What I’ve been up to lately

008Things have been pretty quiet on both my adult blog (http://jamiefessenden.com/) and my YA blog (http://jameserich.com/) over the past few months, so perhaps it’s time to let people know what I’ve got going on.

So I did have a novel (Violated) come out in the fall, and it did pretty well. It’s pretty dark, and the resolution — while happy — isn’t the big catharsis a lot of readers hoped for, simply because my goal was realism. A story like this isn’t resolved by an epic bout of sobbing in your lover’s arms. Ever. Derek and Russ find the best possible, realistic happily-ever-after for them.

At Christmas time, I was delighted to be offered the chance to do a Christmas story on the WROTE Podcast — one of twelve stories representing the twelve days of Christmas in the carol. I hadn’t had time to get out any of the Christmas stories I was working on (I have one contemporary novella in the works, a free holiday story that revolves around the characters in the Dreams of Fire and Gods series, and a re-write of a previously published novella), so this was a great opportunity. I’m delighted with how the story came out, and Brad Vance‘s wonderful narration! All of the stories are terrific, so if you’re still in the mood for Christmas….

Brad also conducted a great interview of me, aided by my friend, Scott Coatsworth, if you’re interested.

Moving forward, I’m currently working on a novella about alien abduction for the next Gothika anthology (see previous installments: Stitch, Bones, Claw, and Spirit). Eli Easton, who originated the series (I helped a little), won’t be joining us on this installment. The authors participating in this issue are Kim Fielding, BG Thomas, FE Feeley Jr., and myself.

As far as which novels I’m working on goes, I’m having a little trouble with that one. I have several in the works. My YA novel Martian Born, a novel about a spy in the Soviet Union during the cold war (currently called Chimera), and a novelization of the Jomsviking Saga, about a fortress full of Vikings in the tenth century. I’m also tentatively working on an untitled novel about “cavemen” (what we used to call Cro-Magnon Man, but is now referred to as “Early Modern Humans” or “Anatomically Modern Humans,” because they are physically no different from us).

This probably sounds like I need to focus, and that would be correct. Martian Born is closest to being finished, but it’s intended for the mainstream science fiction market. This means a long, tedious process of sending queries to agents — most likely over a year or two, if not longer — because mainstream publishers, by and large, no longer accept submissions directly from authors. So while I do want to get that process moving, I’m also looking at getting other novels out more quickly.

This probably means I’ll either finish up Chimera or The Vikings of Jomsborg. But both still have a lot of work to do on them.

In the meantime, I have two stories that will be coming out soon. One is actually the first part of Chimera, presented as a short story called Train to Sevmash. This will be part of an anthology published by DSP Publications. I wrote the story first, then got permission from the editor of the anthology to expand it into a novel.

The second story is in an anthology put together by BG Thomas called A More Perfect Union — a collection of stories about same-sex marriage written by gay men who are actually married. My story, Destined, is a fictionalized account of how I met my husband and how we created our life together. The characters aren’t exactly me and Erich, but the events are largely true.

This has gotten lengthy, and I haven’t even touched on other projects I’ve been working on, such as finishing the Dogs of Cyberwar trilogy (I’m nearly done the second novella (A Mote in the Eye), but my publisher wants the third, before we move ahead), the samurai tale I’ve been adapting (Shinosuke), and the sequel to Murder on the Mountain, which is in the plotting stages (murder mysteries take a lot of plotting).

Yes, I’m a bit over-extended. But it’s my fault — ideas keep popping into my head. I just need to focus and prioritize.

In the meantime, I have the re-release of my first novel, Murderous Requiem, available for pre-order on DSP Publications. It will be released on March 22nd. This edition isn’t enormously different from the first, but I did go through and tighten things a bit, as well as clarify some of the confusing sexual issues in the novel. The story centers around an occult order in what is basically a “free love” commune, so all of the characters are in open relationships. This upsets some readers, who regard it as “cheating.” I do not. I wrote it for my friends who are involved in open or polyamorous relationships where everything is up front and honest, and everyone’s feelings are taken into account.

But that isn’t actually what the novel is about, anyway. It’s about an ancient manuscript containing a requiem mass that, when performed, may cause death… or possibly may resurrect the dead.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, Drama, Fantasy, gay, Gay Marriage, Jamie Fessenden, Murderous Requiem, Mystery, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Rape, Romance, SciFi, Viking, Writing

Guest Blog: Scott Coatsworth on “The Autumn Lands”

TheAutumnLands-ScottHey Jamie,

Thanks for letting me stop by your blog to talk about The Autumn Lands, my latest novella that released yesterday from Mischief Corner Books.

It’s the classic story of boy meets elf, boy and elf run away from village where boy grew up, jump into a river, cross through a forest and a bunch of hills, and end up somewhere neither one could ever have imagined.

Jamie asked me to do something a little offbeat for this posting, so I cast my two lead characters.

For Cas, my elf guy who’s just a little dangerous, I chose Chris Hemsworth – the guy is gorgeous, and has just the right amount of smoulder to pull off Caspian’s rakish and more worldly character.

For Jerrith, I chose Kris Allen, winner of American Idol (love you, Kris, but Adam Lambert was robbed. Just sayin’). Kris is cute with just enough innocence, especially in his Idol days, to make a convincing Jerrith.

I hope you’ll read The Autumn Lands with these two in mind, and let me know what you think!

chrishemsworth1Blurb

Jerrith is running. Kissed by an elf, he can’t remain in his hometown of Althos any more. Not that he wanted to stay.

Caspian still hasn’t figured out why he kissed Jerrith, but he’s running too. Since he was exiled from the Autumn Lands, his past has been hazy, and his future uncertain.

But when a stray memory brings things into focus, the two decide to run toward something together. What they uncover will change how they see the world, and themselves, forever.

Kris+AllenExcerpt

Jerrith Ladner ran down Dyer’s Alley in Althos, winded but not daring to stop. He swung left down Chaplain’s Lane where the lanterns cast a crazy patchwork of light across cobbles, uneven enough to give even the Night Guard pause. His lungs hurt, but he didn’t slow down and didn’t dare glance back.

The occasional passerby stared at him as he flashed past, but he ignored them. Several times he stumbled and fell, and blood dripped down his bare leg from a skinned knee. The outskirts of town were silent, with almost everyone already indoors for the night.

His recent past was a blur, with snatches of it flitting by in his head like birds, flapping and confusing him with their unsteady rhythm:

The kiss.

The unexpected shock of it.

The glimpse of the Autumn Lands through the Nevris man’s golden eyes.

At last, exhausted, Jerrith ducked behind a low wall that ran along the fields just outside of town and looked back.

It was quiet. There was nothing but blackness crisscrossed by lamplight at even intervals.

Almost sobbing, he sat down with his back to the wall and curled up into himself, scarcely noticing the pain that traced the lines of his rib cage or even the bright line of red on his leg.

Ever so slowly, his heavy breathing eased and his jumbled mind began to sort things out.

He had been walking to the Smithy in the early morning when the Nevris caravan had passed him by, six wagons of merchandise from the Autumn Lands covered with heavy tarps, crossing through town on its way to the stables on the far side of the village. A stranger had drawn his attention—an outrider for the caravan.

Tall and slender where Jerrith was stocky and muscled, he was a young man, more or less Jerrith’s own age. His blond hair had been pulled back behind his pointed ears, the mark of the Nevris. He moved with a quiet and restrained grace.

His eyes were wide and golden, and they’d met his as Jerrith crossed the town square on the way to ‘prentice to the blacksmith. The man’s gaze had filled Jerrith with something hot and impulsive, a sense of anticipation. Something that he had no name for.

Then he’d been gone.

Jerrith had spent the long, dizzying hours of work in the Smithy, hammering out heated metal into a new plowshare for Farmer Angus, the hot breath of the bellows tempered only by the cool springtime air from outside. Trying to forget those eyes.

The heat of the oven only served to fuel the heat he felt inside, until he thought he might explode.

Sent home at last well after nightfall, he’d heard a whispered voice from the dark alleyway between the Alchemist’s shop and the Rutting Crow. Jerrith had looked around to see if anyone was watching, then slipped into the alley, his heart beating faster and the bulge in his pants stiffening.

The man had kissed him hard and rough, and he’d returned the kiss passionately as the Nevris man pulled him close.

Buy Links

Mischief Corner Books:
http://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/store/p91/The_Autumn_Lands.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Autumn-Lands-J-Scott-Coatsworth-ebook/dp/B01APHN02W/

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-autumn-lands

Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/the-autumn-lands

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-theautumnlands-1964243-148.html

iBooks: https://itun.es/us/OxBjab.l

j-scott-coatsworthAuthor Bio

Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi (http://www.queerscifi.com) site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.

Website: http://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jscoatsworth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

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Guest blog: BA Brock on “King of the Storm”

KingoftheStormFSThanks for having me on your blog, Jamie!

You and I have discussed games before, whether they be single player video games, tabletop role playing games, or even silly games about scrubbing dudes’ backs in the shower (that happened). And while I love many kinds of games for various reasons, I’d love to discuss several games I’ve specifically used as inspiration for my writing.

The very first story I published was about how my husbear and I met playing World of Warcraft. And my debut novel, King of the Storm, was inspired by the roleplaying game, Dungeons and Dragons.

When D&D Next (5th Ed.) came out, my gaming group had to try it. D&D Next was fairly simple in structure, but my team and I found ourselves frustrated with the limitations to healing powers, and other mechanics. It was this struggle that helped me define how I wanted magic to work in my world for King of the Storm.

FATE ultimately became my favorite game structure for storytelling. My first FATE game was actually a Dresden Files campaign, but from there my group and I have done science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and fantasy. The options are limitless. With FATE campaigns, your character has a fatal flaw you create as part of their profile, and the storyteller can use your flaw to put you up a tree and throw rocks at you. It’s up to your team, your attributes and skills, and sometimes pure dumb luck, to get yourself down. Which is essentially the basics to storytelling!

Another game I love is The Sims. I’ve been playing since 1997 (SimCity 2000). The Sims is a simulated life game, and while not plot heavy, it allows you to create avatars with near identical images and personalities to your characters, and set them up with their potential love interests. You can observe character interaction; either how their personalities clash, or how they collide together into some very hot “Woo Hoo” action (Teen rated, of course). I can’t keep my current couple off each other, but I’ve had sims who cheat with the neighbors, die in all sorts of accidents, and also settle down and have multi-generational families. With each expansion, you can send your character into the unknown, and that’s another something I love to explore with stories.

It’s hard to take the gamer out of the writer, and I’m always trying to get my hands on other works of fiction about roleplaying games. In Screwups, Jamie has a group of characters who live action role play, which I found entertaining and hilarious. I felt as if they were pretty tame compared to some of the live action role players I’ve seen, but they were still pretty funny. You should check it out.

Thanks for having me, Jamie!

fullresB.A. Brock has lived most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in 2007 at Portland State University—which he mostly uses to contemplate how we can achieve a civilization more closely aligned with Star Trek.

When not writing, Brock spends his time reading/reviewing novels, training for marathons, and bemoaning the fact that the world has yet to make a decent gluten free donut.

You can find more of his works, as well as reviews and his blog at http://www.babrockbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BABrockBooks?ref=hl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BABrockBooks

 

 

KingoftheStormFSKing of the Storm

Blurb:

No one can outrun destiny or the gods.

In Epiro, a kingdom in Greece, Perseus is prophesied to be a great demigod hero and king, with a legacy that will shape the world of Gaia. When he was born, his grandfather exiled him, and his mother brought them to Seriphos, where she created an academy for demigod youth. Perseus trains there and waits for the day when he will be able to take the throne of Argos.

Despite potential future glory, Perseus’s fellow students think he is weak. By the time he reaches manhood, he has given up the hope of having any real friends, until Antolios, a son of Apollo, takes an unexpected interest in him.  Perseus and Antolios fall in love, but Antolios knows it cannot last and leaves Seriphos.

Perseus, grief-stricken and lonely, rebels against the Fates, thinking he can avoid the prophecy and live his own life.  But when the gods find him, he is thrust into an epic adventure. With his divine powers he fights gorgons, sea serpents, and other monsters, and he battles against his darker nature. Perseus strives to to be the man he wants to be, but the gods have other plans.

 

Buy Links:

DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/king-of-the-storm-by-b-a-brock-168-b

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/King-Storm-Godhead-Epoch-Book-ebook/dp/B016R8B2QE/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445303370&sr=1-1&keywords=king+of+the+storm+by+B.+A.+brock

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/king-of-the-storm-b-a-brock/1122806360;jsessionid=DDFEC4ED6F172948359F60D03A8737BF.prodny_store01-va07?ean=2940150812529

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9/11 -God are you listening?

Fred says it very well.

F.E. Feeley Jr.

I was scared that day, 14 years ago, when my mom yelled up the stairwell that we were under attack. I was jarred awake and stumbled downstairs still sleep muddled and made it in time to watch the second plane drive into the world trade center.

I asked my dad, “What movie are you watching?”

He told me this was really happening. And I stood, as millions of other people stood, shocked at what I saw. Stunned.

The next 24 hours or so was news coverage of the worst attack on U.S soil in our history. I fell asleep to it, I woke up to it.

The worst was the next day as family of missing people were shown on live t.v. holding cardboard signs with pictures of their missing loved ones. The wept, openly, begging anyone for word, hoping against hope that somehow they’d made it through the nightmare…

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The best girl in the world

Lady

In my novel Billy’s Bones, I based Tom’s dog, Shadow, on my own dog, Kumar. In Violated, Derek’s quiet, aging dog was also based upon one of my dogs — Lady. This is her story.

When I graduated from college, I eventually found myself living by myself out in a cabin in the woods of Nelson, NH. I had a job and a car, but not much of a social life. It was damned lonely.

So I decided to get a dog. I went to the local shelter and played with several of the dogs there over the span of a few weeks, but I couldn’t find the one I was looking for. I needed an older dog, medium-sized, who wasn’t too hyper, thanks to the fact that my landlady’s mother was 80 and afraid of big dogs.

Then one day I walked into the shelter and there was a new dog out front. They hadn’t even finished her paperwork yet. But she had the biggest, most soulful eyes I’d ever seen, and I fell in love with her immediately.

Lady was at least six when I got her, though we suspected the owner lied and she might be older. She’d been left out in a dog pen with other dogs her entire life, so I had to house train her. Fortunately, she caught on quickly. She also had this weird habit of taking her dog kibble out of the bowl and trying to press it into the wooden floor, scraping all around it with her nose as if she were burying it and hiding it from anyone who might try to steal it from her.

She was very docile and quiet. I wasn’t even sure she knew how to bark, until one morning the landlady opened the door of my cabin and walked in without asking permission. Lady was sleeping on my bed with me, and she immediately leapt to her feet, standing over me and barking ferociously to defend me. (Good girl!)

It’s hard to describe how much I adored her, this little dog I could scoop up in my arms and cuddle like a baby. She was a bit big for that, but she put up with it.

Lady 2When I moved in with a boyfriend for a while, things went downhill for her. He didn’t like dogs. While he wasn’t abusive to her, he largely ignored her, and when she still had the occasional accident inside, he yelled at her — which usually made her crouch down and pee more.  She was no longer allowed on the bed, so I had to buy her a dog bed.

Ultimately, that human relationship would break up, and I’d realize I should never have given in as much as I had. I should never have let my girl be yelled at. I should have fought to keep her on the bed, at my side where she wanted to be. She was my best girl, and she stuck with me through some of the hardest times of my life.

But one night, when my ex and I were having yet another of the arguments that marked the end of our relationship, there was a storm going on outside. When I came out of the bedroom, I asked one of the house guests we had where Lady was. She was terrified of storms. And he told me she’d been running around looking like she had to pee, so he’d let her out.

She hadn’t needed to pee. She’d been panic-stricken. Out in the storm, she panicked and bolted and disappeared into the night.

After a week of searching the neighborhood, calling her name, and putting up “Lost Dog” signs, I woke one night in the wee hours of the morning with a sense that I needed to go to the front door. I went into the kitchen and opened the door to find Lady sitting on the porch. I was ecstatic that she’d found her way back to me. The next day, I emailed everybody I knew to let them know.

But I was celebrating too soon.

A couple of days later, she started coughing. While she’d been wandering around out in the cold, rainy September nights, she’d caught pneumonia. I took her to the vet — who I’m convinced to this day was incompetent, for a number of reasons — and eventually she ended up on oxygen.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, while everyone else watched the bombing of the World Trade Center in horror, I was barely aware of it. Because Lady was dying. I saw her on my lunch break from work, and she looked awful. Her lips were blue, and she was gasping for breath. I held it together as best I could and went out to get something to eat. While I was out, the vet called and told me she’d died. And I hadn’t been there.

Best Girl in the WorldI fell apart. I couldn’t go back to work. I was a wreck for weeks — months. To this day, I still can’t think of that day without crying. I’m crying now.

It was ten years before I could bring myself to get another dog. Lady had been irreplaceable. She was my girl.

The best girl in the world.

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What we mean by the term “rape culture”

holding handsI’ve recently been watching a Netflix series called Hemlock Grove, and while there are several moments in it that make me cringe and wonder if I really want to subject myself to it, one in particular stands out. The next paragraph is a spoiler, for anyone who hasn’t watched it yet.

It’s a scene in which Roman—one of the two viewpoint characters—is devastated about his best friend and cousin having sex, so he goes to find a girl who propositioned him earlier. They start to have sex, but he then insists upon tying her up. She’s been having a good time, and she goes along with that. Then he gets more aggressive, manhandling her and yelling at her to tell him he’s “ugly” (because Roman has issues). She becomes frightened and struggles to free herself, begging him to stop while he hammers into her. Then, when it’s over, he uses his psychic abilities to make her forget it ever happened.

Someone on the IMDB forum asked, “Why does everyone make such a big deal out of the rape scene?

What’s even more disturbing than the fact somebody felt the need to ask a question like that is that the majority of those who responded didn’t get it either. They insisted that, since she’d been okay with having sex with him to start with, it couldn’t be rape! The fact that she gets frightened and begs him to stop doesn’t factor into their opinion. Apparently, once a woman gives consent, it can’t be taken back, no matter what the man does!

There were some who pointed out how absurd—and wrong—this idea is. But it seemed clear to me the majority simply didn’t believe it was “rape,” unless a person being forced to have sex against her (or his) will if she (or he) instigated the sex.

This is just one example of what we call “rape culture”—the prevalent belief that rape is “no big deal.” The belief, by both men and women in our society, that consent isn’t really important, as long as the victim isn’t seriously injured or “probably enjoyed it.” You might recall an incident in the news several years ago in which some high school students undressed an unconscious girl at a party and posted photos of them inserting objects into her vagina. Even newscasters were defending the boys, because it was just “a prank,” and they didn’t “really hurt her.” Never mind how traumatized she was when she discovered what had happened. She was making a “big deal” over nothing, people insisted. (I also feel compelled to point out, there are tons of photos online of young men being stripped by their buddies in college when they’re passed out drunk and having things done to their genitals. But this is considered even less worthy of note—except that most of us find it funny.)

It’s difficult to define sexual boundaries in a society where this behavior is considered acceptable by a large percentage of the population. It wasn’t until 1991 that a man forcing his wife to have sex with him against her will was even legally considered “rape.” Before that, the law in this country supported the idea that a wife was required to have sex with her husband, regardless of her feelings. And sadly, the idea persists among the general population. Donald Trump’s special counsel recently declared, “You cannot rape your spouse.” He was wrong, on a legal level, but the true tragedy of that statement is people still believe that.

We’re having a very hard time convincing everyone in our society that sex needs be consensual. Always. There aren’t exceptions.

Why is this so hard to fathom?

ViolatedFSDerek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.

One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.

Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman, Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time.

BUY LINKS:

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6713

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Violated-Jamie-Fessenden-ebook/dp/B0131KQ5S6/

AllRomanceEbooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-violated-1856103-149.html

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“Violated” is now available!

ViolatedFSMy new novel Violated has just hit the shelves! And the early reviews are pretty good. Check out what Caroline had to say at Prism Book Alliance!

This is probably the most difficult novel I’ve ever written. Yes, Billy’s Bones was a tough one, but it wasn’t hard to write, for the most part. A relative had gone through something similar to what Kevin experienced with repressed memories, and my mother is Susan Cross. Well, not really. But she’s a psychologist who works with victims of abuse. I was able to consult with her, and yes, the character of Susan Cross was based on my mom.

But I’ve never been raped, and though I do know some people who have been, most don’t like to talk about it in detail. I did find a friend who was willing to open up to me for the sake of the novel, and that made all the difference. And of course, I talked to my mom about it—she’s a smart woman.

I put a trigger warning in the beginning of the novel, and that wasn’t just to be sensational. The last thing I want is for someone who’s been through an experience like this to be further traumatized by one of my novels. But I hope my attempt at a realistic depiction of rape and its consequences can shed some light on the subject, and perhaps even help some people.

bigstock-depressed-man-sitting-on-top-o-48751034BLURB:

Derek Sawyer thinks he has it all—a high-salaried position, a boyfriend, a dog, even a new cabin on the lake—until a business trip with his manager and best friend, Victor, shatters his world.

One night of drunken horsing around in their hotel room leads to the most intensely personal violation Derek has ever endured. As if the humiliation of working under his attacker every day isn’t enough, Victor reports Derek for sexual harassment. Now he’s without a job, without a boyfriend, and the mortgage on the cabin is due.

Officer Russ Thomas has worked with rape victims before, and it doesn’t take him long to sort out the truth in Derek’s tale. With his support, Derek finally reports the crime, months after it happened. But restraining orders and lawyers further Victor’s anger toward him, and even though a relationship develops between Derek and the policeman. Russ can’t be there to protect him all the time.

BUY LINKS:

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6713

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Violated-Jamie-Fessenden-ebook/dp/B0131KQ5S6/

AllRomanceEbooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-violated-1856103-149.html

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