The Standing Stones: The Chronicles of Caymin Book 3 – Caren Werlinger

The Standing Stones - Caren WerlingerSometimes it is hard to find superlatives. The Standing Stone is an outstanding conclusion to this wonderful Celtic/Dragon lore saga. Simply brilliant world building, top class storytelling and writing that flows across the page and straight into your heart.

In book three of the The Dragonmage Saga, Caymin and Péist must find the hidden talisman that controls the dragons and destroy it, while both defeating the evil pairing that caused the dragon war a thousand years before, and helping her friends fight off the impending Viking attack led by a crazed Christian determined to wipe out the old ways.

Set in Eire in the seventh century at a time of clan wars, Christian incursion and the erosion of the druid traditions, The Chronicles of Caymin is firmly set in the legends of celtic fantasy and dragon lore.

Caren Werlinger is a great storyteller and this is a wonderful saga, up there with the best. Book three stands alone, but why deny yourself the joy of all three? The writing is crisp and exact, lyrical yet spare. The story is gripping, in this even more than the earlier episodes, and the reader is literally on the edge of their seat for most of the book.

The subtly is everywhere though, through personal quests, huge loss and dragon battles. Our main characters and many of the secondary’s grow, visably, throughtout.  Caymin suffers both physically and emotionally for the decisions she must make. Gai finds himself but loses his brother on the journey. Caymin and Péist both find a parent only to lose them all too quickly. The forest is ravaged and the Mages decimated, even the beloved badgers are not spared. Hard to remember sometimes that Caymin is 12.

Caren Werlinger BiogThe world building is first class, the time lines and personalities distinct. Even at the height of a complex battle between multiple dragons and Mages Werlinger keeps a firm hand and a clear sense of the who and what. The personalities are so strong and so well drawn we know their reactions, can guess their actions. Their emotional suffering is that of friends.

It is a joy to have such a well done series of gender neutral dragon fantasy/celtic lore. Sexual identity and gender are just not issues, for dragon or humans, and it is such a refreshing change after so many years of male/hetero-centric fantasy.

The door is left open for more. Can’t wait to see where Werlinger might take us next.


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(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 385 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Corgyn (June 6, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072JL6GWB
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The End: Sanctuary Series Book 1 – Cheyne Curry, Roselle Graskey

The End: Sanctuary Series Book 1 - Cheyne Curry, Roselle GraskeyLieutenant Jessica Baumer and Staff Sergeant Branna Maguire are locked down in an underground “lab”, undergoing an experiment in how they cope with isolation; one because the Army felt she didn’t cope well when cut off, the other as punishment for having some issues with the abuse of authority.

When they do a routine check of the outside world they realise life as they know it has ended, and it appears they may literally be the last ones standing. As comms become available they reach out and find others who have survived, but many are contaminated and others come out into the open too soon – there are no guarantees of survival.

As the air clears they too must leave their underground shelter in order to see what is left, gather resources and find a safe place to live. The old world order has gone, now only the strong survive, but even strength is no guarantee as gangs stake out territory and commandeer the meagre resources available. Can Baumer and Maguire make it to the sanctuary they seek? Do they have the skills to survive? How will they and those they meet carve out a new existence in a brutal new world?

Edge of the seat doesn’t even come close. This, the first in a new series of dystopian novels, is stunning in its intensity and breadth of vision. T wake up one morning and the world as we know it has ended, with a barrage of nuclear, neutron and chemical weapons essentially wiping out most of the world, and be faced with the overwhelming issues of survival. Literally breath-taking.

Baumer and Maguire are intriguing and powerful characters. They form a rock-solid core to the story and are the glue that we bond with. As their journey unfolds they meet others, equally well drawn, some they join with, others they leave behind, all stay in the mind as strong characters we are likely to meet again.

The journey is both gruelling and exhilarating. Tough both physically and mentally, they encounter horrors beyond civilisation. The world has literally reverted to the middle ages and the barbaric nature of man is revealed. This isn’t for the faint hearted, don’t expect an easy ride, it contains sex and violence, but is never gratuitous.

The authors’ background is obvious throughout and gives an incredibly strong sense of realiCheyne Curryty to the military behaviour and action of our heroines. But this is so much more than a story about some military adventure; the world building and vision of what could be the reality of a post-apocalyptic world is simply brilliant.

I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t want to. The only problem with it is waiting for volume two. Ms’s Curry and Graskey better be beavering away because they have impatient readers waiting. Even if you don’t normally read dystopian or fantasy of any sort, this book will intrigue and fascinate, keep you up way past your bedtime and inevitably ask the question.. how would I survive?



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Product info:

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bossy Pants (February 8, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06WLGFND9
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Heartland – Vickie Adams

Heartland - Vickie AdamsCam was the archetypal troubled teen, ran from home the day she finished school and never went back, has a memory block from her early childhood which hides a chronic trauma. As an adult she has made a life, avoided entanglements and has anger issues.

When a call from her hated Uncle to say her GrandaPa is dying pulls her back to Tennessee she is reluctant to visit for the first time in so many years, but feels the need to pay her respects to the man who held the family together. Believing her mother to be a cut off and unemotional woman who never cared for her, she is completely unprepared for the revelations that her GrandPa’s deathbed confessions unleash.

Vickie Adams first full length novel shows huge potential. The main story is excellent; shocking and deeply moving at times. It’s a complex and convoluted plot with visions, murders, an extended family drama and some very nasty history. Add in a typical lesbian “U-Haul” romance with some steamy sex and it adds up to a great combination.

Cam is a strong main character and the other leading players, her family and former school friends, are distinct and well portrayed. The relationship sub-plot, sudden and intense, is the rekindling of a high school crush, it did feel a little like an except from an erotica short story – well done but slightly off kilter with the serious emotional drama of the main story.

It’s a fast paced read with plenty of edge of the seat moments that definitely make it interesting as layer after layer of the wholly dysfunctional extended family comes unglued. The writing is solid, but perhaps lacks some emotional maturity given the extremely serious nature of some of the plot threads. There is nothing wrong with it at all, but as an author develops her craft emotional depth gets woven into the fabric of a story, and Heartland, for all its complexity does feel like a first novel.

I dont mean to be overly critical however, there is a good balance between the narrative structure, dialogue and interior monologue. I look forward to reading future works from this author who clearly has an excellent imagination and the ability to create complex characters and deal with difficult emotionally charged themes.

A personal gripe – I don’t get the jacket at all. It looks like an erotica cover, with a provocatively dressed woman who looks nothing like any of the main characters and suggests a steamy romance. This is a good emotionally charged drama touching on complex issues and the cover does not reflect that at all.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.


(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Wicked Publishing (May 10, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071L8RXQJ
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Heights of Green – Lise MacTague

Heights of Green - Lise MacTagueIn Heights of Green, Lise MacTague returns us to the lives of Jak Stowell and Torrin Ivanov. After their escape from Haefen at the end of Depths of Blue, Torrin returns them to her home planet of Nadierzda. Nadi is another fringe planet but this one is hidden from the rest of the galaxy by an asteroid belt and all off-world travelers keep even the existence of the planet a secret. Nadierzda is a planet of only women and Jak is in for the culture shock of her life.

As a female sniper in an all-male army on her home planet of Haefen, Jak constantly was on guard to never be seen as anything other than a man and a soldier. As she recovers from her ordeal escaping from Haefen, she has to learn to let herself be seen as female and that her relationship with Torrin, a crime where she comes from, is perfectly natural on Nadi.

Where survival and civil war provided the main source of conflict in the first book of the trilogy, angst regarding Jak and Torrin’s growing relationship, Jak’s internal struggles with her identity and Torrin’s type A personality when it comes to her business, all provide the dissonance between the characters for most of this second book.

Ms. MacTague once again builds a stunning world whose women run an entire planet, from politics to economics to the military and everything in between. She introduces us to new characters like Torrin’s family and business partners and the soldiers at the military base who become Jak’s friends. As the story progresses, the reader becomes more and more invested in the relationship between the sniper and the smuggler from completely different worlds.

As most second parts in a trilogy, this one ends in a cliffhanger, leaving dangling threads to be picked up and carried through to the third book. I’d suggest that you have the third book, Vortex of Crimson, at the ready. As soon as you put down Heights of Green, you will want to start reading the next one immediately. I know I am!! Lise MacTague is batting 1000 so far with the Edge of Deception trilogy. I can’t wait to keep reading!


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Product info:

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • First published 2015
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 18, 2015)
  • ASIN: B019KU3J5I
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Under Parr – Andrea Bramhall

Under Parr - Andrea BramhallWhen a skeleton is found in a previously sealed up WWII bunker Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon is faced with a cold case which some intriguing twists. Scraps of women’s clothes on a man’s bones, different names on the labels, different sized shoes on the wrong feet. Kate isn’t sure they will ever find out who he was, let alone how he died and ended up in a bunker that has been sealed since the storm floods of 2013, but she is determined to do her best find out.

As the investigation unfolds the twists and turns become more of a puzzle, unusual activity at the golf course, above average deaths at the local care-home, and a series of clues that just make the detective’s radar ping.

Book 2 of the Norfolk Coast Investigation Stories series and the events of book 1, Collide-O-Scope, are still being felt in the fishing village of Brandale. Gina has recovered physically but emotionally the scars are deep. Sammy is having nightmares and being bullied at school by kids whose fathers are either waiting for trial or out of a job. The impact on Kate and Gina isn’t good either, Gina has withdrawn, and Kate doesn’t know how to get through to her.

As always Andrea Bramhall’s story arc are excellently thought through and executed. This is a solid detective story, occasional leaps of intuition and faith, but essentially the local “Plod”* following a series of interrelated clues and gradually uncovering how the events we see in the prologue came about.

The characters are becoming old friends, deepening as we get to know them, filling out details, colouring in history; their friendships and relationships growing over time. The police team has a new member who doesn’t quite fit and is definitely causing friction, but Kate and Stella’s friendship provides wonderful light relief and flashes of laugh out loud humour.

Sammy is particularly well drawn and the combination of childhood simplicity and trauma induced maturity is intriguing to read. Bramhall always manages to introduce a serious theme in her novels and here we have several; Sammy’s bullying, Gina’s emotional struggles and care-home abuse. However this is not a heavy book, these serious threads add to the reality without detracting from the gentle romance. The flashes of humour and the reasonably fast paced unfolding make it a genuinely pleasurable read.

Andrea Bramhall biogUnder Parr is set a few weeks after the events in Collide-O-Scope and while it stands alone as a story arc there is no doubt it is firmly part of a series; indeed we are left with a tantalising thread to carry over into book 3. I would definitely recommend reading them as a series, if you like romance/crime and excellent writing, this is one you don’t want to miss.

Set on the east coast of England these stories have a decidedly English feel, and are a delight to read. The characters are solid, the events fit the time and place, even the weather has a very English role to play. The angst is there but underplayed, the emotions and relationships are realistic and the whole is grounded in a very English setting. Midsomer Murders with a lesbian twist.

*Plod is English slang for the local police, affectionate although implying slow thinking and moving, comes from the old-fashioned Bobbies walking the streets with their slow heavy pace.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Ylva (May 17, 2017)
  • ASIN: B072HMT2DB
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Unbroken – Donna K Ford

Unbroken - Donna K FordThis is a classic combination of the “quiet girl/player” and the “opposites attract” theme, but with a serious sub plot.

Kayla is a therapist, open hearted and caring but badly damaged by previous loss, she would love to settle down with a life partner, but is too hurt to consider looking. Jackie is the big brash confident and extrovert player.. except underneath it all is a woman scarred by childhood abuse.

When they quite literally collide the attraction is immediate, but Kyla runs a mile. She may think, wistfully, of the attractive woman she met, but she wont allow herself to make that call. Fate, however, has different plans, throwing them back together when Kyla needs a PT after a violent encounter, and the stage is set for a rather tumultuous relationship.

Kayla and Jackie are complex women with recognisable strengths and weaknesses but both wracked by their own fears. As usual Donna K. Ford has created real life women with classic characters that are people we can believe in and relate too. Their fears shape their behaviour and are founded on solid life experiences we can all empathise with.

The main subplot to the romance, of Kayla’s colleague Jen’s problem marriage and drug addicted husband, provides both the action that re-connects the main characters and the cause of their subsequent estrangement. At the same time Jackie is searching for her mum, or at least information about her, and the plot themes intertwine as the story progresses.

Donna K Ford bioThe issues of abuse, violence and addiction threads its way through the novel and grounds the romance into something more serious. While the romance remains the core story, the impact of addiction and violence on both women, and Jen and Jackie’s mum, is dealt with strongly as you would expect from Ford, who always intertwines a serious sub plot with her traditional romances.

Well written and expertly handled, the sub plots deepen the emotional integrity of the characters. The romance is slow moving, and the internal dialogue plays an important role, but while there is a lot of angst, it is well founded and well portrayed within the complex emotions of abuse survival.

I always enjoy Donna K Ford’s writing style and the balance she achieves between romance and the more serious issues she tackles, making them feel real for the characters rather than a bolt on for effect. Definitely on my recommended list this is a slow burn and thoughtful read that also has some seriously hot encounters.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (May 16, 2017)
  • ASIN: B071H7V44C
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Sawmill Springs – Gerri Hill

Sawmill Springs - Gerri HillWhen two new cops join the local force in Sawmill Springs nobody had any idea the small town would need their big city skills. Homicide detective Murphy has escaped from the drug wars of Houston to a quieter life, while ex FBI agent Kayla is returning home to join her Police Chief father’s force after a career turned sour.

Within hours of Kayla joining the squad the murders start, and before long the bigwigs of the town all seem to be in danger. While Murphy and Kayla have the skills, they are the newbies on the force, the only women, and the locals are not used to dealing with high powered women cops.

As the investigation gets more and more murky, touching on the lives of Kayla’s family and friends, the attraction between Kayla and Murphy grows, but despite her best efforts at flirting Murphy seems immune to Kayla’s obvious charms.

This is classic Gerri Hill; crime, cops, romance. Well written and executed with a great story line, Hill pulls you in from the start and immerses you in the life, death and loves of the small town characters. The pace is excellent, no thriller chases, but a strong ‘move-along’ plot that keeps you interested and waiting for more.

Gerry Hill biogThe main characters are great, strong independent and powerful women who have made it elsewhere and taken a step back to slow down and re-group. Both likeable and amusing, they bounce of each other from the start and their happy ever after is guaranteed, however long they take to get there.

The small town characters are amusing, interesting and drawn in with loving detail, the gossips and busybodies highlighting all the issues of living in a fish bowl. At times the clumsiness of the local cops did seem a little over the top, surely even they watch CSI, and I did expect our two heroines to kick off about the total lack of procedure, but maybe I misunderstand the politics of a small town police force and the authority of the Chief.

Gerri Hill fans will love it, and if you haven’t read any Gerri Hill where have you been? Always entertaining, she has a knack of quickly setting up a situation and giving a full story arc, while subtly developing her characters and building their connects through the action. Highly recommended – another great crime/romance from one of the masters of her trade – here’s hoping this is the first of a new series as I would definitely like more.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bella Books (May 16, 2017)
  • ISBN: 978-1594935503
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A Woman of Strong Purpose – SM Harding

A Woman of Strong Purpose - SM HardingBook two of the Kirkland & Pitt series set in McCrumb County, Indiana, finds ‘retired’ Marine CIS Colonel Win Kirkland and her new wife, Sheriff Sarah Pitt, trying to resolve battles on a whole host of fronts. Publicly they are deeply closeted because Sarah fears the backlash of the red county and losing her cherished job. Privately they have had nothing but support from those who know, and consequently Win, having suffered from the US Army’s policies all her adult life, chafes against the need to hide.

At the same time they have two major cases to solve. Sarah leads on finding a serial killer who clearly hates women. Win tries to help a colleague trace her son, only to be led into a high level game of spies, arms dealing, terrorism and torture. The cases are completely separate, but linked by the common theme of men abusing, using and killing women for their own twisted sense of pain or pleasure.

This contains some graphic scenes – we don’t get to witness the actual events, but the aftermath. And like the first book – a lot of sex. So if either aren’t your cup of tea then buyer beware.

The man characters are great, well rounded, complex and on deep personal journeys. The supporting cast is solid, growing in depth and breadth as we get to know them from both actions and words. The author has also portrayed a series of women with compassion and understanding, from the sex charged Pan the desperate Noor and the powerhouse Kemat, who makes such a brief appearance yet manages to dominate the book.

The story is well done, the arc and the balance between the three main story lines works well, as does the alternating point of view and voice from Win to Sarah, and thankfully the author avoids the pitfall of repeating a scene or explanation from both points of view. We occasionally get told both sides, but only from the emotional standpoint and only when both need a voice.

It’s fast paced and action packed, the local sheriffs department not only gains a SWAT team, the whole crew, including their retired army service dog Des, have all become action heros, swinging – literally – into action, rescuing damsels in distress and taking out the badies with barely a scratch.

And thats my only issue with the book, with the series. The action is great fun, but it does take a serious suspension of disbelief that these events all occur in one small town, targeted by a seemingly unending supply of serious criminals, terrorists and gun running middle eastern mafia, as well as a constant flow of top level MCIS and law enforcement agents. On top of all that the ‘bumbling’ local cops keep having to clear up, literally, for the MCIS. It feels almost as far fetched as a Clive Custler.

While it does stand alone it clearly makes more sense as part of the series as intended, the back-history of Win and Sarah can only be understood from having read both. It’s a great fun, breathtaking rollercoaster adventure with a serious undercurrent of the impact these adventures have on those involved, both physically and emotionally. Looking forward to reading book three.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

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The Big Sugarbush – Ana B Good

The Big Sugarbush - Ana B GoodSugarbush – a rehab centre for LGBT women – receives its new intake of 10 wealthy and diverse lesbians. From a pop diva to a plastic surgeon and a political activist to a Wall Street money maker, each of the characters is larger than life and seemingly, larger than the power of Babe, co-owner of Sugarbush, to control them, despite her firm rules of no sex, no drugs, no smoking. The following 30 days of ‘rehab’ is a wild romp of sex, drugs, self discovery, trans-journeys and a dollop of romance for good measure.

This is, undoubtedly, a funny book. There are is a nearly non stop rollercoaster of laugh out loud moments with slapstick comedy, biting wit and clever observation. Once past the opening scenes of arrival the plot unfolds into a comedy/farce/romance/drama worthy of the big screen. A series of personal journeys that becomes a progression of mini-plots loosely held together in the setting of the rehab centre.

The 10 main characters plus the therapist and varied friends, family and ex’s all well drawn, distinctive and effective. Some are very stereotypical, but for good reason, and others, who could be left as nothing but background get odd pockets of depth. The dialogue is extremely well done. All the characters have a distinctly separate voices and those individual voices and points of view are always clear. Despite managing such a large cast list it all flows and makes perfect sense, quite an achievement in the chaos going on.

The writing is witty and clever, the setting well drawn and distinctive and the who flows with a mad cap pace which can leave you breathless. I did think the editing let it down in places, I found the opening scenes repetitive past the amusing and there were editing errors which was a shame.

I have to admit it took me a while to get into this, but when the opening scenes were over and we started to develop an understanding of the characters, watch them interact and bounce off their own histories and each other, it became intriguing. Full of silliness and humour but also a real story of personal growth. It reminded me of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and it’s easy to imagine it filmed with a huge cast of great women actors. I ended up really enjoying it.



Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • First published 2016
  • Publisher: Hot Pants Press (November 23, 2016)
  • ASIN: B01MQNTHRI
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Forget-Me-Not Kris Bryant

Forget-Me-Not - Kris BryantWhen her great-aunt dies and unexpectedly leaves her everything, Grace flies to Dublin to sort out the estate and sell her aunt’s flower shop. Alone because her bestie cancelled last minute, she intended to get the shop sold and everything sorted as quickly as possible, fit in a small amount of sight seeing, and be back at work in a week. Work is her life and this trip is just an annoyance she can’t avoid.

Stepping off the pavement to take a photo, forgetting the cars are on the other side of the road, Grace causes a fiery redhead to drive into a bollard, and so set the scene for a less than friendly relationship with her realtor, Kerry. There is clearly more to the tension that a buckled bumper though, and as the story unfolds Grace gets to see how much the flower shop means to the local community. While she feels some guilt about the lost jobs and impact on Kerry’s family, ultimately Grace has every intention of cutting and running – just as soon as she has kissed an Irish girl.

This is a light and fun romance. The characters are endearing; Kerry’s family and the locals take Grace to their hearts in the way of welcoming small villages, especially as they loved her aunt. Grace is the archetypal workaholic who comes to realise some things are just more important. And along the way we learn a little of her great-aunt’s life and the impact the young Grace had on her when they met years earlier.

We get a great insight into the workings of a small Irish village, different in feel from so many American ‘Small Town’ tales, and the author clearly loved both the atmosphere, the community and the countryside, as it is drawn with loving care. The village and surrounds play an important part in the story, grounding and solidifying the characters and sense of belonging, Kerry is very much a part of her landscape.

Ultimately of course the story is one of girl meets girl, resists because it’s only a week, gives in and then we suffer the angst of whether they can make it work, how it will resolve. It’s a very traditional tale, but with enough of a spin to make it feel original and engaging. The angst is real enough, without being too overdone, the attraction is palpable and there is a lot of very hot sex… after all it can only ever be a week long fling.

Kris Bryant always seems to find something new to say and a new way to say it, taking a very simple story and making it original and engaging. Definitely an enjoyable summer read.


Did you know? If you purchase any of the books reviewed on the LRR from our Amazon shop or Amazon page links we receive a couple of cents per book which will help us support the Lesbian Reading Room GCLS Scholarship Fund.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes (April 18, 2017)
  • ASIN: B06XPGT5QW
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