Grief, Joy, and Perspective

I’ve now attended two funerals this spring, as two dear friends have each lost a parent. It’s heart-wrenching to see them go through the pain of loss, and to know the struggles their loved ones faced as they neared the end. If you’re like me, you wish you could do something, wish you could help take the burden from them, but you can’t. All you can do is be there for them.

And that’s no easy task, either.

As I took a seat in the first funeral, I found myself thinking back to when my father-in-law passed. Admittedly, I was an emotional mess that day, and was so grateful when my young niece crawled into my lap and snuggled in for the duration of the service. She was like my own personal living, breathing teddy bear, there to cling to when the sobbing kicked in. (Sorry, Claire Bear, I know you got a little soggy that day.)

Might be the longest I’ve ever seen her sit still, come to think of it. But, I digress…

Yesterday’s funeral was different as night and day from the one last month. One church was tiny and traditional, the other vast and contemporary. One group gathered was aged, their attendance calm and quiet, the other group younger, the tears and pain more vocal. Yet each served as a reminder to this truth:

Funerals are hard.

I don’t care how well you knew the person, or if you even knew them at all. Funerals are just hard. But in the midst of the grief, of the crying and/or struggling not to cry, there’s a story unraveling in each service. Hopefully, of a life well lived, a family member well and truly loved. One of past joys, and an eternity of them waiting for us.

It’s those stories that offer us peace…and perspective.

Every journey is different, every life uniquely lived. But it’s how those individuals lived their lives that sets an example for the rest of us. After all, actions do speak louder than words.

So as I sat in the service yesterday, in complete awe of the woman we were honoring, I found myself wondering if I was living life right. If I was being the best mom I could be, the best friend or family member I could be. If I was consistently there for the people who needed me most. If my faith and trust in “the big plan” really ran as deep as I’d like to think it did.

Really, I don’t know.

But it’s that perspective, the pause a memorial service brings, that can help us slow down from the rat race of life and reassess. It’s a subtle reminder to be kind, to love those who love us and even those who don’t. To stay true to ourselves, to our morals, to the things we believe in.

To make our lives truly count and set the example for others, just like those who came before us did.

Not everything in life is easy, no one I’ve met ever promised it would be, but there’s always a lesson to be learned along the way. So keep learning, keep loving, and make the most of each day. How better a way to honor loved ones lost, than to do exactly that?

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Eight is Great! Isn’t it?!

As I sit at my computer on the eve of book release number eight–after spending 20 minutes fixing the WiFi router update snafu…seriously, who clicks “update” on a night like this?!–instead of looking ahead, I find myself circling back to some of the “truths” I’ve learned along the way. And, as I’m often asked many of the following questions, I figured what the heck, why not share?

Please note: these answers are my own. Every author is different, as are their experiences. Sort of. Not really.

Truth #1: Nothing in this industry happens quickly. In my early days, I would hit “send” on a query letter, or a submission to a publisher, and literally stare at the screen willing a response to pop up. Ah, those were the good old days…(not!) Over time, you learn to click “send” and redirect your energies elsewhere while someone on the other end chooses whether or not to read/respond to your submission. Hopefully, they will. Meanwhile, there’s laundry to be done, dinner to be cooked, kids to annoy cuddle, and a hundred other books waiting to be written.

Truth #2: No, I cannot quit my day job. Will writing every launch me into that blissful worry-free financial atmosphere? One can only hope. Meanwhile, there’s laundry to be done, dinner to be cooked, kids to annoy cuddle, a hundred other books waiting to be written, oh, and a day job to be worked.

Truth #4: Writing allows you to break the rules so long as you make it believable. Probably my favorite of the truths, and why I toggle between contemporary and fantasy romance.

Truth #3: (You didn’t really think I’d shun 3 altogether, did you?) That old saying about needing thick skin if you’re going to be an author? Yep, pretty much true. Some people are better at it than others, and even the ones fairly good at it have their ups and downs. But at the end of the day, you choose what you want to allow to define you. If you let the one not-so-glowing review ruin your day when there’s a dozen much more complimentary ones beside it, well, that’s your choice. Me, I’d rather keep cranking out more books…and shooing the cat off my keyboard.

Truth #5: “Oh, you write romance?” Insert eye roll. Yes, I do. No, it’s not for everyone. No, my books are not 50 shades of anything. Most of my back list is maybe 3 or 4 shades of something at the most. A few go higher. But if you want 50, I’ll point you in that direction. Trust me, I know people. (P.S. I’ve been known to kill off a few people in my novels. Eye roll any harder, and the next one just might be named after you…)

Truth #6: Speaking of knowing people…the online writing community is, for the most part, an absolutely fantastic, supportive group. Yes, there will always be the one or two hooligans who try to tip the apple cart for a bit of publicity (just look at Twitter right now, hashtag Irefusetogivethistopicanyextraattention). But some of my current closest friends are fellow authors, several of which I’ve not met in person, and I don’t know where I’d be today without them.

Truth #7: Writing and working and momming…it ain’t easy. But then, no one ever said it would be. Doesn’t make me want to write any less. And though the kids joke about Mommy going “type, type, type” they still see me plenty. Can’t write when they’re around anyway. (I need quiet! LOL) The truth of the matter is this: if you want to write, you’ll make time. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me over the years, talking about this book they always wanted to write, but who has the time, right? Yes, who indeed? *smh*

Truth #8: Darn near every book title I’ve come up with has gotten axed at some point along the way. And while I understand the marketing behind it, digging back through old files can become quite confusing at times. Redeeming Grace? Sand Dollar Hearts? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wayward Knight?! It’s a good thing I have numbers in front of all those names, or I’d never keep them all straight. So if you’re starting to write a book but hung up on the title. Let it go…let it go…

And because it’s now May 8th (thanks to the router faux pas) and book 8 should be landing in my Kindle any minute, I’ll stop there. Gotta leave more truths for book 9 (due out later this summer) and 10 (fingers crossed that one finds a home soon…it’s a huge fan of Truth #4). Many thanks to all of you, many of which have watched my collection grow from nothing to now. Hopefully, there’ll be many, many more truths and novels to come.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

What Exactly is Exacting?

Many moons ago–8, actually, if memory serves–I went on a daycare field trip with a handful of other crazy enthusiastic parents. Our destination? The Indianapolis Children’s Museum. After more hours of chasing after rambunctious toddlers than my weary brain could count, myself and another mom who’d carpooled together loaded our kiddos in the car and headed for home. Once we’d found our way out of Indy (hey, TG–I bet you don’t get lost down there so much anymore lol) we started talking books. And writing.

And wouldn’t you know it, we both loved to write.

The trip home went way faster than the trip to Indy, TG and I volleying back and forth about our works in progress, my book I was pitching to publishers, her several books that she’d written for pleasure. By the time we made it back into town, we’d become good friends and steadfast writing buddies.

Fast forward several years to where both of us had a few published books under our belts. TG, whom you may have come to know as Anita DeVito, was working on a story that’d clawed its way into her psyche and refused to let go. It had an awesome name, a cool reference to some psychological stuff I was trying to wrap my head around, and her same wit and fantastic collection of supporting characters. What it didn’t have was a romance focus. So what did TG aka Anita do, being her usual self?

She wrote it anyway.

After countless walks together, chatting it up about plot and character behavior, about how the story could end (or not), about how the sequel might go (or not), about how many books there may be in this series (or not), well, there’s a lot I’m not at liberty to tell you. Lol! However, what I can say is this: TG aka Anita is a passionate, brilliant writer who puts her very soul into each and every book. She’s also one of my favorite authors to read. Romance or Thriller, her voice is there, though it may have a darker hue to it in some stories than others.

So if you’re looking for something different. Something…fresh and maybe a little “other side of the tracks”, do yourself a favor and check out TG Wolff‘s newly released book EXACTING JUSTICE. It may be her first thriller-type crime novel, but I’m certain it won’t be her last.

How do I know this? I’ve already read the next one…and it’s one helluva ride too.

As for EXACTING’s original title, well, you’ll have to ask TG about that. What happens on author walks, stays on author walks. 😉

Happy reading, everyone.

About EXACTING JUSTICE:

In the war on drugs, a deadly new front has opened…

An unknown killer is waging a war on drugs. The murders are horrendous but with a silver lining—now stop signs are the only objects lingering on corners in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Half the city calls for the police to end the killer’s reign. The other half cheers the killer on, denouncing the tactics but celebrating the progress police haven’t been able to achieve.

The gritty details of Cleveland’s drug underworld are nothing new to Homicide Detective Jesus De La Cruz. Two years earlier, Cruz worked undercover narcotics and was poised for a promotion that would have placed him in a coveted position within the drug organization. The deal went bad. Now he has a new face, a new job, and a new case.

The killer moves through the streets with impunity, identity still unknown. Demands for progress from his superiors, accumulated grief of the victim’s relatives, growing pressure from the public, and elevated stress from his family quietly pull Cruz apart. With no out, the detective moves all in, putting his own head on the line to bait a killer.

You can find all the details and buy links at Down & Out Books.

Spring has Sprung…Maybe

I don’t know where you all are from, but here in NE Indiana, spring has been largely…absent. Tardy. Stubborn as hell to leave winter’s side. This weekend, though, we appear to be turning the proverbial leaf.

And it’s about darned time.

Last night when I found myself with sun, mid-fifties, and a bit of kid-free time, I headed outside to find my zen. Yep, you guessed it – pulling weeds. In this case, rogue grass.

I know some people abhor the idea of sitting/kneeling hunched over for hours on end, ripping plants out of the soil (which, by the way? Here in Indiana, our soil is clay…and not the colorful, fun Play Doh kind, either). But me, I love it. Pulling weeds grounds me, no pun intended. The repetitive motion frees my mind to wander and ponder. Tonight, the pondering centered around, well, grass.

Sort of.

Every spring I head outside and pull grass that has “crossed the line” into my flowerbeds. I have many such beds–some are little islands amid the green of the yard, some snuggled up beside my home’s foundation–but none are immune to the sneaky little blade runners that snake their way under my mulch and stone. When I was younger (and man, do I hate that I’m starting to use that phrase more and more often) it used to frustrate me to no end when I’d see grass pop up where it wasn’t supposed to. I’d go running for my gloves and trowel, and quickly remove the offender and as much of its roots as I could.

And did that diligence keep my flowerbeds pristine and grass free?

Nope.

Grass, it grows. It doesn’t have an agenda. It isn’t sneaky, and really can’t know where my “lines” are. Over time, I’ve come to accept that. If it grows where I don’t want it to, I just remedy that with a bit of elbow grease. Of course, my back doesn’t like that I’m still spending so much time outside yanking grass from the not-so-beloved clay, but when my flowers bloom and the beds’ edges are neat and tidy, the view is worth it.

For a day or two, anyway. You know, before more rogue grass appears where it shouldn’t. 😉

Life’s kind of like that. You have these images in your head of what you want to see, how you expect situations to go or people to act, when really very little of those outside influences are in your control. So rather than curse the speed bumps, you accept them for what they are. Doesn’t mean you can’t do some pruning along the way, but meltdowns simply won’t change a thing.

Dig in, clean up. Reshape, maintain.

Step back.

Enjoy.

Happy spring, everyone.

It’s Author Fair Weekend!

Good morning, everyone! I’m just back from the amazing Indiana Women’s Conference 2017 and have to say, what a fantastic event! So motivation and energizing. If you have the chance to attend one in the future, do it!

One of the topics in a session I attended yesterday was that of mentoring and helping to build tomorrow’s leaders today. Those of you who know and work with me understand that I love talking about leadership and finding ways to encourage and motivate others. That’s all well and good at my day job, but how to do that with writing?

Until recently, I lead a local writers group that met once a month. And I loved it, truly I did. But working and writing and soccer mom-ing and writer group leading got to be too much. So the writers group torch was reluctantly passed on and now my writing chats are generally via emails or over coffee (or at the kitchen table, as I’m helping my sons proofread their essays lol).

I still love to talk writing, though, and watch for opportunities to do exactly that.  So you can imagine how excited I was to discover that I was selected to participate in a panel discussion this weekend at the Allen County Public Library’s 7th Annual Author Fair called “Writing Down the Genres”  from 3:30-4:30pm. There will be four of us on the panel, each speaking on the genre we represent: romance (me), Christian, non-fiction/history, and memoirs. I can’t wait to share my experiences with the audience in the hopes of inspiring other writers to pursue their own dreams.

The library has been growing this event over the past number of years, and in fact has several FREE panels and even a writing workshop planned for this Saturday. So if you’ve ever thought about writing a book, want to know what goes into writing a book, or if you’ve written a book but don’t know where to go from there, get over to the downtown library this weekend. The event runs from noon to five o’clock and again, ADMISSION IS FREE! You can find out more details here: http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/home/whatshappening/whatshappeningblog

And what author fair would be complete without some books for sale? Join us, as there will be over 70 authors from the region lined up in the library’s main hall selling books and trinkets for readers of all ages. I can’t stress enough how much we appreciate your support, or just how far it goes to help grow and encourage the arts in our great community.

I hope to see some familiar faces there this weekend!

 

 

P.S. For more information about the downtown library, parking, and other amenities, check out its website at: http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/home/explore/locations/main

Release Day – My Lucky Number 7

Happy Monday, everyone! Today the release day for my seventh novel, HER UNEXPECTED HERO, and can I say how surreal this all is? Seven books in four years?! And don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from.

The Checkerberry Inn series, however, draws to a close today with HER UNEXPECTED HERO. At least, that’s the plan. lol Who knows if I’ll pop back over to the Checkerberry down the road. But for now, my beloved cast is finding one final happily ever after for the Inn’s chef, Maddie. And I have to say, this is definitely one of my favorite stories in the series. Cole Granville, grandson of the town’s hardware store owner, made for one awesome if unexpected hero, and I don’t think there’ll be any complaints from Maddie any time soon.

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

 

If you’ve followed the series, be sure to zip over to your favorite vendor and grab your copy today. If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present. These are great, sweet, weekend/beach/lazy day reads and can easily be read out of order.

As part of release week fun, I’ve got a few giveaways going on. First, feel free to stop by Entangled’s FaceBook page tomorrow starting at 11am EST. Four authors who write for Entangled Bliss, including myself, will be sharing some fun and prizes. You can join in here:

Also, as usual HER UNEXPECTED HERO will be on “tour” this week. Stop by the tour stops for your chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

Lastly, if you’d like to keep up to date with upcoming book releases and sale news, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. Trust me, I don’t send many–goodness knows my own inbox is already overflowing. lol But subscribers are entered into special giveaways and receive exclusive excerpts, as well as heads up on sales and other fun news. (And hint, hint – a sale event for another series is coming soon…)

Oh, and be sure to check out the other new Bliss books that release today: Her Cowboy’s Promise by Jennifer Hoopes and Hate to Love Him by Jody Holford. We’ve got plenty of sweet romance to go around!

      

Okay, off to do some celebrating. Hope to see you out on the web, sharing in release day fun for my lucky #7!

 

 

HER UNEXPECTED HERO – CHECKERBERRY INN NOVEL #3

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

Maddie Frye, the Checkerberry Inn’s snarky, introverted chef, just wants to be left alone. But with the inn’s upcoming gala, Maddie’s boss has matchmaking on the brain. So when the gorgeous new guy in town helps her out for a night, she comes up with the perfect solution to her problem…

Cole Granville is looking for a fresh start. When a part-time job opens in the Checkerberry’s kitchen, he takes it without a second thought. The only catch? He’s got to help his sexy new coworker snag a date for an upcoming dance. But as he coaches Maddie on attracting her crush, Cole realizes he’s the one falling for the curvy brunette.

Writers Workshop This Weekend and Upcoming Release News

Happy June, everyone! Sorry for the radio silence, have had lots going on behind the scenes in 2017. Have a few things to share, going to start with an upcoming panel/workshop going on here in Fort Wayne this weekend. If you’re writing, thinking about writing, or just curious about what goes into getting published and marketing your books, please join us!

WHAT: ** Free workshop! **
WHEN: June 17, 2017 (Saturday) 1:00-3:00pm
WHERE: – Aboite Branch, Allen County Library
(5630 Coventry Ln, Fort Wayne, IN 46804, 260.421.1310)

TOPIC: “Your Future in Ink”

The panel will be answering questions about options in digital publishing and tips for how to market your work. Four local authors share inside information and encouragement covering nine genres: Les Edgerton, Kyra Jacobs, Judith Post (also writing as Judi Lynn), and moderator M.L. Rigdon (also writing as Julia Donner). Hope to see you there!

 

Second, I wanted to share that my Checkerberry Inn publisher Entangled has acquired my Dragons series!! DRAGONS AMONG THEM and DRAGONS AGAINST THEM are set to re-release with all new covers on July 31st! And before you ask–because trust me, I get asked frequently–no, I don’t have any updates on if/when book three will be released. My hope is that books 1 and 2 are well received by readers so I can finally finish out the series. If you’re looking for a fantastic escape from reality, the DRAGON books definitely fit the bill.

 

And the last item for today I need to share is that my last book in the Checkerberry Inn series, HER UNEXPECTED HERO, will be releasing on July 17th! And I have to say–if you loved the cast in books one and two, you’re going to get a kick out of book three. All your favorites will be back, along with newcomer Cole Granville, grandson of old Tom from the hardware store. Stay tuned for cover reveals, sneak peeks, and pre-release day giveaways via my newsletter. There will be giveaways for followers there leading up to release week, so if you haven’t signed up yet be sure to click the button below!

More to come, as I’ve got more in the works, but that’s it for now. Hope to see some familiar faces at the workshop this weekend, and get those one-click fingers ready for DRAGONS and HER UNEXPECTED HERO.

Updates and News Around Town

Happy Monday, everyone!

My humblest apologies for the radio silence thus far in 2017, as I’ve had my head down and been writing like mad trying to keep up with a surprisingly happy muse.

I’m super stoked about my current work in progress, which I’m thrilled to say book 1 of 3 is now fully written and undergoing edits. Definitely one of the most fun and creatively liberating books I’ve written. For fans of my dragon books, it’s in the same vein (fantasy/supernatural) but set in modern times and faster paced but still full of witty dialog. “Paranormal Chick Lit” is what a dear friend called it. Lol Hopefully, my heroine Shayla and her motley cast of mythical creature cohorts will find the perfect publication home soon.

Dragons? Hmm, I believe that brings me to my next item on the agenda…

(Drum roll, please……)

MY DRAGONS ARE COMING BACK!
Yes, it’s true–DRAGONS AMONG THEM and DRAGONS AGAINST THEM have been contracted for re-release with Entangled Publishing (my Checkerberry Inn publisher). When Samhain Publishing closed its doors this February, my books temporarily came off the retail sites. I’m excited to have be given the opportunity to continue working with Entangled and am eager to venture into their Select Otherworld imprint.
And before you ask–no, book 3 is not a done deal yet. But I promise you this: I will be doing all I can to bring that book to life. The series deserves to come full circle, and for fans of Zayne and Addie, I hope you’ll continue to be patient as I work to give their HEA the grand finale it deserves. (And oh, is it gonna be a great one!!)

 

Also coming out this year is book three in my Checkerberry Inn series. Chef Maddie has certainly met her match, and is currently undergoing pre-publication edits. Look to see that book releasing (fingers crossed) this July.

Okay, enough about me. Since I’ve been quiet for so long, I thought I’d share a few other books that have either recently released or are getting ready to release by authors that I know and adore. And stay tuned for more updates. Until then, I’m heading back to my writing cave. 😉

Happy April!


THE COWBOY TAKES A BRIDE by Kristi Rose (released 2/27/17)
Would you be a modern-day mail order bride?



SPICING THINGS UP
(A Mill Pond Romance)
by Juli Lynn (released 3/21/17)
Lush foliage, farm fresh food, friendly folks—it’s no wonder everyone loves a fall getaway to Mill Pond, Indiana. And this season, when a new chef arrives on the scene, nothing will ever be the same . . .


THE BLACK LILY (Tales of the Black Lily Book 1) by Juliette Cross (released 3/27/17)
(What if Cinderella was a vampire killer?…)


FOOLISH BRIDE (Forever Brides Book 2) by A.S. Fenichel (released 3/28/17)
Sadly ever after . . . unless some dreams really do come true?


WHERE THERE’S FAITH (Fairfield Corners Book 3) by L.A. Reminicky (releasing 4/4/17)
A past she can’t remember. A love he can’t forget.



WILD AND SWEET (The Haven Brotherhood Book 2)
by Rhenna Morgan (releasing 4/10/17)
(Um, it’s the Haven Brotherhood…need I say more?)

Cover Fun with Jen Colly

Good morning, everyone! Indiana Wonderer has been having a bit of book-sharing fun lately, and today is no exception. With release of book two in her Cities Below series only a month away, my Buckeye neighbor Jen Colly decided to do a double cover reveal. Or, a re-reveal and a new reveal. Or…well, just read on and you’ll get the gist of it. 😉

First…a new look for book 1 (the re-reveal):

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Here’s the blurb, for all of you who are behind and will be running out to one-click this as soon as you’re done reading this post:

Demons have returned, a vengeful enemy waiting to strike. Soren and Faith must find a way to survive the evil and darkness.

Faith’s spur of the moment vacation, meant to free her and boost her spirits, has left her lost on the streets of Paris. And apparently, Paris is populated with something more than just humans. Vampires, suave, seductive and oh so sexy, and one such warrior vampire has set his sights on her.

When Soren hears Faith’s terrified screams, he rushes in and saves her life without considering the consequences. Two problems: one, she’s a human and clearly aware of his vampire qualities, and two, the men who attacked her were not men at all, but demons. Their target, his beloved underground city of Balinese. He can never let Faith go home again, but can she learn to love his people. . .love him?

Mmm, I so enjoyed this book. A nice, fresh take on vampires. If you’re interested in grabbing a copy, click here. And now…a first glance at BENEATH THE NIGHT, The Cities Below book 3, set to release next April:

beneaththenight

Gorgeous isn’t it? Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes survival means surrendering everything . . .

Lord Navarre Casteel wakes from a long sleep to find the vampire city he rules forever changed and his future in the hands of a mysterious beauty who offers her life for his. Fiery-haired Cat survives his feeding, fueling Navarre’s body and mind—as well as his suspicion that she is one of the Forbidden—a lethal mix of vampire and human blood. Yet that doesn’t stop the throb of Navarre’s desire, the feeling that she is destined to be his mate, to hell with consequences. . . .

A solitary fighter sworn to protect the children in her charge, Cat never expects to feel so much for Navarre in the face of his savage feeding. Which is why his offer of protection is nearly her undoing. For how can she let down her guard when she has always walked alone? But Cat has never faced an enemy like the one she faces now, never felt such a powerful need to surrender to the force of love . . .

Awesome, huh? And don’t forget to keep watch for book 2, BOUND, set to release 1/31/2017!

So what do you think? Ready to get your vamp on? 😉

Anita’s New Release: Lost in Shadows

Happy Monday, everyone! I am crazy excited to share that my dear friend Anita DeVito has the second in her romantic suspense LOST series out today from Entangled–LOST IN SHADOWS. Congratulations, Anita!

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This book is chock full of alpha hero meets smart but perhaps a bit socially awkward heroine moments. And oh, do their encounters get heated! Sharp wit and twisty-turvey plots are Anita’s specialty, so be sure and grab this book today!

Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes a man fights for love…sometimes love fights for him.

Private security entrepreneur Jeb McCormick is in over his head with his latest client. Not only is the painfully shy woman he’s meant to be protecting a total knock-out, she’s also his former Army buddy’s sister. Helping her find the reason why anyone would ransack her house is demanding enough, but keeping his hands off her is proving to be the real challenge.

Carolina Walker wants a quiet life, thank you very much. She left intrigue and deception behind in Washington D.C., never expecting it to follow her home to Bowling Green, Kentucky. When events happen that can’t be explained away, help arrives in the form of the very attractive and muscular Jebediah McCormick. But as the tension escalates between Jeb and Carolina, so does the danger facing them…

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?  Mmm, Jeb. Here he gets his own story after playing one of the awesome supporting characters alongside Katie and Butch McCormick in book 1 of this series, LOST IN TENNESSEE. If you missed it, no worries – each book is written as a standalone novel. Though, as a huge fan of this series, I suggest you read them both…and stay tuned for book 3, coming in 2017!
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