Time to get scared: Ascendent by Tal Bauer

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41452339-ascendent?from_search=true

Blurb

Sasha Andreyev grew up on the wrong side of nowhere, dreaming of starlight as he strangled a secret. He fled, enlisting in the Russian Army, and worked his way up the ranks. Years later, after surviving a beating and being left for dead, he found a new life in Moscow, working with President Sergey Puchkov.

And then, he fell in love.

Desperate to avoid his runaway heart, crippled with a shame that infected his soul, and ravaged by demons haunting his memories, Sasha ran.

But he could never escape Sergey, or the gravitational pull of their love.

Nightmares trail behind his every step and weary ghosts live in the hollow chambers of his soul. He’s spent a lifetime brutally eviscerating the parts of himself he despises, and he’s an empty, shattered shell, struggling to be the man worthy of Sergey’s love.

The pieces of his soul he cut out are the very ones he needs in order to become the man he yearns to be. He’ll need to face himself, and his past, on a journey into the frozen heart of Russia, and into the midnight depths of the dead lands.

Only then can he ascend from the darkness, and be the man Sergey needs at his side.

Review

I will admit that Tal Bauer is my favourite author out there writing at this time. His books have the research and attention to detail that, in my opinion, put them above most other offerings. It is standard practice for me to have my Kindle in one hand and Google fired up and ready in the other, so I can look for myself at the places he describes.

With Ascendent, it was no different. Following straight on from where we left them at the end of Enemies Within, this story follows Sasha and Sergey and how they start to build a life together in Russia.

We spend most of our time in this book with Sasha as he battles his ingrown demons and self-loathing at being gay and how this feeling is slowly killing him. But we also get spend time with Sergey as he fights for his country as well as his love. With a horror twist that had me peering at the words from between my fingers, this is once again a superb offering by Tal Bauer.

These were the characters I took the least amount of interest in during the Executive Office series, so I was unsure how I would take to this book, but I needn’t have worried. Tal, once again with his clever, descriptive use of language drew me into the story and back into the Executive world. Possibly even out doing even himself with his beautiful phrasing and painful emotion.

I would not recommend this as a stand-alone book, as it references events in the Executive Office series more than once, but it is a wonderful look into the world of Sasha and Sergey and a fabulous gateway to what I am sure are more nail biting adventures to come.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Purchased for Review

Introduction to November’s Theme: Time to Comfort the Hurts!

In November we honor those heart-warming stories that often bring tears to our eyes followed by smiles to our hearts. The stories that wring that extra emotional twist out of us, stories of overcoming adversity, disability, past pains and current struggles. Look for some of these titles and more:

Time to get scared: Rhapsody for Piano and Ghost Audiobook by Z.A. Maxfield Narrated by Douglas Berger

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11444405-rhapsody-for-piano-and-ghost?from_search=true

Blurb

Fitz Gaffney finally has some breathing room. His mother’s out of town, his piano teachers have backed off, and he gets to spend time at a school where he only has to be adequate for an entire year before all his responsibilities comes crashing back in again. With this freedom comes the realization that he’s lonely, but his first attempt at dating goes horribly awry.

Fitz’s new — but possibly imaginary — friends, Julian and Serge, want to help him find happiness. His used-to-be-stepbrother Ari Scheffield wants to help him gain confidence and a little much-needed cool. His housekeeper Marguerite wants to keep fowl in the back yard for butchering because duck confit is expensive and she has pillows to re-stuff. And his possible new boyfriend Garrett wants to prove he didn’t mean for their first date to end with Fitz lying unconscious in a dumpster.

All Fitz wants is someone who cares about him, and suddenly there seems to be a glut. How’s a shy guy to know what’s real when he’s confronted by crazy ghosts, a less than truthful boyfriend, and relatives with hidden motives? It’s a Rhapsody For Piano And Ghost.

Review

I had a hard getting into this book at first so I switched from reading it to listening to it and I became enthralled. I love how the chapter titles give a little foreshadowing but are also quite humorous. Fitz starts off as a gullible, naïve, absent minded piano prodigy. He’s used to being in the background but then something miraculous happens…he’s approached by a guy, and not any guy, an extremely attractive guy. Throughout the story we have to wonder at Garrett’s motives and while its never really said outright what his plans are they become pretty obvious to everyone except Fitz. After a disastrous date, Fitz finds himself being taken care of by Julian and Serge, two dapper men who rescue him from a garbage bin. Eventually Fitz realized that they are ghosts. We also get introduced to Ari, who comes to Fitz’s rescue. Ari, who is Fitz’s older ex-stepbrother, is a handsome, sophisticated ex-boyband member. I really enjoyed Fitz’s journey from blinding lust with Garrett, to discovering what true love is with Ari. The ghost’s Serge and Julian are a great comic relief but their backstory is absolutely heartbreaking. There are a few sexy scenes and the last few chapters have a good bit of action. This is a very well romance with a paranormal aspect.

The narrator, Douglas Berger is a complete unknown to me, but overall he did a good job with this book. He had distinctive accents for the ghost’s, but at times Fitz, Garret and Ari all sound the same and towards the end when Ari is saying sexy dialog he slips into some blend of Julian and Serge. It was confusing because I thought it was the ghosts talking. I had to go back to the book and read the section to clear it up. He has a good voice and kept the flow of the story moving so I will most likely get another book narrated by him in the future.

Book 5 stars
Audio 3.5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Time to get scared: My Dark Knight by KA Merikan

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34536195-my-dark-knight?from_search=true

Blurb
Love or hate. Life or death. No inbetween. No compromise. No rules in love and war.

Knight. Party monster. Handsome Savage. Doesn’t do monogamy.
Elliot. Obsessive. Intense. Uncompromising.

Newly single, Knight is done with relationships. All he’s interested in is bringing down The Count, an Internet personality who is tarnishing his family name. An opportunity to crush him comes when the audacious clown shows up at the Kings of Hell MC clubhouse to film for his YouTube channel. But when Knight meets Elliot, the man behind The Count, he no longer knows what to do with him.

Knight has never seen a more pathetic creature than Elliot. He’s also never met anyone who needed him more. Skinny, messed up, and a bucket of trouble as thick as tar, everything Elliot does seems to be a wordless death wish. No matter how much Knight hates Elliot’s alter ego, under the makeup and theatrics hides a fragile young guy with a passion for history, and Knight can’t help but catch Elliot every time he falls.

Elliot has bad taste in men. Always hopelessly attracted to violent brutes, his favorite is a long dead serial killer. But he gets more than he’s bargained for when he seizes an opportunity to meet the man of his dreams. The ghost is manipulative and dangerous, offering Elliot all he’s always wanted, for a price he can’t possibly pay.

Elliot is faced with an impossible choice between two men.
One alive, one dead.
One carnal and honest, one drizzling sweet, poisoned promises into his ear.
One unwilling to commit, the other promising an eternity together.
And Elliot doesn’t settle for half-measures. He craves a love that is all or nothing, passion that will consume him, and desire to burn him alive.
Elliot is ready to either get that, or die trying

 

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: enemies to lovers, protector, cruelty, motorcycle club, alternative lifestyles, demons, tattoos, impossible choices, deception, crime, self-discovery, healing, black magic, gothic, commitment, ghosts, possession

Genre: Dark, paranormal romance 
Erotic content: Scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes

Length: ~145,000 words (Book 2 in the series, can be read as a standalone, but it’s recommended to read book 1 first)

WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, offensive language, and morally ambiguous characters.

Review
This is one terrific ghost story that pulls in murder, lies and obsession but not I would say a love story as such. It’s a very dark story that made me feel uncomfortable at times. Elliott is an unsettling character. From early on I had the impression he had mental health issues with the level of obsession and his desperation to be wanted. Maybe this is unfair I will leave you to make up your own mind. What he desperately wants is some to love and focus on him. When Elliott feels hurt or insecure he makes questionable choices, which leads Knight to rescue him. At the heart of the story is a triangle between Knight, Elliott and the ghost of William Fane. Knight saves Elliott who’s obsessed with the ghost of William Fane, a serial killer from early 19 Century.
Elliott has a kink for humiliation, he wants his partner to use and control him in the bedroom but equally to take care and protect him. Knight got his nickname by being the White Knight out to save the damsel in distress. Only problem is Elliott gets jealous and reckless when he sees philandering Knight with someone else. Cue one manipulative ghost who entices Elliott to do his bidding. Fane is cruel and Elliott suffers once he lets him get a hold. This is where the pace picks up. Beast and Laurent, the main characters from book 1, come more into the story from this point. You are given a synopsis of book 1 so this can be read stand-alone. Personally I think to get the most out of it read book 1. Stick with the slower ground setting first part it’s worth it to get to the dark twisted second half with ghosts and demon. KA Merikan are terrific descriptive writers a this works so well for both the sex scenes and the dark scenes.

4 of stars out of 5

Purchased by reviewer

Time to get Scared: Abercrombie Zombie by KZ Snow

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11719825-abercrombie-zombie?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Dead folks are the best friends of Quinn McConnell and Hunter Janz. Dead folks pay the bills for this team of psychic mediums . . . but just barely. To make it into the financial comfort zone, they need to outshine their competition.

Quinn needs even more than that. He’s been infatuated with his partner for the nearly three years they’ve been together, and if he can’t either get over his crush or make something happen with Hunter, they’ll have to split up. Sexual tension and unrequited love can wreak havoc with a psychic’s reception.

Salvation comes hobbling along in the form of a well-dressed but ravaged-looking man who can clearly see and converse with the dearly departed. Why? Because, he claims, he has something in common with them: He’s also been dead. The zombie who calls himself Dustin DeWind needs the psychics’ help in finding the man who made him what he is. In return, he promises to steer them toward the often elusive spirits that are their stock in trade.
But something more goes on when Quinn and Hunter forge an uneasy alliance with Dustin DeWind. It seems he’s also nudging them toward each other.

Review:

A totally different take on zombies – well, this zombie anyway.
The blurb gives the bones of the story, but it doesn’t prepare you for the murder/mystery, subtle humour, some pop culture references or the life lessons you get out of the story.
The humour and some of the pop culture are intertwined; the zombie is called Dustin DeWind – I didn’t know it was the name of a song, instead I thought it a tongue-in-cheek reference to zombies being dead (dust to dust …). Still thought it was amusing☺.
The way Dustin became a zombie is different, which makes him a different type of zombie – one that doesn’t eat brains – for starters ☺
When Dustin meets up with Quinn and Hunter, Dustin inadvertently stirs up a mini drama between the 2 psychics, especially with Quinn who’s been in love with Hunter for some time. Quinn has managed to keep it to himself until circumstances change to bring those feelings up front. The way the unrequited love angle is handled really well – hardly any angst, but you feel Quinn’s hurt.

When all 3 men get better acquainted, it turns out they all need each other – and this is the meat of the story. I was pleasantly surprised by the way the story evolved, and because the story is so unique, it’s best you read it to see how it progresses and ends.

I really enjoyed it.

4 stars out of 5

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

 

 

 

Time to get scared: Unchained by Ainsley Gray

Good reads link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41318018-unchained?from_search=true

Blurb

If he takes their life, they can never truly leave.

That’s the mantra Noah Wilmington has lived by for years. He picks up whores and deviants from the local taverns, enjoys their company for an evening…and then hides their bodies in the woods.

Edward Yorke has approached the same man in the same public house time and again, never deterred by the cool dismissal he receives. There’s something about Noah that calls to him. A shared pain, a shared sadness…

But Noah doesn’t trust himself. It’s too risky to permit someone too close, and Edward is the one person in the world whose life Noah wants to spare. So, every time Edward has asked to buy him a drink, Noah declines.

Then one night, out of sheer loneliness, that “no” becomes a “yes.”

When Edward’s night with him sheds light on some of Noah’s dark secrets, Noah cannot simply let him walk out the door. But if he doesn’t want Edward dead, and he can’t let him leave, only one option really remains…

(Unchained is a gay Victorian-era romance novella with a HEA.)

Review
This was a truly thrilling read! Loved it!!
I don’t make a habit of reading stories with criminal or murderous MC’s, because I find them difficult to like or relate too, but this one came so highly recommended (Riley Hart, Christina Lee) that I felt I needed to take a chance. And wow… I’m so glad I did!

It’s an odd & slightly uncomfortable feeling to be rooting for a serial killer, a rather unrepentant one at that, and not even one who tries to stick to killing “other monsters” like, say, Dexter. The places our mind can go to in a fictional world… If nothing else, this is a great testament to the incredible skill of this author.

There’s such a scary and unsettling atmosphere permeating this book. Danger lurking behind every corner. You’re never at ease, because even when things seem to be going alright and you’re tempted to let down your guard…you’re really just waiting for that axe to fall.
And for all that I knew something was coming, must be coming…I was still completely taken aback when it did. On more than one occasion.

The writing is beautiful and evocative. Words flowing smoothly along, setting the mood perfectly and drawing us a wonderfully clear picture of enigmatic Noah and Edward and the world they live in. The late nineteenth century serves as an ideal background for their story.
Both Noah and Edward are very compelling MC’s, flaws and all. And though at first glance they seem really different, because duh “serial-killer”, they also have something important in common. They have both known great sadness and pain in their youth, and as a result are very much alone, and lonely, in their own way.

In a wonderful twist, we also have the prey actually stalking the predator. Unknowingly, of course.
I also loved that Noah, though the most dangerous one of the two men, is physically the least imposing, being smaller and less muscled than Edward. Brilliantly done!

This book put me in mind of the fable of the Scorpion and the Turtle, with the Scorpion staying true to his nature, no matter the consequences, even for himself. What would be the stronger force here? Nature or…?

Number of stars out of 5: 5

 

 

 

 

Copy Purchased for Review

 

 

Time to get scared:Blood Veil (Mission book 2) by Megan Erickson

Goodreads link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34741287-blood-veil?from_search=true

Blurb
When Celia is attacked at her apartment by one vampire, and rescued by another, her life turns upside down. Idris, Athan’s brother and the one who was supposed to be the king until their father’s cruel lies were exposed is Celia’s unlikely rescuer, dark and brooding he scares her as much as he intrigues her.

Idris is surprised by the seemingly human female he has been following for a while at his brother’s, the new king, command. After the events of book one and the fall of their father, their clan is at potential war with the Valarian clan. Celia, the Valarian king’s daughter, is taken as ransom in exchange for peace between the clans. Unaware of her bloodline or family, having grown up as an orphan, Celia faces the discovery of a family she always craved, only to have that dream shatter in blood and violence. Stuck in a web of lies and on the run, Idris must protect her at all costs despite his hate for her father.

Review:
Another great book in the Mission universe!
This book has all the clichés of vampire books you can think of plot wise, and it works so well anyway! Just like her Werewolf shifter novels: ‘The Silver Tip Pack’ series, Megan combines wit, humor and geekiness in her writing for an action packed, smoldering hot read you can’t put down!
Ever since I read the first book in the series I was anxious to see what happens to Idris, Athans’s brother. And like all her heroes, Megan wrote so much emotion and tenderness into his big strong body you can’t NOT fall for him. Celia is sweet, sassy and feisty, just like Tendra from book 1, and her compassion for others shines through every action she makes.
Megan created a believable, working vampirical world, and I like her ability to combine fantasy and supernatural into everyday life. She always brings a small twist to the story that truly makes it unique.
Enjoyed it very much and am hoping to hear more about the vampire shenanigans in Mission City.

Number of stars out of 5
3.5

Time to get scared: Laurent and the Beast – Kings of Hell MC’s #1 – K.A. Merikan

Good Reads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33959435-laurent-and-the-beast?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb
Nothing can stop true love. Not time. Not even the devil himself.

1805. Laurent: Indentured servant. Desperate to escape a life that is falling apart.
2017. Beast: Kings of Hell Motorcycle Club vice president. His fists do the talking.

Beast has been disfigured in a fire, but he’s covered his skin with tattoos to make sure no one mistakes his scars for weakness. The accident not only hurt his body, but damaged his soul and self-esteem, so he’s wrapped himself in a tight cocoon of violence and mayhem where no one can reach him.

Until one night, when he finds a young man covered in blood in their clubhouse.

Sweet, innocent, and as beautiful as an angel fallen from heaven, Laurent pulls on all of Beast’s heartstrings. Laurent is so lost in the world around him, and is such a tangled mystery, that Beast can’t help but let the man claw his way into the stone that is Beast’s heart.

In 1805, Laurent has no family, no means, and his eyesight is failing. To escape a life of poverty, he uses his beauty, but that only backfires and leads him to a catastrophe that changes his life forever. He takes one step into the abyss and is transported to the future, ready to fight for a life worth living.

What he doesn’t expect in his way is a brutal, gruff wall of tattooed muscle with a tender side that only Laurent is allowed to touch. And yet, if Laurent ever wants to earn his freedom, he might have to tear out the heart of the very man who took care of him when it mattered most.

Review
Holy cow! There are so many different tropes involved in this book yet it all fits together seamlessly with the fantastic K.A. Merikan’s writing. They’ve created yet another book and series that draws you in right from the start with strong characters, a gripping story line and fantastic interactions.

Laurent is living in 1805 and working as a servant in a bookstore. A late night delivery leads him out to a house of what he thought was an admirer but turns out to be so much more. In order to escape, he makes a deal with a demon.
Beast exists in 2017, living in a crumbling Asylum with his father’s motorcycle club, the Kings of Hell. His own story keeps him pretty quiet and apart from the world after he was left with body and facial scarring which he covered in tattoos to protect himself from other’s pity. When he stumbles across Laurent late one night, he has no idea what he’s in for.

This story has so much and yet our focus remains on Laurent and Beast, and yes we do eventually discover his actual name. Laurent is looking to survive and save himself from certain death back in his time as well as trying to adapt and learn about where he suddenly finds himself as well as carrying out his deal with the demon. Of course, he never counted on Beast. Though scarred and tattooed, he is caring, gentle and endearing to Laurent. All Beast wants is somewhere better for the club than the health hazard that they currently reside in yet his father refuses to move for unknown reasons.

The two men together are frustrating, adorable, tense yet hot. It’s Beast’s acceptance of Laurent and the way he is that makes you like him even more. There are a few different sides we see to all of the characters but when you can imagine a 6ft 5″ man covered in tattoos taking a man like Laurent shopping, it’s completely adorable! These balance out the intense scenes that are the bread and butter of motorcycle club books. There’s not as much violence as you would think with a name such as Kings of Hell but there is a lot of debauchery and partying that goes on.

The story line about the demon and deals that have been made causes underlying tensions to run but with no one knowing the full truth until later on in the book, it’s interesting to read what the characters are doing to ensure their part is played.
There are many secondary characters with the series being set in a club, several we like with a couple we don’t. All make the book much more interesting offering support or trying to pull them apart.

I loved this book, pretty much everything about it drew me in and made me want to know more. I’m interested to see what other stories come with the other men in the club and what supernatural forces they get involved with. It’s great having these different elements come together in one book and these authors are fantastic in bringing the story and characters to life.

I received an ARC from the author and am happily giving a review.

Number of stars out of 5
5

Provided by author for review

 

 

Time to get scared: Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk (Spirits book 1)

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23569031-restless-spirits?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb
Henry Strauss knows all about being the victim of a charismatic fraud, having lost his family fortune to a man claiming to be in touch with his deceased father.
He is determined control the spirit world through the application of science with his Electro-Séance. He just needs a haunting to prove it actually works. When a wealthy man offers a contest between Henry’s new scientific methods and the old, unreliable spiritualism, it seems like his wish has come true, not to mention the money prize offered.

Henry and his niece Joe travel to Reyhome Castle, were gruesome murders took place and a vicious ghost hunts the premises. He is confident he can outmatch every quack medium he meets, including the alluring Vincent Night, the opponent in this match of exorcism prowess. Vincent is smooth, handsome and exotic, and very appealing indeed. But, Henry swore never to let his heart near a medium again, and there is his and Joe’s future to consider. He can’t lose, no matter how much Vincent’s empathy and friendliness seem genuine.

However, Reyhome Castle, which looked like an easy case of hunting, turns out to be anything but, with secrets upon secrets and a deadly force out to claim their very souls. Henry must trust the one thing he swore he never will, and work together with Vincent if they ever wish to leave Reyhome Castle alive.

Review
If you enjoyed her Hexworld books or Widdershins, you will LOVE this one!!!

This book was my first M/M, almost two years ago, and it also introduced me to Jordan L. Hawk who has become one of my favorite authors. Jordan has a fantastic writing style and is one of the best world builders I have read to date. All three of her 19th century book series are fantastically written and have an ingenious way of being both realistic and raw while still having supernatural and magical elements. I love the level of research and feel of scientific accuracy this book has, the exorcism feels logical and feasible, and to be able to write it in such a way is a true gift indeed. The other thing I love about Jordan’s writing are her inclusive, diverse characters. There are characters from every color, ethnicity, gender and gender identity in her stories and she fits each character and story to the time period with such accuracy it’s astounding. She writes real people with genuine struggles in and other-worldly setting, not an easy feat, yet she makes it seem so.
This book is a mystery both scary and intriguing, the plot twisting and unexpected.
I love the struggle between Vincent and Henry, both striving for the same goal but from opposing sides. The “hate-turned-to-lust-turned-to-friendship” between them is wonderful, with just the right amount of snark and fluster. They each bring something to the table and if they can only work together they might survive this hunted mansion. Lizzy and Joe, the wonderful and funny partners and co-workers are each a formidable female character and show a strength and wisdom much greater than their sometimes dens male counterparts. This is the start of a wonderful series that puts a twist on Ghost Busters and combines science and spirit to save the day.

Number of stars out of 5
5



Copy Purchased for Review

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Time to get scared: Blood Guard (Mission book 1) by Megan Erickson

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34444705-blood-guard?from_search=true

Blurb
When Tendra arrives home after her bartending job in Mission city, she doesn’t expect to meet a vampire. Said vampire also claims to need her in order to save his vampirical clan, by marrying his brother, the future king. Athan’s clan only feed on consenting humans, without killing them- a notion their enemies do not share. They want Tendra dead before she makes it to Athan’s brother, to share the power in her blood that has been growing in her bloodline for ten generations, and to her future as his queen. Hard to believe as it is, Athan shows her proof she cannot ignore and whisks her into a dangerous journey through the secret underground vampire tunnels of his clan to their family compound outside Mission city. He must protect her at all costs for she is destined to his brother, to save his clan and the human world from being enslaved to the other vampire clans.
But, with every minute they spend together the pull Athens feels for Tendra gets stronger, and the close proximity they are forced to share is not helping him keep his desire for her in line with his duty to his brother, his king, and his role as the head of guard.

Review
For the last two years I have only been reading M/M romance, and if anyone can lure me out of it for some M/F it’s Megan Erickson! She is one of my favorite authors, with a geeky infused writing style I adore! This book was a pleasant surprise, much like her M/M Shifter books: The Silver Tip Pack series (a genre I Never liked for its cliché-ness). I think Megan’s greatest talent is taking a cliché genre and writing a book that while it has many of the characteristics to make it a cliché is still refreshing and enjoyable. Not every book is a unique masterpiece, but having the ability to read a story in a plotline that have been so thoroughly chewed and re-chewed that I, as a reader well versed in this genre to the point I was sick of Twilight wannabees, loved the book is amazing to me. I credit it to the humor, banter between characters, fluidity of the plot and putting little twists throughout the story.

I love Tendra’s personality, she is independent while still being dependent on Athan for her survival, and is realistic in that sense but she can and will protect herself when needed. Tendra is a badass heroine that does not spend days mourning what she lost while still understanding she is in a new situation and learning to deal with it. Athan is both though and soft, with a gentleness and emotional depth I credit to Megan’s M/M writing. The fast pace the story starts out at does not mean the characters get it on within the first chapter, another strong point to me. I feel like they really see each other before sex gets thrown in the mix. The fantasy world setting is interesting and believable and well rounded.
If you love the supernatural romance genre, vampires and great characters you should definitely read this book, it is everything Twilight and its look a likes wanted to be and are not with a splash of humor and sass.

Number of stars:
4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review