BOOK REVIEW: Fisher’s Light by Tara Sivec

fisherslight

Fisher, 
I guess this is it, huh? After fourteen years together, starting a life of our own on this island, five deployments and countless letters I’ve written you through it all, I finally go out to the mailbox and see something I’ve always dreamed of: an envelope with your handwriting on it. For one moment, I actually thought you’d changed your mind, that all the awful things you said to me were just your way of coping after everything you’d been through. I was still here, Fisher. I was still here, holding my breath, waiting for you to come back even though you told me you never would. You always said you’d find your way back to me. Out of all the lies you’ve told me, this one hurts the most. Enclosed you will find the signed divorce papers, as requested. 
I hope you find what you’re looking for. I’m sorry it wasn’t me. 
Lucy 

To get the ending they want, Lucy and Fisher will have to go back to the beginning. Through the good and the bad, they’ll be reminded of why they always made their way back to each other, and why this time, one way or another, it will be the last time.

review

“No matter what, I will always find my way back to you.”

The hardest thing to do when you find a book you end up loving body and soul is not to turn your review into an ode to the author and all the ways her words have moved you, thrilled you, inspired you, but I fear that I will fail miserably by the end of this review because this book took my breath away, and made me fall in love all over again with Tara Sivec’s spellbinding writing style. Heartfelt, gut-wrenching, romantic—this is a story that enthrals you completely, shutting out the world around you and overwhelming you emotionally until you cannot think of anything else. An epic love story like no other, Lucy and Fisher’s tale will forever hold a very special place in my heart, and it still brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.

“My life has been spent waiting for this man to come back to me.”

Lucy and Fisher are high school sweethearts, each other’s first loves, each other’s only loves, but after Fisher’s five tours of duty over a fourteen-year span, the bulk of their marriage has effectively been spent living apart. Every single deployment has left Fisher just a little more broken each time, the horror of his memories continuously tormenting him and stripping him of his ever-waning grasp on reality. Until his terrifying fantasies start bleeding into his everyday consciousness, completely blurring the line between his past and present, thus putting in danger his very reason for living—his beloved wife.

“She is my heart, my soul, my everything and I know it’s only a matter of time before I do something that could possibly kill her.”

Lucy has spent her entire adult life as a military wife waiting for her husband to come back to her after his many deployments, making sure he had a loving place to come home to. In her early thirties, the owner of her own business, she has always worked hard to stay independent from her husband’s family legacy and wealth, the only thing she ever wanted out of life being her husband’s safe return and his love and devotion. But war has slowly changed the man she has loved since she was sixteen years old, chipping away at his sanity and the man who eventually returns after his last tour of duty is not the man she once knew.

“I’ve never felt so alone, even when he was halfway across the world. I’m living in this house with my husband and I get to see him every day, but it feels like I’m living with a ghost.”

As their past is revealed to us in snippets, their present and their past interlaced with one another and told simultaneously, we see their marriage as it came to be, we watch it survive distance and separation, and eventually succumb to the effects of the many traumatic events Fisher has lived and survived through, not to mention how little they know of one another by the end of it. With astonishing insight into the darkness of his mind and his struggle to keep it rooted in reality, we get to hear not only Fisher’s voice as he tries and fails to break free of the prison in his mind, but also the magnitude of Lucy’s heartbreak from the demise of her marriage and the gradual loss of her one and only love.

“I want to take away his pain, to stop the hurt that fills his heart and his mind, but I feel like I’m so far out of my depth that I’m drowning.”

And eventually, we see them lose it all. But this is not a story of lost love—this is a story of two people who have fought hard to stay together, to expel the demons tearing them apart, and who are forced to fight even harder to find their way back to one another. This is a story of second chances, of remembering the good and the bad that brought two people to a particular point in their relationship, and of never forgetting the great, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love that never allowed their bond to be truly broken.

“How many people get a second chance at love with the only person they’ve ever held in their heart?”

With impeccable, emotionally inspiring prose, Ms Sivec caught me by surprise with this novel, her once witty and entertaining voice now replaced by a more mature, confident writing style that made me regretful of having missed all the undoubtedly brilliant steps in the evolution of her craft. Even though this story is told in constant and often disjointed leaps from past to present, we are never distracted or confused by those leaps, as their tale becomes a puzzle that forms effortlessly in our minds, each new fragment of their past adding new layers to our perception of their present. By giving us a window into the psyche of both these characters, we grow attached to both of them in equal measure, our hearts breaking at their lows, and rejoicing at their highs. We get to feel the powerful love between them, and all they are willing to give of themselves in order to never let their bond wither away. This was one of the most intense, heart-wrenching stories I have ever read, as well as one of the most exquisite ones, and I wish there were a way to read it for the first time all over again.

“I’m going to remind her why we’re perfect for each other. I’m going to show her that there’s no one else on this earth that can love her like I can.”

6stars

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COVER REVEAL: Worn Me Down by Tara Sivec

The third instalment in the Playing With Fire series is coming!!! This is Austin’s book! I give you the beautiful new cover of Worn Me Down

Expected release date: 21 January 2014

wornmedown

“Worn me down like a road. I did everything you told. Worn me down to my knees. I did everything to please.”

Austin Conrad has never taken his personal life seriously. As a Navy SEAL, he spends all of his time in dangerous, life-threatening situations. The only way to leave behind the horrors he’s seen throughout his career, is to turn it all off when he gets home. He’s too much of a playboy to settle down; even if he did find a woman he could stand to be around for more than one night, he would never taint her life with the demons of his past.

When his best friend and SEAL team member, Brady Marshall asks him to keep an eye on his baby sister, Gwen, Austin figures it will be a walk in the park. The only thing Austin likes more than flirting his way under a beautiful woman’s skin, is walking away with a smile on his face. Austin never expects that the single mom and her little girl will be the ones getting under his skin.

Gwen Stratford knows all too well about living in a nightmare. After taking her daughter and fleeing from her abusive husband in the middle of the night several months ago, she’s worked hard to get her life back on track and forget about the man who tried to break her. Growing up under the iron thumb of her parents and then moving right on with a man who ruled their marriage with his fists, Gwen is finally able to breathe and live her life the way she wants.

When scary, mysterious things begin to happen to Gwen and her daughter, she realizes you can never outrun your past; it always has a way of catching up with you. As she struggles with the desire to keep her newfound independence, she knows she won’t be able to protect herself and her child alone. She’ll need to lean on the one man who drives her crazy.

Can Gwen really put her trust in a man who thinks life is one big joke, or will he be just another man in her life who tries to wear her down?

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The Author

Tara Sivec_picTara Sivec is a USA Today best-selling author, wife, mother, chauffeur, maid, short-order cook, baby-sitter, and sarcasm expert. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children and looks forward to the day when they all three of them become adults and move out.

After working in the brokerage business for fourteen years, Tara decided to pick up a pen and write instead of shoving it in her eye out of boredom. She is the author of the Playing with Fire series and the Chocolate Lovers series. Her novel Seduction and Snacks won first place in the Indie Romance Convention Reader’s Choice Awards 2013 for Best Indie First Book.

In her spare time, Tara loves to dream about all of the baking she’ll do and naps she’ll take when she ever gets spare time.

Tara also writes under the pen name T.E. Sivec.

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A Beautiful Lie by T.E. Sivec

abeautifullieHe saw her first, but his friend made the move.

She settled for the safer choice, but her heart knew the truth.

They love, they crave, they lie.

Garrett McCarthy, Annabelle Parker, and Milo Roberts were as close as friends could get. They shared in each other’s joy during graduations, promotions, and engagements. They consoled one another through heartache and loss.

When one of the friend’s life is tragically cut short, it’s up to the two left behind to pick up the pieces and find out the truth – no matter the cost. As they slowly start to uncover the nature of his deception, and the very powerful people behind it, they begin to question everyone and everything, even themselves.

Everyone has secrets – some do it for love while others do it for power. Those secrets can change perceptions, alter reality and sometimes destroy lives.

What do you do when you find out your whole life has been a lie?

review

“If you were mine, I would never be able to walk away from you. If you were mine, I’d worship every inch of your body with my hands, lips, and tongue. If you were mine, I wouldn’t be able to stand in the same room as you without running my hands over your skin and tasting your lips. If you were mine…”

Oh My… Never in a million years did I expect the woman who only recently left me in stitches and caused me to snort from laughter to now make my heart race and my skin tingle. This book was such a welcome but completely unexpected surprise – it took Ms Sivec out of the ‘funny box’ and catapulted her into any genre she damn wishes to write in. If I’ve learned anything from this book is that no one puts Tara in a ‘box’.

This story starts as many others do – three best friends, a love triangle marked by years of unspoken feelings and regrets. Our heroine, Parker, is a young woman whose past conditioned her to believe that allowing herself to love someone completely and sharing all of herself with another would only lead to disappointment and a broken heart. She watched her own father fade away after the death of her mother, shattered and changed by the intense pain from losing the love of his life. Watching him turn his back on his own daughter scarred her deeply, but it also affected every relationship that Parker entered into after that, always keeping her distance and never allowing herself to love with all her heart.

“She swore she would never let someone take so much of her heart and soul that it would wither away to nothing once they were gone. She gave up on the dream of finding someone to consume her mind, body, and soul. It only ruined you in the end. It only left you broken and unable to live.”

Garrett and Milo have been best friends since they were children, Garrett always taking the selfless role of protector and defender, and never once putting his own ambitions or dreams before Milo’s. He sees Parker first but he does not act on it because he notices his friend’s interest in her as well. For years he then watches his best friend with the woman of his dreams, silently wishing it was him sharing a life with her, compartmentalizing his feelings and turning a lie into his daily truth.

“He buried his feelings, his wants, and desires and stepped aside so his friend could finally find some peace and happiness.”

When Parker meets Garrett and Milo, two young Navy SEALS recruits, in her first year of college, she inevitably goes for the one that doesn’t awaken her body and soul, the one that doesn’t make her heart skip a beat every time he looks at her. She starts a nice and easy relationship with Milo, the ‘safer’ one of the two, a relationship with no complications or expectations, one that progresses at a steady pace but leaves Parker free to keep her distance. Her friendship with Garrett, on the other hand, only grows over the years, making them each other’s confidante and shoulder to cry on, but they never cross that line where they would have to admit their feelings to each other. They both suppress their lingering thoughts about one another, the painful ‘what-ifs’, nurturing their friendship above all else.

And then one day Milo gets killed under suspicious circumstances during a top-secret mission abroad.

What follows is a fast-paced suspense-ridden adventure with secrets unveiled at every corner. We watch Parker and Garrett navigate through endless lies, struggle with what they discover about their friend’s death, but even more with what they are forced to admit to each other. Their chemistry sizzles, takes a life of its own, making this not only an exciting and suspenseful roller-coaster ride of a story, but also a seismic romance between two people who were never meant to be apart. They struggle with their feelings, question what their bodies won’t deny them, desperate to break through each other’s defences and find their happily-ever-after.

“Garrett couldn’t get deep enough, couldn’t feel enough of her body. He wanted to drown in her and shout at the top of his lungs that she was his. It was always her, only her.”

This was such a genre departure for this awesome author and she pulled it off beautifully. If I had to make a remark on anything that perhaps didn’t work so well for me it would be the number of ‘inner voices’ we get to hear throughout the story, even for the most secondary of characters. I would have also preferred more dialogues to be able to read the motivations behind a character’s actions, rather than to be told what they were. The narrative overtook the dialogues and that for me personally was overwhelming at times. But regardless of this, the writing style was mature and engaging, firmly cementing Ms Sivec as one of my favourite authors.

If you are looking for a gripping, fast-moving, stimulating read that will keep you glued to the pages and squeal from delight, look no further. It is a beautiful lie indeed.

“I know love isn’t something that comes easy for you or that you even believe in it. I know and I don’t care. I don’t care if you’re afraid to love me back, I don’t care if you never feel the same way that I do. I just need you to know, right here and right now, that I am in love with you, Annabelle Parker.”

4halfstars

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BOOK REVIEW: Troubles and Treats by Tara Sivec

TroublesandTreats_new2Drew and Jenny have spent years being the envy of their friends with their out of control sex lives – well, not really. Mostly it makes their friends want to throw up in their mouths a little.

With two little kids and two busy lives, for the first time, Drew and Jenny aren’t on the same page in the bedroom. Drew will stop at nothing to get his previously amorous wife back in the sack, and Jenny will do anything for a full night of sleep.

Carter and Claire, and Jim and Liz are their usual (un)helpful selves and are full of advice for the discontented duo, wanting nothing more than to help restore order to the usually happy couple’s lives.

In the third and final installment of the Chocolate Lovers Series, will Drew and Jenny find the spark that’s been missing in their marriage, or will the trouble they’re having cause a stickier situation than the time Jenny poured honey all over Drew and he fused himself to a tree?

review

“When was the last time you guys had sex?” Claire asks.
“Um, what day is it today?”
“It’s Saturday,” Claire answers.
“Last year.”

In Seduction and Snacks, they all fell in love. In Futures and Frosting, their bonds were forged. In Troubles and Treats, the grass is definitely greener in other people’s bedrooms.

This is the unconventional there’s-trouble-in-paradise story of Jenny and Drew, the wackiest members of our beloved lot, who finally get their own book to star in. We find them married, with two small children in tow and a marriage troubled by intimacy issues. Even though their underlying problems are nothing more than what many young couples face when they start having children, for this couple the effects are unbearable. The intense physical nature of Jenny and Drew’s relationship has always been their main strength and it was also what initially drew them to one another. When suddenly faced with struggling libidos and no activity in the bedroom, they decide to tackle the problem with every single hilariously inappropriate method they can think of. Except the one that could actually help them – open communication.

“It’s like the day the stick turned pink, her lady bits put up a giant “Out of Business” sign. Do not enter, closed for repairs, zombies will eat your face if you try to touch this vagina.”

Through numerous snippets from their life together so far, we are given an insight into what has truly been everything but a traditional romance between them. What started as a perfect match between two equally silly individuals, but true soul mates at heart, eventually gets shaken by childbirth, housework, babies crying at night, hairy vaginas, poorly utilised sex swings, stalking in-laws, shirtless neighbours, and flesh-eating zombies. Their rampant sexual appetites are no longer in sync. While Jenny is afraid that her husband might no longer find her satisfying or sexually attractive after witnessing natural birth, she is also struggling to reconcile her adventurously sexual self with her new role as a mother. Drew, on the other hand, is constantly mourning the loss of their former sex life, frequently reminiscing their past sexcapades, constantly plotting possible solutions to their problems.

“I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint exactly where I went wrong with Jenny. I blame it all on natural childbirth. No man should ever have to see his wife in that position. Somehow, now, I need to convince my wife that I do not fear her vagina. Not anymore at least.”

Drew and Jenny’s story is almost entirely told through a collection of funny sketches, matching perfectly the frivolous personalities of these two already familiar characters. Their presence in the previous books in the series was mostly used as comic relief for the reader, their absurdity and childlike approach to life knowing no boundaries, so it only feels appropriate for that tone to have been kept in a book about their life together. The humour is relentless, sugar-coating every single aspect of their story, but never questioning how uniquely compatible they are.

This is the perfect conclusion to a genuinely feel-good trilogy about real people with real relationship issues to overcome but laced with uncountable instances of snort-inducing laughter and cringe-worthy situations. A must-read for any fan of the ridiculously funny, for anyone looking for an easy but endlessly entertaining reading experience, for anyone seeking ways to spice up their bedroom life.

“No matter how perfect you think someone else’s marriage is, this just goes to show you we can all use a little spark and a little fun in the bedroom to make life more interesting.”

4stars

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Seduction and SnacksMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
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Troubles and TreatsMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW: Futures and Frosting by Tara Sivec

FuturesandFrosting_new2Carter, Claire and Gavin have formed the perfect little family. Their friends are getting married and everyone is growing up, maturing and ready to face the future. Or are they?

From bachelorette party hell, porn addictions, dinner roll baseball and botched wedding proposals to finding out everyone’s extended family is chock full of crazy, Carter and Claire begin to question the strength of the ties that bind them. Unfortunately, these ties have nothing to do with fuzzy handcuffs and everything to do with the mounting differences between them.

Will their friends make a mess of things with their inappropriate comments and need to know everything, or will they convince the couple that happily-ever-after sometimes really can start with beer pong?

review

“Sure you can date my daughter. In a completely unrelated topic, have you seen my shotgun?”

In this hilarious sequel to Seduction and Snacks, our beloved bat-sh*t-crazy family of three is adjusting to their new life together. Claire and Carter are madly in love with one another, both of them ready to take the next step in their relationship but afraid to communicate that to each other. What follows is one whacky situation after another of failed proposals and faked late-night porn addictions.

The main characters are as loveable as before, two imperfect individuals doing the best they can as parents and as partners, scared to death of being “sh*tty parents” or of losing each other. Their reactions are candidly honest, hysterically inappropriate and yet totally ‘real’. They have no filters, they speak their minds and they do it GLORIOUSLY. Their life never seems dull or uninteresting – at the end of the day, they are just two normal people who fell in love over beer pong, ended up with a child from a one-night-stand back in college and now have to deal with ordinary challenges such as homicidal fantasies caused by lack of sleep, hyperactive children, pot-laced cookies, visiting in-laws, and indecent exposure on limo buses.

“Maybe Claire has Salmonella poisoning. Is that contagious? Does she need to be vaccinated or have her stomach pumped? I feel like I should know the answer to this since I have a kid. What if Gavin eats some raw chicken and I don’t know whether to give him mouth-to-mouth or Pepto Bismol? Is he even allowed to have Pepto? And where the f*ck is he getting chickens from?!”

All the same secondary characters are there and the book wouldn’t be the same without them. They make fun of each other without apologies but they are fiercely loyal and protective of one another. But the real star of the book is Gavin, Claire and Carter’s son. Everything this foul-mouthed little boy says should be quoted on a T-shirt. He constantly steals the show.

“Mommy and Daddy make a lot of noise when they kiss. Mommy talks to God a lot. I talk to God sometimes too. I asked him for a puppy and a new monster truck but I was nice and didn’t yell at him like Mommy does. He still hasn’t gotten me the puppy though.”

The humour is even more amplified than in the first book, even more outrageous in an oh-my-God-did-she-just-write-that kind of way. My jaw was hurting by the end of it, not sure how much more I could have handled without causing permanent damage. Do real people talk like this? Do real people have friends like these? Why don’t I have friends like these??? The story is really one funny over-the-top sketch after another, and yet if you take the comedy out of it, you are left with a genuinely lovely story of love, parenthood and friendship. All the right messages come across but they are delivered almost subliminally while you are trying to stop yourself from laughing so loud in a public place. These are ‘real’ people with ‘real’ lives, maybe a little bit out of the ordinary and definitely inappropriate at times, but honest in their affection for each other and true to themselves.

If Seduction and Snacks was your type of humour, you cannot miss this book. Tara Sivec should be a personal trainer – I think I got a six-pack just from laughing.

4halfstars

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Chocolate Lovers – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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Seduction and SnacksMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Futures and FrostingMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Troubles and TreatsMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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BOOK REVIEW: Seduction and Snacks by Tara Sivec

SeductionandSnacks_new2Claire is a twenty-something, single mom that grudgingly helps her best friend sell sex toys while she attempts to make enough money to start her own business to give her foul-mouthed, but extremely loveable (when he’s asleep) toddler a better life.

When Carter, the one-night-stand from her past that changed her life forever, shows up in her hometown bar without any recollection of her besides her unique chocolate scent, Claire will make it a point that he remembers her this time.

With Carter’s undisguised shock at suddenly finding out he has a four-year-old son and Claire’s panic that her stretch marks and slim to none bedroom experience will send the man of her dreams heading for the hills, the pair will do whatever they can to get their happily ever after.

review

Have you ever laughed so hard that it eventually turned into snorting and you had trouble breathing?  Well, that is what this book will do to you. This is not a book for the prudes of the world or for the ones that get offended by profanities and countless references to genitalia. This is a book for the fun-loving folk out there, the ones that (would at least like to think they) find humour in anything and everything, who not only enjoy laughing at others but also frequently laugh at themselves, and for those who are not afraid of the word “vagina”. This book will elate you, bewitch you, inspire you, cheer you up for days to come. And it will make you wish that Tara Sivec was your best friend. No, seriously, Tara, if you’re reading this – we should meet!

“I met a boy at a frat party, beat him at beer pong and let him take my virginity and give me a baby in return. Not a fair trade, but one I wouldn’t change for the world.”

Claire never wanted to have children. If there were such a thing, she would be the pin-up girl for all things non-maternal. She is opinionated, gutsy, loyal, loving, but she always knew that having children was not on her to-do-list. A drunken one-night-stand in college changes all that and she finds herself pregnant – and she decides to keep the baby. She tries unsuccessfully to find her baby-daddy but she doesn’t even know his name.

Fast-forward 6 years and Claire is living back in her home town. She is about to start a new business with her best friend from college, Liz, her son Gavin is now five years old and her dad is helping her raise him. She has never stopped thinking about Gavin’s dad though and has had a daily reminder of him in her son’s beautiful blue eyes.

Enter Carter, Claire’s no-name one-night-stand. He has been looking for her as well and comparing every woman he has dated since to his mystery girl, even though he does not even remember her face. He only remembers how he felt around her, her sense of humour and how good she smelled of … chocolate. He has just moved to Claire’s home town with his best friend, Drew, and it doesn’t take them long to bump into each other. What follows is a laugh-until-you-cry romance between two people simply made for each other, proving that sometimes you can meet your ‘soul-mate’ on a single occasion and spend your entire life wishing them back. And sometimes you even get your wish to come true.

This is such a delightful story – there are no angsty want-to-pull-my-own-heart-out-of-my-chest kind of moments, everything is sugar-coated with humour and even the most serious topics like teenage pregnancy, single motherhood or intimacy are dealt with wit and laughter. The highlight of this book, for me, were some of the secondary characters, especially Claire and Carter’s little boy, Gavin. If I ever had a son, I imagine him talking and behaving like Gavin. His parrot-like repeating of every profanity he hears, his random rambling in his sleep, his fierce honesty and natural affectionateness (yep, checked it – that’s a word) were my undoing. I loved the way he changed Claire, how unconditional her love was towards him and how guilty it made her feel that he sometimes drove her insane.

“IloveGavintodeathbuthedrivesmef*ckingcrazy! … He never. Stops. Talking.”

We laugh with her, we laugh at the way she behaves with Gavin and how she speaks to him, but under all that humour there is a scared young mother who is doing the best she can raising a vivacious little boy who at times acts like a toddler on acid.

My second favourite thing about this book were the friendships between the characters, in particular Claire and Liz, and Carter and Drew. Some of the exchanges between them were absolutely hilarious. Their closeness brought the best out of them, helped them to deal with difficult situations and heartbreak because they could always lean on each other. They never judged one another for the decisions they made or the things they had done, but never ever missed an opportunity to mock each other. That is what real friendships should be like, in my opinion.

“As I recall, Drew made me take him to see a voodoo priestess he found in the yellow pages that week because he said the friend put a hex on his penis. For two weeks he slept with a two-pound package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts on his junk since he refused to sacrifice a live chicken.”

This is in essence a book about love, the love between two ‘soul-mates’, Carter and Claire, the love between a parent and a child, but also the love between true friends. Ms Sivec shows us that life is serious enough to take it too seriously. I feel like she taught me to laugh at my own life, to put things into perspective and cherish the simple joys. She also taught me not to be afraid of the word “vagina”, even when used up to five times on a single page, and that a compliment can come in all shapes and forms when your best friend is the one delivering it.

“Claire, you’re a hot b*tch. You could stand there and do nothing and he’d still want to hump your leg. You just need some confidence. Repeat after me, “I’m a dirty, dirty slut.” … What’s ridiculous is that you don’t think you can be slutty. Do you honestly think I would be friends with you if I thought there wasn’t a dirty whore lurking in there somewhere? Give me a little credit please. You are the quintessential lady in the streets, freak in the sheets.”

5stars

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Chocolate Lovers – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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Seduction and Snacks: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Futures and FrostingMy ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Troubles and TreatsMy ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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