Feed Your Reader: Gallantry, Mistaken Identity, and Beautiful Gowns…

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All’s Faire in love and war…

Connie leads a double life. During the week, she is an up-and-coming designer and dressmaker, creating sleek, elegant gowns for the wealthy elite. But come the weekend, Connie becomes Lady Constance, a member of the House Felicitous at the local Renaissance Faire, creating beautiful historical garments for herself and her friends and teaching dancing to fair attendees. Fearing loss of business should her stylish clientèle discover her extracurricular activities, Connie keeps her professional life and her faire life carefully separate. However, everything changes when she’s saved from certain death by Sir Justin: a rising star in the joust and an actual knight in shining armour.

Behind his mask as Sir Justin, Dominic is confident and charismatic, but out of his armour, his courage fails him, and to his own horror he finds himself accidentally pretending to be his own best friend. Suddenly, he is in Connie’s life as two different men: the elusive Sir Justin who courts her over the internet and from behind a suit of armour and Justin’s ‘best friend’ Dominic who hangs out at her apartment and helps her move. The lie only grows bigger and Sir Justin finds himself faced with the most frightening challenge he can imagine: extricating himself from his lie and winning Connie’s heart as his true self.

But there’s something rotten afoot at the Faire, something that threatens its future, the community that has grown there, and even Sir Justin’s life. Will Lady Constance find the courage to step up and risk everything to defend her friends, save the Faire, and rescue her knight?

“I loved every minute of this fun story!” – Leah, Goodreads

“The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight was a creative and hilarious romance taking place in an incredibly unique setting.” – Nicki, Goodreads

“A very sweet and original romance set in the faux medieval landscape of a renaissance fair.” – Laura, Goodreads

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight is available now!

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Exclusive Excerpt: The Magician’s Keeper

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A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

Dora watched the inmate, Mr Gordon, trying to keep her features carefully schooled and follow the instructions given during the induction. She was to always be on the lookout for possible shifts in mood that may precede an attack on the prison guards, other inmates but especially visiting legal representatives. This particular inmate was showing all the signs of suppressed aggression – and in her opinion quite justly. The lawyer was revolting and did not appear at all sympathetic to his client’s cause.

The inmate’s heavy brow had grown thunderous, his dark eyes flashed and his broad chest heaved with irritation. She really couldn’t blame him, she was starting to feel a little annoyed herself.

Her eyes lingered on the v- of his orange overalls. His skin was smooth with only a hint of chest hair. She looked away as her pulse raced a little.

Lord.

It was impossible not to notice the man’s frustration, but it was equally impossible to ignore fact he was a very attractive man.

In a delicious, big, bad wolf kind of way.

She shook the feeling away, knowing just how very inappropriate it was, as another equally as absorbing sensation took its place. A very real righteous indignation on Gordon’s behalf flared hotly in her gut.

Here was a vital, strong Magician, imprisoned in an unfair justice system simply for trying to get people to believe in their cause. He was the very kind of man her mother had died trying to help through her work in the UMC.

Her heart thumped loudly and she took a breath to steady herself.

The Magician’s Keeper is available for pre-order now!

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Friday Five: Carla Caruso

Carla Caruso (2)Author: Carla Caruso
First published with Escape: May 25, 2017
Favourite romance trope: Opposites attract
Ideal hero: Tall/dark/handsome (that counts as one word, right?), brooding, kind
Ideal heroine: Imperfect, spirited, funny
Latest book: Run for the Hills! A runaway bride scarpers to the Adelaide Hills … and meets a handsome triplet, who also happens to be a wedding photographer. 

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I was actually more of a chick-lit writer (and reader) originally, devouring books by Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding and co. But when I went to write in that genre, chick-lit was deemed ‘dead’.

However, I’d sent a chick-lit style manuscript to a publisher and they asked if I could increase the romance component and they’d consider taking it on for a new digital imprint of theirs. I did and scored my first publishing contract. Now I can’t write a story without a strong romance focus. I’m hooked on the genre, and can’t go back!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?
I’m currently writing a novel surrounding a heroine who’s a witch for something different! I’m so glad my local library now has self-serve and I can just duck to the reserve shelf to grab weird and wonderful titles like A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food (among the picture books I’m borrowing for my kids!) Who knows what the librarians think I’m cooking up? I also hate to think what my online search history must look like to the staff at Google; I’m always looking up something strange!

Which book written by someone else do you wish you had written?
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta was a fave as a teen—as a fellow Italian-Australian (à la the heroine), caught between two worlds, the book really spoke to me. Oh, and I also have a special spot for The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Maybe because I’m also quite the un-Italian wife (coincidentally, I also have a foodie blog by that name, www.theunitalianwife.com – plug, plug!)

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Or any cute quirks in general?
I don’t know if it’s cute, per se, but I am one of those writers who carries around a mini notepad and jots down story ideas and notes whenever I’m ‘on the go’. (Okay, sometimes I use OneNote on my phone for future story ideas too to be a bit with the technological times!)

When I sit down at my PC, I always have to type up these notes first or apply the story tweaks I’ve dreamt up before I can get down to the business of writing anything new. It can be a good way to waste an hour of writing time, argh! But it does save on editing later.

Besides writing, what is something else that you’re really good at?
I’ve recently got into renovating vintage furniture! I’m a runner and would habitually spot quirky roadside finds while out pounding the pavement. Now I also scroll Gumtree for such items.

Carla Caruso (3)

The poor hubby is quite handy and helps with all the painting, staining etc. (in between whinging about it, haha). I put all my nerdy home and garden stuff on my Instagram page, ‘adelaidepickers’, to separate it from my authorly gear.

Recently, I’ve also got back into making costume jewellery, which is something I used to do (and sell) many moons ago as a young fashion-junkie. 


Carla Caruso (1)The Belshaw brothers are back in Balkissoch…

Bridie Porter is wearing her Vera Wang gown and veil in the back of her wedding limo when she receives a compromising text about her hotelier groom. Panicked, she tells the driver to keep going and she flees from Melbourne to the small town of Balkissoch in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s the perfect pit-stop to hide from her ex and the press and to earn enough cash to stay out of sight. Unfortunately, the admin job she gets is for a wedding photography business and she’s had her fill of weddings lately. But it’s slim pickings on the work front in a town so teeny. And her new boss is strangely compelling…

After the rush and adrenaline of his job as an LA paparazzo, the last place Cody Belshaw wants to be is back in the small town where he grew up. But thanks to a clause in his father’s will that amounts to blackmail, Cody and his two brothers are stuck running a wedding business for at least a month. If there’s one thing that he’s learned in LA, however, it’s to keep business and pleasure very, very separate. Which makes his new admin employee the definition of temptation.

Bridie is desperate to stay anonymous. Cody seeks out secrets for a living. As they delve into the world of brides, boutonnières and dogs-as-best-men, both Cody and Bridie will have to decide if this is a fling…or forever.

One-click for wedding fun!

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Feed Your Reader: A Bluestocking on the Run

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When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking…

Marie had the perfect life plan: she would satisfy her father’s ambition by graduating as one of the first female doctors in Europe, and she would satisfy her mother’s ambition by marrying a very suitable fiancé in a grandiose society ceremony. Only weeks away from completing the former, Marie is mere days away from achieving the latter. But her whole life is thrown into chaos when her fiancé dies, mysteriously returns, and then is shot and killed, and Marie risks her own reputation to save the life of the man falsely accused of the murder.

Gordon, Lord Stanmore, finally tracks down the conman who stole from his estate, only to find himself embroiled in a murder plot. The woman he rescues offers to rescue him in return, by marrying him and providing an alibi. Gordon’s ready agreement to the scheme grows the more time he spends with his new wife. Her wit, her intelligence, her calm, her charm: Gordon finds himself more and more enchanted with this woman he met by mistake. But as the clues to the identity of the murderer start to align with the clues to the thief, they reveal a more elaborate scheme than he could have imagined, and though he might desire Marie, Gordon is unsure if he can trust her.

As their chase leads them out of Amsterdam and into the UK, both Gordon and Marie must adjust to the life that has been thrust upon them and decide if marriage came first, can love come after?

In Pursuit of a Bluestocking is available now!

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He’s a Magic Man…

by Nicola E. Sheridan

I write about magicians – but forget old guys pulling rabbits out of their hats, or macabrely dismembering pretty girls in boxes. Seriously, forget about those.

The magicians I’m talking about aren’t charlatan tricksters with brainless sidekicks. I’m taking about magicians with real magic, real power and real hearts. The kind of magicians who’ve inspired my latest book, The Magician’s Keeper – coming out in November.

Here are my top five.

Allanon_ManuBennett&me

Allanon –Terry Brooks, Shannara Chronicals

Allanon is the frankly delectable last Druidic Magician, who has just woken from a 400 hundred year sleep. He’s powerful, good and loyal. His love is enduring. He is also portrayed by the utterly gorgeous Manu Bennett in the television series.


riftwar-saga-01-magician

Pug Rift War series, Raymond E. Feist

Oh, Pug, for all his ugly name, he is a character I absolutely adored through my teen years, when I hungrily devoured Feist’s super awesome series. Pug starts the series as an unloved youngster hoping to become a Magician, who’s humiliatingly rejected by all who cannot see his potential. To cut a long, long, story short [spoiler alert] Pug becomes one of the most powerful magicians of all time.


Merlin_variousportrayals

Merlin – Arthurian Legend.

Merlin, he’s either portrayed as an old bearded man, or as a uniquely featured young man in the TV series ‘Merlin’. Both of these depictions do not meet with my expectations. The Merlin of myth is a pretty interesting character, he was the son of a princess, fathered by an Incubus (nocturnal sex demon). So he’s got some funky DNA right there. He was baptised right after birth, casting out his inherent evil, but retains the powers of his father *insert waggling eyebrows here*.


dragonlance
Raitslin Majere – in the Dragon Lance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Raitslin is an interesting Magician, he inherited his skills at magic from his mother and passed gruelling Test of High Sorcery. As a result, he acquired white hair and golden skin, and was cursed with hourglass eyes which saw the effects of time on all things. So he is pretty handsome too.


Konstantin Yuryevich_as Anton

Anton GorodetskyNight Watch, by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko

Anton, is a reluctant Magician, preferring to live his life quietly, but finds his powers are growing and with them, his problems. Anton is also a bit of bad-ass, carrying not only his magic but also a pistol and silver bullets to put down any Vamps or Werewolves that come his way. He’s cynical, and despite his oddities, more than a little cool.

So, there you have it, five totally awesome Magicians. If you want to read about one more, you’ll find him in novel A Warlord’s Lady, which is out now.


32437A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.

Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.

Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.

But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life — and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

The Magician’s Keeper is available for pre-order now!

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Exclusive Excerpt: By the Currawong’s Call

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A small town, a new arrival, and a love that is as undeniable as it is unlawful…

‘Who would you say my friends are in Dinbratten?’

Matthew was momentarily stumped by the apparent change of subject and it took him a second or two to dredge up a name. ‘Um. George, I suppose? Or Albie at the pub?’

‘I’m a trooper,’ Parks said, as though that fact had been somehow forgotten. ‘My presence tends to make people uncomfortable. Like they’re immediately looking for what the trouble or the danger is as soon as I walk in a room. I think I make them feel a bit guilty, even if they’ve never done a bad thing in their whole life. And I can’t help thinking,’ his voice dropped slightly, ‘that men in your line of work must have it something similar.’

For a moment, Matthew couldn’t think what to say in response. He’d never before encountered such an attempt at solidarity. ‘I think I understand you, Sergeant,’ he said evenly. He glanced down at the bottle in his hand and smiled. ‘Though I must say, I’ve never had anyone offer me a gift of, well, sex before.’

‘Eh.’ Parks took the bottle back. ‘People see the cassock and the collar and they forget there’s a man underneath ’em, I s’pose.’

‘But not you?’

At the question, Parks paused with the bottle partway to his mouth and gave Matthew a penetrating look. ‘I see ya.’

On the receiving end of that look, Matthew felt a little hot under the aforementioned collar and realised belatedly that he had managed to get slightly tipsy. He cleared his throat. ‘It’s Sunday tomorrow…’

‘Don’t be offended if half the town are too hungover to turn up.’

Matthew smiled at that. His face was still feeling warm. ‘I think I’ll be bidding you goodnight now, Sergeant.’

Parks crossed his arms over his chest, liquor bottle nestled in the crook of his left elbow. ‘You called me Jonah earlier.’

Had he? Yes, Matthew remembered, he had. ‘You still call me Father,’ he pointed out.

‘So I do.’ One side of Parks’ mouth pulled up in his quirky grin. When it didn’t seem likely that he was going to say anything else, Matthew took a shuffling step back toward the door.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘goodnight, then.’

‘Goodnight,’ Parks returned. ‘Matthew.’

Matthew fumbled the doorknob and took his leave.

By the Currawong’s Call is available for pre-order now and releases 20 November.

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How to Tell if You’re Dating a Knight in Six Easy Questions

by Anna Klein

How does your significant other dress?

  1. Padded gambeson, metal armour, surcoat appliqued with appropriate heraldry
  2. Nice jeans, clean top, a jacket if it’s cold.
  3. A Victorian tuxedo or gown and a cape with a red lining
  4. T-shirts with offensive slogans, or pond scum.

When someone upsets you, how do they react?

  1. Swear vengeance on your behalf, then challenges them to a duel at dawn.
  2. Listens, and is supportive. Lets you take the lead on how to handle it.
  3. Their eyes go red briefly. The person that upset you is found mysteriously exsanguinated the next morning.
  4. Says it was probably your fault and then goes back to talking about themselves

What’s his face like?

  1. Rugged, strong, grown hardy by lack of modern comforts.
  2. Hair and/or facial hair is tidy, a little light moisturiser
  3. Pale, paler than you could have imagined, untouched by the rays of the sun for centuries,
  4. Green, scaly, a little moist.

Which description is most like your dates?

  1. Riding on horseback to a jousting tournament followed by a spectacular feast of eight courses, complete with mead, merry musicians and a roaring fire.
  2. A romantic dinner, a movie and then drinks with mutual friends.
  3. You are shown the magic of the night
  4. Whatever they feel like doing, really, such as catching flies with their tongue and croaking with their friends.

What is home?

  1. A castle. It’s a little draughty, but with pleasant roaring fires, paintings and a vibrant household.
  2. A modern apartment or home, cosy, handy to public transport and with a nice yard for summer parties.
  3. A castle. It’s very draughty. And dark. Lots of bats. Does anyone even live here?
  4. A pond. It’s your job to clean it.

How do you get on with the family?

  1. You haven’t met many of them. Father died in battle, siblings have been married off abroad and Mother spends all her time making tapestries of battles they have won.
  2. They make an effort to include you and are supportive of the relationship.
  3. The statues in the family mausoleum are impressive but not very good conversationalists
  4. They haven’t bothered to introduce you.

Time to tally the results!

Mostly 1 – Your lover is a knight! Handy with a sword, and always up for rescuing you, your lover may be a little stuck in the past and often away on questing business.

Mostly B – Your lover is a regular, modern day human being, and a knight-on-the-inside. The best of both worlds!

Mostly C – Your lover is a vampire! Which is pretty cool too. Time to invest in fun scarves, and who knows, maybe they used to be a knight in days past?

Mostly D – Your lover is a toad! Whether a literal green amphibian or just a jerk, you’ve probably spent enough time kissing them and waiting for royalty to show up. Time to go.


32237All’s Faire in love and war…

Connie leads a double life. During the week, she is an up-and-coming designer and dressmaker, creating sleek, elegant gowns for the wealthy elite. But come the weekend, Connie becomes Lady Constance, a member of the House Felicitous at the local Renaissance Faire, creating beautiful historical garments for herself and her friends and teaching dancing to fair attendees. Fearing loss of business should her stylish clientèle discover her extracurricular activities, Connie keeps her professional life and her faire life carefully separate. However, everything changes when she’s saved from certain death by Sir Justin: a rising star in the joust and an actual knight in shining armour.

Behind his mask as Sir Justin, Dominic is confident and charismatic, but out of his armour, his courage fails him, and to his own horror he finds himself accidentally pretending to be his own best friend. Suddenly, he is in Connie’s life as two different men: the elusive Sir Justin who courts her over the internet and from behind a suit of armour and Justin’s ‘best friend’ Dominic who hangs out at her apartment and helps her move. The lie only grows bigger and Sir Justin finds himself faced with the most frightening challenge he can imagine: extricating himself from his lie and winning Connie’s heart as his true self.

But there’s something rotten afoot at the Faire, something that threatens its future, the community that has grown there, and even Sir Justin’s life. Will Lady Constance find the courage to step up and risk everything to defend her friends, save the Faire, and rescue her knight?

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Finding a Knight is available now.

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Feed Your Reader: Sexy, Affirming Contemporary Romance

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Before you can heal, you must accept that you’ve been broken…

When an accident leaves her with severe burns, Captain Eden Archer has one goal — to get back to full fitness and her duties at her United Nations job. Eden is not a joiner, but the Ruby Challenge — a four-day hike across Nevada’s Ruby Mountains — seems like a great way to boost her rehabilitation, and to prove herself ready and able to move on. She just has to get through the pre-challenge medical.

As a doctor in Accident and Emergency, Dan Barbour is used to dealing with people in pain, people in denial, and people who don’t much like doctors, but the prickly servicewoman who dismisses his medical skills awakens an interest that has long been dormant.

The Ruby Mountain hike is as much about the emotional challenge as the physical, and as Eden and Dan find themselves getting closer and closer, they both face enormous obstacles. Eden protects her heart with distance and reserve; Dan keeps everyone at bay by being wholly unavailable. But if they stay true to their old course, they will lose the one chance at a real connection, the one chance to really find someone to love.

A broken-hearted doctor and a reluctant patient should be a match made in heaven, but are Eden and Dan strong enough to find courage outside of their respective battlefields and expose their hearts?

“An emotionally unique novel that was a delight to read” – Wit & Wonder Books

“This book was full of such amazing people and the way that the author made such a connection was beautiful.”- Laurie, Goodreads

“I loved this book! It’s a great story of healing and love.” – Gina B, NetGalley

Exposed is now available from your favourite e-tailer!

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Exclusive Excerpt 2: Exposed

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Before you can heal, you must accept that you’ve been broken…

Eden dropped to the dew-dampened grass, tugging her long sleeves down to cover her frigid fingers.

Dan clicked away at the camera, the only sound disturbing the rural tranquillity. After a while, she forgot he was there, and she embraced the majesty of the view. When was the last time she’d simply sat and been mindful? Grateful that she hadn’t died that day, when others hadn’t been so fortunate? She pulled crisp, earthy air into her lungs, exhaling as she allowed her gaze to trace the jagged horizon, which was backlit by a sky streaked with orange and pink.

The movement of Dan repositioning the tripod for a different shot drew her back to a different kind of view, no less spectacular. Syrupy warmth spread through her veins, heating her limbs from the inside.

Lightweight cargo pants hugged his taut backside as he stooped over the tripod, and his wide shoulders bunched under his t-shirt as he lifted his hand to manually focus the lens. Who knew cameras like that still existed? The breeze lifted his hair, revealing the grey at his temples and the lines fanning out from the eye he scrunched closed while he concentrated.

He pressed a few buttons, turned a few dials and then joined her on the grass as the first rays of the day’s sun rose above the mountains.

She hesitated to break the silence she’d found. ‘Won’t you miss it?’ A whisper.

He shrugged, his eyes never leaving the display Mother Nature put on for them. ‘I don’t want to miss seeing it in person. He flashed her grin, ‘And I’ve set the automatic timer.’ He draped his arms over his bent knees, his hands clasped between them. ‘Shh, Archer. Just watch.’

She surprised herself by doing as she was told, although had it been an exam she’d have failed. For her, the splendour of the view was surpassed by the vision of Dan watching the sunrise with rapt attention. She couldn’t tear her eyes away.

Exposed is available for pre-order and releases October 4.

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Friday Five: Nicola E Sheridan

2212Author: Nicola E. Sheridan
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
Ideal hero (in three words): Powerful, strong, and magical
Ideal heroine (in three words): Awkward, compassionate, funny
Latest book: A Warlord’s Lady
Next book: The Magician’s Keeper

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?
I won a highly recommended ‘best first novel’ in a writing competition in 2009, and that made me think that perhaps I could try and get something published. So I gave it a go and was fortunate enough to be taken on. I write romance because I love the feeling romance provokes, it is what I call hopeful literature, which focuses on the good things in life.

What is your writing power-up?
Watching a good television series always inspires me, it’s something about how the protagonists interact, the feelings they evoke, good or bad, it just makes my imagination go wild and I feel inspired to write after watching a good series. Grimm is currently one of my favourites.

What kind of characters do you like reading about the most?
I like reading about characters whose connection is intense, but vaguely awkward. I need realism in my reading, I want to feel that the romance is real.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Do you have one already?
My little mascot would be my dog Terry, he’s a rescue and I’ve never known an animal so utterly devoted to me, he follows me everywhere and will sit at my feet for hours.

Nicola E. Sheridan (2)

Where is your favourite place to write?
Even though I have an awesome book lined study in which to write, I much prefer writing at my dinner table in the middle of my house. I feel more connected there, and I can watch the world go by from the window.

Nicola E. Sheridan (1)


32437A brand new steamy paranormal romance about learning to love all of yourself.

In a world where people judge one another by exacting standards of size and style, being a big girl like Eudora Splat was never going to be easy.

Though trouble is brewing between magic folk and human purists who would see them all destroyed, Dora, a half-giant, tries to eke out a quiet, unnoticed life for herself, but it’s hard to be subtle when you’re over seven feet tall.

Losing her job as a gardener due to human complaints, Dora is recruited as a prison guard, where she’s enlisted to protect the magician Evander “Bear” Gordon from human purist attack. Bear encourages her to embrace her power and celebrate her heritage, introducing her to a world where she can be extraordinary and not just weird.

But after years of hiding and shying away, can Dora find the strength to grab onto a new life — and hold on to the man she’s falling in love with?

Pre-order now!

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