Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coming 3/12: Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

We're excited to announce (after months of hiding out in our writing cave. Picture us underneath a wool blanket, banging on an old typewriter missing the "X" and "Z" buttons.) our next release. Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand is a YA dystopian and is Book One in the Clone Chronicles. It is due out 3/12. We can't wait! 

The cover went live on Monday and so far, the consensus is "chilling," "hauntingly beautiful" and "creepy gorgeous." What do you think? 

Everyone is exactly like me.
There is no one like me.
The rough fabric of my cotton nightgown chafes so I lie very still. 
They say my discomfort comes from being built like one accustomed to niceties. 
How is that fair when I myself have never experienced anything but copies of the real thing?
My entire life is an imitation.
I am an Imitation.
I’ve been here five years. Training. Preparing. Waiting.
And now I have a letter.
My assignment has begun.
I am a prisoner.
I am not Raven Rogen.
I am here to die.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I'm a writer for many reasons that I could skew to sound poetic, but really, I'm a writer because I'm a reader. The two go hand-in-hand.

But as a writer, there are certain things I find difficult to execute in my storytelling so, as a reader, I hunt those things down and dissect them. Because I want to LEARN.

Let's get one thing straight, though. I couldn't care less about grammatical mistakes. Obviously I "care" (mostly because my editor cares) but I don't look for, or get hung up on, grammatical mistakes in books. I read for the storytelling and not the technical execution. But that's an entirely different post. ;)

What I look for in books are the "ahh" moments. You know how sometimes you'll read a passage that is so moving you don't notice how your mouth has fallen open while reading? I never used to pay attention to those moments, but now I stop. I highlight. I reread. I ABSORB how the author made me experience that moment. Because it’s an art. Here are my favorites:

Laughing in Bed
If I laugh out loud while reading (which is usually around 2am because I only read at ungodly hours), I stop myself and read through the passage again. Written comedy is tricky. It's all about pacing and word choice and it always runs the risk of being cheesy. So when I laugh so hard I snort, I stop and analyze how the author set up that passage and how they managed to do it without sounding ridiculous.

Crying until my face hurts
If I cry--oh man, if I CRY--I scrutinize the chapter. What was written leading up to that moment that made me care? What words were used that made the first tear fall? What lines would I highlight? Sometimes, it's all about one-liners. I'm not talking about zingers and punch lines (although, those are fun). I'm talking about single sentences that say something real and heavy and take your breath away. Those are gold and I want to learn how to write them.

Am I blushing? Awesome!
There is a fine line between SWEET and SENSUAL and that line is all in the words. When an author can describe a guy's fingertips brushing over a girl's jaw and turn me on, then I know I’ve found a winner. Because fingertips on a jaw line can go several ways. Are his hands calloused? Are they freezing cold? Are they covered in pancake syrup? These are important details. Pancake syrup fingertips are not as sexy as warm fingertips brushing soft as a feather against that sensitive spot just below the ear. Sexual tension, folks. I read it. I absorb it. And I learn from it. Sometimes in more ways than one. ;)

Between the Lines
The last thing I pay close attention to is what ISN'T written. Passages that say a lot using only a few words always impress me. I know this seems backwards, because I'm a writer and, by definition, words are what I do. But I want to be deliberate with my words. A writer can spend five paragraphs setting up a scene filled with angst where their character struggles with making a choice between right and wrong. OR... they could just write, "Screw right and wrong. Some things just ARE. And those are the things you don't question." It's to the point without losing the integrity of the idea. Some writers are really great at this. Someday, I hope to be one of those writers.

So that's how I read. I read to laugh, cry, respond, and be moved. But mostly, I read to learn. And for me, that's what reading like a writer is all about. :) 

AP SAYS: This is our last week in our summer guest post series! (Booooo, I know!) so, we decided to give you a choice in your giveaway goodies. Plus, we couldn't decide WhICH Chelsea title to give you, so you have to choose. Enter via the Rafflecopter and THANK YOU, THANK YOU for following along this summer. We're hoping to share a few more posts over the fall/winter so keep an eye out for those. This summer was so much fun with all these authors hanging around the blog!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Muse--Is it Real? by Kristie Cook

Muse—Is It a Real Thing?

My most recent book, Power, the fourth book in the Soul Savers Series, just
released last week, and while I’m celebrating, I’ve also been whispering under my
breath, “Thank God I did it,” accompanied by a huge sigh of relief. In most ways, this
was the hardest book I’ve ever written, and there were many times I wasn’t sure I’d
ever get it done.

This book had more planning, preparation and outlining than any of the previous
ones and still I hit block after block. Sometimes I felt like my muse had left me for
good, proving that those other books were a fluke and I was a fraud. I know I’m not
the only writer who has gone through this, and knowing this helped me to keep
going. And, somehow I got it done. Whew.

So what does this say in the age-old debate of whether there’s really such a thing as
The Muse? Was it me, myself and I simply pushing through writer’s block to meet a
deadline? Or was some otherworldly entity inspiring me at the right times, allowing
me to continue? Well, I write about otherworldly beings, so I kind of like that second

But as much as I like it, is The Muse still just fantasy? Something creative people
have made up to provide excuses? “Can’t paint today. The Muse hasn’t struck.” “I
don’t feel The Muse, so I can’t write right now.” “Cancel my plans! I have to compose
while The Muse is hot!” We’re told by the masters to paint, make music, write
anyway, that we can’t wait on inspiration or we’ll never complete anything. And
there is truth to this.

I’ve found that every time I experience writer’s block, it’s because there’s something
wrong with the story. I’ve taken it in the wrong direction, I’ve forced a character to
do or say something that they’d never say or do regardless of motivation, or there’s
something else I don’t understand. Once I step back and realize the problem, I can
move on.

This happened a lot while writing Power. When I really felt at my wit’s end, in near
hysterics because I hated the book, thought I’d never meet deadline and my career
was destroyed, a random discussion with my publisher about the title brought on an
aha moment. A huge, ginormous, earth-shattering AHA!

I’d been writing and revising around the wrong theme—although it was written and
even revised more than once, I didn’t really understand what the story was about.
I’d been trying to make it fit around one idea (courage) when the story was really
about the main character coming into her own power. Once I figured this out, I was
able to revise the story with love and passion and take it to the next level.

So yeah, I’d written anyway when I didn’t feel inspired. And the story was good. But
it wasn’t great. And because of this, I have to say I believe in The Muse.

See, I had a thorough enough outline that I could still write a book, even if it wasn’t
very good. And, in fact, anybody could have written a book from that outline. Would
it have been the same story? Not even close. What we authors bring to each story
is what makes each one unique. Those ideas of brilliant inspiration take our stories
on unexpected twists and turns that surprise even us, the authors, as we’re writing.
That inspiration allows us to look at things from a different perspective and “work
through” writer’s block. Where do those ideas come from?

They come from The Muse. Maybe The Muse isn’t quite an otherworldly being, but it
does exist, and some people have more than one muse and even name them. Maybe
for some of us, The Muse feels like a completely separate entity from ourselves,
and for others, we believe it’s a part of us that only comes out when it feels like,
suddenly inspiring us to be creative. Just like the ideas a muse inspires, each one
is unique, spawning new stories, pictures, sculptures, songs, etc. for us to enjoy
throughout the ages.

What do you think? Do you believe in The Muse? Or do you think it’s a myth?

Kristie Cook is the author of the best-selling, award-winning Soul Savers Series,
including Promise, Purpose, Devotion and Power, as well as Genesis: A Soul Savers
Novella. She and her business partner own her publishing company, Ang’dora
Productions, in which she wears many hats besides “author.” Kristie lives in Southwest
Florida and besides all of her roles as indie author and business owner, she’s a wife,
mom to three humans and two fur-babies, aunt, daughter, friend, reader, motorcycle
rider and foodie. She can be found at and on Facebook (http://

AP SAYS: Thanks for stopping by Kristie!
Kristie is offering an e-book of Promise up for grabs! Woot Woot! Thanks Kristie! Just enter via the Rafflecopter. See you next week!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pros & Cons of Self-Publishing, by Raine Thomas

It’s such a pleasure to be a part of Accendo Press’s author series this summer. When I reviewed the list of topics to be covered, I was so impressed by the scope. I wish I had found resources like this before publishing my first book!

Who am I, you’re wondering? I’m Raine Thomas, wedding planner and author of a series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorians. I thought if I was going to chat with you about the pros and cons of self-publishing that I’d give you some background first…establish my “credentials,” if you will.

After attempting to secure a traditional publishing contract, I self-published my Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy (Becoming, Central and Foretold) on July 24th, 2011. I then released an Estilorian short story, The Prophecy, last November. My latest release, Defy (Firstborn Trilogy #1) came out on April 30th, and I’m in the process of editing Shift, (Firstborn Trilogy #2), for release in August. I anticipate having six novels and two short stories available by the end of 2012.

Yes, I did say that I work full-time in addition to writing. I’m also a wife and mother.

I don’t sleep much. I miss sleep.

Any-who…why am I sharing all of this with you? Because, in the spirit of Accendo Press, I want to inspire you. Wherever you are in your publishing journey, don’t ever give up. If I can do it, you can, too!

Okay, I think we’ve got a baseline established. Now I’d like to share what I consider to be the pros and cons of self-publishing:


1.      Full control over every aspect of your work. I’m a Type A personality. The idea of giving my beloved book over to a team of editors who’d then ask me to change it to suit their needs never sat well. By self-publishing, I control the content of my books, the look of the covers, how they’re marketed and priced, when they’re released, etc.
2.      Visibility of sales. Most traditional publishers send out royalty statements only twice a year. As a self-published author, I can check my sales throughout the day, and those royalty checks roll in at the end of every month.
3.      Greater retention of royalties. Self-published authors retain on average between 30 to 70% of each sale. This percentage depends upon the book’s price as well as where it’s sold. Most of my sales bring in 70%. Traditionally published authors typically retain between 1 to 15% of each sale. That’s a huge difference!
4.      Quick production time. From start to finish, I can write and publish a book in about three to four months. Manuscripts that go through traditional channels often take more than a year to actually hit the shelves. As a first time author, in particular, it’s hard to retain the interest of readers when they have to wait a year or more for your next book.


1.      Full control over every aspect of your work. I know…I listed this in the “pros” column, too. But it really is a double-edged sword. As a self-published author, you are responsible for every part of producing your book, even if you hire people to provide services for you. There is significant money and time involved in working with an editor and cover designer, creating a website, producing promotional materials, etc. If sales flop and you’re hit with extensive criticism because you’ve produced a steaming pile of a book, there’s no one to point the finger at but you.
2.      Less retail avenues. Like many self-published authors, my books are available everywhere eBooks are sold, including internationally. I also work with Amazon’s affiliate, CreateSpace, to offer paperbacks, but they must be ordered online. Unless they’re working with an agent, self-published authors don’t usually have books available in brick and mortar stores. For people who don’t own e-readers or smartphones, this is prohibitive, which means self-published authors are missing out on a market segment. And a movie deal? Just about unheard of for self-published authors.
3.      Stigma. There’s no getting around it. The vanity presses of old left a notable tarnish on the image of self-publishing. There will always be people who think that if you didn’t go through the traditional channels, you’re not a “real” author.

Thanks so much for letting me wax lengthy on this subject, Angeline, Heather and Jenn. I’m sure there are points I didn’t cover, and I’d love to hear from your readers on this. As for the third “con” above, I encourage anyone who feels that way to pick up an indie book…and I hope you’ll change your mind!

AP says: Thanks for stopping by, Raine! So glad to have you on our summer tour! The info here was great. If you have another pro or con and would like to share, leave it in a comment below. Here's a little more about Raine:

Raine Thomas is the author of an award-winning series of YA fantasy/romance novels about the Estilorian plane, including the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy and the Firstborn trilogy. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of America and is a contributing blogger to The Writer's Voice. When she isn’t planning weddings, writing or glued to social networking sites, she can usually be found on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches with her husband and daughter or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Stalkable links: 

Seventeen-year-old Tate is about to make her parents’ dreams come true. Unfortunately for her, their dreams foretell her death. Eager to explore more of the Estilorian plane and prove her abilities, Tate goes against her parents’ wishes and leaves the area of protection surrounding her home. Her choice puts her on a deadly path…one that leaves her alone, severely injured and battling for her life. Her possible savior arrives in the form of Zachariah, a male who has removed himself from Estilorian society for more than fifty years. Fighting an unexpected connection to Tate, he must decide whether saving her life is worth destroying his. As Tate struggles to find a way home, she ends up drawn into a dark Mercesti plot involving multiple murders and a powerful ancient artifact. With the unpredictable Zachariah as her only source for aid, she’ll soon find out if her abilities are strong enough to help her defy her Fate.

Available now on Amazon!

In honor of Shift coming out, Raine is offering an e-book of Defy, book 1 in her series. Just enter via the Rafflecopter below. Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Interview with Anne Violet, on self-publishing

Anne Violet, author of Enchant Me, is here today, answering our questions about her journey on self-publishing vs. traditional.

AP says: Where did the publishing journey begin for you?

Anne says: When I finished writing Enchant Me, I thought the only way to go was traditional publishing. I researched agents, and sent out more queries than I can remember. After about three months I heard from an agent. He told me that I had been pulled out of the slush pile by his assistant, and they really liked my work. I cried when I called my best friend and dad; I was so happy. I was struggling financially, and really needed a quick turnaround. I imagined immediate overnight success, with a decent advance. I know, I know, don’t laugh. Six months later he still hadn’t found a home for it. We’d never signed a contract, so I was back on my own. Like many artists, while I definitely had my moments of doubt, I did believe in my work, but felt lost on what to do, so more months passed.

AP says: What made you decide to go for it and try self-publishing?

Anne says: I am still good friends with my ex-mother in law, and after reading my story she convinced me not to give up on it. I belong to Romance Writers of America, and many authors including traditionally published authors were going the self-publishing route, so I figured what the heck, I’ll put it up on Amazon and see what happens. It started as a slow trickle of about three to four books a day, but sales have obviously grown beyond that. My sales go up and down, but I make more money, more often than I would’ve if I had gone traditional.

AP says: What do you love about self-publishing?

Anne says: Self-publishing gives a freedom that authors have dreamed of for a long time. Now authors can truly write what they love, not be restricted by what’s popular, or what the publisher thinks is going to sell. If you want to write a historical zombie romance, you can. I don’t know if you’ll make much money, but there are no limits to your creative freedom.

AP says: What is one thing an aspiring writer should do before either self-publishing or going traditional?

Anne says: If you are considering joining the ranks of the self-published, please join a writers group, there is one for about every genre. Hopefully the group you join is diverse in its experiences and knowledge, that way you don’t get just one point of view. I don’t know how well I would do without the advice and support of my group, they’re an invaluable resource in every way.

Thanks so much for stopping by and answering our questions. We’re so excited to read Enchant Me!
Even though she is only 17 years old, Alexis Maher has her life planned out, in all its creative, wacky, splendor. Unfortunately, fate has other plans. Her psychotic ex-boyfriend is stalking her, her new boyfriend is keeping a dangerous secret, and her own burgeoning powers just might kill her.

Find Anne here:

Blog / Facebook / Goodreads

Enchant Me is now available on Amazon / B&N / iTunes for just $.99!

5 reasons I love being a writer, Jessica Sorenson

Jessica says: I absolutely love being a writer. And here are 5 reasons why (although there are many, many more).

1.       Going somewhere different every single day.

I enjoy being able to go somewhere new almost every day. Technically I’m in my office, but wherever my characters go, I go with them. So one day I might be out in the snowy mountains in forty-below weather, and the next day I might be on the beach, enjoying the warm sunshine. Or on a really interesting day, I might be in a cave made of crystal and porcelain, hanging out with a group of people who can see into the future.

2.       Having a flexible work schedule.

I’m not an early bird at all. If someone wakes me up too early, they might get growled at.  But I’ve had jobs in the past where I have to get up earlier, so I was half out of it for most of the day. But as a writer, I usually start work later in the day and then work until late at night, when my brain’s more alert.

3.       It gives me the opportunity to put my imagination to use.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been told I have an overactive imagination. Now that I’m a writer I can finally put all my ideas and stories that I’m always carrying around in my head down on paper. And it’s fun to create characters and worlds just how I see them.

4.       I get a chance to meet a lot of great people.

Unfortunately there aren’t many people in my life that share my love for books. As a writer, I get to meet people who love books just as much as I do, whether its fans who love to read them, or authors who love to write them.

5.       Going to work in my pajamas.

It seems like such a silly thing, but I really do love being able to wake up, skip a shower if I feel like it, and go down to the office in my sweat pants and a t-shirt, without any makeup on.

AP says: Thanks for stopping by and sharing! 
To stalk, um, I mean, FIND Jessica, check her out on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.
Jessica is offering a giveaway of her vampy-futuristic YA, Darkness Falls. Check out the badass cover!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hats of Self-Publishing by M. Leighton

So, the lovely and talented Heather Hildenbrand and her pals at Accendo Press are doing this fantastic series on the ins and outs of publishing. It’s an inspired idea and I am thrilled and honored to participate. The topic I get to talk about is the many hats of self-publishing. And y’all, trust me when I tell you, we Indies wear them ALL! 

When I made the decision to self-publish (in other words, when my husband finally wore me down and wrestled me into submission), I had no clue what I was doing. Sometimes, I’m not sure much has changed. LOL But, it was a great learning experience, in which I was able to not only find low-cost or free ways to do things, but also to hone some skills I didn’t realize I lacked.

Let’s start with editing.

So, you have this masterpiece that the world MUST read. You’ve slaved over the plot and the characters for probably months already. What’s the next step, you ask? Editing. Editing, editing, editing.

As an Indie, some readers will tend to be more critical of your work, expecting it to be riddled with errors and grammatical mistakes. Why? Well, because, let’s face facts people. Many of them are. And it’s for exactly that reason you need to make sure your work is as flawlessly written and edited as it can be. I know not all of us have the money or the connections to find and hire a good editor. But there are critique groups galore on the internet, groups in which other writers will trade projects with you. That way, you can get another pair of eyes on your work, an objective pair that can not only help you spot those typos you missed, but also might be able to identify dropped threads or plot holes as well. And the best thing about an arrangement like that? It’s free! All you have to invest is some time to do the same for your partner. Easy peasy! Plus, it often ends up being the beginning of a great friendship. And who can’t use an extra friend or two, especially one that can commiserate with the trials and tribulations of being a self-published author.

Okay, now that your manuscript is flawless, you need to find a compelling and eye-catching way to introduce it to the public. How, you ask? A cover.

Let me first take a second to assure you that people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. It’s unfortunate, yet undeniable and unchangeable. Don’t make the colossal and costly mistake of underestimating the impact of your cover. Are you worried? Well, don’t be. Having a good cover doesn’t have to break the bank. Again, this is not something everyone can afford to outsource, although there are many cover artists out there nowadays who are extremely reasonable and do great work. But if you just can’t swing it or just can’t find something you like, you can go to any number of websites that offer royalty-free stock photos for a nominal fee. Just a couple are iStockPhoto and Shutterstock. Input that sucker into a program as simple as Microsoft Word and you can make yourself a fairly unique cover with which you can show off your latest brainchild. You don’t have to be a graphic artist to make your own cover, but wouldn’t it be nice if we were? *sigh*
AP says: ^^ This is proof M. knows what she's talking about when it comes to a rockin' cover! 

M says: Where are we now? Oh, right. We’ve got the masterpiece edited, we’ve got the cover polished to a sparkling shine. Now what? If your blurb is done, then you’re ready to upload your book. The two big daddies of the Indie pub world right now are Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There are several more coming on line, like iTunes and Sony, however you can reach those markets right now through Smashwords if you choose to put your work there. It’s probably one of the more difficult to format for, but with a little patience and some elbow grease, it can be done. Just have a margarita on stand-by. Trust me, it helps.

There are also options for creating your own paperback versions, too, which is a fantastic and very motivating thing to do. They can be a little tricky to get right your first time around, but there are few things more rewarding than getting that proof in the mail and holding in your own two hands the physical manifestation of all your hard work. I think most authors will tell you it’s in that moment that it all becomes real. And so, so sweet. I’ll never forget the first M. Leighton paperback I held in my hands. CreateSpace sent it to me from their print shop, but what they didn’t realize was that it actually came from my heart. Straight from my heart. I’m pretty sure that, to this day, there are still tear stains on that one. And yes, I’m a huge dork. I thought you knew!

Anyway, once you have your baby uploaded and possibly formatted in print and it’s showing its pretty face on the major websites, you can just sit back and let the money start rolling in, right? Ha, I wish! No, the hard part is actually just beginning.

As indies, any marketing of our work is up to us. That means, if you have a hope of getting your work out in front of readers, you must find a way to put it there. But how? Personally, I have just started marketing. I know, I know. Stupid, right? Probably. I was extremely blessed when I first started this last year, in that I didn’t do much in the way of marketing, yet my sales were still there. Unfortunately, that created a bit of a lazy monster in me and when my sales started to drop off, I was left floundering and confused. Since then, I’ve looked into various marketing strategies and eventually I will probably have tried them all. Everything from blogger reviews to paid advertisements, there are any number of options available, and you’re limited only by the amount of money you can afford to invest. But really, can you afford not to invest at least a little bit into this newfound, fledgling career? Not really, not if you expect to make a serious go of it. So look into it. All of it. As for a place to start, especially if you’re working from a tight budget, it is with bloggers. It will cost you only the price of your book, but the yield can be exponentially greater! And here again, there’s an increased likelihood that you’ll make some pretty awesome friends along the way. It’s win-win. What could be better?

What comes next? Well, I don’t know. That’s sort of up to you. For me, it’s been rinse and repeat. I’ve gone on to write over a dozen books since my first one. Does that make me an expert at it? *cue the uproarious laughter* Are you nuts? No, I’m no expert, and I probably never will be. But half the fun is in the journey, and I gotta tell you, publishing your own novel is one heck of a trip!

A special thanks to the wonderful ladies of Accendo Press. I appreciate the invitation to be here today and I’m so glad we got to meet! I consider you members of my “circle of trust.” *snickers* (inside joke) You’re cherished friends in this big yet sometimes small world of publishing. Here’s to a long and prosperous future together.

Oh and before I forget, I’ll be giving away a free Kindle copy of my latest book, The Wild Ones. The cover and blurb are below. It’s a New Adult Contemporary Romance. Just give me a follow on Twitter and you’re as good as entered. My handle on there is @mleightonbooks. I tweet the pertinent, the inane, and occasionally the wildly inappropriate, so consider yourself warned. Hehe.

Best of luck to you all! I’ll see you out there. 

M. Leighton is a native of Ohio, but she relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she can be near the water all summer and miss the snow all winter. Possessed of an overactive imagination from early in her childhood, Michelle finally found an acceptable outlet for her fantastical visions: writing fiction. Thirteen of Michelle's novels can now be found on Amazon, as well as several other sites. She's currently working on sequels, though her mind continues to churn out new ideas, exciting plots and quirky characters. Pick one up and enjoy a wild ride through the twists and turns of her vivid imagination.
Blog * Facebook * Goodreads * Twitter
E-mail * Amazon Author Page * Barnes & Noble Author Page

About The Wild Ones:

Passion as hot as midnight in the South and love as wild as the horses they tame.

Camille “Cami” Hines is the darling daughter of the South’s champion thoroughbred breeder, Jack Hines. She has a pedigree that rivals some of her father’s best horses. Other than feeling a little suffocated at times, Cami thought she was pretty happy with her boyfriend, her life, and her future.

But that was before she met Patrick Henley.

“Trick” blurs the lines between what Cami wants and what is expected of her. He’s considered the “help,” which is forbidden fruit as far as her father is concerned, not to mention that Trick would be fired if he ever laid a hand on her. And Trick needs his job. Desperately. His family depends on him.

The heart wants what the heart wants, though, and Trick and Cami are drawn to each other despite the obstacles. At least the ones they know of.

When Trick stumbles upon a note from his father, it triggers a series of revelations that could ruin what he and Cami have worked so hard to overcome. It turns out there’s more to Trick’s presence at the ranch than either of them knew, as well as a long and sordid family history full of secrets that could tear them apart.


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