Category Archives: Novella: 100-150 pages

Alpha Trine by Lexi Ander

Alpha TrineAlpha Trine by Lexi Ander
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Less Than Three Press
Novella:  49,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  4
 

The sole survivor on a science vessel adrift in deep space, Zeus was adopted by the Emperor and Empress of the Mar’Sani, though he is both human and blind, and seen by most as unfit to join the royal family. Though they were able to repair his vision, Zeus does not trust his eyes and the nobles of his parents’ court refuse to ever trust a frail human.

Dargon Kal-Turak, along with his symbiote and lover Alpha, command one of the most dangerous ships in the stars. Narrowly escaping a trap, they dock in a space port to make repairs, but find that the Psonics hunting them are closing in fast. In desperation they kidnap the port Master Mechanic, unaware that the man they’ve brought on board is more than he seems, and will bring far more upheaval to their ship, their lives, and the stars than any of them could have imagined.

Excerpt

This was a great book for the beginning of a series.  The world building done by the author was tremendous.  There are lots of different characters and worlds to describe to set up the story.  The author did well with integrating it with the story line so the reader doesn’t get this HUGE info dump that just bores and takes away from the story.  Instead she dives into it and gives us enough to not get lost and the rest we receive along the way without really noticing what the author is doing.

The characters the author created are very vivid and realistic.  Dargon is so arrogant and has to be taken down a notch.  Zeus is an interesting character.  I love that Zeus was adopted and then treated so much the same by his family.  I thought the author did a good job of setting it all up so you could see how a child like Zeus was struggled with the fact that he is but isn’t a race.  He was also very discerning when it came to skills.  He and Dargon did well with figuring out how to attack a problem.  The side characters are interesting and I am anxious to see what the author has in store for the whole group.

Though this is the first in a series and as the author leaves it there are a lot of loose ends but she does a good job in wrapping up this story in such a way that you aren’t climbing the walls waiting for the next book.  No cliffhangers!  Gotta like that;)

It was stated at the beginning of the story that this was created by a prompt from a group.  From that this series was born and the author was obviously inspired by it.  It is amazing what can come out of a fun prompt writing project!

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Cry Wolf by Jay Ellison

Cry WolfCry Wolf by Jay Ellison
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Courtesan Press
Novella:  51,738 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  Dead Rose
 

Call of the Wild…

Kevin Sullivan has never minded being a werewolf. He has a great job, a little sister who adores him, and plenty of good friends. But an erotic encounter with Roman Le Feuvre, the sexy, mysterious Alpha of the Bloodmoon Pack, leaves Kevin feeling lost, lonely and desperate for companionship for the first time in his life. Roman is shrewd as both master of Wall Street and king of the New York werewolves, but he harbors a dark secret that’s about to turn Kevin’s world upside down. Kevin wants nothing more than to find his place in Roman’s pack–and in his heart!–but dark forces may leave him crying wolf.

Excerpt

I bought this book on a whim.  I loved the different view of werewolves.  Unfortunately this book gives very little plot to go with it.  The story contains LOTS of sex.  This isn’t always a bad thing but in this case there was no connection to be felt between partners.  Yes, there is a “love” angle to the story but I really didn’t understand why they were in love.  They didn’t talk much or hang out very long.  It seemed like since they were both Pedigrees that they would get together with an open relationship.

I want to say that the writer really did make the characters interesting.  I believe if there had been more development to the story and a little less of the sex that the book would have been better.  I had no issues with the open nature of relationships portrayed by the author.  The issue is connection.  I felt nothing for the characters.  I actually felt more for Hannah, who is a side character.  I really felt that the author was more about the sex than the story line so it suffered.

So, I didn’t care for this book.  I may keep an eye out for the author since he seems to have some wicked story ideas and hope that his writing improves.

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No Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht

No Tea, No ShadeNo Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novella:  37,721 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

When Hank’s father catches him in a not-so-innocent childhood embrace with the neighbor Hank’s older brothers refer to as “Ladyboy Lindsey,” he forbids Hank ever to see his best friend again and sends Lindsey home in tears. Later, despite landing on opposite ends of the social and sexual spectrum in high school, neither can forget the boy who gave him his first kiss. While Hank becomes a sports star and bully, Lindsey throws himself into an elaborate sexual game played from afar for Hank’s benefit. When Hank’s football scholarship takes him away to college, their tenuous bond seems severed for good.

After Lindsey finds his calling as drag diva Miss Anne Thrope, embracing both his male identity and the natural androgyny of his intersex body, he’s finally in control of his world…until the night his first love disrupts Miss Anne’s show after a decade of silence. Hank’s dysfunctional behavior, crazy father, and their bittersweet history together threaten to destroy their fragile new romance before it’s truly begun. Should they let go of the past, or is this unique love one worth saving?

This is a story of two childhood friends that are forced by one’s father to part but never really “closed” the relationship.  Lindsey is a drag queen and quite happy with the life he leads.  He had no ambitions in school and loves to dress up.  Hank was Lindsey’s best friend in childhood but when Hank’s Dad catches them in a compromising situation he bands them from ever playing together any more.  Hank stalks Lindsey throughout high school with Lindsey’s full knowledge.  All of that ends though when Hank goes away to college and the two part ways.  Now Hank has returned and they beginning seeing each other.

This was an interesting read.  I really didn’t connect to the characters.  Hank went from totally jerk to fool in love.  I just thought his character a bit wish-washy.  Lindsey’s character was more even keeled.  The two of them fit together though and the story was cute.

Now the writing itself was not as well executed as it should have been.  I enjoyed the descriptions.  The plot was good and could have made a really good book.  I think the author just crammed too much into too little.  The characters aren’t developed enough.  The critical points aren’t well developed.  They skim over everything and then develop “easy” solutions.  There isn’t the growth of the story that could turn the book into an excellent read.  It makes the story too soft but without the mushy feel that make “soft” books comfort reads.

Overall it was an ok read but really missed the mark on execution of the plot.  The book itself is a nice read.

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Masters & Boyd by S.J.D. Peterson

Masters & BoydMasters & Boyd by S.J.D. Peterson
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novella:  26,648 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Carrick Masters and Edward Boyd have already found true love—it’s the happy ever after that’s eluding them. Between Carrick’s job as an orthopedic surgeon and Ed’s career as a defense attorney, they have hardly any time to spend together, and what time they do have seems to be poisoned by resentment. Carrick and Ed know they need to refocus to make their marriage work, but they seriously need more than a spicy once-a-week date night to get them back on track.

Excerpt

This was a story originally done from a photo and a prompt in the Goodreads M/M Romance group.  The author has done a wonderful job within a short story format.  This is about and established couple and how their very happy marriage crumbles under real world pressures.  When the two men hit a point of their marriage almost breaking under the strain, they resolve to fix it.  The story itself chronicles their relationship for about 2 years.

Carrick is a surgeon and his husband, Ed, a lawyer.  They are both very successful but busy.  They notice that their relationship is becoming all work with the occasional night of sex.  They are losing touch with each other and the small things that mean so much to the relationship.  They finally take time to fix their marriage.  In the course of doing so they stumble across the fact that Ed likes to be spanked and Carrick likes to be in control during sex.  They start to explore this difference in their love life and find it something they both enjoy.

I thought the writer did a good job with the plot.  The whole of the story was pretty much a flash back which contains flash backs.  That sounds confusing but the writer manages to make it very smooth and with no confusion as to what is happening.  The believability of a relationship “hitting the rocks” like this makes the story interesting.  How do they change where they are headed?  And how did this vanilla couple put these kinks into their love life?

The characters are simple but easy to sympathize with.  They are made believable by how they are letting just the little stuff intrude and tear them apart.  I will say that I really didn’t connect with them though.  I think it is a bit of the nature of a short that it is very difficult to create a character that connects to the readers.  In this case I just didn’t have enough emotion devoted to the story to connect with the characters.

This is a sweet little story and good read.  I would recommend it to anyone.

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Bound by Honor by S.E. Jakes

Bound by HonorBound by Honor by S.E. Jakes
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Novel:  58,570 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

A promise forces two men to bare themselves…completely.

Men of Honor, Book 1
One year ago on a mission gone wrong, Tanner James failed to save the life of Jesse, his Army Ranger teammate. Before dying in that South American jungle, Jesse extracted a promise that won’t let Tanner rest until it’s fulfilled—no matter what it costs him.
Damon Price loved Jesse, but problems in their relationship had come to a head right before Jesse left on his final mission. Now a reluctant Dom and a man still in mourning, he’s not happy when Tanner appears at his BDSM club. And even less happy with Jesse’s last request—that Tanner sub for him for one night.
After a rough start, Damon realizes that the tough soldier, despite his protests, aches for someone to take control. And Tanner senses a hesitance, an insecurity in Damon that makes him wonder if he’s simply a placeholder for Jesse, or if their tentative connection could grow into something more.
For Jesse’s sake, they agree to try one weekend together. Then duty calls, and a series of attacks that have been happening near the club hits too close to home, making both men wonder if giving their hearts is a maneuver fraught with too much risk…

Warning: Contains rough language, rougher sex and warriors who fall hard for each other.

 Excerpt

I must admit that at the beginning of the book I did REALLY not like the story.  The way that BDSM was portrayed and the military men just wasn’t sitting well.  Most special forces men aren’t these over the top power looking guys.  (Now from the description of LC I could believe him to be one.)  Those men are in shape, have to be, but a lot of them are ordinary in order to fit in that is how they usually are.  Now there are exceptions but it seemed like LC was the only norm.

The story did get better.  Actual BDSM in the story is not really a factor.  It is more restraints than anything.  I never warmed up to Damon, Tanner gave him too many chances to stay instead of every time running.  As a military man I have a harder time believing that Damon wouldn’t have seen to at least some of his issues but that is just me.  The relationship really doesn’t develop.  It just starts and has these jerky movements and then it is full blown love…umm, yeah, no real development.  I just didn’t see this as being at all realistic.

The writing wasn’t as good as I had hoped.  It wasn’t bad it just didn’t make me believe.  There isn’t great detail and it is rather jerky in development.  The characters aren’t great.  I got LC more than the main characters.  Tanner has very little background other than he seems to be a brat of a rich kid.  Damon also has bits of information thrown out there but I ended up still feeling like I never knew them.  There was just not a connection made to these characters.

The storyline itself was interesting.  I think I could have enjoyed it more if the development was better.  I liked the premise of the story and the mystery of Damon’s background and who was after them.  I didn’t like how the author put it all together.  Still I found some enjoyment in the read so it wasn’t all bad.

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Lycan Partnership by Ariel Tachna

Lycan PartnershipLycan Partnership by Ariel Tachna
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  80,476 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

A spin-off of the Partnership in Blood series. 

By the time the alpha of the Morvan werewolf pack approaches l’Institut Marcel Chavinier for help solving his people’s fertility problems, pack numbers have dwindled and the remaining members are desperate. Though the wizards at l’Institut have no experience with werewolves, their lore, or their brand of magic, Raymond agrees to help.

At l’ANS headquarters, Raymond finds Marc Gourlin, a young wizard fascinated with werewolves. Marc agrees to visit the werewolves’ home to study their rituals for the source of the problem. But when he arrives, he finds himself distracted by Adenet Silaire, the pack shaman. The attraction between them is powerful, but though Marc suspects he might be Adenet’s mate, Adenet rebuffs him. Marc is a man, and Adenet’s sense of responsibility will not let him take a male mate when the pack so desperately needs children.

Meanwhile, Jean and Raymond discover the Aveu de Sang allows a vampire’s Avoué to calm his inner beast. For Jean and Orlando, this is wonderful news—but it only convinces Thierry how much Sebastian is missing out on because they cannot form an Aveu de Sang. Determined to give his partner everything he can, Thierry sets out to recreate the bond denied them by Sebastien’s past.

Excerpt

I enjoyed this book quite a bit.  I actually recognized Tristian when he came into the book; I read his story looooong ago.  The writing was well done.  I think this author really does do a good job with her writing.  The world is complex yet simple to understand and the descriptions are vivid enough to bring you into the story.  The characters are real enough that they are enjoyable.  They aren’t perfect but they are realistic.

The storyline is fairly simple and really the only thing that I can gripe much about is how the story is split up with all the different couples and not concentrated on the main story line.  Still if you have enjoyed the original series that this is “spun” off of then this is a good update on what is happening with them and how they are doing in their lives.

The story is fairly simple for the main thread.  Adenet is the shaman of the wolf pack that comes to Raymond for help.  Raymond sends Marc to help with the pack’s fertility problem since Marc knows the most about werewolf lore that Raymond can find quickly.  Adenet thinks he must participate in the ritual and help the pack by providing pups.  It is obvious to the reader what the problem is but that does little to detract from the story other than a mild frustration.  I must admit to not really liking Adenet.  Even at the end I find myself still upset with the guy.  He is just so dumb about the whole thing.  I don’t understand why he is like that when even his own Alpha is pushing him towards Marc.  Marc I felt was a little too “easy”.  I thought he would have fought more when Adenet was such an idiot.  I think that detracted a little for me.  Most people would have been more upset than Marc and not apologized for running away.  *sigh*  I just want those in the story happy at the end but they have to REALLY realize what they have and pay for mistakes so they get how precious it is.

Overall I must say this is a very good book and well worth a readers time, even if, like me, you haven’t finished the original series that this came from.

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Thick as Thieves by Tali Spencer

Thick as ThievesThick as Thieves by Tali Spencer
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  62,645 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  4
 

After Vorgell the barbarian fucks himself with a unicorn horn, he ends up in a cell with Maddog, a pretty young thief. It’s lust at first sight for Vorgell—but honestly, he can’t help it. Unicorn horn is a potent aphrodisiac, and now he can’t stop thinking about sex. Luckily, Madd is one male witch who knows how to put Vorgell’s new magical body to good use when he tricks Vorgell into a kiss that helps them escape.

Vorgell may desire sex in general—and Madd in particular—but Madd has no intention of being screwed by a man twice his size. He has problems of his own, including an enchanted collar that causes him to desire his most hated enemy. He wants that collar off as soon as possible, but that requires stealing a basilisk egg from the castle they just escaped.

Drawn together by lust and magic, the two men join forces and soon find themselves up to their necks in witches, wizards, and trouble. Vorgell and Madd might just be perfect for each other, but first they have to survive long enough to find out.

Excerpt

So this story had so much potential for either a comedy of a read and a serious fantasy read.  The author seems to have tried to balance the two.  Vorgell is a barbarian who is mostly brawn.  He is smart though it is mostly in battle stratagem and when he doesn’t want a fight he wants sex.  When he kills a unicorn and eats magically berries he ends up screwing himself with a unicorn horn!!!  This results in the horn dissolving completely into him and filling him with magic.  He is capture by the baron of the land and thrown into a cell with Madd who is the baron’s love slave.  Madd is not pleased, of course Madd is not usually a happy camper.  Madd uses Vorgell’s blood to aid both of them in escaping.  The two then form a partnership that sees the two very different men into lots of interesting predicaments.

The writing is good.  The author does a good job in world building.  The characters are a fun and varied cast.  The descriptions are vivid and easily draw a reader into the world.  I think the biggest thing with this book is the fact that the book could have gone one of two ways but did neither.  As funny as the blurb sounded I was expecting a humorous read maybe with a more porn than plot storyline.  The book wasn’t that though.  There is a solid storyline to the book.  It is a very enjoyable one as well.  There was underneath all the silliness a solid story.  I enjoyed the humor of the read but I think if the author had gone the other way that this would have been a WONDERFUL read and may have earned a top rating.  As it is written there is a little too much derailing of the story to make this a top read.  It is still a very enjoyable read though.  I would even recommend it.

I loved Vorgell’s simpleness.  To him everything was easily boiled down, protect what is yours.  He was all for fighting and sex.  When he falls for Madd everything for him is complete.  He has someone who understands him and gives him what he needs and so Madd becomes his center.  Madd isn’t as simple.  Madd is a bit of a harder sell.  I wish he would have thawed a little more.  I like to really see affection in my couples but there is a little crack in Madd and for his character that is near enough to Vorgell’s devotion.  The two men complement each other well.  There isn’t much that they actually don’t manage well when together.  The author did a good job in making me want Vorgell to get Madd in the end.

The ending is a bit incomplete and leaves room to have a sequel or leave the story as it stands.  It is a nice read.  I think if you are looking for a good read that isn’t very serious or angsty this is a good choice.

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A Beautiful Disaster by Will Okati

A Beautiful DisasterA Beautiful Disaster by Willa Okati
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novella:  38,958 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

After being betrayed and abused by an ex-lover, Sean trusts no one–but he can’t help wishing he could trust gentle-hearted tattoo artist Riordan. When these two vulnerable men, scarred inside and out, find each other, neither is willing or able to walk away.

Both starved for touch and lonely in his self-imposed exile, Sean can’t help wanting Riordan both body and soul and in his bed, and Riordan is captivated by the sweet nature and the beauty he can still see beneath Sean’s scars. Yet despite his hunger for affection, Sean can’t break free of a cycle of shame and despair, not even as Riordan’s falling in love with his beautiful disaster.

Will Sean be able to break through the barriers he’s built around himself and let Riordan in–and will Riordan find the key to unlock Sean’s frozen heart?

Excerpt

We see Sean desperately trying to escape his boyfriend, Leo.  He is betrayed and run down by Leo.  We next go to Riordan and his friend Jae.  They see Sean at a bus stop.  This is the first that Riordan and Sean see each other and they think the last but fate has another plan.

This story has LOTS of potential.  I think the plot wasn’t as good as it could have been.  Sean is so wounded in body and spirit.  The biggest snag for me was Sean.  Sean would have been believed more by police and the system.  I’m not saying the boyfriend wouldn’t have gotten off still but he would have been believed.  He would have received counseling I’m sure.  I doubt how damaged he still was would have been missed by the professionals.  Considering that he supposedly didn’t have counseling he seemed like he was more open than I expected.  I also have a hard time with the amount of abuse he went through.  I’m sorry but he tried to escape and had those marks on his back they would have figured out what was happening and helped him more.  I almost wished the author wouldn’t have put in the running over item.  I think the story would have been more believable for me and may have made an even better one.  Sean would still be scarred so it would have fit with the direction of the story.  He would have also still been scared and ready to run which makes even more sense than the way it was portrayed in the storyline.

Riordan was a much more believable character.  That he wasn’t hardened by his work too much isn’t even a stretch.  I think the story was just a little too shallow.  We just don’t get much background details on the two men and so it leaves a lot of emotional detail lacking for the reader.  I wanted to like this story so much more than I did but in the end it failed to live up to the promise in the storyline.

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Ghoul’s Gym by T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin

Ghoul's GymGhoul’s Gym by T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Novella:  100 Pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  5
 

You’ll never want to exercise again as Eric Arvin and TJ Klune turn a gym full of hunks into a smorgasbord of terror in GHOUL’S GYM.

This is the individual release of Ghoul’s Gym which was originally published as part of the Zombie Boyz anthology.

Excerpt

Wow!  This wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  I think the authors did a fabulous job weaving together their two “voices” into this book.  The story doesn’t come off as having two authors but as having one.

The story is disturbingly bloody and vicious with humor too.  Under it all is a love story that makes you cry.  The whole of the story the authors keep you guessing at who is going to survive and what is going to happen next.

The characters are a bit strange.  Uly is a personal trainer who is a bit clueless about how much the love of his life is suffering with his body image.  Jake is teased by Uly’s boss and others at the gym because he isn’t all buffed up.  Uly doesn’t seem to get how much it is bothering Jake.  Jake really lets these bullies get to him.  He is bringing all of this into the relationship and making everything worse.  Talking to Uly doesn’t seem to make any impact on the situation either so Jake is internalizing it all.

The authors’ version of how zombies come to be is very interesting and creative.  I will admit that the read starts out sounding really bizarre and not at all like it will be enjoyable but by the end it captures you and makes you really care about the characters and their situation.

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Sub Zero by Angel Martinez

Sub ZeroSub Zero by Angel Martinez
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Amber Quill Press, LLC
Novella:  40,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Major Aren Dalsgaard’s newest assignment is to investigate a series of murders on the frigid planet, Drass, where relations between the Treaty settlers and the natives have taken a nasty turn. A linguist and trained xenologist, Aren should be the ideal Special Investigations officer for the assignment. So what’s the problem? Drass is where he died, more than a hundred and twenty years ago.

Sent by his family to the chigyel city, Nyachung finds himself confronted with a murder charge, racial prejudice, and a cryo-revived investigator who claims to be a hero from his grandmother’s generation. Major Dalsgaard could be crazy or he could be lying, but the sincerity in his spring-green eyes disturbs Nyachung more than anything else he encounters in the foreigners’ city.

Now, confronted with mysterious black boxes and a beautiful yet evasive young man as a prime suspect, Aren hopes he can solve the murders before his fierce sexual attraction to Nyachung gets the better of him…

 Excerpt

Aren is the main character of the story.  He is a man lost in a future world.  Aren had been a linguist and a xenologist when he met with a man on Drass and fell in love.  He and his lover died in an accident and Aren was frozen by his government.  Now he has been revived over a hundred years later and all he knew is gone.  He now works as an investigator and is sent back to Drass to investigate a group of murders that is happening there.  Nyachung is a “native” of the planet Drass.  He is of the same race as Aren’s lover.  Nya is also the one that the authorities arrests for the murders that have happened in the city.  Now Aren must find out what is happening and what to do about his sudden attraction for Nya.

The world building that the author did in the book was amazing.  In short order without a huge info dump we are able to learn so much about the world we enter into.  Aren is an interesting character.  It is obvious that he was a rebel and believed in doing right.  Even now in this unknown future he struggles to make sure that what he believes is right it done even if it goes against the current bigotry and racism.  Aren isn’t current to the times but he does remember how hatred works and when things don’t make sense.

Nya is a singer.  When I first heard this and realized that the author was most likely to put these two together I couldn’t believe it.  A singer with a ledged and rebel, because that is what Aren is to Nya’s people.  Until I understood Nya’s people I didn’t think a singer would be a big role player in this world.  I love that Nya’s people are so peaceful.  They are a wonderful culture that I’m sure we all wish there were more like.  I think that human nature as it is took advantage of this sweet race of people.  I’m glad to see Aren return and help them.

This story is a really lovely one.  The writing was excellent and the characters and world just vibrant.  I really enjoyed the read.  I will say some may have difficulty with Aren and Nya’s relationship considering that Aren’s death, along with his lovers, seemed to him to have occurred a short time ago.  Some will wonder about the amount of time that Aren seems to have grieved for his lost love.  I will say it seemed to have been really quick.  I would have enjoyed seeing that play out a bit more.  The route to love seemed to get drowned in the story itself.

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