Source: Edelweiss

Guest Review: Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

Posted January 22, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Finding Christmas by Karen SchalerReviewer: Tracy
Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 374
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

From the writer of the Netflix sensation, A Christmas Prince, and Christmas Camp, the Hallmark movie and novel, comes a heartwarming new Christmas story, Finding Christmas, showing how sometimes the detour in your journey is the path to true love.

With all the glittering decorations, twinkling lights, snow angels, gingerbread men and mistletoe, Christmas is Emmie’s first love.

This year, she can’t wait to share her favorite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. She thinks he’s “the one.” So when Grant’s hectic work schedule has him more “Bah Humbug” than “Ho, Ho, Ho,” Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his Christmas spirit. At the end of the journey, Grant will arrive at the charming town of Christmas Point where she’s planned a romantic weekend filled with holiday activities.

But Emmie’s plan backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy following her clues! Sam, a best-selling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever Christmas riddles are from his agent, who is trying to help him get over his epic writer’s block.

When he arrives at Christmas Point and finds the stunned Emmie, he immediately feels she’s someone special, but she can’t see beyond the fact that the wrong guy has shown up. Inspired by the small, charming town, Sam decides to stay and convinces Emmie to join him in a little holiday fun while she waits for Grant.
When Grant finally shows up, Emmie is disappointed to discover he’s not enjoying the activities she planned and can’t help wonder if he’s really the one for her. She also can’t get Sam out of her mind and all the great times they had together. With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her in the direction of true love…

Emmie loves Christmas.  I mean she loves Christmas.  She can’t get enough of ornaments, wreaths, holiday spirit or Christmas trees.  This will be her first Christmas with her boyfriend, Grant, so she’s planned a holiday getaway for just the two of them.  Grant is a lawyer and with her as director of the community center their both busy and can’t spend much time together.  This getaway will give them a chance for uninterrupted togetherness and Emmie can’t wait.  She’s planned a scavenger hunt for Grant that includes a huge Christmas theme and will eventually take him to Christmas Point, a town that is all about Christmas.  Emmie will be waiting for him there.

Unfortunately through no fault of her own, Grant doesn’t end up getting the first scavenger hunt clue, Sam does.  Sam is a mystery writer who lives in the same building as Grant and ends up getting Emmie’s clue.  He’s excited because he thinks this is from his agent and is a way to help him start writing again. He’s been unable to write and she told him she was going to send him something to inspire him.  Sam also adores Christmas and so is totally into the scavenger hunt.

When he gets to Christmas Point Emmie is shocked when she learns what’s happened.  She had all of the activities planned to the minute and now there’s no Grant. Sam decides to tag along on her activities and their friendship grows from there.  When Emmie realizes that she’s got feelings for Sam she’s beside herself as she knows she loves Grant.  Doesn’t she?

I liked this book because I really liked Sam and Emmie together.  Before Emmie and Sam were in Christmas Point together I was wondering why Emmie was with Grant as he seemed like a bit of an ass.  And a Scrooge.  Not really her type, imho.  Emmie was fun and fun-loving, and I could see that in Sam as well.  They were much better suited for each other than Emmie and Grant.  Grant was a stick in the mud and though we didn’t get to know him well, I didn’t like him.

Overall I thought this was a cute story.  I can’t say that I love Christmas as much as Emmie and Sam do, but it was fun to see their joy in the season.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted January 9, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The One for You by Roni LorenReviewer: Rowena
The One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren's unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn't supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn't know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn't let anybody stand in her way.

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn't know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he'll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he's ever loved.

The One for You is the final book in The Ones Who Got Away series by Roni Loren. I’m so sad that this series is done and over with because it’s been such a great and emotional journey for me. When we first met these characters in The Ones Who Got Away, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with these characters and their stories so much. I thought Roni Loren did such a fabulous job of telling these stories and giving these characters a voice that resonated with me in each and every single book. I just really liked this series and I can’t wait to see what Loren has planned next. I’m all aboard the Roni Loren fangirl train. 🙂

So this book features our last standing friend, Kincaid Breslin. Kincaid was the bubbly blonde that brought the four friends together again and pretty much held everyone to the words they’d given over a decade ago after the school shooting and their support group sessions came to an end. Each woman had written a letter, that they then buried and promised to revisit 10 years later. Well over time, the four friends each went their separate ways and forgot…Kincaid reminded them and helped each of them move forward with their lives. In this book, we see those three friends return the favor with Kincaid.

Over the course of the series, we see just how important the friendship between the women is to their stories as their romances are. These women have come a long way since that first book and I loved seeing their friendship solidify with each passing book. They became a family and that along with Kincaid and Ash’s story had me in tears for most of this book. I’m talking like ugly cry in the middle of the night because I couldn’t put this book down. I was all in my feels throughout this entire story. From the flashbacks to the here and now, I cried a lot. I’m a sucker for the unrequited love trope and Loren did a great job of showcasing the hurt feelings, the inability to move on, the frustration and just, everything. Every single chapter moved the story along and I loved how seeing the past collide with the present and then build and build and build until everything made sense. When things are finally all out in the open and there are no more secrets, no more confusion, when it’s all out on the table and both characters have to live with the choices they make? Swoon. I had all of the feels.

I loved Ash, I thought he was a great hero. I thought Loren did a great job of showing the reader how his childhood shaped who he was as a man. Though I spent quite a bit of the book, frustrated with Ash for not going after the girl, by the end, every choice he made, every time he bit his tongue, made sense. So when he swallows his pride and does the one thing he never thought he’d do…for Kincaid? OMG, the tears continued. There was no doubt in my mind that Ash belonged with Kincaid. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ash was devoted to KC back when they were kids and then again as adults.

Kincaid turned out to be my favorite of the four friends. I thought my favorite book was going to be Rebecca and Wes’ book because I absolutely loved theirs but nope. This book ended the series on such a high note that Roni Loren shot right to the top of my auto-buy list. This book is my first 5-star read of the year and Kincaid was a huge reason for that. I’m so glad that we finally got her childhood story. Her’s was not an easy story to tell but man, Kincaid came so far from that lost young girl with the neglectful mother and no real home to call her own. When she finally, finally gets the happy ending she’s always wanted, my heart was so full for both her and Ash that I stayed up for an extra 30 minutes just rereading my favorite parts of the book. I re-read the letters. Ash’s declaration. The epilogue. There’s a lot of good stuff in here and if you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it. These characters really come into their own, moving forward after such a huge tragedy and it was all just so good. I’m going to miss these characters so much. Love this!

Final Grade

Grade: 5 out of 5

The Ones That Got Away

five-stars


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Guest Review: When the Marquess was Mine by Caroline Linden

Posted December 31, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: When the Marquess was Mine by Caroline LindenReviewer: Tracy
When the Marquess Was Mine by Caroline Linden
Series: The Wagers of Sin #3
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In the game of love…

Georgiana Lucas despises the arrogant and cruel Marquess of Westmorland even before learning that he's won the deed to her friend Kitty's home in a card game. Still, Georgiana assures Kitty the marquess wouldn't possibly come all the way to Derbyshire to throw them out—until he shows up, bloody and unconscious. Fearing that Kitty would rather see him die, Georgiana blurts out that he's her fiancé. She'll nurse the hateful man back to health and make him vow to leave and never return. The man who wakes up, though, is nothing like the heartless rogue Georgiana thought she knew…

You have to risk it all

He wakes up with no memory of being assaulted—or of who he is. The bewitching beauty tending him so devotedly calls him Rob and claims she's his fiancée even as she avoids his touch. Though he can't remember how he won her hand, he's now determined to win her heart. But as his memory returns and the truth is revealed, Rob must decide if the game is up—or if he'll take a chance on a love that defies all odds.

Georgiana Lucas is visiting her friend Kitty and her family when they receive a message from Kitty’s husband.  It just says that by no means are they to let the Marquess of Westmorland into the house.  The family has no idea what’s going on as Kitty’s husband is non-specific as to why.  When Georgiana is out riding with a groom, she sees a man being attacked and insists on scaring off the attackers and helping the man back to Kitty’s house.

When they finally get the man back to the house, some of the mud from the road rubs off and Georgiana sees that it’s the Marquess of Westmorland.  Georgiana knows that Kitty can be vindictive (at least she could be when they were in school together) and since her husband told her not to let Westmorland enter the house, Georgiana knows that Kitty might not help him, even though he’s injured.  Georgiana panics and tells Kitty that the man is her fiancé Robert Sterling.

Georgiana stays with Westmorland day and night while he fights for his life, and the family is touched by how dedicated she is when in fact she’s just scared he’ll wake up and utter his true identity.  Fortunately for Georgiana, Westmorland wakes up and has no idea who he is.  Before Georgiana can tell him the truth, the doctor spouts that he is Robert Sterling and that he’s Georgiana’s fiancé.  Oops.

So begins the romance of Georgiana and Rob. Rob believes that Georgiana is his fiance, so he treats as he would a fiance – with kindness, compliments and love. He’s also amazed that the beautiful woman by his side is his.  I loved watching Georgiana fall in love with Westmorland and learn that he wasn’t the complete ass she believed him to be. He’s actually very sweet and kind and I loved him to pieces! Yes, he liked to gamble and drink, but what young buck of that time didn’t?  Their time spent together was lovely and Linden did a great job with this couple.

When Rob gets some of his memory back, he’s not upset at Georgiana for not telling him the truth – he’s too in love with her by that time.  He’s encouraged by his family to forget her, but he just can’t.  He heads back to London and his friend reminds him how he had agreed to help him catch a smuggler.  This was subtly mentioned at the beginning of the book but not in any detail.  Though there was that mention, it still felt as if this part of the book was tacked on and I didn’t really care for it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book.  When I read a Linden book it reminds me of how much I like her as an author and now I need to go read more of her stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Wagers of Sin

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted December 15, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I can’t believe that we’re already on Book 4. When I first heard about this series before the first book came out, I was mighty intrigued and I thought it was such an interesting concept though I didn’t know how Roni Loren would pull it off. Telling the stories of victims of a school shooting? That was different but I’ve got to say that Roni Loren has written fantastic stories for the survivors and I have eaten each and every single book that she’s written in this series up.

In The One for You, we are finally getting Kincaid’s story. I’m pretty anxious for this book to be released into the wild because Kincaid has completely won me over throughout this series. In the first book, I didn’t really care for her at first but now? Love the woman. I can’t wait to read her story and it’s a best friend trope along with the one that got away trope? Oh yes, sign me up!

My love for this series is real and that is why we’re featuring The One for You on our Sunday Spotlight for this week. Check out the excerpt below and see Kincaid meet up with her long lost best friend that she hasn’t seen in years. Enjoy!

Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni LorenThe One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3), The One for You
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren's unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn't supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn't know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn't let anybody stand in her way

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn't know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he'll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he's ever loved.

Excerpt

Ash’s head was pounding from lack of sleep and absence of coffee as he stepped out of the tiny shower in the apartment above the bookstore. The hot water had helped wake him up some, but the headache was going to take something more drastic. Like a double shot of espresso from the coffee shop on the corner. Maybe a triple. It wouldn’t taste like his usual from his favorite shop in Brooklyn, but he couldn’t be choosy.

Not that many years ago, Long Acre didn’t have a coffee shop at all. If you wanted coffee, you had to go to Toby’s Diner and drink the weak, brown water they passed off as coffee. As a teen, he’d thought it was quality stuff. He and Kincaid used to stop there all the time after their evening shifts at the bookstore to meet Graham, order a pot of coffee, eat cheese toast—the cheapest thing on the menu—and get their homework done. Well, mostly it’d been Ash attempting to do his homework while Kincaid narrated everything about her day or the customers she’d helped in the store. He’d never met anyone who seemed to say every thought in her head even while doing a completely unrelated task. Some people worked to background music. He’d taken to working to the hum of her chatter. After a while, it’d become something he missed when he tried to work in silence.

He grimaced and dried his face on his towel, trying to wipe away the memory. No thinking about the past. Being back in Long Acre was bad enough. He didn’t need to do the memory-lane thing. That road was populated with a whole bunch of sites he didn’t want to visit ever again. That was one reason the little gourmet coffee shop was perfect. It was new, probably some transplant business owner from Austin looking for small-town life, and when Ash had stopped in the last two mornings, he hadn’t recognized a soul and no one had recognized him.

Ash finished drying off and knotted the towel around his waist. He felt around the edge of the sink. Dammit. Where had he left his glasses? He squinted through the steam trapped in the small room and didn’t see them. He sighed, wishing, not for the first time, that he was back in his New York apartment where he had defined places for everything.

He vaguely remembered pulling off his glasses when he’d gotten undressed by the bed, so he headed out of the bathroom, vision blurry but manageable. The apartment was just a studio with a small kitchen in the corner, a bed, and a table where he could eat and work at his laptop, but the layout was unfamiliar. Plus, the place was filled with boxes and dark, the curtains still drawn. He walked carefully, hoping not to stub a toe or knock something over. He finally located his glasses on the small bedside table and slipped them on. He reached for the lamp, but when he heard a sound off to his left, he only had time to register that someone was standing near the door before a woman’s shriek tore through the small room.

He lifted his palms as if it were a holdup and jumped back in surprise. But before he could get a word out, something heavy and solid crashed into his shoulder.

Oof. Pain rocketed down his arm and up his neck. The sound of breaking glass exploded at his feet. “What the fu—”

“I have pepper spray and know self-defense!” the woman shouted. “Don’t you move!”

“Me?” he asked incredulously. “You don’t move. This is my apartment. And if you have pepper spray, why the hell didn’t you use that instead?” He rubbed his throbbing shoulder and took a step toward the lamp to illuminate his unwelcome visitor, but sharp pain pinched the bottom of his foot. “Fuck.”

“Your apartment?” she said, affronted. “I don’t think so, squatter. This place is on the market.”

Ash’s foot was on fire with pain. The glass had nicked him, and he was losing his patience and possibly blood. “Look, calm down. I think there’s been a mix-up, but give me a sec. Let me turn on a light.” He kept his feet where they were and reached for the lamp again. He clicked it on, soft light flooding the room. He was ready to yell at whoever this stranger was for attacking him, but when he saw the blond woman standing there, pepper spray aimed, familiar just-try-me expression on her face, all his breath left him. “Kincaid?”

Kincaid’s face, which he hadn’t seen since their last awkward shared Christmas at the Lowells—an annual tradition that always involved a lot of tense, fake smiling at each other—was the picture of shock. Eyes widening. Lips parting. Her gaze slid down his body, which he now remembered was bare except for his tattoos and the damp towel around his hips. He cleared his throat.
Her attention snapped back up to his face. “Ash? What the hell?”

He grabbed the knotted towel at his hip, not trusting the thing to hold up. Apparently the universe hated him, so full frontal nudity was imminent if he didn’t take precautionary measures. “I could say the same to you. How’d you get in?”

“I have a key. I’m showing the place for the Lowells so they can rent it out.” She lowered the pepper spray and swept her other hand in his direction. “I was bringing flowers by to brighten up the place. I have someone coming over later to see it.”

Ash looked down at his feet where shards of glass glinted in the lamplight and a puddle of water had spread like some kind of abstract art, mixing with the blood from his cut and the scattered flowers. His foot was burning like hell. “Well, it’s not for rent anymore. I’m…using it.”

Her brow creased, and she glanced around, noticing the boxes for the first time. “Using it? You always stay at Grace and Charlie’s when you visit.”

God, he didn’t want to get into this with Kincaid. He’d always made sure to bring a date home for Christmas, and he’d been extra thrilled the last two years to bring a serious girlfriend home to prove to everyone how well he was doing. Without this town. Without his parents. Without Kincaid. That he was just fine. Now here he was, right back where he’d started. “I needed a place for a little longer to get some writing done. Someplace quiet.”

The Ones That Got Away

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: December 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Roni Loren

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.


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Review: We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Posted November 6, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: We Met in December by Rosie CurtisReviewer: Rowena
We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
Publisher: Harper Collins, William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate, this clever, fun, and unforgettable romantic comedy is the perfect feel-good holiday read.Two people. One house. A year that changes everything. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.

But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his.

Jess has finally done it. She’s stepped away from the comforts of the life she lived with her ex-boyfriend and made the move to London, where she finally went after her dream job. She’d never be able to afford to live in London on her own so when her college roommate offers her a room to rent in the mansion that she inherited from her late grandmother, Jess has nothing standing in her way…so off she goes to London to start a new life. As nervous as she was about this major life change, on her first night in her new house, Jess meets Alex, one of her roommates that she immediately feels a connection with. She has such high hopes that her and Alex have the chemistry to make a go of it that she leaves for a week-long ski trip with her best friends with a happy heart. But when she returns, she finds out that Alex is actually seeing another of her roommates, Emma, and Jess has to let go of the fantasy she’d been rocking and settle into a platonic friendship with him.

The premise of this story was what caught my eye at first. I’m a sucker for the one that got away trope and boy is this one of those stories. Jess was a charming female lead and I was really invested in what she was going through all throughout the book. My heart was bruised right along with her when she returns from her ski trip to find Emma sneaking out of Alex’s room. Every single time that she went to bed with her earplugs in because she did not want to hear anything, I sighed sadly along with her. But as bad as I felt for her, there were times when I wished she would have spoken up, both her and Alex, to be honest, because there were too many missed opportunities. All of those missed opportunities slowed the book down for me. I spent quite a few chapters, annoyed that they both made such huge life changes because they wanted to feel something, to make a difference and yet when it came to opening up about their feelings for each other, they just didn’t.

I did like Jess’ character. I liked that she was finally living the life she had always dreamed of and I really loved the relationship between her and her grandmother. I even understood why she didn’t speak up at first about her feelings for Alex because things between him and Emma messed that up but after all of the time that they spent in each other’s company and growing closer and closer, I just wish she had thrown her feelings out into the open and let Alex deal with them. I didn’t need the complication of another person thrown into the mix to make things interesting for me. I wanted them to figure out how to be together without all of the extra people.

I also liked Alex though there were plenty of times that I wanted to smack some damn sense into him. Every time that he hooked up with Emma, knowing full well he didn’t return her feelings, made me want to knee him in the balls but when he finally gets his head out of his ass, I rejoiced because it was a long time coming. I liked his walks with Jess and seeing their friendship really grow and blossom into such a beautiful friendship and I loved seeing them grow into their feelings for each other. There’s a lot to enjoy in this book. From the roommates, to the friendships that developed and fizzled out, to the family support and the romance between Alex and Jess, there’s great stuff here but the slow moving middle pushed my enjoyment into the 3 stars section instead of the 4’s. Still, if you’re looking for a slow burn romance between roommates, give this one a go.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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