Girls On Fire – Interview with Robin Wasserman.

Today  I am VERY happy to ask Robin Wasserman a few little questions about the experience of seeing Girls On Fire published – As most people know I was a HUGE fan of this one and relentlessly pushed it onto everyone I knew (still do in fact) and it was in my Top Ten of 2016. The paperback is available now.

 

So actually it is nearly a year since I read Girls on Fire and I always knew it was going to be somewhere in my top ten – and it is a book that has had a lot of accolades rightly so. What has the publication experience been like for you?

First off, thank you so much for putting me on this list in the first place. Every time I step into a bookstore, I’m amazed all over again at the odds of anyone even picking up my book over the hundreds of others with equally exciting covers and description. The odds of anyone sticking it in a top ten, given how many incredible books were published this year…well, let’s just say my mind is blown.

I’m writing this on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, which feels like the right moment to be thinking back on the publication process, which was, from start to finish, lovely.

2016 has been such a painful and tumultuous year for the world, to say the least, that it feels almost unseemly to think too much on the happy moments. But maybe it would be unseemly not to? Girls on Fire wasn’t my first book, by a long shot—I’ve been publishing YA novels for years. But it was my first novel for adults, which felt like a HUGE first; this book feels like something I’ve been working toward for most of my life. The paradoxical combination of those things—being a super-experienced debut novelist—meant that I was able to escape a lot of the stress, angst, and anti-climactic disappointment that often comes with publishing your first book. I knew just enough to know what to expect, what not to expect, and how important it was to savour every small triumph, which I tried very hard to do.

Most of all, publishing this book has left me with a deep well of gratitude for all the people who enabled its existence—my amazing and ever-encouraging agent, the superhumanly talented teams at HarperCollins US and Little Brown UK, my family, my friends. Basically all the people I’d thank in my Oscars speech. My favourite part of Girls on Fire is the acknowledgments, and if I had my way they’d be several pages longer. All the friends who helped me believe I could write this; all the friends who showed up to cheer me on at the launch after I finally did. (I’m even grateful to the ex I wrote this book partly to spite!) Writing a book is, in some ways, a very solitary experience—but it’s also clarified, like nothing else, how lucky I am to be living such an un-solitary life.

I’ve actually read it again recently, it still had the same power that it did upon first reading – more so if anything, because I knew what was coming and was powerless to stop it. Now there is some distance between you and the writing of it, how do you look back on the journey of creation – is there anything you would change?

Only everything! Never ask a writer if she wishes she could keep revising.

I’m joking, but I’m also not. I started Girls on Fire almost five years ago—I was a different writer then, in many ways a different person. So it’s not the book I would write if I started all over again today—and thank goodness for that, I guess, since who would want to read my next book if it were basically the same thing all over again?

That said, there is one very specific typo—a math error on my part—that I find hilariously humiliating, and I would definitely go back and change that if I could. I’ll let you discover it on your own…

For all the readers who loved Girls on Fire and are now desperate to see what you might do next, can you offer us any hints on your next novel?

I’ve been deflecting this question all year, but for the very first time I’m finally ready to offer an (admittedly vague and mostly content-free) answer. I’ve started working on a new novel, and it’s too soon to say what it’s about, but maybe you can glean something from my stack of research books: Time Travel by James Gleick, The Art of Memory by Frances Yates, Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich, The Female Malady by Elaine Showalter. (Also all excellent choices if you’re looking for some winter reading.) I’m at the phase of writing a book where I’ve completely forgotten how to write a book, which is terrifying and exhilarating at once. Wish me luck.

I can’t WAIT to read whatever comes next! Thanks so much.

About the Book:

Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything..

Find out more HERE

Read what I have to say about Girls on Fire HERE

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To purchase Girls on Fire clickety click right HERE

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Happy Reading!

 

A Promise of Fire Amanda Bouchet – Blog Tour Review.

Publication Date: Available Now from Piatkus

Source: Review Copy

Kingmaker. Soothsayer. Warrior. Mage. Kingdoms would rise and fall for her . . . if she is ever found

In the icy North, where magic is might, an all-powerful elite ruthlessly guided by a glacial Queen have grown to dominate the world. Now rebellion is stirring in the rough, magic-poor South, where for the first time in memory a warlord has succeeded in uniting the tribal nations.

Stuck in the middle is Cat – circus performer and soothsayer – safely hidden behind heavy make-up, bright colours and the harmless illusion of the circus. Until someone suspects she’s more than she seems . . .

Captured by the Southern warlord Griffin, Cat’s careful camouflage is wearing thin. For how long can – or should – she conceal the true extent of her power? Faced with dragons, homicidal mages, rival Gods and the traitorous longings of her own heart, she must decide: is it time to claim her destiny and fight?

I really enjoyed A Promise Of Fire – Great imaginative world. Banging characters. Just what I like. Plus it had a romance element that I actually loved – that almost never happens usually the love story layer is the bit I’m very bah humbug about.

So our main character Cat has been hiding away because she is not exactly what she seems. I was immediately engulfed into this novel by the beautiful descriptive prose describing the world and more specifically the circus and the people therein. This addictive quality continued throughout as Cat is kidnapped and taken away, by Griffin – I loved Griffin! Then we are on a half road trip half journey of discovery and it is utterly riveting.

Amanda Bouchet has written a fast, occasionally funny and gorgeously drawn first part to her series – she has a real eye for character development and can craft a romance that doesn’t give you toothache. Add to that some random thrilling scenes, a great group dynamic that allows you to really get involved, all set in a highly imaginative world full of magic and mayhem and we are off to the races.

Therefore we are back to I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I genuinely cannot wait to get into book 2.

Recommended.

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To Purchase A Promise of Fire clickety click right HERE

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Happy Reading!

January Book Watch: The River at Night – Erica Ferencik

Publication Date: 12th January from Bloomsbury Raven

Source: Review Copy

‘A thought came to me that I couldn’t force away: What we are wearing is how we’ll be identified out in the wilderness.’

Win Allen doesn’t want an adventure.

After a miserable divorce and the death of her beloved brother, she just wants to spend some time with her three best friends, far away from her soul-crushing job. But athletic, energetic Pia has other plans.

Plans for an adrenaline-raising, breath-taking, white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Five thousand square miles of remote countryside. Just mountains, rivers and fresh air.

No phone coverage. No people.

No help.

I raced through this one it was a really rocking read – my geekish love of horror movies came into play here and added to that it had the female friendship vibe on acid – seriously if you are lost in the wild you soon find out what people are really made of!

I liked the way the author took the time to set things up beautifully so that once we hit the rapids so to speak you are deeply involved with this little gang. You’ll probably be randomly annoyed by one or all of them but the group dynamic is well realised and compelling.

Then we are on a rollercoaster ride of sheer exhilaration, Erica Ferencik really uses some beautiful descriptive prose to put you right there in the wilds, you can feel and see it all unfolding. Then there is the fact that this is a bit female Deliverance, with a genuine edginess to the storytelling that keeps you gripped. I refer you back to my horror movie comment – think “Wrong Turn” with a river running through it and the occasional unexpected Samuel L Jackson moment (movie fans will get me)

Overall The River at Night is a fast, fun, strangely endearing reading experience that has an undeniable film feel – one I enjoyed thoroughly and made me huddle further under my duvet, I’m fairly sure I’m never going camping…

Recommended.

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To Purchase The River at Night clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

March Book Watch: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – Mindy Mejia

Publication Date: 9th March 2017 from Quercus

Source: Netgalley

Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .

NOTE: This book also has the title “Everything You Want Me to Be”

For me this novel was a simply incredible read. I’ll be honest and say I think the alternative (US?) title suits it better but a rose by any other name and all that…..

The story follows Hattie during the last year of her life, her death is a given and there is an extremely small suspect pool so don’t go into this thinking it’s a whodunnit with a huge twist in the tale, you’ll only be disappointed. This is a brilliantly written and intuitive character study of one young girl trying to find her place in the world and the tragedy that befalls her. Told from 3 separate points of view, Hattie, the sheriff and her high school teacher, the story unfolds with perfect pacing and perfectly placed little gems of information but the real beauty of it is in Hattie herself – a divisive and compelling character who slowly but surely comes into focus and comes into her own.

It is haunting and poignant, because you feel the ending from the beginning – whether you love or detest Hattie you can’t save her, it gives an edge and sense of awareness to proceedings that makes the whole thing utterly gripping. The twist in this novel is in the sense of the characters and whilst this is not a new concept – seeing what comes before the fall – Mindy Mejia does it with a deft touch and a real eye for eliciting emotional responses from the reader making Hattie unforgettable. All of them actually, the ones we hear from and the ones we see through their eyes – families, friends, a community in turmoil and what, or who, brought them to that point.

The author peels back the layers one at a time, drawing you in, keeping you hovering above the crash that is coming – whilst at the same time plunging you into the hidden emotional depths of the people concerned. It is at turns heartbreaking and cruelly ironic, a really intense piece of storytelling that digs deep.

I loved it because I love the ones that make me feel it every step of the way from the first sentence to the last and that is what this did.

Highly Recommended.

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To Purchase The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

 

20 Questions For……Steph Broadribb. The Deep Down Dead blog tour.

So here we are at my stop on the Deep Down Dead blog tour – and really what else could I do apart from ask the brilliant Steph Broadribb 20 Questions. Here we go then. You can find out all about the book at the end (which you don’t want to miss)

So, Deep Down Dead. What’s that all about then?

What’s it about? Well, Deep Down Dead in the first book in the Lori Anderson series. It’s an action thriller and my debut novel. Lori Anderson is as tough as they come keeping her career as a Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills rack up, she has no choice but to take a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things go wrong. The fugitive she’s chasing is JT, Lori former mentor – the man who taught her all she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past!

You started a Twitter obsession with tasers. Well, ok, Alex Caan seems particularly attached to the idea, shall we taser him?

Oh no, we can’t taser Alex Caan he’s a total sweetie!! But you’re right, he does seem to have a thing for the taser! I’m not even sure how it all started, in one of those random Twitter conversations it’s so easy to get into, perhaps from one about bounty hunting, I’m not sure, but the hashtag #TasteTheTaser has had quite a few outings ever since!

Lori – she’s a kick ass heroine of the brilliant kind. Any of you in there? I know you went and tried out the lifestyle…

I did, I went and trained as a bounty hunter in California, and I’ve travelled to all the places feature in Deep Down Dead (well, not the fictional ones) – I’ve climbed in the Blue Ridge Mountains in West Virginia, I’ve kayaked through the Everglades with gators, and I’ve driven the six state route that Lori and JT take. I’m not sure how much me and Lori are alike though, if we are I’d say she’s a gutsier, more kick ass version of me!

Favourite cheese. Can you even eat cheese? If not go with favourite foodstuff of all time ever.

Yes, I eat cheese. My favourite is Halloumi, definitely. No contest.

Three crime writers locked in a cupboard. Lets say Rod Reynolds, Lee Child and Mark Billingham – which one comes out alive?

How big is this cupboard? But, erm, that’s a tough one because I want them all to survive because I love their books (and they’re good blokes too). But I guess what you’re asking is who would win in a fight, yes? So, on that basis, I’d have to say Lee is the one who comes out alive. His protagonist Jack Reacher is always getting into fights and can best multiple assailants with ease. I’m not sure Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne or Rod Reynolds’s Charlie Yates are quite as handy, therefore for fighting knowledge alone, I’m saying Lee Child is the survivor!

When writing are you efficient … or do you get randomly distracted by that thing over there?

What my phone? Twitter? Facebook? Yes, all of them are distracting, but if I’m on a deadline I’m actually so focused I tend to live in my pjs and just write, sleep, eat (and drink wine)!

First Monday panel for you in February. On with Sarah Pinborough who wrote an ending so good that eyes will literally pop out of heads. Do you like twist endings?

I’ve got Sarah’s Behind Her Eyes to read before the panel and I can’t wait, I’ve heard so many great things about it. And yes, I do love a good twist ending.

Are you looking forward to being on the panel instead of sat in the audience with me while I constantly fidget and tweet from my phone?

Oh your fidgeting is rather endearing really 😉 But yes, I’m totally excited to have been asked to be on a First Monday Panel, it’s such a fantastic monthly event and I’ve been a fan ever since they started. It’s kind of strange being on panels rather than watching them, but after doing Bouchercon, Iceland Noir, Portsmouth Darkfest and the SYP Conference at the end of last year I’m starting to get more used to it. Hopefully I won’t waffle on too much. If I do, just give me the sign!

One book you’ve read recently (that is not Reacher Said Nothing) which made you crazily attempt to sell it to everyone you ever met ever. (You can’t have an Orenda book either – nope it’s cheating)

Oh you are mean!! Well, if I can’t say Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin (which is amazing by the way!!) then I will say my top fiction book of 2016 – Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker. It’s like Twin Peaks, Fargo and Stephen King’s Under The Dome all mixed together with an extra side order of chilling noir. Fabulous!

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m writing the second book in the Lori Anderson series – DEEP BLUE TROUBLE.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading Stav Sherez’s new book THE INTRUSIONS (out in February). OMG it’s so good. If you haven’t read it you need to get it right now!

Deep Down Dead is published by the amazing Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books fame. Well she was famous before Orenda but lets stick with current affairs. We love Karen – what has the publishing experience been like with her (and the rest of the Orenda team. Pats self on head proudly)

It’s been fantastic. Everyone is so supportive and it’s been the best experience. Karen Sullivan and West Camel have guided me through the editing process and it’s been a joy to work with them and learn from them. Mark Swan the cover designer did the most amazing work on the book cover, and you have been the most brilliant cheer leader/blog leader ever. It’s been a lot of fun!

I loved Deep Down Dead from the really early version I read right up to the finished version which is bloody brilliant, but I was nervous reading it because we are friends and I love you. What if I’d hated it? In some other universe Liz is hiding in a basement. But in this one we are ok – do you find it difficult when reading books written by friends?

Ha! I’d hate to think of you hiding out in a basement!! I actually read a lot of books by friends, both when they’re published and also at earlier stages as a beta reader. I love reading their stuff, although I do get a bit nervous when I’m reviewing people I know – mainly because I’m worried I won’t do their fab books justice!

On a desert island who would you take with you for company. Keep in mind you’ll be stuck with them for at least 18 months with nowhere to hide (a random timescale I made up in my head just now). You can have 5. Go!

I’m assuming you mean five writers? Okay, first I chose Susi Holliday, AK Benedict and Helen Giltrow because they’re my writing sisters. Then Daniel Pembrey, because he holds my drinks (or perhaps in the case of a desert island, collects the coconuts and makes the drinks) and JS Law because he’s ex-military and will be able to fashion shelter, collect food and administer field-style medical attention. I’m not sure how well I’d survive on a desert island for 18 months mind you, I’m a vegetarian – I guess I’d just have to eat a lot of coconuts and seaweed!!

Tell us a little about what is next. Just a little we haven’t got all day (especially since I TOTALLY forgot to do this so you are sat there feverishly answering these in time to save my butt)

What’s next? Well, I’m working on the next Lori Anderson book, DEEP BLUE TROUBLE and planning to head out to California for some research for it. Alongside that I’m appearing at a whole bunch of events, the first is a free event at Milroys of Soho on 24th January where me, Daniel Pembrey, Rod Reynolds and Michael Grothaus will be quizzed by Barry Forshaw about our books plus there’ll be whiskey cocktails!

Favourite flavor of crisp

I don’t actually eat crisps, sorry!

Author you wait for and read without fail

One author? Seriously? I’m sorry, I’ll have to give you the list: Lee Child, Mark Billlingham, Ian Rankin, Jeff Abbott, Martyn Waites, Zoe Sharp, Rod Reynolds, David Young, AK Benedict, SJI Holliday, Mary Kubica, Eva Dolan, Mason Cross, Steve Cavanagh, Derek B. Miller, Luca Veste, Tom Wood, Neil White, Daniel Pembrey, I could go on …

Last time you laughed so much you couldn’t breathe

It was with Susi Holliday and AK Benedict. I can’t tell you why, but it was probably smutty.

Who would you call to help you plan the perfect murder?

Oh that’s a tricky one. I reckon using the collective minds of Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham and Martyn Waites we could come up with the perfect one.

How much do you hate me right now?

Hate you? Never! I love you!

The feeling is mutual! Thanks gorgeous.

About the Book:

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

Read my review of Deep Down Dead HERE

Find out MORE

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To Purchase Deep Down Dead clickety click right HERE

Follow the Tour! 

Happy Reading!

 

February Book Watch: Purged Peter Laws.

Publication Date: February 16th from Allison and Busby.

Source: Review Copy

Matt Hunter lost his faith a long time ago. Formerly a minister, now a professor of sociology, he’s writing a book that debunks the Christian faith while assisting the police with religiously motivated crimes. On holiday with his family in Oxfordshire, Matt is on edge in a seemingly idyllic village where wooden crosses hang at every turn. The stay becomes more sinister still when a local girl goes missing, followed by further disappearances.

Caught up in an investigation that brings memories to the surface that he would prefer to keep buried deep, Matt is on the trail of a killer determined to save us all.

Purged. Wow. Stole a day of my life and possibly a little of my soul. Definitely my sleep. Well they say there is no rest for the wicked…

From the opening salvo I knew this one was special. I read such a lot including as many debuts as I can get my hands on and I love some, I like more, I detest a few and then there are those few that scream “Ye Gods here is yet another obsession for you batten down the hatches”. Purged falls into that last category and I fell into it, there really was no hope for me.

ANYWAY none of that babble is going to tell you why you might want to read it so here are the headlines. The writing is smart, funny, dark as sin (yes I did that) and incredibly immersive. The plotting is pacy yet considered, the characters live and breathe on the page and the story itself is scary good. No I mean actually scary. And good. And randomly thought provoking. I’m not a religious person but the psychology of it interests me and I’m not one for pretending I know everything. More things in Heaven and Earth and all that…

I should perhaps make clear that this is not a religious thriller as such, no Dan Brown type shenanigans here, but it IS a crime novel that is also character study and has an edge to it that might freak you out somewhat. What? No I’m fine. Didn’t sleep with the lights on at ALL….

Matt Hunter is my new favourite thing. An ex minister, now a Professor, he has a traumatic past and these days writes and lectures, oh and occasionally helps the police with things. When we meet him he is doing just that and by the time he was done with that little taster for the rest I was hook line and sinkered. Also never going to eat lettuce again…

Loved his family too. The dynamic that Peter Laws creates is terrifically involving, I basically want to go and live with them. Just not in Hobbs Hill. Please. Clever because by the time things start to get strange you are so attached to them as a unit that you pretty much hold your breath for the rest of the read.

I don’t want to talk about the actual plot much because why on earth would I spoil it for the rest of you who are yet to head into it – BUT I will say that the shades and the nuances that the author brings to the story are incredible, especially when it comes to Matt Hunter, who I fell madly in love with and just want to follow around like a puppy. There are some dark and intriguing themes running through the narrative and Purged is far from being any one thing. It will make you shiver, it will also make you laugh out loud, I’m not sure where the series will go from here but I’m going to be going there with it. In fact if we could hurry things along please…

It would have been easy, with the authors life story , to write some Exorcist fuelled almost copy but nope, whilst Purged certainly draws from his horror film knowledge and his religious background this is a beauty of a novel, a perfect storm of authenticity and creativity –  it is gripping, utterly riveting, doesn’t hold back and just sends you rocketing down into the reading abyss.

You think I’m a fan? Yep I think I’m a fan.

Highly Recommended. If this one doesn’t make my Top Ten of the year come Dec 1st 2017 then I shall be very surprised.

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To Purchase Purged clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!

January book watch: Her Husband’s Lover Julia Crouch.

Publication Date: 26th January from Headline

Source: Review Copy

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

I love the way Julia Crouch plots her stories – always something to look forward to because they are tightly knitted to perfection, keeping things unexpected and utterly riveting.

Her Husband’s Lover has that in spades as we follow Louisa and Sophie on a rather twisted journey towards a totally draw dropping conclusion. Talk about your unreliable narrators, both these characters have a beautifully imagined edge to them, so much so that even when things seem clear they turn out to be inevitably murky. Still waters run deep and all that – the author has her eyes on the prize throughout, that moment when you go huh? Blimey! Well if you are me anyway. The pay off in this novel is just terrific, one of those moments when you look back on what you have read and see the nuances that should have given you the clue all along.

Its not as easy as it sounds to achieve those moments in this genre – I read everything in it I can get my hands on because often you find the most divisive and memorable characters within, but it is true that you have to read a lot to find the clever ones, the ones that can still surprise you. I would happily put this in that category because you get so caught up in it that time flies and Julia Crouch is superb at that misdirection thing and that memorable character thing – Louisa and Sophie are sharp and unforgettable, two for the price of one.

Then BAM the ending.

Before that though the entire tale is completely addictive, one of those books you read fast and don’t like to put down, if anyone is teaching us that the psychological thriller is far from dead it would be that Julia Crouch.

Highly Recommended.

 

Find out more HERE

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To Purchase Her Husband’s Lover clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!