Exclusive Excerpt: The Irredeemable Prince

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The ultimate royal bad boy is about to meet his match…


Your bad boy image isn’t something the press has over-exaggerated, is it?’ Mackenzie accused.

Prince Devereaux crossed his arms over his broad chest and an unrepentant smile spread across his mouth. ‘No.’

She hesitated. ‘It’s going to be very difficult to change public perspective.’

So, you’ll be tearing up the contract, refunding the huge deposit my brother has already paid you and flying back to England?’

Although the words were drawled lazily, she detected an energetic undertow designed to pull her in the direction he suggested. His words were a temptation, but he was in for a hell of a shock.

Mac was no quitter.

Despite every shred of sense that warned her that ripping up the contract was the safest course to follow, a stubborn streak bubbled to the surface.

I said it would be difficult to change public perspective. I didn’t say it would be impossible.’

He uncrossed his arms and his smile thinned. ‘But, be honest, that’s what you’re thinking.’

You’re going to resist any change I suggest, aren’t you?’

Absolutely.’ His tone was resolute, his expression unapologetic.

So, I may as well quit now?’

He smiled. ‘You’ve got the picture.’

She stared him down. ‘I intend to fulfil this contract and there are a few things we need to get straight from the outset. You’re my client, but make no mistake about who’s in charge. From now on you’re going to do what I tell you, when I tell you, and exactly how I tell you to do it.’

He held her regard for the longest ten seconds of her life, his expression one of idle amusement. ‘I like a woman who wants to be on top of the situation.’ There was no missing the double entendre. ‘In fact, I can picture you there.’

Mac tried to ignore the prickling heat which spread across her chest like a blazing bushfire. ‘Really? I can picture you with a tomahawk through your skull.’ He burst out laughing, but she ignored him. ‘I’m sure I’m not the only one to have visualised the image. It’s probably only been the presence of your royal bodyguards to have saved you from such a fate.’

Oh, Mackenzie. So much unhealthy aggression coiled up inside you, and I know the perfect way to release it.’

Stop it, or the only thing I’ll need to be released from is a prison.’ She glared at him.

He reached out and ran the tip of his index finger right down along the delicate slope of her nose. ‘You need to relax, sweetheart. In my experience, it’ll work better if you follow my lead.’ How was it possible that his deep voice lowered another octave? ‘I promise you it’ll be very, very good between us.’

Common sense warned her to place as much distance as possible between them. But, oh … the heady sensual promise in his bedroom blue eyes …

She held out a hand to his chest to push him away.

Big mistake! For a crazy half-second, she wanted to pull him towards her instead of thrusting him away. Thrusting … Oh Lord. She shook her head to dispel the X-rated mental images the word conjured.

I generally succeed with my clients because I find something good about them. You’ll be much more of a challenge.’

So leave.’

No. I’ve never failed an assignment and I’m not going to fail with you either.’

For a few moments his expression was shuttered. Finally, he said, ‘Like hell!’

Friday Five: Cate Ellink

1579Author: Cate Ellink
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: friends to lovers
Ideal hero: sexy, funny, respectful
Ideal heroine: independent, nature-loving
Latest book: Secret Confessions Down and Dusty: Lucky

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
Romance and sex are an important part of life, but in my experience, they are largely not talked about. I wanted to shine a light on this neglected part of our nature. (Sorry, I should have a romantic answer, shouldn’t I? *grin*)

How do you write? What is your process like?
My process isn’t one I’d recommend, but it works for me. I write a very messy first draft where I get to know the characters and have some idea of where the story is going. Even if these words get filed away as a bad idea, I still love this part! Then I spend quite some time making that mess into something like a story. It’s only at this stage that I can ask my early readers for their opinion. Before this point, it’s mine to love. I no longer discuss a story until it’s at this point.

22584What was your hardest scene to write?
Writing Secret Confessions Sydney Housewives: Lana, I came across a problem it took a while to get over. Lana needed to be an older woman who liked ‘toy boys’. I was excited by this character and began writing the story. Then my ever-helpful husband pointed out that Lana was my age, and the guy was his nephew’s age. Oh boy! Lana froze. It took me quite some time to lose reality and get my head back into the fantasy of Lana. I had to understand Lana, be non-judgemental, and write for my characters (and never talk to my husband about a story before it was done!).

What’s the thing about writing that has surprised you the most?
Sometimes when I read back over what I’ve written, especially if it’s a while later, I can have no recollection of writing the words. There’s no familiarity. It’s as if I’m reading a stranger’s work. That freaks me outam I writing or am I channelling someone else?

Snacks while writing, yes or no? What kind of snacks?
I drink tea by the bucketload!

Cate Ellink


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From Cate Ellink comes a sun-soaked, sandy, seaside erotic novel about a tropical paradise, two athletes used to getting physical, and a sex-filled, no-strings holiday fling.

Samantha is celebrating her newly retired status from competitive triathlons with a diving holiday in her favourite place in the world: Australia’s Lord Howe Island. But all divers need a buddy, and Sam can’t dive solo. A chance meeting with rugby league superstar Cooper Sterling in the dive shop seems serendipitous. Sam can’t wait to have a partner who might be able to keep up with her.

It soon becomes evident that Cooper and Sam are compatible both in and out of the water, and things gets seriously sexy. But Sam is disinclined to be another football groupie, and Cooper has been burned before. So the rules are clear: a holiday fling, no strings attached, and they part as friends at the end.

But as the final days of their time together come to a close and a life apart becomes a reality, Sam and Cooper start to question their decision. Is this holiday fling really the finish line or can Sam and Cooper turn their friendly competition into more than sizzling sex?

Excerpt: Lying In Ruins

Award-winning author Jami Gray kicks off a brand new series with Lying in RuinsKeep reading for a sneak peek…

Interesting friends you have.’

Shaking out a hand, she ignored the pins and needles slowly fading from her fingertips. ‘More of a business acquaintance than a friend.’

Pushing to her feet, she wandered over to the edge Echo disappeared from. Sure enough, the neighbouring building’s roof was close enough to jump to, and if she wasn’t mistaken, there was a roof access door just on the other side of that section to her left. Nice escape route, but not one Charity was comfortable following.

She walked in the opposite direction, ignoring Ruin as he sat and watched her. After peering over the edge, she realised they were on the roof of the graffiti-covered bar. Ruin came up beside her and together they watched as the local militia hauled out a handful of teens and sat them on the kerb in front of the burnt out warehouse.

Looks as if some didn’t make it out,’ he noted.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they were paid to be caught.’

She could feel the weight of his gaze. ‘Seriously?’

She nodded. ‘It gives everyone else time to get out of the zone.’

Huh,’ he sounded thoughtful. ‘Not sure anyone could pay me enough to take the heat for someone else.’

Nope, that wasn’t part of his personality, or hers for that matter, but it was a great tactic. She pushed away from the edge. ‘Well, let’s make it worth their while, shall we?’ She led the way to the back of the roof, as far as they could get from the happenings out front.

Ruin stood at her side. ‘We jumping?’ Dry amusement was evident in his question.

Yep.’ The distance from the bar to the building behind it couldn’t be more than six, maybe seven feet. Thankfully, in this area, the buildings were almost stacked on top of each other. Making the jump was still nerve-wracking considering if they missed the other ledge the drop was a good thirty feet.

I’ll go first,’ he offered.

Okay.’ Not that she wanted to put this off any longer, but it made sense. His reach was longer, and if she misjudged her jump, it might make a difference. The clammy sweat breaking along her spine thought differently, but she’d hold tight to her delusion. For now.

They chose the best path and picked a starting point far enough back to give them the speed they needed. Ruin grabbed her hand, squeezed, then let her go. ‘See ya on the other side, sweet cheeks.’

Before she could respond, he was gone, racing over the roof and launching his body into the air. As he jumped, her breath caught and held, only escaping when he landed in a forward roll. She tried to settle her breathing and pulse, but it was useless. ‘Suck it up, Charity,’ she muttered under her breath, trying unsuccessfully to get her pitching stomach to settle.

On the other building, Ruin stood, waiting.

Gritting her teeth, she darted forward, picking up speed as she raced over the roof. Her foot hit the ledge and using every ounce of strength available, she launched into the air, her stomach freefalling even as she stretched towards Ruin. Her heart seized as her body began its decent. She wasn’t going to make it. Panic clawed for a foothold. She focused on Ruin, who was leaning forward, hands out, reaching for her. She twisted, stretched, and strained.


31476In a world gone to hell, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad…

The world didn’t end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a ‘Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate’s Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score – hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.

As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn ‘Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body sceptical – and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realise they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal – justice and revenge.

Sometimes, when the world’s gone to hell, it’s better to stick with the devil you know…

Available June 15.

PREORDER NOW: Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, Kobo, Google, Apple, Booktopia

Feed Your Reader: A Romantic Mystery

31266A chance sighting leads to second chances – for hope, for family, and for love.

Five years ago, teenager Antonia disappeared. With no compelling evidence, the police eventually called her a run-away, and dropped the case. Her teacher, Jax, has always regretted not speaking up about the rumours she heard circling the school that day, but a random sighting at a train station raises the possibility that Antonia is still alive – and not too far away.

Antonia’s father, Connor has never given up hope that his daughter will be found and returned to her family. When her old teacher, Jax, calls him with a small spark of a lead, he seizes it with both hands, determined to chase it down.

But there’s more at play than simple teenage rebellion and the path Jax and Connor travel rapidly becomes more dangerous than either could have imagined, and opens up new possibilities that neither could have expected.

Friday Five: Shona Husk

2468Author: Shona Husk
First published with Escape: 2015
Favourite romance trope: Beauty and the beast
Ideal hero: inner strength, flawed, generous
Ideal heroine: same as above 😉
Latest book: In the Spotlight

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

I’d been dabbling around with a few ideas not sure what I wanted to write. Then I stumbled onto paranormal romance which combines my love of fantasy with a happily ever after (that was also my introduction into the romance genre). I like the HEA/HFN! I like writing romance because I can explore the different ways people fall in love, plus I can put my characters through hell and the reader knows there will be a HEA.

How do you write?

I get an idea and I plot it before I start to write. I need a mud map of the main turning points and I need to get a feel for my characters before I get going. I’m also a big fan of the fast, dirty draft as I can get the story out and see how it fits together before going back and fixing it.

What do you do when you’re stuck with a scene?

Skip it with a comment to myself about what I think might happen. I’ll be a few scenes or chapters ahead when I finally understand what really needs to happen in the skipped scene. I try not to that very often as I’d rather have something there than nothing when I come to cleaning and fixing the manuscript.

What’s the thing about writing that surprised you the most?

That I haven’t run out of ideas. When I first started I thought I would maybe have enough for a couple of novels. Now the more I write the more ideas I get. I jot them down and put them in my idea box if they are fragments, but sometimes I get a whole rush of character or plot and I’ll spend a day playing with the idea until I have something more substantial.

Snacks while writing, yes or no?

Chocolate. I love to cook, so there are usually brownies or biscuits and if I haven’t made anything then there’s dark chocolate in the cupboard. I don’t go a day without chocolate (life’s too short to deny pleasure, and I refuse to call anything a guilty pleasure).


29604A diva who lives for the spotlight, a sailor deeply in the closet, a love that will change them both

Ripley Malone is returning to Perth in triumph. A principal ballet dancer in a production that has critics raving, he is an unqualified success, and all the small-minded  people that made his life hell can kiss his lycra-covered ass. But behind the makeup and the glitter and the costumes, Ripley is beginning to tire, tire of the competition, the drive, the endless parade of meaningless lovers.

For Pierce Lovell, joining the Navy was a way out of rural Victoria, but becoming a submariner comes with its own set of challenges. The close living quarters and long months away are awkward enough without adding any extra tension around his sexuality. The fear is probably in his head, but he isn’t taking any chances with his career. He gets by on anonymous one-night-stands every time they come to shore and keeps his heart well-shielded. But one night with Ripley opens the tantalising possibility of more.

Through a mistake Ripley is injured. He can’t dance. His wings are clipped and he crashes down and hits the earth hard. Pierce knows their affair can’t possibly end in anything but heartache, but he can’t stay away. As Ripley heals and reassesses his life, he is determined not to make the same mistakes again. That means letting someone see the vulnerable side of him. But vulnerability for Pierce could cost him everything

 

Excerpt – Red Dust Runaway

The third book in Eva Scott’s bestselling Red Dust series features a classical musician, a bad boy rock star, and one hell of a road trip

Iris jumped in fright when she looked up from Google Maps to see a dishevelled man standing by her car. She glanced around quickly to see if there was anyone else about but the place was deserted. Too early. She checked behind her to see the comforting lights of the office behind her with the bleary-eyed receptionist clearly visible. That was something at least.

Can I help you?’ she asked, glad the car was between them. She calculated she could make a run for reception before he could get to her.

Um, I was wondering if you could give me a lift.’ The guy shuffled from one foot to the other, looking as sheepish as hell, and cute too now she got a good look at him. She wasn’t one for long hair on a man although she’d make an exception in his case.

Right,’ She considered his request. He looked clean, maybe a little nervous. How can you tell if someone was an axe murderer or not? ‘Where are you going?’

I have no idea.’ He hit her with a grin, lighting up his face and sending her insides flip-flopping. His eyes – were they grey or blue? – sparkling in the pale morning light.

You don’t know where you’re going?’ She couldn’t help but grin back. ‘Do you know where you are?’

Kalgoorlie, right? I need to get out of here. I’m backpacking with the bus tour and, well, it’s a bit stifling. Thought it’d be for me and I was wrong.’ His smile turned rueful.

She turned to look at the nondescript bus parked behind them. The motel owner had told her a tour had booked out most of the place, probably backpackers going by this guy’s British accent. So, he wanted off the tour and to travel solo? Seemed reasonable enough. And he was cute, better than cute. Still, there was no universal law that said a serial killer couldn’t be cute.

Where are you going?’ He seemed to sense her wavering.

Melbourne,’ she replied before realising telling him where she was going might not be the smartest move.

His face lit up. ‘I’m going there too. How about we split the costs and the driving?’

She frowned and bit her lip. ‘I thought you said you didn’t know where you were going?’

Next. I don’t know where I’m going next but I want to be in Melbourne in two weeks wherever I end up in between.’ He gave her a dazzling smile and something leapt and spun inside her.

Tempting, very tempting. This trip was all about adventure and maybe a hot affair. Maybe this guy was both. Lord knows, the loneliness of the road ate away at her and she was only two days into her trip. At least at home she’d had her music buddies and her parents.

Her father’s face flashed across her mind. He’d totally disapprove of her picking up an English backpacker. He’d be livid when he realised she’d runaway, without his knowledge, without his permission. She’d played by the rulebook for twenty years, maybe it was time to throw it away and see what happened.

Come on,’ he cajoled, leaning on the car and piercing her with the most compelling eyes – yes, definitely more blue than grey up close – she had ever seen. ‘I swear I’m not a serial killer.’

Iris blushed. He’d read her mind. ‘What if I am?’ she countered, knowing any minute now she’d agree to take him. Like it was already a done deal from the moment she set eyes on him.

I think I’ll take my chances.’ There was that killer smile again. Iris’ body responded like an iron filing to a magnet. ‘What do you say?’

What could she say? There was no other response: ‘Okay, but I’m driving.’


31475One jaded rock star. One sheltered classical musician. One hell of a red dust road trip…

Sheltered, coddled, gifted, Iris longs for something more than practice and performing. She wants to rebel, break the rules, have a hot affair, fall in love — to really live before happily committing to her classical music bubble. But her strict parents and her stricter schedule keep her confined to her gilded cage, even as she yearns desperately to be free.

Super star, successful, and sick of all of it, Kit just wants to stop. Stop the touring and the recording and the media and the bickering with his band mates. After two years on the road, he’s coming apart at the seams. He has to slow down, calm down, clear his head — to really think before recommitting to his rock star lifestyle. But his manager and the tour schedule keep him locked to his super star lifestyle, even as he rages against the confinement.

A chance encounter in a car park leads to a snap decision and an enormous risk: suddenly Kit and Iris are on an extraordinary road trip together across Australia, making their own choices, breaking all the rules. But reality is chasing them more quickly than they can know, and soon Kit and Iris will have to decide whether they are just running away — or running away together.

Coming 25 June.

Preorder now: Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon AU, Apple, Kobo, Google, Booktopia

Out of This World: MA Grant

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…

MA Grant

Star Wars has always held a special place in my heart. It is one of the first movies my dad introduced me to and I instantly fell in love with the concept of the Force, the Jedi tasked to protecting its balance, and the sheer, epic scale of the universe. It was my little girl King Arthur saga on sci-fi steroids and it started a love affair that’s never ended.

As a nerdy outsider, I connected with the characters and their motivations, especially Luke’s desire to move beyond his small hometown and Leia’s refusal to be anyone but her brilliant, tactical self. As a budding writer, I was amazed by the dedication the film makers, novel writers, and fans put into collecting and sorting details. Yes, I was that kid who checked out an out-of-print Star Wars encyclopedia from the library, only to go home and use a typewriter to create my own mini-encyclopedia with targeted data I needed for my attempts at fanfiction (which, at the risk of admitting my age, wasn’t yet a thing).

My love for this series and world has never faded, and now that I’m an aunt, there’s something magical about watching my niece and nephew fall as madly in love with the story as I did. Skype calls spent reading Golden Books adaptations of the stories, character costumes sent at holidays, and discussions about which Jedi are our favourites remind me that good stories don’t just transcend genre; they transcend generational gaps and bring us closer together.


24680The Lawmen of the Republic: fierce, honourable, soldiers, men. But what happens when all that they’ve been told turns out to be lies?

The wars to establish the Republic are over. The families of the Ton have risen from the blood and ashes to claim the new aristocracy. Their prodigal son, First Lieutenant Alexander Cade, is the Lawmen Academy’s youngest and most successful graduate. However, his muddied bloodlines force his exile to the Northern Wastes, the last unclaimed territory of the Republic.

Lailian scout Natalia Volkova knows that her survival in a rebel labour camp rests entirely on her iron will and killing prowess. Her fierce quest for freedom is tempered by only one thing: conflicting memories of the young Republic lieutenant who helped liberate her camp, and then returned to the fold of her people’s oppressors. She never expects that their paths will cross again – under very different circumstances.

Cade’s honour limits his choices to one: take his band of specialised Lawmen into the Wastes, and protect it and its people. There, he meets Talia, a tough, resilient refugee who holds little respect for the Republic and its laws. But as a deathly outbreak leads to a desperate race for a cure, Talia and Cade will find themselves on uncertain ground: What is right is not always obvious, and what is honourable is not always right

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Out of this World: Nicole Murphy

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…
Nicole Murphy
I can still remember how it felt as a seven-year-old, seeing A New Hope for the first time. I walked out of the cinema feeling like my head was going to burst open, unable to hold my mind as it expanded to take in the scope of what I had just seen. I wasn’t new to SF – I was a veteran Dr Who watcher at that age – but Star Wars expanded my vision in a way nothing ever had before. The opening scene alone, with the famous sliding shot showing the size of the Imperial Star Destroyer, was the most incredible thing and then consider the scope of the Death Star alone to a seven-year-old – a space station the size of a moon that could blow up whole planets. That was just the beginning.
Since then, every Star Wars picture has continued to expand my mind (yes, even those that shall not be named) with the size of the story, the world, the characters, the stakes. And I’ve never let my mind get small. I can honestly say that Star Wars played a huge part in the person I am today and I will be forever grateful for it’s place in my life. May the Force be with you – always.

21764From Escape’s fresh, exhilarating science fiction romance catalogue comes a story of corporate espionage, betrayal, sex, and bodyguards. Just another day in the colonies.

Cassandra Wiltmore is the heir to the throne of Rica, but it’s unlikely she’ll be stepping up any time soon. So she spends her days managing and building the Rican Balcite Mining Company. The company has made her family wealthy beyond imagination, but that kind of power needs careful control, and Cassandra is just the Wiltmore to control it.

When a new bid for the mining license is announced, Cassandra is determined to squash it. Then the thefts and threats begin, and every step she takes seems to be wrong. Taking on a new protector seems like an indulgence Cass can’t afford, but she equally cannot afford to be caught off-guard. If only the best man for the job wasn’t also the best-looking man she’s ever seen.

Kernan Radaton has ambition, and as protector to Cassandra Wiltmore, he’s well placed to reach all his long-held goals. If only his new all-business boss didn’t make him think of only pleasure. With the company, the heir and the family under attack, the last thing anyone needs is a distraction. But once everything is safe again, Kernan is developing new ambitions — ones that involve a lot of very personal time spent getting to know his boss on a very personal level.

 

Feed Your Reader: Your Tarrin’s Bay Fix!

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They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in Tarrin’s Bay, she’s about to find that love is stronger than time…

By day, single mother Olivia Chevalier runs the family’s bookstore and raises her nine-year-old daughter. By night, she escapes into a world of fiction where there is excitement, romance, and happy endings.

Both of her roles are endlessly rewarding, but Olivia’s life has not been without challenges, hard work, and disappointment. So when enigmatic travel writer Joel Foster walks into her bookstore – and her life – with his mantras of trying new things and taking risks, Olivia knows that nothing will change.

But when a family dilemma surfaces, Olivia is compelled to enroll in Joel’s writing course to tell the story of her grandmother’s life. With each new day and each new page, Olivia discovers secrets about her family and truths about herself, and finds herself yearning to rewrite the story she has planned and seek a life as intriguing as fiction.

Available today!

Out of this World: Donna Maree Hanson

To celebrate Star Wars Day, we asked some of our science fiction authors to tell us what Star Wars means to them. Then, to support science fiction readers everywhere, we dropped the prices on their books…

Donna Maree Hanson

At age 17 I was already a science fiction aficionado. But seeing Star Wars: that cinema screen opening to wider proportions and the huge spaceship flying overhead sealed my fate. My heart raced, I jumped up and down and was filled with awe. Since then I have had a lifelong love of the movies and the tie in books. I was in love with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo both! I wanted to be Princess Leia.

It was Star Wars that inspired me to write. My first ever story idea was in the Star Wars universe at age 19. I didn’t write it then. I won’t write it now. The inspiration still lives inside me, however.


8866

Sixteen-year-old Rae Stroder lives in a hollow asteroid, a defunct refuelling station, with a brain-damaged adult, Gris, to keep her company. Low on supplies, they’ve been eking out an existence for years. Everything changes when Alwin Anton, ultra-clean, smart and handsome AllEarth Corp company auditor, arrives to find disarray. Full of suspicion, he interrogates Rae, threatening her with prosecution for theft. He uncovers the fact that she is not Rae Stroder at all, when space pirates attack.

During the attack, Rae is taken prisoner and Alwin Anton escapes in his space ship. The pirate women prepare Rae for sale on the infamous Centauri slave markets. It’s all going badly, when she is purchased by a mysterious Ridallian.

Meanwhile, the space pirates are out to kill Alwin Anton because he holds the secret to Rae’s true identity. It’s a race against time to unravel the intrigue of Rae’s past to secure her future.

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