Archive for July, 2009

Happy Friday! 🙂 St. Martin’s Press has generously offered me three copies of THE DEVIL’S QUEEN by Jeanne Kalogridis to do a giveaway here on the blog. Contest will run from today, July 31st until Monday, August 10th. Winners will be chosen on Tuesday, August 11th and will have 48 hours to email me their info to get book sent out. Easy to enter for a chance to win one. Just tell me what you’ve read lately that I must get my hands on. 😉


From Jeanne Kalogridis, the bestselling author ofI, Mona Lisa and The Borgia Bride, comes a new novel that tells the passionate story of a queen who loved not wisely . . . but all too well.

Confidante of Nostradamus, scheming mother-in-law to Mary, Queen of Scots, and architect of the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Catherine de Medici is one of the most maligned monarchs in history. In her latest historical fiction, Jeanne Kalogridis tells Catherine’s story—that of a tender young girl, destined to be a pawn in Machiavellian games.

Born into one of Florence’s most powerful families, Catherine was soon left a fabulously rich heiress by the early deaths of her parents. Violent conflict rent the city state and she found herself imprisoned and threatened by her family’s enemies before finally being released and married off to the handsome Prince Henry of France.

Overshadowed by her husband’s mistress, the gorgeous, conniving Diane de Poitiers, and unable to bear children, Catherine resorted to the dark arts of sorcery to win Henry’s love and enhance her fertility—for which she would pay a price. Against the lavish and decadent backdrop of the French court, and Catherine’s blood-soaked visions of the future, Kalogridis reveals the great love and desire Catherine bore for her husband, Henry, and her stark determination to keep her sons on the throne.

There’s also a freebie e-book you can check out that’s connected to THE DEVIL’S QUEEN, titled BOOK OF BLACK MAGIC: THE DEVIL’S QUEEN GRIMOIRE.

*****Sorry, Giveaway open to US and Canada residents only.******

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He’ll fulfill her wildest fantasies… but only if she believes.

The Gray Court, Book 1

Leo Dunne has been searching his entire life for the one person born just for him. He finds her working in his own company, but the shy little Ruby Halloway constantly hides from him. He hatches a devilish plot with her best friend to bring her out of her shell, and the result proves her desire is more than a match for his own.

Ruby has had the hots for her boss for some time now, but she knows business and pleasure shouldn’t mix. While that can’t stop a girl from dreaming, she sticks by her guns and does her best never to be alone with the handsome CEO. Until the company masquerade party, where she discovers a passion with him that leaves a mark on her soul.

A family emergency calls Leo away, and rather than spend one night out of Ruby’s arms, he convinces her to go with him. With his brother’s life on the line, it’s vital she learn how to deal with who, and what, her new lover really is…before it’s too late.

Once upon a time a girl fell in love with a handsome fae prince, but that handsome prince didn’t know she was alive. She strove to avoid the prince, because the pain of watching him with the beautiful princesses who flocked to his side was too much for her to bear.

The prince had noticed the girl, but because she avoided him he could never tell her how much he wanted her for his princess. So the prince hatched a plan involving an angel, a costume ball and a double dog dare…

Okay, so Leo isn’t a prince. He’s merely a lord. And Ruby isn’t exactly Cinderella, either. She’s an accountant in Leo’s party planning firm. Still, it’s a heck of a start to a fairy tale, isn’t it?

I wanted to do a series of modern-day fairy tales. Not Cinderella, just fairies and, well, their tales. What better way to start than to write a story about an Elven lord and the woman he wants to claim as his?

The fae have always called to me, especially the Sidhe. I’ve been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien since I was twelve years old (trust me, that’s a lot of years). I’m such a geek I’ve read the Lord of the Rings nine times, the Hobbit seven, and actually got through The Silmarillion, something none of my other friends managed to do without falling asleep. I always play an elf in video games whenever they’re available, and I even thought about learning Sindarin (an Elven Tolkien language) but decided that might be crossing the line into super-geekdom even for me. When Everquest II mentioned they would introduce a race with fairy wings I squee’d like a little girl.  Heck, I courted my husband while role-playing an elf. All hail the mighty dice! Needless to say there was no way I could go through life without writing about the fae.

Thus the Dunne family was born. The middle child, Leo, began whispering in my ear about this woman he had his eye on. What to do when the woman of your dreams keeps hiding in the ladies room every time you try to talk to her? You could try using your Sidhe powers, but she’ll only think it was a dream. Mention you’re an elf and she’ll either run further than a Boston Marathon contestant or refer you to the nearest hug-me jacket factory. The only way to get her to see you’re not a candidate for anti-psychotic medication? You have to prove to her you’re everything you say you are, and a little bit more. And Leo does that admirably.

So here I am, and finally my fairies are out in the world. Now I’m left wondering… were there any dragons that were considered fae? Because I’ve been dreaming about dragons recently…

— Dana Marie Bell

*****Leave a comment for the chance to win a download of DARE TO BELIEVE! Good luck!

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Amazon recommended SEDUCED BY SHADOWS by Jessa Slade to me when I was updating my wishlist. New to me author and I love the cover. Comes out October 6, 2009.


The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, but now evil is winning, and The Marked Souls are caught in the middle…

After an accident left her near death, Sera Littlejohn is struggling to piece her life together again.  But when a violet-eyed stranger reveals a supernatural battle veiled in the shadows, Sera is tempted to the edge of madness by a dangerous desire.

Ferris Archer takes Sera under his wing now that she is talyan, possessed by a repentant demon with hellish powers.  Archer and his league of warriors have long risked their demon-shattered souls to stop darker spirits from wreaking havoc.  But they’ve never fought beside a female talya before, and never in all his centuries has Archer found a woman who captivates him like Sera.

With the balance shifting between good and evil, passion and possession, Sera and Archer must defy the darkness‹and dare to embrace a love that will mark them forever…

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Got my September RT in the mail today and busy adding new books to my wishlist. Found this one, DRAWN INTO DARKNESS by Annette McCleave. Doesn’t it sound good? Comes out September 1st.


A captivating tale of angels and demons, and of a man and woman as inexorably bound by passion as they are by the evil destined to destroy it…
For centuries Lachlan MacGregor has battled demon thieves for the souls of the dead, carrying out his pledge to deliver them into Heaven or Hell. But his greatest challenge as a Soul Gatherer is now among the living.

Struggling to connect with her troubled teenage daughter Emily, artist Rachel Lewis turns to her enigmatic yet strangely compelling neighbor Lachlan for advice. As Lachlan soon discovers, the young girl has fallen victim to a seductive demon—a specter from the past using the unsuspecting women to fulfill an ancient prophesy and settle a hellish score with Lachlan himself.

In the race to save Emily and avert a disastrous power shift among the deities, Rachel and Lachlan forge an uncommon bond. But how can Lachlan tell the mortal woman he’s falling in love with that the next soul he’s been enlisted to gather—and deliver beyond—is her daughter’s?

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How sexy is this cover of Lauren’s? Comes out January 2010. This is Brody’s book, older brother of Erin from LAID BARE.



Brody Brown has always been responsible for others. After his parents’ death, he gave up a promising artistic career to care for his younger brother and sister. Now, with his siblings grown, Brody owns his own business, has a nice house, makes a nice living, and for the first time in years he’s on his own.

Elise Sorenson has come to Seattle with her young daughter to find peace. After years as a world-famous ballerina—(and just as many years in a marriage-gone-bad)—she’s looking for neither love nor attention. But she finds both in the handsome, honest man who befriends her with no strings attached.

More than friends, Brody and Elise discover in each other what they need—wild, physical passion without commitment. But it’ll take a shadow from Elise’s past to make them look beyond what they need—to what they truly desire.

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This is the start of a new series by Megan. PLEASURE & PURPOSE, Book 1, comes out September 1st, followed by NO GREATER PLEASURE, out October 6th.


The Handmaidens of the Order of solace are named for the exquisite services that best reflect their true Calling. Their greatest pleasure is giving pleasure — devoted as they are to fullfilling the desires of the mind, the needs of the soul, and the cravings of the body.

STILLNESS…Her mission is to soothe the conscience of Edward, a man in need of redemption after a shocking sexual act destroyed a friendship and resulted in a tragedy only spoken about in hushed whispers. What Edward needs is love — the one thing a Handmaiden is forbidden to offer, unless she, too, is willing to break the rules.

HONESTY…She has been with the Order too long, and her heart grows evermore reluctant to serve. Her final vow of solace is to Cillian, Prince of Firth — handsome, charmingly irascible, and looking for a maiden who will bend to his every whim. Instead, he gets the unexpected — a bold, fresh, and daring experiment…in Honesty.

DETERMINATA…When confronted with an unusual client like Alaric, a man growing more and more lost in a haze of random sex and drugs, there are many ways for a Handmaiden to provide solace — and they all don’t involve submission. Mina has just the plan to literally whip her man into shape.

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I recently had the chance to read the Captive Souls Series that was released last week through Samhain Publishing. When Brandy saw that I had read them, we emailed back and forth discussing the set of books and decided to do a buddy discussion of them to post on each of our blogs. Thanks for doing this with me, Brandy! 🙂

Captive Souls Series:

Dominique’s Release by Kimberly Kaye Terry
Stone’s Embrace by Delilah Devlin
Demon Dreamer by Vivi Anna

~ What did you expect from the stories when you read the write up/blurb?

B: I read the blurbs and excerpts and had high expectations. I thought the premise is a good and one that grabbed my interest. I’ve read Delilah Devlin and Vivi Anna before and really enjoyed both authors. Ms. Terry is new to me but I do have some of her books in my TBR pile.

Mad: I didn’t read any of the excerpts beforehand but reading the blurbs, the premise of the trilogy had me very interested. Of the three authors, Vivi Anna was the only one I’ve read before and what I have read of hers, I’ve enjoyed. Delilah Devlin’s books, I’ve never read but have one or two in the TBR. Kimberly Kaye Terry was a new to me author.

~ Do you think that the write up lived up to what was expected?

B: I think the general idea between the write up and the stories was there but I would have loved a more in depth story. I knew to read them in order because of my fan stalking of Delilah. The books each made me want to read the next to see what happened with the couples but something felt a bit off.

Mad: I don’t know if it did. I read Vivi’s book first because she was the author I’ve already read and I didn’t see on the site where it mentioned it had to be read in order. I read Vivi’s then went back and read Kimberly’s then Delilah’s and I kept thinking there would be *something* to connect the three books, something other than that one scene at the end of Vivi’s book, but there wasn’t and I was left with a feeling that all the books were just a complete sexfest with no real story. Take out the sexing and you had nothing left. Nothing to say what made each character tick, what made them who they were. With all the books I read, I’m no prude by any means but all I ask is for a storyline/plot to go along with the sexing. Years ago, when I first came online and stumble into the romance book chat rooms, someone once used the acronym “PWP”. When I asked what that meant, I was told “Porn without Plot.” That phrase kept running through my mind the whole time I was reading these three books. There was no story for me.

~ Was there something you felt was missing from each story?

B: I wanted more of a connection between the women who were half sisters. I did seem to feel a lack of deep emotion between the 3 couples. I don’t need the heart felt emotions but I do need something that makes me feel as though they are together for the right reason and not just because they set each other free and that they never fit in to the real world.

Mad: In general I felt all three books were missing something but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was. I don’t need the words “I Love You” to be said in every book but I do want to come away after reading a story with a feeling that these characters will be together for a long time. I didn’t get that with any of the characters in these books. I felt it was all just a sexfest from the minute they met and had a feeling they’d move on to someone else when they got bored with the “newness” of it all.

Then there’s the back-story of Bacclum. He went after Malvo (just an aside, but was I the only one who thought of the DC sniper when I saw the name Malvo?) because he wanted his powers to be able to save his family. Was that ever addressed after he was released?

~ Did you feel that one story stood out from the others? Good or bad.

B: Hmmm……I’m a bit indifferent to the stories. The each had their good points and points that just didn’t jive with me.

Mad: I have to say the Devlin was way over the top for me. She has sex with a gargoyle statue then wants to cry rape when statue turns into live man/gargoyle? Then proceeds to have sex with random characters while hero either watches or participates then wants us to believe that she’s in love and wants to be with Tav forever? No, sorry, that didn’t work for me.

~ How far outside the box is too far?

B: I’m not sure there is a too far outside the box unless the author doesn’t make it believable. I like to see the author push their bounds and mine as well. What fun is it to just read the same thing over and over again.

Mad: As long as the author can make me believe that the hero and heroine are meant for each other and they know it, I’m pretty open-minded.

~ Did you feel that there was enough humanization to the male characters for you to relate to?

B: I got the most from Malvo. I got it that he was selfish and he knew he screwed up. I saw his boredom and how he went about dealing with it but would have loved more about how he felt other than shocked at the end.

Mad: Heh, in between all that sexing? No, not really.

~Can an alpha male just end up being a partially likable guy just because he sounds hot and has a big dick?

B: He can be partially likable but he definitely needs more to hold my attention. An alpha male for me is a hard, arrogant sexy man with a nice gooey center. (I’m feeling the need for candy now).

Mad: There’s more to being an alpha than just sounding hot and having a big dick. *g* He has to have that protectiveness and possessiveness that he’d lay down and die for his lady. That she is his world and he’d do anything for her. Just having the sexing doesn’t say much to me other than maybe he had help from a little blue pill we all hear about. *g*

~ This felt like we were to believe in soul mates but did that really come across?

B: With just a little bit more I could have gone with the soul mate feeling. I bit more dealing with their feelings for each other and I would have possibly been there.

Mad: Was that what we were supposed to believe? Opps, that totally slid past me because of the three stories, I felt none were going to have their HEA, just a HEAFN (Happily Ever After For Now).

~ Which element to do wish would be explored more?

B: I would have loved to see more about the relationships of everyone involved. The sisters with each other and at least some sort of communication between the men at the end after they were all free.

Mad: Would have liked to see the sisters actually talk and get to know each other, not just exchange names and have the story end.

Would have also liked to see how the men dealt with each other that first time they saw each other in the living room.

~ Is there a character which you would love to hear more about?

B: I was fascinated by Hades in Delilah Devlin’s book. I could totally picture a book about him and his life. He was the ultimate Alpha Male in my mind; all powerful yet with a glipmse of that hidden emotion.

Mad: Hades was the only one who really stood out for me but if Petra and Tav were included? No, I wouldn’t want to read anything about him. I just got a very ick factor feeling when it came to those two, especially Petra. She came off as such a skank in her story. No purpose other than to find the next person she could have sex with, while Tav either watched or joined in. It was all about the sexing to her.

Thoughts on Individual Books:

Book 1 Dominique’s Release

B: I didn’t have any major issues with this story. I didn’t realize it would be an inter-racial story until I got to the descriptions of the two main characters. The race of the characters didn’t matter but since I don’t read a lot of inter-racial I have a hard time drawing an accurate portrait in my head of the couple together. Talk of skin tone as compared to honey lead my mind to wander to a jar of honey so I have the right look in my head. Crazy I know but it’s what happens in my head.

Mad: I’ve read several interracial stories so that was no issue for me. My issue was that Dominique’s power was never fully discussed, I still have no clue what her power was, and why her mother was so frightened that Dominique was traveling to her father’s house. I felt like she was keeping something back from her and it was never spoken of.

Book 2 Stone’s Embrace

B: This is not a book to be taken lightly when it comes to the couple. They explore their sexual lives with each other and many partners which I had a hard time coming to terms with. I do expect my H/h to be together heart, soul and body. In this book they felt like Swingers really. I didn’t see that coming and was a bit put off on the whole idea. I did want to read more about Hades though. He came across as the ultimate alpha male with hidden depths.

Mad: This story caused a lot of eye rolling for me. Of the three, it was my least favorite because of the heroine. She blew hot and cold. I don’t mind the extra sexing but please don’t say you’re not one to act like this then in the span of a day (day and a half??) you’ve slept with the hero, given a BJ to another dude, had a foursome with two woman and hero then had sex with yet another dude and then claim to love the hero. That is NOT believable to me.

Book 3 Demon Dreamer

B: This book was okay. Nothing really stood out as partner-swapping cringe worthy or super sweet they’re in love. The couple never declares their love of each other and I felt that we were to just understand that they were together for all the right reason.

Mad: As much as I wanted to like this one and say it was another keeper by Vivi, I’m disappointed to say I can’t say I did. It was OK but nothing that would make it a keeper to me.

Final thoughts:

B: Overall, I’m glad I read the series because I like to think that I’m open to new book reading experiences. However, this is not a re-read for me and I’m not sure I would recommend it unless someone was looking for something a bit outside the box. Yes I understand that the heroes are all otherworldly creatures and their lady friends were not your normal girl next door types. They were made for each other but the human aspect that I connect to wasn’t completely there or explored. The ending felt like it was left open for more but I can’t see where they could go.

Mad: Samhain’s my go to site for connected stories/themes ever since I got hooked on e-books. Of those that I’ve read that have been published by them so far, I’d have to say this set will never be a reread for me and most likely one that I won’t recommend to friends to read. My main issue about the whole set was there was no real story for me. No real connection. Nothing memorable about the heroes or the heroines for me. Nothing other than sex, sex, sex and yet more sex. Nothing that made me want to say to a friend “Hey, did you read such and such? You have got to read it, you won’t be sorry!” I had such high hopes that I would like this set of books and to be honest, I feel let down. The premise was there, it just wasn’t executed to the potential it could have had.

SIDE NOTE from B: I would like to add that I will still read other books from these three authors. The fact that this really wasn’t my favorite series doesn’t put me off them at all. Hey if I absolutely just loved and raved about everything I read you might think something was really wrong with me. Not everything is going to be my thing or hit me the right way. I wanted to love this series but it just wasn’t in the cards for me this time around.

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We have a winner! The winner of Sharon’s post is….


Congrats Tabitha! Please email me at mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces) with your preferred format so we can email you the book. Enjoy!

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Update on me!

What I’ve learned in the past 4.5 days.

1. Men are big babies. (Meaning hubby)
2. I’ll never get a job as a nurse anywhere because my bedside manners suck. No, really, ask hubby. *g*
3. I can only take so much complaining about “pain” before I snap and remind said hubby that hello, I gave birth to four of his kids without drugs and all four were natural births so please don’t talk to me about pain and how I don’t know what it is. *rolling eyes*
4. The last 4.5 days have got to be my get to heaven free ticket because there is no way I didn’t get some brownie points that hubby is still actually here and breathing and I haven’t hurt him after all the running around we’ve done (the girls and I) and all the complaining he’s done. ROFL
5. Men make the worse patients EVER. No lie.
6. According to him, his pain got worse each time I talked to him but then when I’m just sitting there reading, I made the pain worse because I WASN’T talking to him. Someone please explain that one to me. *g*
7. I’ve read 8 books in the past 4.5 days. Yes, I’m as shocked as you, 8 books in almost 5 days? I am a reading machine! (Or like my oldest said, I was hiding and avoiding hubby and his complaining) lol
8. I feel like going book shopping to celebrate surviving hubby’s hernia surgery and him going back to work today.

What have you all been up to while I was offline? Reading anything good?

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First of all, I want to thank Fatin for inviting me to her blog. I’m a frequent lurker and love reading the excerpts and comments. So thank you, Fatin!

I know a lot of authors say their books are near and dear to them and I don’t doubt it. Our stories are like our babies. But Obsession really is the nearest and dearest to me because a lot of it is autobiographical.

Two days before our first child was born my husband lost his job. He was a Federal Investigator and was caught up in the cutbacks in the mid-nineties. All along we’d planned that I would be a stay-at-home mom but of course that all changed when he became unemployed. It was tough. He took a job that he absolutely hated to get us through and we tag-team parented for many, many months.

His college degree is in Criminal Justice and his dream had always been to be a police officer. When he lost his job with the government we both figured this was the time for him to follow that dream. Looking back, we both realize that neither of us had a clue what that meant. The life of a police officer? Couldn’t be much different than any other life, right? WRONG.

It’s a very difficult way to live. I’m not saying it’s the most difficult. Certainly the men and women in the armed forces have it much tougher, but being a police officer, being married to a police officer, has to rank right up there.

I could never count on him to be there for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or any other celebration. Because we were determined that one of us would be at home while our kids were growing up, it was very difficult for me to work around his crazy hours.

Not that I’m complaining. I’d take employment over unemployment any day and he absolutely loved what he was doing. It’s been fifteen years and we’ve worked out the kinks through determination and just plain hard-headedness. But a lot of couples can’t weather the storms that this career throws at them and hence the birth of Obsession.

Obsession is about Tess and Alex, a couple who love each other but can’t see the forest for the trees. Alex’s job as a police officer has come between them. Tess is tired of taking a backseat to Alex’s career. When a life altering tragedy strikes, their marriage crumbles and Tess files for divorce. But when Alex is shot in the line of duty and the doctors don’t know if he’ll survive, Tess realizes how much she loves him.

Just like their marriage, their road to reconciliation is not an easy one. Alex doesn’t understand Tess’s worries and Tess fears they’ll fall back into the same routine that drove them apart. Throw in a villain bent on destroying both of them and things get even worse.

I hope you enjoy reading Obsession. The book is dedicated to all of the spouses of police officers, for their dedication and for keeping the home fires burning while their loved ones put themselves on the line every day.

Just for fun, if you comment on this post, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free download of Obsession.

Thanks for stopping by!


Only a year ago, Officer Alex Juran and his wife Tess had it all. Love, a solid marriage and a baby on the way. Then in one heartbeat they lost everything.

Now, Tess is doing her best to move on. She has a thriving business and while she may be lonely at times, she’s proud of the new life she’s built without Alex.

Two days before their divorce is final, Alex is shot in the line of duty and left for dead. He faces a difficult recovery so Tess finds herself postponing the divorce and offering to care for him until he can live alone again.

At first, cohabitation is little more than combat. Alex’s incapacitating injuries, the looming divorce, and his inability to remember who shot him have him lashing out at the nearest target: Tess. When someone begins stalking her, he suspects his shooter has returned. Convinced that Tess is in danger, Alex becomes desperate to recover his strength.

Because no matter how much she’s hurt him in the past, they’ve been given a second chance—and he’ll do anything to protect his wife.

Excerpt —

Eventually, he reached the living room and stopped in front of the bay window that overlooked the backyard. Moonlight reflected off the falling snow, making the room glow. Tess had put up a Christmas tree and he looked for the ornaments they’d purchased together. Before they were even married they’d had a tradition of buying an ornament in each city they visited.

Sort of a holiday scrapbook that hung on the tree. He’d always loved decorating the tree with her. They would laugh and remember their vacations together.

This year Tess had decorated with glass balls found in any discount store. Just another reminder that their memories meant so little to her. He turned back to the window only to encounter Tess’s reflection in the glass. Face scrubbed, her hair brushed and falling almost to her waist, wearing flannel pajamas that were two sizes too big, she looked sixteen. Too young to have been married and divorced. Too young for the sadness in her eyes. He wondered if he looked older to her.

Had the divorce aged him as well?

“I didn’t wake you, did I?” he asked her reflection.

“I couldn’t sleep.”

He touched the needles of the tree. “Where are our ornaments?”

“In the basement.”


“Because it hurts too much to look at them.”

Adopting a nonchalance he didn’t feel, he said, “So, get rid of them.”

“I can’t.”

“You got rid of me. What’s a box of ornaments?”

She sighed, pulled her hands up into her sleeves and stepped closer to the tree. “Getting rid of the ornaments would have hurt more than putting them on the tree.”

“So you want the memories, just not the person attached to them.”

She spun away. Instead of mere inches separating them, a couch, a dog, five years of marriage and six months of separation lay between them.

“I need to go to bed. You need to sleep too. Tomorrow’s your first physical therapy session and I need to get up early to start baking. Barbara’s been handling my business for the time being, but she can’t do it forever.”


A heartbeat of time passed. “Yes?”

“I’m sorry. For everything.” He’d never said that before.
Never apologized for all the pain he’d caused. Too little, too late, he knew. Two simple words couldn’t even begin to heal a marriage full of broken promises.

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