Sunday, 28 August 2016

Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband's family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf

Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.


Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published February 1st 2016 by MIRA
Genre: Mystery

Kristine's Thoughts:

I've read quite a few of Heather Gudenkauf's books and I've really liked them all so I thought I'd pick up Missing Pieces when I found myself with the time to tackle my tbr pile.

I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this book as much as any of her other books that I've read. It wasn't terrible and I didn't hate it but I didn't warm up to it like I did her others.

Sarah and Jack returned to Penny Gate, Jack's home town, after being away for more than twenty years when his aunt had an accident and was hospitalized. Jack didn't talk much about his past or his family with Sarah so it came as a shock to her when she started discovering some of the truths from that time. Not only did she discover that her husband had lied to her but she also discovered some similarities between the death of his mother and his aunts accident.

There were many twists and turns in the plot but it was here that I was slightly underwhelmed. The finger pointed at different characters as the murderer but I had it figured out from the very first moment the actually murderer was introduced. I thought it was obvious and I didn't waver in my thoughts of who it was for even a second. I hoped that I was wrong so that it would get more exciting but I was spot on. There were no real surprises for me along the way.

I also found the characters to be a little dull. Usually there is at least one stand out character that grabs me but not in this book. They all seemed to lack in the personality department. I'm not sure if developing the characters more would have helped or not.

Don't get me wrong, the book was still entertaining. It was a quick and easy read. I think I am being overly critical because I loved her other books and although this one was good, it didn't compare to them. I remain a huge fan of Gudenkauf and will continue to seek out books of hers in the future.





About the Author

Heather is the NYT and USA Today Bestselling author of THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE and MISSING PIECES.

Connect with Heather


 

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Review: Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H Balson


FromNazi-occupied Poland to a Chicago courtroom Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser, Ben Solomon, is convinced he is right. Solomon urges attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that Otto Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has he accused the right man? Once We Were Brothers is the compelling tale of two boys and a family that struggles to survive in war-torn Poland. It is also the story of a young lawyer who must face not only a powerful adversary, but her own self-doubts. Two lives, two worlds and sixty years all on course to collide in a fast-paced legal thriller. The author, Ronald H. Balson, is a Chicago trial attorney and educator. His practice has taken him to international venues, including small villages in Poland, which have inspired this novel.

Paperback, 379 pages
Published February 15th 2010 by Berwick Court Publishing Co.

Terri's Thoughts

I bought this book years ago and somehow it stayed on my shelf and I never got around to reading it.  I finally picked it up as I try to clean out my to read list.  I wish I had read it sooner.

As this is not a new book, I am sure there are thousands of reviews out there that will cover every aspect of this book so I will not even try to do it justice.

Two things to know before I go any further.  I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and I am an even bigger fan of stories that center around WWII.  You could pretty much guess that the odds were favorable that I would enjoy this book.  I also discovered this book based on a recommendation of other stories that I had given high marks to.  So...my thoughts?

Of course I was captivated from the very beginning.  Let's get the parts that didn't sell me right away.  It was the characters if Liam and Catherine in the present day (2004).  While not unlikable, I felt like I was supposed to know them already, that they were previously introduced to the reader.  This of course was not the case so it left me feeling like I was scrambling to play catch up with their storyline and back story.  That being said, in my opinion, they were not the stars of this story so I can easily forgive.

As you would expect, the story of Ben is a tragic one.  So much so that I have sat down to start this review and I couldn't because the story was still with me.  I could not set it aside to jot down any objective thoughts.  Although this is a work of fiction, based on all of the resources out there that describes the Holocaust, you know that these events can happen, have happened and worse.  I am absolutely flabbergasted that the human race is capable of such cruelty.  I am also mortified that we as humans have not learned our lesson from this piece of history.  Turn the news on at any time and there is further evidence of what horrors we are capable of.  I digress, however perhaps this is why this story, and others like it, move me so much?

I have read many wartime stories, each individual in their own right and some with striking similarities.  There is almost always a love story, as was the case in this book.  Ben and Hanna had me cheering for them from the beginning and you knew that the outcome of their story would be tragic.  Every time they dance together I was  anxious knowing that it could potentially be the last.

I didn't know how the story was going to end but I had my suspicions.  While the conclusion was as I thought, I was nonetheless glued to the story to see it played out.  There may even have been a couple of profanities uttered out loud.  I will not share these secrets, they must be read to know.

Ultimately I really enjoyed this book.  Although can I say I enjoyed it when the subject matter is so horrific?  Let me phrase it as this is a book that captured my attention, kept it and then left me thinking about it long after I finished it.  Since I think I may be late to the party on this story, any fan of WWII historical fiction should read it if they have not already.  I wish I had read it sooner.



About the Author


When he’s not writing books, Ron is a practicing attorney with the firm of Stone, Pogrund & Korey in Chicago. He has been a civil litigation attorney for forty-three years. He was an adjunct professor of business law at the University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business for twenty-five years and was a frequent lecturer in the federal bar certification course and in trial advocacy seminars.
The demands of his legal practice have taken Ron into courts all across the United States and Canada, and for deposition testimony all across Europe and Asia. A few years ago, Ron became involved in a commercial dispute concerning telephone service in Poland. Numerous trips to Warsaw and southern Poland provided the inspiration for his first novel, Once We Were Brothers. Ron’s love of history and his travels to the Middle East provided the motivation for his second novel, Saving Sophie.
During the Once We Were Brothers book tour, Ron was introduced to several survivors of the World War II concentration camps. Of all the stories of courage and determination, one woman’s story was so moving that it formed the basis for Karolina’s Twins, Ron’s third book due out in 2016.
Ron was a finalist for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction in 2014 and a finalist for the Premio Bancarella Italian Literature Award in 2014. He was an honoree at the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Carl Sandburg Literary Award dinner.


Thursday, 25 August 2016

Review: My Song For You by Stina Lindenblatt

At twenty-one, Jared Leigh had been prepared to give up the life of a touring musician to be a father after getting his girlfriend pregnant. When she told him that she’d gotten an abortion, Jared was devastated. Now at least he has the groupies to keep him company—until a blast from the past rocks his world.

Callie Talbert hasn’t seen her sister’s ex since high school. But after Callie bumps into Jared while she’s grocery shopping with four-year-old Logan, there’s a spark that wasn’t there before. Jared quickly realizes that her deaf “son” is the same age his own child would have been. When Jared demands to know more about Logan, Callie panics. There are things she just can’t tell him. Besides, Jared’s a bad-boy rocker, not a dependable father figure. He’ll move on to his next gig soon enough . . . right?

Trouble is, Jared refuses to be pushed away, and the more quality time he spends with Logan, the more he’s captivated by the woman Callie has become. When the truth is revealed, Jared only hopes that the three of them have what it takes to become a real family.


Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Expected publication: September 6th 2016 by Loveswept 
Series: Pushing Limits #2
Genre: Romance/Contemporary

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

My Song For You is the second book in the Pushing Limits series but can be read as a stand alone. Each book is about a different band member. I had the opportunity to read This One Moment first but it is not necessary in order to follow along.

I seriously think that this series is getting better with each book. This One Moment was decent but My Song For You was so much better. The characters were more likeable, there was more chemistry, the plot was easier to follow and it gave me way more feels.

The story was by no means unique or original but Lindenblatt made it feel like it was with the way she captured the emotions between Callie and Jared.  Finding love can be a complicated thing but even more so when you throw in secrets, lies and a 4 year old boy. I feel like she did a great job of capturing the turmoil that both characters were dealing with.

I adored Callie and Jared but Logan stole the show for me. Every part in the book where there was any kind of interaction with him I found myself smiling. Probably the reason that I liked Callie and Jared so much was because of how they interacted with him and the way that no matter how complicated things got, they never used him as a pawn. They always had his best interest at heart.

This book is a finish in a few hours kind of book filled with romance, misunderstandings, lies and a whole lot of heat. It has everything to satisfy the romance itch in all of us. In my opinion, this series is getting better with each instalment. I can't wait for the next one!



About the Author
Stina Lindenblatt lives in Western Canada, where she loves to dream up New Adult and Young Adult stories, especially those with romance. She loves to travel, and has lived in England, the US, Canada, and Finland. She has a Master’s of Science degree in exercise physiology and has worked with elite athletes. In her free time, Stina enjoys photography, especially the close-up variety.

Connect with Stina

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Review: Beyond Your Touch (The Dark Heart #2) by Pat Esden


She wants more than he can promise.
His desires could lead to betrayal.
But without each other, neither can survive the dangers ahead.
 

Annie Freemont knows this isn’t the right time to get involved with a man like Chase. After years of distrust, she’s finally drawing close to her estranged family, and he’s an employee on their estate in Maine. Though she never intended to stay on the estate for long, her father’s illness and the mysteries surrounding her family made leaving impossible. And now with the newfound hope of rescuing her long-missing mother, Annie’s determined to be involved with the family’s plans one way or another.

If only she could keep her mind off Chase and focus on the impending rescue. But there’s something about the enigmatic Chase that she can’t resist. And she’s not the only woman. Annie fears a seductive stranger who is key to safely freeing her mother is also obsessed with him. As plans transform into action and time for a treacherous journey into a strange world draws near, every move Annie makes will test the one bond she’s trusted with her secrets, her desires—and her heart.

ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 30th 2016 by Kensington

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Kensington in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 30th, 2016.

This is the second book on the Dark Heart series.  This can not be read as a stand alone.  It is necessary to read the first story A Hold on Me first.  Otherwise the reader would have no clue what was going on as this story continues on from the first one.

This series would be labeled as a mash up of NA meets paranormal although the NA portion is a bit tame compared to most.  If you are not a fan of reading about genies and alternate dark worlds where the inhabitants are evil to the core than this would not be a good choice.  If you are a fan, this may be exactly what you are looking for.

Although I have been off of the paranormal genre for a while, I was curious about this story as I wanted to see where the romance of Annie and Chase would lead.  I was captivated by them from the first story and needed to find out if they would get their happy ending or not. 

This story spends more time on the dark side than the first.  As the synopsis suggest, it is all about trying to rescue Annie's mother and the romance is essentially set aside to accomplish this goal.  Although I wanted more of Annie and Chase, I believe it will be available in the next instalment.  With the way this story played out, there will be without a doubt a third story in the series.

While this story was entertaining and read much faster than the 320 pages, I was left a little wanting more.  This may be intentional in order to draw the reader in to the third story.  At this point I am more invested in what will happen to Annie and Chase than what will happen with Annie's mother.  I will need to read the next story to find out!



About the Author


PAT ESDEN would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts. An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Release Blast & Giveaway: With Every Breath by Maya Banks


A mesmerizingly sexy tale of a strong, brilliant woman who
 encounters the one man who makes her lose all control.


WITH EVERY BREATH
Slow Burn #4
Maya Banks
Releasing Aug 23rd, 2016
Avon


#1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks continues her suspenseful and sizzling Slow Burn series with this fourth book—a mesmerizingly sexy tale of a strong, brilliant woman who encounters the one man who makes her lose all control.

Eliza Cummings fought free of a monster who terrorized her when she was an innocent teenager and helped put him away for good. She took a job with Devereaux Security Services and devoted every hour to taking down the very thing she’d nearly become. No one, not even those closest to her, know her darkest, shameful secrets. But now the killer has been set free on a legal loophole and it’s only a matter of time before he comes for her. Eliza's only choice is to run and lead the monster away from the people she loves.

Wade Sterling has always lived by his own rules, a law unto himself who answers to no one. He’s never professed to be a good man, and he’s definitely not hero material. Wade never allows anyone close enough to see the man behind the impenetrable mask—but one woman threatens his carefully leashed control. He took a bullet for her and the result was more than a piece of metal entrenched in his skin. She was under his skin and nothing he did rid himself of the woman with the courage of a warrior and who thinks nothing of putting her life before others.

But when Wade sees a panicked and haunted Eliza he knows something is very wrong, because the fool woman has never been afraid of anything. And when she tries to run, the primal beast barely lurking beneath his deceptively polished façade erupts in a rage. She may not know it, but she belongs to him. This time, Eliza isn't going to play the protector. She was damn well going to be the protected. And as long as Wade breathes, no one will ever hurt what is his.







Eliza came awake with none of her usual crispness and ready- to-take-on-the-world attitude. She felt as though she’d been hit by a truck and her first instinct was to roll over and pull the covers over her head and sleep for several more hours. Even as she knew she wouldn’t do any such thing, it was still a nice thought. Still, she thought she could give herself another five minutes before stumbling out of bed and into the shower.
For once, things were slow at Devereaux Security Services after a veritable shit storm of activity over the last several months. She only hoped something popped up when she went into the office today, otherwise it was going to be another boring- ass day at work.
 

Just as she roused herself from her laziness and threw her legs over the side of the bed to stand, the landline on her nightstand rang. She glanced down at it, frowning. If it was Dane or anyone else from DSS, surely they’d call her cell. A quick look told her that her cell phone was on the nightstand charging and a glance at it also told her she hadn’t missed any calls. If this was a telemarketer calling her at oh-dark-thirty so help her she was going to hunt them down and shove her foot as far up their ass as she could.
 

If it weren’t for the fact that it could be one of her coworkers she would have simply ignored the ringing all together. With a sigh, she yanked up the phone and barked an unwelcome hello into the receiver.
 

There was a short pause and then the clearing of a throat. “Miss Caldwell? Melissa Caldwell?”
 

Eliza froze, her blood turning to ice in her veins. She hadn’t heard that name in ten years. Hadn’t been that person in ten years. And in two seconds flat, her past had slammed into her present like a speeding train.
 

“What do you want?” she asked in a dull voice.
 

“This is Clyde Barksdale, district attorney for Keerney County, Oregon.”
 

She knew damn well who Clyde Barksdale was. Like she’d forget that it was him she’d worked with to put Thomas Harrington away?
 

“I take it this isn’t a social call,” she said acidly.
 

“You’d be correct.” The DA emitted an exhausted sounding sigh. “Look, there’s no easy way to say this but Thomas Harrington won an appeal to overturn his conviction and he’ll be set free in three weeks’ time.”
 

Eliza’s knees folded and she landed with a hard bounce on the bed. She was utterly numb with shock, and she shook her head in an effort to dispel the fog and confusion surrounding her. Was this some fucked-up dream—nightmare—she was trapped in?
 



 BUY NOW




Maya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.

She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.



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Monday, 22 August 2016

Release Blast & Giveaway: Bedded Bliss by Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott


A hot night in Vegas is just what the rockstar ordered... 
until someone ends up married.


BEDDED BLISS
Found in Oblivion #1
Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
Releasing Aug 22nd, 2016
Rainbow Rage Publishing


Michael Shawcross is living the dream, opening up for his idols, Oblivion, on his band Warning Sign’s first tour. Until an overzealous fan goes too far and his hard-partying ways catch up to him in the form of an ultimatum from his manager, Lila Crandall.

Clean up your image—or else.

Single mom Chloe Adams is in Vegas for a rare girls’ night out. She wasn’t ever supposed to be attracted to another rockstar. In fact, she’s in rockstar rehab, and the cure for her addiction definitely isn't a sexy, smart-assed guitarist with wicked fingers.

She never expects to accidentally end up his wife. Or to have her new husband suddenly decide that she’s the solution to all his problems. And surprise…he’s happy to show his appreciation in a number of interesting, inventive ways.

Pretending their marriage is real might just be the hottest proposition she’s ever been given.

But what happens when a lie becomes the truth? 

BEYOND OBLIVION - A Rockstar Romance full of sexy fun set within the world of our Lost in Oblivion series! You never know who you'll see show up in the books. 

Michael swapped Jimi for his battered Gibson, letting Elle do her thing as he set it up to enter the song after her. She bent low, her blond hair streaming down her back as she made the strings sing. When he joined her, she flashed him a smile at a wattage he only ever saw from her on stage. High on it, and on the fact that his brother was playing behind him, and that somehow, somehow they were getting through the show, he let his gaze wander the crowd.
 

The redhead caught his eye immediately.

She was close to the front, dancing back to back with one of her girlfriends while the other gyrated against her side. They were definitely feeling the lyrics that Molly was rasping through as if she was fifteen seconds away from an orgasm. Ryan and West were doing the joint thing on the keyboards again, crossing hands and all kinds of tricks that only emphasized the erotic nature of the song. They pounded on the keys like he and Elle and Juliet were shredding their guitars. Like Mal was steadily drumming the kit, slow, sinuous. Building, building, building, until the final explosion.
 

Redhead turned and looked up on stage, playing with the strap of her halter top. For a second he thought she’d flashed him some damn nipple. On purpose or accidentally, he didn’t frigging care. All he knew was her big eyes were on him while she nearly fondled her own breast, and her lips were wet and parted, and he couldn’t stop strumming his guitar the way he wished he could play with her. He’d sit her on his lap and slip under her skirt, then push aside her panties and slide one finger between the lips he knew would be soaked for him. While she watched, open-mouthed and silently begging, he’d suck on the finger that tasted of her until she was squirming against his rock hard erection. Bouncing back and forth while he swelled against his zipper.
 

Christ, like he was doing right now.
 

Juliet came up behind him, sliding one hand in his front jeans pocket as Mal’s drums and West and Ryan’s keyboard faded. She jerked back and quickly shot over to the other side of the stage to set up for the next song, making him smother a laugh.
 

Guess she thought her onstage seduction routine with him had worked a little too well.
 

“What’s her problem?” Elle whispered, trading her Gibson for an Epiphone.
 

“Think she thinks I like her butt too much.”
 

“Oh. It is a cute butt, though.” Elle winked at him, and he laughed.
 

“Hers or mine?” he asked, unable to resist. Hell, he had a freaking hard-on onstage from some sexy as hell redhead in the second row, who he was trying not to look at until the next song started so he didn’t tear through his jeans.
 






USA Today bestselling author Cari Quinn likes music and men, so she figured why not write about both? When she's not writing, she's screaming at men's college basketball games on TV, playing her music too loud or causing trouble. Sometimes simultaneously.

USA Today bestselling author Taryn Elliott is obsessed with rock stars, men, and her unending playlists--maximizing these things seemed like a very good idea. When she's not writing, she's losing hours to hot men on TV, and/or a graphic design project. Multitasking is her middle name.

They decided to combine forces and found that hey...this writing deal is even more awesome when you collaborate with your best friend.

And so Lost in Oblivion was born.



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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Review: The Boyfriend Bet by Chris Cannon

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains multiple PDAs, after-school detentions, and gambling on the side. Warning: betting on a boyfriend is bad for your health.

Zoe Cain knows that Grant Evertide is way out of her league. So naturally, she kisses him. Out of spite. Not only is Grant her brother’s number-one nemesis, but he has zero interest in being tied down to one girl. She’s shocked—and secretly thrilled—when they start spending more time together. Non-exclusively, of course, but that doesn’t mean Zoe can’t change his mind, one PDA and after-school detention at a time.

Zoe’s brother claims Grant is trying to make her his “Ringer,” an oh-so-charming tradition where a popular guy dates a non-popular girl until he hooks up with her, then dumps her. Zoe threatens to neuter Grant with hedge clippers if he's lying but Grant swears he isn’t trying to trick her. Still, that doesn’t mean Grant is the commitment type—even if winning a bet is on the line.


Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Expected publication: August 22nd 2016 by Entangled: Crush 
Series: The Boyfriend Chronicles #2
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

The Boyfriend Bet is the second book in The Boyfriend Chronicles but it can be read as a stand alone. I did not have the opportunity to read the first book and in no way did it affect my enjoyment of this one.

This book tackled the ever confusing and complicated issue of high school dating. You know...where rumours and gossip are abundant and status and opinions mean everything. In The Boyfriend Bet there was Zoe who was a local and considered a "hick", and Grant who was the popular "rich snob." It wasn't hard to see that they were complete opposites yet there was an underlying attraction from the very beginning. Of course, in high school it could never be as easy as two people liking each other. There are always outside influences and over thinking brains to contend with.

My initial thoughts were that this book was really cute. I liked that Zoe had spunk and what appeared to be a strong personality. She seemed like a no nonsense kind of girl. I wasn't sure about Grant but I was hopeful that Zoe would be a good influence on him. As the story progressed I have to admit that Zoe lost some of her appeal for me and I continued to be unsure of Grant. Zoe went from strong and quirky to a little whiny and a bit of a push over. Grant continued to make mistake after mistake and she would continuously get mad and then forget it. I completely understand that this is typical teenage angst but Grant was a real jerk on numerous occasions. It made it difficult for me to route for the two of them because I kept thinking that she could do better.

Perhaps I was over thinking the whole story. I remember what it was like to be in high school and how the simplest things could be complicated and cause drama. This book really showcased that and how difficult the dating game can be at that age. I didn't always agree with Zoe's actions and rarely ever agreed with Grant's but as a whole I think it was a pretty accurate depiction of the complicated thing known as high school dating.

**Side Note**  All the baking and talking about food made me hungry and had me digging through my cupboards to see what I could bake.



About the Author
Award winning author Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures and snarky contemporary romance.

Connect with Chris