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Monday, December 9, 2013

Finding an Abandoned Baby...with Theresa Romain and Giveaway


Finding an Abandoned Baby on Christmas Eve - Theresa Romain

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book.

Places to find Theresa:
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Room for One More

The theme for this story is “finding an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve.” At first I was stumped. How to bring together Christmas cheer with something so desperately vulnerable? And then I realized that I had already created characters who would understand this situation. In my most recent holiday historical romance, SEASON FOR SCANDAL, the hero has long been separated from his sisters in Cornwall. And they miss him; especially at Christmas, they feel his absence. They’re eager for family and for company. This story features the wistful younger sister…plus a bit of romance.

***

In Cornwall, windstorms grappled with windows and doors in a daily December refrain. So often did angry weather hammer against the house that tonight’s storm faded into the back of Mary’s awareness.

She was curled before a generous fire in the smallest and warmest parlor, reading one of the books her brother had sent for an early Christmas gift: Henry Fielding’s bawdy novel Tom Jones. A note from Edmund suggested Mary hide it from their mother, so she and her older sister Catherine—dark eyes winking at one another—had found a place to stash the forbidden goods.

In the many years since Edmund had left home, this was the first time he had sent a note with his gifts. At the age of twenty-three, Mary could hardly remember her elder brother, who had left for school around the time their father had died. Was it seventeen years since he had last been home? Eighteen? That wasn’t the sort of question one asked one’s mother, who took on a pinched, tired look every December as stern weather walled them in, as they spent another holiday alone.

Thud. Thud. The window’s panes rattled as if eager to free themselves from their wooden frame. Mary’s brows knit as she turned a page. This windstorm was worse than the usual. Thank goodness Browning had arranged to have extra coal and wood laid in. The barony’s steward, a handsome young Londoner Edmund had hired three years before, thought of everything.

Everything except Mary.

She turned another page, then another—no longer reading the words, but imagining a very different story. One in which her light hair was swept up and jeweled, and the quick, tall form of Browning cut toward her through a crowded London ballroom.

With a tap at the parlor door, the object of Mary’s thoughts entered. Dark-haired and bespectacled, the usual crimp of concentration marked his forehead. “Are you all right, Mary? This has turned into a dreadful storm. Hardly the way we’d want to see in Christmas. I’m not sure how your mother and sister are sleeping through the rumpus.”

Mary fumbled her book as she sat up straight in her fireside chair. “I’m fine, thank you. I was just—”

Thud. Thud. The storm seemed louder now, beating with resonance at the walls of the old family home.

No—that was more than the sound of wind. “Browning, could someone be knocking at the door?”

He tilted his head, firelight reflecting on the lenses of his spectacles. Thud, came the sound again. “Yes, I do believe so.”

Without another word, he turned on his booted heel and made for the front door. So much for Mary, for polite inquiries about her well-being, for a few moments alone. But the door must be answered. Especially in a storm, especially on Christmas Eve.

Her heart clenched. Would it be her brother, after so many years? More likely it was a scoundrel. A thief. A highwayman. Leaving behind her illicit book, she snapped up the fireplace poker and followed after Browning.

As he swung the door open, she saw no one at all; only a sweep of darkness, then rain driven inward to spatter their faces. And then—a thin cry brought her gaze downward.

Her hand went nerveless; the poker clattered to the stone floor of the entry hall. “Good God.” She sank to her knees and snatched at the small bundle left before the door. “A baby. Someone has left a baby.” Quickly, she gathered up the blanket-wrapped infant and scooted backward into the dry entry hall.

“One moment, Mary.” As she held the shivering bundle, crooning low, Browning darted outside. He was back in less than two minutes, wiping at lenses made opaque by heavy rain. “I can’t see a thing out there. No one. Nothing. There’s hardly any moon, and the —”

“And the person who abandoned this baby probably doesn’t want to be found.” An unwed mother, most likely, poor and desperate. One of the barony’s tenants? Mary could think of no one who might have borne a child recently.

But there were more immediate concerns. The little one was wet and cold—and so was Browning. “Come back to the red parlor,” Mary said. “All of us. We’ll get warm, then decide what to do.”

Still wiping at his spectacles, Browning squinted at her. His eyes were hazel, softer without the shield of their glass lenses. “Very well.” His mouth curved in a smile. “Lead on, Mary Ware.”

The back of her neck prickled as she led him back to the cozy parlor. Her feet seemed to fall awkwardly knowing that her paces were watched—and that she had no idea what to do once she reached the fireside. A baby, for God’s sake. What was she to do with a baby?

Well. First she must get the baby warm. Laying the infant before the hearth, she unwrapped its sodden blankets. “Can you find something dry for the baby?” she asked.

Browning’s footsteps moved away as he evidently searching the corners of the room for a blanket. Mary rubbed at the infant’s shivering skin, soft as a petal. The thin cries had gone quiet as the baby settled into a doze. A very young babe, still with the curled-kitten look of a newborn. “It’s a girl. Someone has left us a little girl, Browning.”

“Anthony.” Strong hands tucked a wool blanket around the infant’s sleepy body.

Mary looked, puzzled, to where Browning now crouched next to her. He had replaced his glasses, but his eyes still had that soft look. “Please—call me Anthony. I wish you would.”

For a moment, Mary gaped. Then a grin spread through her: heart to fingertips, face to toes. “Yes, Anthony. I would love to.”

“And what shall we do with this little one?”

We, he said. Mary liked that he said we. “Someone has given her to us as a Christmas gift, or us to her. Someone who could not care for her, who trusted we could.” A life laid in their hands. It was almost unimaginable, that someone could grant such trust to strangers. She bent over the tiny head crowned with fuzzy dark hair and kissed the girl’s forehead.

Her eyes closed. “She is ours to care for, Brow—Anthony. Whatever that may involve.”

“Whatever that may involve.” The words fell slowly from his lips.

“For any of us,” she corrected hastily, sitting back on her heels. “For my mother, and Catherine, and…”

“Is that who you meant?”

His hand covered hers, spread out on the carpet. A tower of coal tumbled and fell in the hearth, showing its fiery heart.

“I…” She stared at his fingers entwined with hers. At the little girl, slumbering and silent. So long ago, her family had been broken into pieces; this taste of sweet togetherness was painful in her throat.

Mary swallowed the lump in her throat, patting the sleeping baby’s soft belly. Soon the little girl would need to eat. Milk and treacle might do until they could find a wet-nurse.

They. She. Anyone. Pronouns didn’t matter to a baby.

“Mary.” Anthony nudged her. “Did you hang mistletoe?”

She followed his gaze, up, up the line of the carved chimney-piece. “Oh. Yes. I did that earlier today. It’s festive, isn’t it? But silly. I know it’s silly.”

“Not at all.” His thumb traced the line of her cheek. “It’s perfect, just as it is.” And he smiled, his voice low and bright as the opening notes of a carol.



UNLADYLIKE RISK

Jane Tindall has never had money of her own or exceptional beauty. Her gifts are more subtle: a mind like an abacus, a talent for play-acting—and a daring taste for gambling. But all the daring in the world can’t help with the cards fixed against her. And when Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick, unwittingly spoils her chance to win a fortune, her reputation is ruined too. Or so she thinks, until he suggests a surprising mode of escape: a hasty marriage. To him. On the surface, their wedding would seem to satisfy all the demands of proper society, but as the Yuletide approaches, secrets and scandals turn this proper marriage into a very improper affair.

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 Check out what's up for grabs.

Up For Grabs:
  • 1 copy of Season for Scandal

To Enter: 
  • Please leave a comment or question for Theresa.
  • Choice of print or eBook copy.
  • Please fill out the Rafflecopter form.

**Don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway!


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Special thanks to Theresa Romain for sponsoring this giveaway.
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88 comments :

  1. Oh Theresa!!!! I adore you so much! At first I was like, please have Edmund visit them oh please~ I had forgottwn about the babe, and then you just got me squealing in delight and giddiness towards the end. *sighs* You tease! Cutting it off at the best part! ;)

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    1. Ki, I'm glad you liked this! I agree, Edmund needs to meet up with his sisters again. At the end of SEASON FOR SCANDAL, Jane is talking him into it. :)

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  2. What a tease, Theresa!! I love the book blub so much that I want to know how everything all turns out NOW! Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year, Theresa!

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    1. Sandra, my work here is done. :) So glad you enjoyed the story. This takes place at the same time as the ending of SEASON FOR SCANDAL. A wonderful holiday season to you, too!

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  3. Love the excerpt, thank you.

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    1. Rita, thanks! This is a bonus story that takes place alongside the events of SEASON FOR SCANDAL. I was glad to get to tell an extra bit about these characters for the Historical Christmas Eve event.

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    1. Thank you, May! Glad you liked the story.

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  5. I really enjoyed the excerpt, and was sorry that it ended so soon. Thank you for this chance to win.

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    1. Diane, yay! Glad you liked it. This is an all-new extra tale connected with SEASON FOR SCANDAL. Edmund's sisters didn't get to appear onscreen (so to speak) in that book, so I was glad to tell a bit more about them.

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  6. I Love the excerpt!! and I'm looking forward to reading the whole story!!

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    1. Thanks, Betty! Hope you enjoy meeting Jane and Edmund!

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  7. Love the excerpt. It's so sweet & romantic!
    ps. I'm a wistful younger (youngest in my case) sister wishing for romance!

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    1. Linda, how cool! Best wishes for a very romantic holiday season and new year. :)

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  8. You have a gift with words, to pull us in with this small excerpt!

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    1. Sharlene, that's so kind. Thank you! It was fun to explore some characters who got mentioned in SEASON FOR SCANDAL but didn't get a scene of their own.

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  9. Great excerpt and blurb. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Kim, thank you for stopping by today! Isn't this a fun blog event? I stop by every day to read the new story that's been posted.

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  10. Oh, how I love your writing, Theresa! I especially look forward every year to your holiday romances--and this, your newest one! I love the excerpt and the unusual story of a foundling baby on the doorstep (and the romance to go with it). Thanks for writing--and I'll keep on reading your stories. And thanks for this post too! jdh2690@gmail.com

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    1. Janice, thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed this little story. :) Danielle gave me the topic, and it turned out to be a great fit for Edmund's estranged family from SEASON FOR SCANDAL.

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  11. What a sweet story :) Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I love stories of family connections, especially around Christmas!

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    1. Me too, Di. Family--what it means, how it changes us--is a major part of SEASON FOR SCANDAL.

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  13. Oh that sounds like a wonderful book. I like books like that. Makes for a beautiful Christmas with a warm heart!

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    1. Anna, thanks! If you read SEASON FOR SCANDAL, this story takes place at the same time as the ending. It was fun to go back to the world of that book and add to it a bit.

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  14. Keep writing more scenes. I love your characters. Thanks.

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    1. knye, that's so awesome to hear. Thank you! There are a few more stories in the "Extras" section of my website if you want a short holiday read sometime.

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    2. On my way there now. Thanks.

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  15. I love Christmas stories. I am a big fan, love your books. I will the short story you posted would go on, it was sweet. Thanks

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    1. Thanks, Sheryl! Edmund has two sisters, so maybe Catherine will get a story someday too. :)

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  16. Lovely short story, will it have a longer continuation?? :)

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    1. Hi, Mary! Maybe it will someday. I really liked looking at SEASON FOR SCANDAL's story from the Cornwall side.

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  17. Hi Theresa!

    What a wonderful story to help remain us of the "reason for the season"! I love all your books but this one was truly a special gift to us all to stop for a moment and think if we would have been brave enough to open our hearts and think of the well being of an innocent child instead of wondering what others might think of our decision.

    Christmas time is truly the one holiday that we should open our hearts and minds to the hard choices others have had to make during the previous year and send our blessings to them all without judging them. At this time of year I always remember the wise words of my childhood when my grandmother took be aside and reminded me to "judge not that ye be not judged".

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    1. Jeanne, how kind. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. Our awesome hostess, Danielle, gave me this topic to write on, and it inspired me to think about some SEASON FOR SCANDAL characters in a new and Christmassy way. (Sheer coincidence that Edmund's sister was named Mary, but it did work out well, didn't it?)

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. Ha, it looks like I censored myself! No such thing--I just screwed up the way I was replying to comments. Oopsie.

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  20. Loved the story and would love to read more of their story. I liked how her name was Mary, just perfect for a Christmas baby story.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I named Mary (and Catherine) almost a year ago, but it worked out just perfectly. So glad you enjoyed the story.

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  21. I realize I have poor balance, but I would stand on my head for a print copy (would you also sign it, oh pretty please??) of your book. I promise I would cherish it and take care of it.

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    1. Ha! Michelle, that's too funny. :) No acrobatics required! I'm giving away a few copies of SEASON FOR SCANDAL this month. And if you track down a copy on your own, just email me (theresa @ theresaromain.com) and I'd be happy to send you a signed bookplate.

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  22. I need to read Season for Scandal! It's on my list and I can't wait to get the time to sit down with it!

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    1. I hear you, Michelle--so many books, so little time...

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  23. Please don't pick me for S4S book as I have it. I'm a fanb from DANL & we have chatted before. I hopr your release goes well. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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    1. Glittergirl, my fellow lefty! Of course I remember chatting with you. Thanks for stopping by, and merry Christmas to you too!

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  24. That was sweet and well super sweet! For some reason I had a smile on my face when I read the second half of the excerpt after they discover the baby. I enjoy this series so much!

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    1. Sandy, you've got me grinning. Thanks, I'm so glad you've enjoyed this series!

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  25. Great excerpt, it's one I'll have to add to my TBR. IRS the perfect kind of story this time of year.

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    1. Steph, I start craving holiday romances this time of year too. Besides the Holiday Pleasures novels, I've written a few Christmassy short stories that are up on my website as free reads (in the Extras section) if you want another quick fix of festivity. :)

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  26. Loved the story, as well as the description of Season for Scandal and I'm looking forward to reading your latest.

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  27. I loved the short story. The book sounds intriguing. I love Christmas romance.

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    1. Lori, me too. :) Author Katharine Ashe has put together a list of new Christmas romances--have you seen it? I might as well call this web page "books to add to my TBR pile." http://www.katharineashe.com/list-of-christmas-romances-2013/

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  28. I love historical romance and I shall add you to my list.

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    1. Thanks so much, Debby! Hope you enjoy my books.

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  29. Brilliant! I loved the excerpt and now I'm anxious to know how this ends. Thanks for sharing :) I can't wait to read this book!
    Happy Holidays
    Lori

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    1. Lori, that's all there is (for now)--this is a bonus that ties into SEASON FOR SCANDAL. Now that I've started writing these characters, though, I'd love to come back to them in the future. :) Happy holidays to you too!

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  30. I'm glad that I discovered your books.

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    1. Elizabeth, I am too. :) Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  31. Awww. So sweet and so very much left unsaid... Or in this case, unwritten! Very nice side story! Thanks for sharing with us. :-)

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    1. Glenda, so glad you liked it. Yes, these two have a long way to go--but it's a start for them. :)

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  32. Such a sweet excerpt; I'd love to read more!

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    1. Yay! Glad to hear it. That's all I've got on these two for now, but they might turn up again in a future short story.

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  33. The mistletoe is such a nice touch. Thank you for the excerpt. lisagk(at)yahoo

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    1. Lisa, I couldn't leave out mistletoe in a Christmas story!

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  34. Hi Theresa! What is the favorite book that you've ever written? Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Meghan, tough question! The answer is "the one I've just finished," whereas my least favorite is "the one I'm working on." :) But more seriously, there are things I love about them all. SEASON FOR SCANDAL is the first romance I've written where the hero and heroine are a married couple, so that made it special to me.

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  35. When are you actually writing holiday books? How far ahead?

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    1. Mary, I work on them about a year ahead. Right now I'm working on the fourth Holiday Pleasures book. I'll turn it in at the end of January, and it'll be published in October 2014.

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  36. Hi Theresa, I've only recently discovered you and your books but haven't had a chance to read them yet. That will change very soon. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Karen, so glad you came across my books! Thanks so much. Hope you enjoy.

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  37. I love Christmas stories. Not sure if I have read one of an abandoned baby before. Pretty cover too.

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  38. Sounds like a great holiday read!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

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  39. I'd love to read Mary's story, a very sweet excerpt :)
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  40. Theresa, I am looking forward to reading "Season for Scandal" this holiday season. It's my gift to myself.
    Thanks, Sharon

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  41. Love it!! One more book to add on my list.

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  42. I really like the blurb of season of scandal, can't wait to read :)

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  43. Reuniting a family is a wonderful thing. I can't believe it's been 18 years since Edmund saw his sisters.

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  44. thanks for the giveaway chance!

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  45. Loved the excerpt! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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  46. Hi Theresa! Love your books. I'm really looking forward to your new one. Merry Christmas!

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  47. Thanks for the giveaway! Loved the excerpt!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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