and took off his sweat-soaked scarf.

Stephan smiled as he rose to meet him. He threw his arms around Warren, planting a quick kiss on his lips. Warren’s skin, flushed and hot, still carried traces of salt and fish smell.

“I missed you,” Stephan said playfully.

Warren grinned in response, taking Stephan’s hand and kissing his fingers. “I’ve only been gone a few hours. And I still stink from the docks.”

“I don’t mind.” Stephan nodded at the leather-bound ledger sticking out of Warren’s coat pocket. “Any news?”

“The ship should arrive any day now. With the price of silk going up, we should make a nice profit off this consignment.”

“You might be the one to blame for the increase in prices,” Stephan teased. “You didn’t have to buy me quite so many dresses.”

“Of course I did. They make you happy. And I love seeing you in them.”

Warren let go of Stephan and threw the ledger on the desk. He was still smiling, but Stephan could sense tension in the rigid set of his shoulders and the way his smile quickly turned from genuine to strained.

“What’s wrong?” Stephan asked. “Are you worried about the ship being delayed?”

Warren shook his head and sat on the long bench beside a low dining table. He picked an orange from a fruit bowl and began peeling it.

“I’ve heard some bad news from Seveihar,” he said, avoiding meeting Stephan’s eyes.

Stephan sat back at the desk, tucking his long hair behind his ear in a nervous gesture. He knew he wasn’t going to like it.

“The war has started, hasn’t it?” he asked quietly.

Warren nodded. “Rumors spread fast in this city. It seems the first thing your brother did after ascending to the throne was declare war on Esnia.”

Stephan swore softly. His older brother, Robert, had been warmongering to garner political support, but until now, Stephan had clung to the naïve hope he wouldn’t go as far as actually starting a full-blown territorial war with their neighbor. Or at least that his advisers would stop him from making such a foolish move, if he wasn’t prudent enough to restrain himself. Even after fleeing his homeland and abandoning his title, Stephan couldn’t help but feel somehow responsible for the wellbeing of its people. Waging a war when most of them were already struggling with the increase in waterway taxes his uncle Rowan had decreed last fall would only add insult to injury.

“That wasn’t what got me worried, though. There’s more.” Warren dropped the peelings on the table and frowned at the naked fruit, as if surprised it turned out to be an orange after all. “There’s talk about Seveiharians in Varta. Apparently, an envoy arrived at the Governor’s palace two days ago. They were trying to keep it secret, but again, Varta is anything but surreptitious.”

Stephan shrugged. “So? They must be here to amend trade agreements. War changes demand, and the usual shipping routes would need to be altered if the Zenna River proves too dangerous now for regular transport.”

“No doubt.” Warren handed him a few orange slices, and Stephan popped them in his mouth. He flicked his tongue across his lips to lick away the juice, noting the way Warren’s gaze took on a familiar intensity as he followed the tiny movement.

Warren’s unmistakable interest sent a jolt of heat down his belly, triggering his own arousal. He licked his lips again, this time in an involuntary response to the thought of what he and Warren could be doing to while away the sultry midday hours. But apparently Warren wasn’t done yet.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Salmon and The Hazel (Rowan Harbor Cycle #8) by Sam Burns

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK – Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 43,000 words approx.



Cover Design: Melanie Farlow @ Clause & Effect


The Rowan Harbor Cycle Series


Book #1 – Blackbird in the Reeds – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Wolf and the Holly – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Fox and Birch – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Hawk In The Rowan – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Stag and the Ashe – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Adder and Willow – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6.5 – In Any Light – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Eagle In The Hawthorn – Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Jesse’s only priority in life is protecting the people he loves, so he’s determined to see Rowan Harbor’s wards rebuilt. There’s just one problem: they’re missing an ingredient that can’t be ordered online.


Jesse volunteers to search for the missing component in the realm of the fae, but his boyfriend, Sean, isn’t letting him go alone. The town has an enemy among the fae, so they’ll need to keep a low profile. Along their way, they find unexpected allies, surprising enemies, and a whole host of problems.


The journey is a test of their endurance, but also of their relationship and their faith in each other. Can they find what they need and get back home in one piece in time for the summer solstice?

 

Sam wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten year old, it was awful. She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.


If she’s not writing, she’s almost certainly either reading or lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while pretending to research for a novel.


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Check Out the Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here. We highly recommend it and the entire series.

Love Fantasy? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Through the Tears (Torn Between Worlds #1) by Leigh M. Lorien (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Through the Tears

Series: Torn Between Worlds, Book One

Author: Leigh M. Lorien

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 8, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56600

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, gray-ace/gray-aro, transgender, bonded, monsters, violence, anxiety attacks

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Synopsis

Huge, horrid creatures with a taste for human flesh have been invading Seacliff Manor and its surrounding lands for years. Ghouls are coming from another world through portals made of magic. No one knows why or how, but nothing good ever comes with them.

During a hunting trip, Eamon encounters one such monster and falls through a portal into the ghoul’s hellacious desert home world. Separated from his home, his friends, and his lover, with no magic of his own and no sign of other life, Eamon expects to die there…until an encounter with a lone stranger gives him hope. There is a way home. But can Eamon survive alone in ghoul-infested terrain long enough to get there?

Worlds away, the Lord of Seacliff Manor is determined to bring Eamon home. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Rafe knows his human lover is alive. It’s just a matter of finding out where. To that end, Rafe has a plan. It’s dangerous, perhaps even suicidal, but he’ll do anything to save the man he loves.

From different sides of the galaxy, the lovers fight monsters and seek magic with one goal in mind: reunion. Monsters aren’t the only things they’ll have to defeat to find their way back to each other, and the horrors uncovered along the way may be more than they can handle.

Excerpt

Through the Tears
Leigh M. Lorien © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Rafe

The body lay at the base of a maple tree in a crumpled heap of leathery gray flesh and black blood. Rafe studied it for a long time. Its fanged mouth hung open, eyes like black marbles gazing lifelessly at him, hands with hawk-like talons curled into loose fists in the grass. It was more than capable of killing a human—gods, it was probably capable of killing him. He turned away, forcing down the momentary surge of fear as he took in the scene, playing through the information he had.

Eamon, Lionel, Rose, and Tuomas had been hunting that morning, as Eamon had said they planned to do. Lionel was training a new bird. They were well armed. No one left the stronghold unarmed these days. Ghoul incursions were growing more frequent, and the filthy things were getting bolder by the day. Rafe had wanted to send an escort with them but let his lover talk him out of it. We’ll be fine. We’re barely going past the village.

But they weren’t fine. Lionel’s bird didn’t return when it should have. The ghoul had crept up on them while they were distracted.

Signs of the struggle were obvious all around the body. Broken twigs, displaced leaves, mud spatters up the trunks of the trees. The humans had come out victorious. Three of them had, anyway.

Thirty or so feet beyond the ghoul’s body, a cliff dropped into the sea. Ignoring his audience—the three humans who’d returned, as well as two of his rin retainers—Rafe walked past the ghoul’s corpse, inspecting the grass between the site of the attack and the edge of the cliff. Clods of soil lay in heaps where massive claws had raked it up. He wished there was some indication of Eamon’s movements, but the ghoul’s weight and erratic assault covered all sign of his human lover. Blood spatters painted the grass black. Rafe didn’t need to touch or taste the drying liquid to know it was not human. Not Eamon’s. The rotten stench of ghoul blood was as foul as raw sewage and, for once, he envied the humans their inferior senses. Someone had hurt it, and badly, right here. Eamon was not a close-quarters fighter. He was barely a fighter at all. If Rafe were a gambler, he’d put his money on Lionel and the longsword he wore.

“You say he fell,” Rafe stated. It wasn’t a question. Rose had spoken for the group, told their story in a quavering voice. If the two men were hoping Rafe would show mercy to a teary-eyed woman and thus to them as well, they were all mistaken.

“Yes, Lord,” Rose said. “Th-the ghoul tackled him, and they rolled, and…I’m not certain, I mean I-I didn’t see it myself, Lord, but…Eamon was gone when…”

Rafe walked to the very edge of the cliff and leaned forward to look down, grateful for an excuse to breathe air untainted by blood. The tension level behind him rose tangibly, but no one rushed forward to drag him back. He was their lord, not a child to be scolded for putting himself in danger. Hundreds of feet below, waves crashed and roared over a beach of jagged stone. Even with his sensitive rin hearing, little more than the faintest whisper reached Rafe’s ears from this distance. There was no question that a fall from this height meant no survival for a human. No matter what awaited at the end of the fall, no matter how strong the human.

And yet…

He had not felt Eamon die. Rafe had never had a bound companion die, so, he didn’t know from experience what it would feel like, but he’d heard others speak of it. He’d expected something…worse. He should have experienced fear as Eamon fell, pain as he crashed to the ground and his body shattered against the rocks below. It would have dropped him to his knees, put him in a state of shock.

Instead, there was a sharp surprise, fear, and then…an absence. Eamon simply was not there. He wasn’t alive, but neither was he dead.

“You are aware Eamon is bound to me?” Rafe turned to the humans, and they all bowed their heads, nodding and avoiding his eyes. “You should have protected him.”

The wind off the sea howled and whipped his dark hair around his head. Everything was cast in a dusky gray—the winter sun had not shown its face for days, and the choppy sea below was the color of cold steel. Standing at least a head taller than the tallest of the three humans, Rafe was no stranger to intimidation tactics. It wasn’t his preferred modus operandi—physical threats were so pedestrian—but it was easy, and with the gaping absence of Eamon distracting him, it was all he managed.

“I’m sure they did their best, my lord,” Kiran, his retainer, said softly.

Rafe continued to aim a cold gaze at the humans.

“I’m sure. Have search parties organized. Comb the beach and the forest in this area. I did not feel him die.” And if he was mistaken and Eamon was dead…The words hurt as they formed in his mind, but he forced them out. “If you find him, or his body, bring him home.”

Kiran bowed his head and rushed toward the manor to find willing and able individuals to carry out the command. Wind continued to buffet Rafe’s side and face, tangling his hair as it whipped around. In his imagination, Eamon was scolding him as he worked a brush through Rafe’s hair as he did every night. Would it kill you to tie your hair back once in a while? It’s like you tangle it on purpose.

If it weren’t tangled, I wouldn’t need you to brush it, would I? Rafe would reply and grin in the mirror at his lover. The thought of the familiar teasing almost made him smile. Almost.

“M-my lord,” Tuomas ventured, stepping forward as Rafe returned to the ghoul’s body. “We would like to join the search parties, if we may.”

Rafe shook his head. “No. Take this body to the manor. Have it burned.”

The three humans exchanged wide-eyed glances. The ghoul was larger than all three of them combined. Heavy as it was, it would take them hours to drag it to the manor. It seemed a mild punishment in Rafe’s eyes, for letting his lover fall over a cliff.

Tuomas and Lionel were unbound and had been for as long as Rafe had known them. Rose was bound to Elena, the manor’s doctor, and lived in the manor with her, while the two human men lived in the village outside the manor walls—together, if Rafe was not mistaken. Eamon had lived with Tuomas for some time, until he came to Rafe’s attention, and still spent the night in Tuomas’s village home on occasion. Perhaps it was cruel to punish the three of them in any way for what had happened. They were likely hurting as much as Rafe, but they were not bound to Eamon. They could not feel his absence, like the loss of a limb or an eye or an ear, like a crushing emptiness where, until mere hours ago, there had been a warm, bright presence every day for the past ten years.

“Stay with them,” Rafe instructed his second retainer, Orienna. “See that we lose no one else to rogue ghouls today.”

The woman bowed. “What of you, my lord?”

“I’m in a mood to rip something’s throat out,” he said coldly. “Let the filth try.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Leigh M. Lorien is a queer author who got her start at the tender age of five, writing and illustrating her own Sonic the Hedgehog stories. Fortunately, her writing has improved in the subsequent decades. Nowadays, Leigh’s stories primarily lean toward science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy, but she has had some contemporary pieces sneak out of her head. Regardless of genre, her books will usually include sarcasm, strong relationships (romantic and platonic), polyamory/non-monogamy, magic, music, animals, mental illness, and less-frequently-represented queer identities.

When she’s not writing, Leigh enjoys gardening, photography, travel, music, Renaissance festivals, doing hair-color experiments in her bathroom, and going on any kind of adventure involving the outdoors (unless it’s cold, screw that). If you want to know her better or see pictures of her many fur-children, she’s most active on Twitter and Instagram.

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