Tag Archives: historical

Review Tour: Shinigami by Xia Xia Lake

Shinigami | Xia Xia Lake

Takamagahara Monogatari #2

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Release Date: October 1, 2019

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 71,440 words /220 pages

Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Blurb

Nothing is what it seems.

A coming of age love story between the heir of the richest family in the Land of Yamato and an orphan. The human world meets the yōkai world in a power struggle for the fate of Fujiwara no Hirotsugu.

While he battles to find his own path in life, Hirotsugu finds solace in a boy who will first become his secret friend, then his salvation, then, as they become adults together, the love of his life.

The story is set during the Nara period of ancient Japan and will expand over a period of 25 years (715-740).

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Excerpt

Chapter 1: Kagerō

Kagerō: The quivering appearance of the mist rising from the hot surface of the ground”

On the day Fujiwara no Hirotsugu was born, Mount Kasuga was covered in golden shimmering kagerō rising from the ground to cloak the mountain in mist. The uguisu sang from dusk until dawn, and a crane appeared in the palace garden and didn’t leave for five days.

It was late May, close to the final days of planting the rice. These were the days when finishing the paddy field work was paramount, lest next year’s crops be affected. Yet in celebration of Hirotsugu’s birth, his father, Umakai, sent an order to his bailiff to decree half a day off for all workers. Servants from the palace went down the mountain to offer rice, fish, and sake to the poor in Heijo-kyo.

Gifts poured through the gates for weeks, coming not only from the greatest families living in the land of Yamato, but also from as far away as Silla and Tang. Even the old Empress Genmei, who had no love for the Fujiwara clan, sent Hirotsugu a gift fit for royalty: a sword replica modeled after Kusanagi the Grass Slasher, the sacred imperial heirloom of the Yamato Emperors. Since it was forbidden for anyone except the reigning monarch and the High Priest of the Ise Grand Shrine to lay eyes on the real Kusanagi, no one could actually tell how good the replica was. But neither could they deny that the sword Hirotsugu received was of exceptional workmanship and extraordinary value.

The greatest gift of all came from Hirotsugu’s grandfather, Fujiwara no Fuhito. The leader of the Fujiwara clan made a secret pact with Crown Prince Obito that on the day Hirotsugu turned twenty, he would marry Princess Abe, Prince Obito’s firstborn child.

Upon Hirotsugu’s birth, the Fujiwara clan made great plans for his future, and I watched from my throne of skulls behind the kagerō veil and laughed and laughed and laughed.

SPRING

Chapter 2: Uguisu

Uguisu: The Japanese nightingale

In spring, nature was at its most beautiful at dawn, when Amaterasu’s robe touched the hills and dyed them red, and the blooming cherry trees turned a vibrant pink. Hanging from the eaves of every Fujiwara castle were tendrils of purple wisteria, their blooms awakening to welcome the Sun Goddess. The white clouds above resembled boughs of cherry flowers.

When night approached, the birdsong gently shifted from cheerful to forlorn. The uguisu went to sleep in its pot-shaped nest, and the brown-feathered night thrush—recently returned from wintering in Tenjiku—took its place and claimed the night. Now and then, a deer would call and a fawn would answer back.

The day Hirotsugu was born, a young god wandered up and down the high-forested slopes of Mount Kasuga, tired from the day he’d spent blessing the fields and the future harvest. He would have gone home to Mount Kurama in Kibune, but something was amiss with the yōkai living on Kasuga and he’d come to investigate.

At twilight, he found a group of kodama and an old kappa gathered underneath the budding leaves of a giant plum tree, transfixed by its beautiful red blossoms. When he entered the clearing, they were trying to touch the blossoms, but as soon as a hand came close, the tree would raise its branches out of reach.

“Don’t touch it,” the god commanded. His voice was calm, but it came like the snap of a whip and took them out of their reverie. “It’s a ghost tree. It’s not really here.”

The kodama stumbled backward, frightened.

“When did it appear?” the young god asked.

“This morning, Inari-sama,” the kappa answered. “When the baby was born.”

“Baby?” Inari frowned. “Come closer, child, don’t be afraid. Which baby do you speak of?”

Kogitsune

Takamagahara Monogatari #1

It’s a 40-page short story and is FREE on Smashwords.

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About the Author

Xia Xia Lake is an Otaku & Slytherin that used to cosplay at every comic con she attended until a kid asked if he could take a picture with the “old lady.”

She decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to spend her free time writing stories and partying with vampires.

She lives in Transylvania with her fiancé and is a big fan of Romanian cuisine.

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

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Release Blitz: Lost And Found by Liv Rancourt

Lost and Found | Liv Rancourt

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Length: 75,000 words approx.

Price: 2.99 (4.99 from October 20)

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Blurb

A dancer who cannot dance and a doctor who cannot heal find in each other the strength to love.

History books will call it The Great War, but for Benjamin Holm, that is a misnomer. The war is a disaster, a calamity, and it leaves Benjamin profoundly wounded, his mind and memory shattered. A year after Armistice, still struggling to regain his mental faculties, he returns to Paris in search of his closest friend, Elias.

Benjamin meets Louis Donadieu, a striking and mysterious dance master. Though Louis is a difficult man to know, he offers to help Benjamin. Together they search the cabarets, salons, and art exhibits in the newly revitalized city on the brink of les années folles (the Crazy Years). Almost despite himself, Benjamin breaches Louis’s defenses, and the two men discover an unexpected passion.

As his memory slowly returns, Benjamin will need every ounce of courage he possesses to recover Elias’s story. He and Louis will need even more than that to lay claim to the love – and the future – they deserve.

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Excerpt

The table on the other side of me was empty, at least until I’d poured myself a second glass of wine. Then, crossing the room in a familiar halting rhythm, my neighbor, the man from the café on the Place du Tertre, took a seat.

I raised my glass in a toast of alcohol-fueled enthusiasm. “It’s nice to see you.”

He blinked as if surprised by my words. “I’m not sure I know you.”

His gaze suggested otherwise. “A while ago, you were at L’Oiseau Bleu.” I swirled the wine in my cup. “Are you following me?”

“I had a taste for fish.” Hooking his cane over the edge of his table, he shrugged again. “And I have better things to do than observe the habits of a drunk American.”

We were interrupted by the arrival of my dinner. There might have been humor in his tone, but still, the sting of his words quashed the impulse to invite him to join me.

Turning to the waiter, slick black hair gleaming, he placed his own order. When the waiter brought his wine, I took the opportunity to raise my glass a second time. “Cheers.” I deliberately did not smile. “Comment allez-vous?” How are you, using the formal “vous,” not the more intimate “tu.”

Tu. In all my time in France, I’d never regularly used the personal form of address. To be honest, if English had an equivalent construction, I could have said the same about my friends and family at home.

Bien. I am well.”

His tone, and the slight tremor of his fingers on his glass of wine, hinted otherwise. He turned as if to shield himself from my appraisal. I couldn’t help myself. It was my nature to observe. Assess. Diagnose. “I’m Benjamin Holm.” The distance between us was too great to bridge with a handshake.

He raised his glass. “Louis Donadieu.”

I forced my fork through the crisp crust of fish. Juices ran free, and my mouth watered. I ate, hunger keeping my attention fixed on the food on my plate. Though it had been almost two years since I’d last sat at an army canteen, I still attacked each meal as if someone might steal it away.

At my last bite, I glanced at Louis. He watched me, a pool of stillness amidst the confusion around us. “Did you even taste it?”

“Yes.” Swirling my fork through the drippings on my plate, I fought the urge to smile, unsure of the rules for the game he played.

He sniffed. “Bien.” Shifting in his seat, he poured himself more wine. As long as he wasn’t looking, I continued my assessment. He held his right leg extended, as if he was unable to bend it at the knee, but was otherwise quite vigorous, virile even.

I finished my peas and potatoes, bemused by my strange dinner companion. After a week in Paris, I’d had no luck with my main goal, and this conversation, though tentative, intrigued me.

“Were you injured?” I gestured at his feet with my wine.

“What?”

“In the war. Your leg.” His narrowed gaze suggested I’d transgressed. So, no questions about his health. “Pardon. I did not mean to—”

“No, I was unable to participate in the grand conflict.”

He turned his attention away, leaving me confused. This was less a game than a jousting contest. Rather than bring another helping of rudeness on my head, I swallowed the rest of my wine and prepared to leave.

“What are you doing?”

I paused in the act of reaching for my wallet. “I’m finished. I need to be going.” Though I had no real destination beyond the poor comfort of my solitary rooms. Instead of my wallet, I fished out the photograph. “Here.” I stood, leaning over his table and offering him the picture of Elias. “I’m looking for my friend Elias. Have you seen him?”

Always the same words, bringing the same blank response.

“Maybe he doesn’t want to be found.” He tapped the white edge of the photograph, and I snatched it away.

“He’s my friend.”

“So?”

His acid tone burned through my good humor. Who is this man to follow and then abuse me? “Have a good evening.”

“Good evening, though if you give up so easily, you must not really want to find him.”

Surprise kept me planted by his table. “Do you know where he is?”

He tipped his glass in my direction, the corner of his lips curling in what could not truly be called a smile. Though it wasn’t a scowl either. “No, but if I do see him, I will send him to the heavy-footed American man who lives on the floor above me.”

Tired of being the target of his sport, I straightened, falling into the habitual pose of a military officer. “Again, good evening.” Annoyed beyond what the situation called for, I departed.

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About the Author

Liv Rancourt writes romance of all kinds. Because love is love, even with fangs.

Liv is a huge fan of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and loves history just as much, so her stories often feature vampires or magic or they’re set in the past…or all of the above.

When Liv isn’t writing she takes care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether she’s at work or at home. Her husband is a soul of patience, her kids are her pride and joy, and her dogs – Trash Panda and The Boy Genius – are endlessly entertaining.

Liv can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at her website (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt, or on Twitter www.twitter.com/LivRancourt. She also blogs monthly over at Spellbound Scribes (https://spellboundscribes.wordpress.com/.

For sneak peeks and previews and other assorted freebies, go HERE to sign up for her mailing list or join the Facebook page she shares with her writing partner Irene Preston, After Hours with Liv & Irene. Fun stuff!

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Release Blitz: Ride The Whirlwind by Jackie North

Ride the Whirlwind | Jackie North

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MM, Romance, Time Travel, Historical

Release Date: 17.09.19

Cover Designer – Jay Aheer

Buy Link: http://mybook.to/RideTheWhirlwind

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Blurb

Soulmates across time. Two hearts, stronger together.

In present day, Maxton is good at finding trouble and bad at everything else. Then he receives a letter from his friend Laurie, who went missing. The letter is dated over one hundred years in the past.

In 1892, Trent Harrington, sheriff of Trinidad, Colorado, cast off by his family, lives a respectable but lonely life, devoid of any closeness. He knows he will be alone forever.

Trying to escape a past that keeps chasing him, Maxton drives south to Mexico. When his car spins off the road, he is swept up in a desert whirlwind, which takes him back in time to the year 1892. There, unused to the laws of the wild west, Maxton gets arrested, and is subject to the terrifying whims of two deputies who can do whatever they want to him.

Sheriff Trent Harrington of Trinidad is tasked with escorting Maxton to Trinidad. The request isn’t unusual, but the young miscreant is. Maxton draws Trent’s heart out of its shell with his flashing green eyes and lush head of hair. It isn’t right. It isn’t natural. It’s illegal. Yet Trent cannot resist the impetuous young man.

As the two men travel through the dry, lonely desert to their destination, will they find in each other the love and companionship they never thought they’d have?

An MM time travel romance, complete with the scent of desert roses, brilliantly colored sunsets, starlit nights, roast rabbit over an open fire, growing honesty and trust, and true love across time.

Contains references to Honey From the Lion and Wild as the West Texas Wind but can be read on its own.

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Excerpt

Though he very well knew that pride went before a fall, Trent felt quite pleased with himself. He’d managed to purchase two sturdy mounts: Old Sue, a calm-eyed mare who looked pleased to be saddled up and given something to do, and Lathalad, a pinto with remarkable blue eyes, an even more remarkable mostly white coat with a narrow black streak running down the center of his long tail.

He was a beauty for sure, but carried a scar across his breast, which might be the reason he was a tad skittish when he was brought out and trotted around. Trent worried until the man at the stables convinced him the horse could carry a man and supplies easily, that he was built for long rides. As well, Trent caught Maxton looking at the horses, and thought that the gelding was of the appropriate size.

They’d bought supplies of beans, packets of jerky, and, of course, ground coffee. He purchased a coffee pot, two tin cups and bowls, two tin spoons, and a used cutting knife, which he strapped to his right thigh below his gun belt. Whatever meat they needed Trent would shoot along the way.

Trent packed the saddlebags on each horse, showing Maxton how it was done, how to tighten the girth on a saddle, how to adjust the stirrups. How to fasten a pair of canteens across the cantle and tie them tight so they wouldn’t knock about and startle the horse. Then he tied his carpetbag behind the saddle on Old Sue, and the two bedrolls behind the saddle on Lathalad.

Maxton followed along with only half of his attention, as his other half seemed to be scanning the horizon on the edge of town where the stable was located. As well, he was making an expression that Trent couldn’t quite define, but he thought Maxton felt he was being treated like a fool who didn’t know any better. Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t, but it was better safe than sorry.

“It’s just past noon,” said Trent. He took his hat off, wiped his forehead with the back of his sleeve, then settled his hat on his head again. “But we can head out now and make our way out into the wild.”

Trent smiled, and wondered if he should actually share what he was thinking, but why not? He and Maxton would be together for several days, what harm would it to do admit this one little thing.

“I do love sleeping beneath the stars,” he said, now, looking at Maxton as he said it. Testing the waters. “Which is a little foolish, seeing as how if we waited a few days and taken the stage, we’d sleep in a hotel every night.”

“I don’t mind sleeping under the stars,” said Maxton. “Took a class on the constellations once, so I know a lot of them.”

Maxton stopped himself from saying more, and shrugged as if it was of no consequence to him. It was the same devil-may-care attitude that he’d carried with him from the moment Trent had laid eyes on him in the cell in Dilia.

Someone had taught Maxton not to care or, if he did, not to let on. Someone had taught him to hide every thought, whether foolish or wise. Someone had taught him to carry himself as though he might be under attack at any given moment.

Trent knew the feeling. Knew what it was like to hide what you were and what you thought. Knew what it was like to be wary and to dance beneath the surface of your own life until you forgot what it was like to breathe fresh air, to hold your head high and be exactly who you were.

Though, as to what Maxton was hiding, Trent didn’t know. He wanted to know, though, because there was a fire in that young man’s eyes. A soft shy tenderness, which Trent saw as Maxton looked out at the horizon and chewed his lower lip, like he was expecting something to come blasting at him from out of the desert.

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About The Author

Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and travel the world. She also wanted to put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.

As fate would have it, she discovered MM romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she turned her grocery-store romance ideas around and is now putting them to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)

She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

Social Media

Website – http://www.jackienorth.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jackienorthMM

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18128460.Jackie_North

Queeromance Ink Author Page –

https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/jackie-north/

Sign Up For My Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/drakS1

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The expanded epilogue still kills me with this fabulous Medieval romance

47948494._SY475_The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NOTE: Reading again as it’s been re-released 28/08/19

Yep, the updated epilogue still kills me and makes my eyes leak!

However, the rest of this novella is also still as beautifully involving and historically evoking as it was the first time I read it.

William and Christian are brilliantly realised characters, full of honour and bravery, willing to risk all not only for their own love but for the safety and protection of William’s abused sister.

The solution to homosexuality being punishable by death in the early centuries of the Middle Ages still rings true given what we know of the time period and Christian’s actions are still well within the brutal kill or be killed way of life which was prevalent.

The adventure is a slow-burning UST filled ride with many stumbles along the way.

Eli has included the book’s original epilogue when it was first published as part of the Love Has No Boundaries event in the MM Book Group here on Goodreads.

But, for me, even though it makes me cry, the updated Epilogue is the better one because it covers decades of a lifetime’s happiness before a final shout of glory.

I will just say though

*** Spoiler***

if you don’t like to read about character deaths, even though it’s after a pretty long and happy life together, do skip over the new epilogue and head to the older one

Original Review

Oh that epilogue, painfully heartbreaking and yet a herald of a lifetime of happiness at the same time.

I really liked this one, medieval England is a difficult historic setting to get right and there were only a couple of slips in terminology or title.

The killing of Lord Somerfield is a tricky one, required for the plot but still a murder committed with aforethought.

Still, it worked within the story narrative and if it truly had been a serving wench, then self-defence would have been a justification.

William and Christian were two truly beautiful men and their love in a time when not only the law but their immortal souls were on the line according to the times, was cleverly explored.

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Review & Blog Tour: Gentleman Wolf by Joanna Chambers

Gentleman Wolf | Joanna Chambers

Capital Wolves #1

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Buy Links:

Amazon US Amazon UK

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Length: 216 pages

Cover Design: Felix d’Eon

READ MY REVIEW

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Blurb

An elegant werewolf in Edinburgh… 

  1. When Lindsay Somerville, the most elegant werewolf in Paris, learns that the man who held him in abject captivity for decades is on his way to France, intent on recapturing him, he knows he must leave the Continent for his own safety. Lindsay cannot take the risk of being recaptured—he may have been free for a century but he can still feel the ghost of his old chains under his fine clothes.

… on a mission… 

While he’s in Edinburgh, Lindsay has been tasked with acquiring the “Naismith Papers”, the writings of a long-dead witchfinder. It should be a straightforward mission—all Lindsay has to do is charm an elderly book collector, Hector Cruikshank. But Cruikshank may not be all he seems, and there are others who want the papers.

… meets his match

As if that were not enough, while tracking down the Naismith Papers, Lindsay meets stubborn architect Drew Nicol. Although the attraction between them is intense, Nicol seems frustratingly determined to resist Lindsay’s advances. Somehow though, Lindsay can’t seem to accept Nicol’s rejection. Is he just moonstruck, or is Nicol bonded to him in ways he doesn’t yet understand?

Note: this is the first book of a duology – the story continues and will complete in the second book, Master Wolf.

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About The Author

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children.

Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Release Blitz: The Arrangement by Alex Jane

The Arrangement | Alex Jane

A Homestead Legacy Story

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Universal Link

Length: 56,000 words approx.

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Blurb

1895 New York

Gabriel Webster’s pack is in trouble. His father’s failing health and his mother’s untimely death mean that the vultures are circling. It won’t be long before his family’s assets are stripped and his pack disbanded. When an offer of help arrives in the form of a marriage of convenience, he has little choice but to accept.

The arrangement would be the perfect solution, if not for one thing. Gabriel is to marry Nathaniel Hayward, the Alpha who was badly injured in the accident that killed his brother ten years before—and the man Gabriel has been in love with for as long as he can remember.

Trapped in a business arrangement masquerading as a marriage — in a strange, empty house with a damaged husband who barely tolerates him — isn’t what Gabriel expected from life.

But sometimes the last thing we want is the beginning of something more.

And an ending can be the start of something beautiful.

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About The Author

After spending far too long creating stories in her head, Alex Jane finally plucked up the courage to write them down and realized it was quite fun seeing them on the page after all.

Free from aspirations of literary greatness, Alex simply hopes to entertain by spinning a good yarn of love and life, wrapped up with a happy ending. Although, if her characters have to go through Hell to get there, she’s a-okay with that.

With only a dysfunctional taste in music and a one-eyed dog to otherwise fill her days, Alex writes and walks on the South Coast of England—even when her heart and spellcheck are in New York.

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A historical country house romp to rival Sheridan

The Captain and the Theatrical (The Captivating Captains, #3)The Captain and the Theatrical by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this historical series and this one might just be my favourite one yet given it could have masqueraded as a Sheridan play with its complex twists, turns and plottings.

While I’m not sure the ending is wholly believable for that time period, I honestly didn’t care! It’s a truly wonderful romantic romp through the English countryside with an Italian flair and all the comedy and dramatic moments I’d expect with a man in disguise plot.

I loved both Pen and Amadeo/Cosima and they were a wonderful match, idealistic, passionate and not too shabby in the investigation stakes when it came to a secondary plot surrounding stolen jewels.

There are a fabulous set of secondary characters, including a brilliant and clever parrot, nods to historical figures of the period just after Waterloo and a rousing country house gathering complete with a masqued ball.

Another wonderful entry for this series from Catherine and Eleanor.

#ARC kindly received from the authors in return for an honest and unbiased review

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