Friday, March 27, 2015

The Book Lover's Den #18: Why The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy Is ABUSE

Welcome to my Friday feature!

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

As an eclectic blogger, I enjoy reading romance novels of various types, including paranormal, historical, contemporary, Young Adult, and inspirational. In recent years, I have begun to shy away from adult romance novels, and reading more YA  romance novels, because of the overly graphic sex scenes, as well as foul language, in the adult novels. Needless to say, I refuse to read erotica, and the reason for that is what is known as "kinky sex". Although not all romance novels classified as "erotica" contain this type of -- let's call it what it REALLY is -- perverted sex, I still don't like reading all the minute details of an act that is, in reality, sacred, if performed by people who are in love and truly committed to each other. The erotica genre, however, is all too frequently full of perverted sex, which is sex that, for the most part, does not contain the two ingredients I have just mentioned. Therefore, such things as "threesomes" will be found in this genre. This is totally disgusting! And then, of course, there's BDSM.

These four letters stand for some really disgusting, totally sick acts, supposedly engaged in through mutual consent. I fail to see how such could be the case with psychologically healthy individuals. After all, the "S" in this acronym stands for "sadism", and the "M" for "masochism". I suppose that there are people who really do enjoy these types of activities, and do indeed mutually agree to engage in them. That doesn't mean they are psychologically and emotionally healthy practices, or that the people engaging in them are psychologically and emotionally healthy.

All too often, I'm sure, what really happens is that one of the parties involved "persuades" the other, who is hesitant, to "participate". And I'm willing to bet that, in most of these cases, it's the woman who "needs" to be "persuaded", or more truthfully speaking, COERCED. 

After some Google research, I discovered and read an article on the subject, posted on the Psychology Today website. While it does state that people who mutually consent to these practices seem to be happy and well-adjusted, I'm sorry, but I find this VERY hard to believe, and the article also states that BDSM practices still carry social stigma. There are two graphs included that show the percentages of male vs. female dominants, as well as male vs. female submissives. How interesting......48% of men take the dominant role, while only 8% of women do so. I was, however, appalled to find that 76% of women take the submissive role! I really wonder if they do this out of their own free will.....Now this doesn't mean I think there should be more female dominants. I think that ANYONE who indulges in these activities needs psychological treatment, whatever the Psychology Today article may state. You can find that article HERE.  

It's certainly very clear that, in the case of the Fifty Shades of Grey books, the female protagonist -- Anastasia Steele, who has a VERY ironic name -- is seduced and coerced into participating in these activities. Christian Grey, the narcissistic, self-indulgent, cynical player with tons of money, has lots of sexual experience, particularly in the area of BDSM, having been "initiated" by an older woman when he was a teenager. He then puffs himself up as being SO knowledgeable about sex, especially in the eyes of an inexperienced, impressionable young girl.  Later on in the books, his controlling, abusive behavior is "excused" due to the fact that he himself was abused by this older woman. This is one of the reasons I DETEST these books!! Oh, the poor little abuser......he was abused himself, so OF COURSE he just can't help abusing others!

Although I have not read any of the books, I HAVE read one excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey, which was posted online. It was crass. It was sickening. And it showed that Grey is nothing more or less than an abusive, controlling man who manipulates and wears down the defenses of this young woman who is so inexplicably drawn to him....(Why, oh, why, is she SO drawn to him? It can't be because of the sexy way he fastens her wrists to the wall....)

I have also read the Wikipedia articles for all three books in this trilogy. Each article includes a complete plot summary of each book, so I'm aware of what takes place in each. Incredibly, toward the end of the third book, Anastasia and Christian have gotten married, had a son, and are expecting a second child!  Everything in their lives is just hunky dory..... So this means that gullible, inexperienced, virginal Anastasia has succeeded in making a reality THE favorite female fantasy -- "redeeming" a bad boy with the power of her love..... There's no doubt in the narrative that Christian is indeed a bad boy. But this is too tame of a label to put on him. Christian Grey is AN ABUSER. And ABUSERS are not, CANNOT be, redeemed "by the power of the right woman's love". This is just fine for romance novels, to a point. However, in the erotica genre, the implausibility of such an event is even MORE obvious. In reality, ABUSERS do NOT change unless THEY somehow realize that their behavior is hurting the woman they're either dating, or married to. Then, upon this realization, if they follow through with therapy, and STICK WITH IT, there's a real possibility that such a man can change. But his woman's love will have had nothing to do with that.

In REAL life, women who are either married to, or in relationships with, abusive, controlling men, end up either dead, or in a women's shelter, constantly afraid that the man will find them. They DO NOT end up happily married to a COMPLETELY CHANGED man. This hard reality has been mentioned, over and over, during the recent Twitter campaign against the movie. The campaign, which was started by feminists, has encouraged people to donate $50.00 to a woman's shelter, instead of spending it on this sick movie. The response has been overwhelming, as you can see by clicking on the link for the Google search page below. 

This is the most terrible thing about this trilogy, as well as the new movie version of the first book, the lie that abusive men can be transformed by the power of their woman's love. This blatant lie, first promulgated through print, is now reaching an even wider audience through this film, which gives visual power to all of the sickening activities!

As a feminist, as a woman who has undergone verbal and emotional abuse, and was nearly abused physically as well, I am totally APPALLED, as well as disturbed and angry, that so many women and girls have made these books so popular. Abuse has been glamorized on the silver screen, and the filmmakers even had the unmitigated GALL to release the film just in time for Valentine's Day!! What a slap in the face to women all over the world...... It was as if the filmmakers were saying that the perfect Valentine's Day gift is being tied up, degraded, humiliated, hurt, manipulated, and controlled by the man in your life!!!!

I don't understand why all of these females have just taken in all this GARBAGE with such enthusiasm. Would African-Americans openly embrace books and movies in which they saw members of their ethnic group  degraded and abused, and cheer in the process? What's wrong with these women? Haven't they EVER heard of the feminist movement? The empowerment of women?

HELLO. WAKE UP. Throughout the first book, Christian Grey keeps insisting that Anastasia sign a contract in which she will AGREE to give him FULL CONTROL of their relationship!!  HE calls ALL the shots! She might protest, but he will ALWAYS override her objections!  Is this ROMANTIC? Is this something to be blissfully sighed over?

To think that these books were inspired by The Twilight Saga, which is indeed a love story, and a very beautiful one, at that!!

I REFUSE to read this E.L. James garbage. And by the way, critics have even blasted the books as being poorly written. So what's the appeal?

Online Links for the Campaign 
Against 50 Shades

What do you think of this topic?
Do you agree or disagree?
Whatever your opinion, 
let me know in the comments
section below!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: Books of Light, by Robert Leichtman & Carl Japikse

Books of Light
Robert Leichtman, Carl Japikse
Mass Market Paperback, 184 pages
Ariel Press, 1988
Creativity, Fantasy, Metaphysical, Nonfiction, Science Fiction, Spirituality

Book Synopsis:   There is a rich treasure of books, both fiction and nonfiction alike, that explore the nature of spiritual growth, psychic development, the inner dimensions of life, and healing. Books of Light is a collection of reviews which introduces the reader to the best such books in print today, in the hope of inspiring him or her to discover these treasures. Each of these books has been a selection of the Books of Light Book Club, the only national book club in the New Age. The reviews printed in this collection were the ones first introducing each book to club members. There is also an introductory essay on the art of intelligent reading.

There is a rich treasure of books, both fiction and nonfiction alike, that explore the nature of spiritual growth, psychic development, the inner dimensions of life, and healing. Books of Light is a collection of reviews which introduces the reader to the best such books in print today, in the hope of inspiring him or her to discover these treasures.Each of these books has been a selection of the Books of Light book club, the only national book club in the new age. The reviews printed in this collection were the ones first introducing each book to club members. There is also an introductory essay on the art of intelligent reading.

As the book synopsis states, this is a collection of reviews of books on various spiritual and metaphysical topics. This is the first and only time I have ever come across such a book, and I have found it to be absolutely fascinating, even though, of all the books reviewed, there are some I know I would not be interested in reading.

The authors, Robert Leichtman and Carl Japikse, are well-known in New Age circles, and are partners in the publishing house of Ariel Press. Both have written books themselves, all related to New Age topics. Their book club, mentioned in the synopsis, and now no longer active, featured these types of books, whether written by themselves, or other authors. These continue to be featured through Ariel Press.

Another interesting and unusual thing about this slim volume is the mix of reviews of fiction and nonfiction books, as well as the mix of Christian and New Age books (although the collection does favor the latter). For instance, No One Hears But Him, by Taylor Caldwell, is a collection of stories revolving around a sanctuary located on a hill, in an unnamed town, to which people go in order to tell their troubles to someone who listens in silence, behind a curtain. This person is later revealed to be Jesus Christ. On the very next page, a book titled Winged Pharaoh is reviewed. The author, Joan Grant, claimed that her novels, of which this is one, were really recollections of her past lives. Another book reviewed is The New View Over Atlantis, penned by John Michell, which is a revised edition of his earlier work, originally published in 1969. This nonfiction book examines the work of several researchers regarding the existence of ley lines. These are "a precise network of straight lines crisscrossing the English countryside in a geometric pattern." (pg. 40, Books of Light) According to Wikipedia, they are alleged alignments of sites of historical importance, such as ancient monuments

Other titles mentioned by Leichtman and Japikse are classic fantasy and science fiction works, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. This book of fantasy tales is full of Christian symbolism, since the author was a famous Christian writer. Also mentioned is Lewis's science fiction work, The Space Trilogy, whose volumes include Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. This series of books deals with an alien civilization which regularly communicates with God through beings known as "Eldila", who are somewhat like angels.  Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein, is a science fiction classic about a young man brought up on Mars who subsequently arrives on Earth to preach a religion based on "grokking", which means to totally understand and empathize with people. Magister Ludi ( a/k/a The Glass Bead Game), by Hermann Hesse, which won the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature, is a fascinating exploration of the contrasts between the intellectual life and the active life. 

There are also reviews of two books by Ayn Rand -- The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. The first is about an architect who refuses to compromise his creativity and personal principles, and thereby encounters great opposition. The second one is about a group of people who decide to band together to establish a new society founded on principles of excellence, genius, and self-sufficiency. 

In regards to Atlas Shrugged, I must say that, although the plan for this new society sounds great on paper, it is established through the 'shrugging off' of "the tyranny of the masses". The founders of this new society "are no longer willing to carry on their backs the hordes of welfare consumers". (quotes from pg. 137, Books of Light) So, in other words, social responsibility to those less fortunate is totally eschewed. This sounds like a totally callous, cruel attitude. While I would certainly champion the fostering of excellence and creativity, this must be tempered with a social conscience. Rand is not known for her social compassion, however, which is why I never finished reading The Fountainhead when I started it, years ago. So I would argue with Leichtman and Japikse's inclusion of these two books.

I was delighted by some of the other books included in this volume. One of these -- Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by Carl Jung -- is a book I have long intended to read. In  it, the great psychologist candidly reveals the workings of his inner world. According to the authors of Books of Light, it is "one of the most important books of our century." (They were referring to the 20th century.) The Time Quartet, by Madeleine L'Engle, is a collection of four wonderful children's fantasy/science fiction books, starting with the best-known one, A Wrinkle In Time. The others are The Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters

Another book that I was happy to see included is Narcissus and Goldmund, by Hermann Hesse. I have read most of this author's novels, and consider him one of my favorites. In this particular work, Hesse examines the creative, artistic life, as contrasted with the life of the mind. This is a powerful novel, one I intend to re-read, as my first reading took place years ago. Another Hesse novel, Siddhartha, is also included. Of course, I intend to re-read this one, as well, although I do prefer Narcissus and Goldmund, together with Magister Ludi

The Dragonriders of Pern, by Ann McAffrey, is another wonderful inclusion. McAffrey's novels should have been brought to the silver screen a long time ago; after all, she invented the concept of people riding dragons way before Christopher Paolini's Eragon burst upon the scene!

The nonfiction books mentioned in Books of Light explore various typical New Age themes. There are several titles such as The Reappearance of the Christ, by Alice Bailey, who was a member of the Theosophical Society, The Bach Flower Remedies, by Edward Bach, M.D., Clairvoyant Investigations, by Geoffrey Hodson, which deals with angels, There Is A River, by Thomas Sugrue, which examines the life and work of Edgar Cayce, Music: Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages, by Cyril Scott, and many others.

Each review gives a summary of the book's plot or subject matter, and then an interesting analysis of the book, why it's considered important by the authors of Books of Light, and thus, recommended to their readers. Leichtman and Japikse are excellent writers, so their reviews are the next best thing to reading the books they have analyzed. They also make for some very entertaining reading!

The only thing I found detracted from this work, besides the inclusion of books I don't believe accurately reflect the beauties of the spiritual life, is that there is neither a Table of Contents, nor an Index. Both would have been very helpful in locating the books and topics mentioned. However, the excellent reviews more than make up for this, so I am giving this book the highest rating. I do think that this is a fascinating collection of book reviews, as well as a great reference source for those who, like me, are interested in the topics covered. In fact, the authors' reviews have motivated me to seek out some of the works mentioned, as well as to plan to re-read others!


Onlike Links

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Book Lover's Den #17: In Honor of a Very Special Vulcan Human

Welcome to my Friday feature!

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

I couldn't believe it when I first heard the news.... The iconic actor, Leonard Nimoy, world-famous for his unforgettable portrayal of Mr. Spock, the Vulcan on the classic "Star Trek" TV series, passed away on Friday, Feb. 27th. Those of us who grew up with the inscrutable Mr. Spock, so expertly brought to life by Nimoy, will mourn for a  very long time, and will always miss him and his character. Nimoy and Spock are inseparable. Others may play the role in the future, but none of them will be THE Mr. Spock we ST fans were privileged to know and love.

I have been extremely busy with my recent move from a rented apartment in Miami, to a condo, also in Miami, owned by my husband and myself. However, I decided to honor Mr. Nimoy in my next "Book Den" post as soon as I possibly could. There was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to do so!

Of course, Leonard Nimoy was not only known for his portrayal of Mr. Spock. He was a very talented individual whose achievements included photography, film directing, and singing. He was also a writer and poet.

Although "Star Trek" in all its versions was a TV series that then spawned several movies, it has also ignited the creativity of several science fiction writers who have penned further ST adventures, not only for the original crew, but for those of the show's other versions -- "The Next Generation", "Deep Space Nine", "Voyager", and "Enterprise". Thus, "Star Trek" has become a literary phenomenon, as well. 

My own preferred version of the TV series is the original, and the main reason is Mr. Spock. His complex psychological makeup made him totally fascinating, and his dry sense of humor when interacting with humans was truly hilarious at times!

Nimoy himself contributed to the literary side of "Star Trek" by writing two memoirs -- I Am Not Spock (1975), and, ironically enough, I Am Spock (1995). I must sheepishly admit to having read neither, in spite of my great love for this character. Therefore, I am hereby making a firm commitment to read both of these books in 2015!

I am also making a commitment to read several books inspired by the original version of "Star Trek", starting with those that focus on Spock himself.

Here are the "Star Trek" books I have added to the top of my TBR list for this year. I am hoping to get started just as soon as I possibly can!

I know I will feel sad as I read these books, knowing that Leonard is gone....but somehow, he lives on, not only in the episodes of the original series, which I have seen umpteen times each, and of which I never tire, but also in these novels that immortalize the character he embodied so well. I will therefore read the novels, as well as the memoirs, with bittersweet feelings, but read them I will!

The only thing left for me to say to all of you who, like me, love the classic series, especially its resident Vulcan, is that famous Vulcan blessing, "Live long and prosper!"

If you're a Star Trek TOS fan,
please feel free to leave a
comment on the passing
of this great actor, as well as
your feelings about his
immortal character, Mr. Spock.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BlogTour Mini-Review, Excerpt, Giveaway!! Cinderella and the Ghost, by Marina Myles

Welcome to this stop in the 
blog tour for
Cinderella and the Ghost,
sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!

I am featuring an excerpt 
with accompanying mini-review,
and there's also a 
tour-wide giveaway!!

Cinderella and the Ghost
(The Cursed Princes, #4)
Marina Myles
Trade Paperback, 246 pages
Lyrical Trade
February 17, 2015
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, 
Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction


When her demanding stepmother died, Ella Benoit knew just how far their fortunes had fallen, unlike her spoiled stepsisters. So she never expected the bequest from her late father. A chateau in France and the freedom to live her own life, all at once!

The chateau has seen better days, but Ella knows she can put the ruined house to rights. The life-size portrait of its first owner, Jean-Daniel Girard, seems to watch her work with approval, even pleasure. With bright blue eyes, strong features, and an athlete’s body, the viscount is a tempting sight even now, more than three hundred years after his tragic death. But the more she looks at the portrait, the more convinced Ella is that she’s met Jean-Daniel before. In another life, perhaps—or maybe, as the form who haunts the halls at night, invading Ella’s dreams…


I have always loved fairy tales, and the story of Cinderella is one of my favorites! It's just wonderful to read about how someone who has been abused finally gets to have a happy life!
This retelling is especially interesting to me, because Myles has thrown in some new elements, such as paranormal romance and time travel, that make this timeless tale even more interesting! (These also involve two of my favorite genres.)
Myles has described the setting superbly in this excerpt, with details that mystify and tantalize the reader. Together with Ella, the main female character, the reader is led through different rooms of the mysterious old mansion. As she makes her way, looking for a painting of the mansion's previous owner, Ella experiences strange flashes of what seems to be a previous incarnation.... Suffice it to say that I am totally fascinated, intrigued, and breathless with anticipation! I can't wait to meet the very handsome, tragic, Jean-Daniel Girard!

As Ella passed the drawing room, she halted. Eerie goose bumps blanketed her arms. Drawn to the room, she felt as though she’d been in it before.

She crossed the threshold under a sudden trance. Icy stabs of déjà vu assaulted her because the ornate furnishings and draperies seemed extremely familiar. Perhaps, she considered, I’ve seen the room in one of Adelaide’s real estate or decorating magazines.

Taking a few steps forward, she noticed a huge blank spot on the east wall. The area’s wallpaper not only showed a variance in color, it outlined a missing, life-sized painting or tapestry.

How odd. Why had the art work been removed? Where was it now?

An unrelenting force summoned her closer to the blank spot. Her inquisitiveness grew. If the missing object was indeed a life-sized painting, it must have taken forever to complete. She wondered about its subject. A landscape? More likely, a portrait.

Prodded to start a hunt, she went through several rooms on Château de Maincy’s main level. She searched the front parlor, the back parlor, and the music room. Her favorite was the ballroom. As she entered, a spark met her toes. Wide-eyed, she noticed that rays of sunshine cast a sparkling aura over its faded parquet floor. A glittering chandelier hung in the center of the gold-toned room and anchored the enormous space.

When the chandelier caught a beam of sunlight, Ella received another spark. She put her hand to her warm cheeks. She could almost hear strains of a quadrille—and the drone of chatter as if she were at a party.

Not a party. She rephrased the thought. A ball.

Eyes blurred, she slipped into a deeper trance. Suddenly, she was wearing a stunning costume and was stepping into waltz with a debonair nobleman sporting a mask. The nobleman pulled her tightly against him. Other guests wearing masks looked on.

It was a masquerade ball! More scenes flashed before Ella. Warm wind gusted into the room and then—

Exiting the trance, she realized that the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Why in heaven had she experienced that?

Her father had written that Ella had been at the château before. Yet she had no conscious memory of the visit. Maybe, she thought as she rubbed her eyes, the atmosphere of this house is too seductive to resist.

Still reeling from the vision, her attention shifted to a long-case clock in the corner. Its shattered face was visible through a hinged glass panel that hung ajar. The top of the clock bore a large, vertical gash.

How odd.

Ella inched closer. The open door revealed that the time-piece had been frozen at twelve o’clock. She touched the immobile hands—and in the bright light of the room, she noticed that the clock’s maker had etched his name and creation date into a groove bordering the clock’s pendulum.

Montbleu ~ 1703.

All at once, Ella remembered standing in front of the long-case clock, precisely like this. But how could that be? She must have repressed memories from her visit here as a child. Yet, she couldn’t explain the vision of herself dancing with the handsome man.

Once she confirmed that a life-sized painting wasn’t hanging in the ballroom, she made her way up the grand staircase. Inexplicably, she felt drawn to where she was going. When she reached the second floor of the house, she studied a wall of faded frescoes depicting late seventeenth century life. When something told her to go on, she padded to the third floor landing.

A palpable hush filled the corridor ahead of her. Then a charged stream of energy rushed through the hall. Since all the curtains were drawn over the arched windows, the hallway sat in darkness and shadow. Ella should be doing so many things. Unpacking. Cleaning. Deciding which bedroom would be hers. But a sense of urgency prompted her feet to continue.

What will I find in this part of the house? Glimpses of the valiant but very dead Jean-Daniel Girard?

Gulping, she opened door after door and peeked in. She finally came to a storage space, with an additional staircase leading up to an attic. Creeping up those stairs, Ella surveyed the articles on the landing. Broken mirrors and articles of furniture draped in white sheets lay strewn about. Tangled strings of cobwebs swathed the wood paneling.

A glowing beam of sunlight angled into the room. Ella’s pulse sped. In the corner, she spotted an item covered with a black cloth. The object reclined against the far wall—and appeared to be larger than she was. Pushing the curtains open, she allowed more sunlight to bathe the space. Hands quivering, she moved back to the draped item and pulled away the black cloth.

The painting’s gilded frame was stunning. On it, Ella located a nameplate.

Jean-Daniel Girard—Viscount de Maincy


Slowly, as though her life was being altered with every centimeter, her stare ascended to the nobleman’s astonishing face. Instantly, the world fell into a compelling silence.

Jean-Daniel Girard was tall, muscular, and inarguably handsome. In fact, his good looks were so striking that Ella could barely breathe as she gazed upon them. More than that, she knew she’d seen his face somewhere before. While she racked her brain about where she’d seen it, her gaze roamed over Jean-Daniel’s sold body, penetrating aquamarine eyes, and angular features. He could be described as classically handsome. The epitome of male beauty, really. And thankfully, that classic quality helped him transcend the fanciful clothing and wig he wore.

Ella took a step in and studied him some more. True to subjects painted in that era, he wasn’t smiling. Rather, he seemed a pensive and a bit melancholy. However, she could tell from the laugh lines bracketing his generous mouth that he grinned often.

Incredibly lifelike, Jean-Daniel seemed capable of emerging from the painting right then and there. Ella’s skin tingled.

Her gaze drifted to the adorable dog sitting at the viscount’s feet. A splendid example of a hound, it possessed a gleaming brown-and-white coated, an open mouth, and a protruding tongue. Oddly, the dog seemed to be smiling.

“I can tell you loved your master,” she murmured.

Mesmerized by the man in the painting, Ella stared at his image for what felt like hours. The more she analyzed it, the more she noticed its “lost soul” quality. She crossed her arms. No, that wasn’t it. Instead, there seemed to be something underlying the viscount’s solemn face. As if he weren’t solemn at all. As if he possessed a sense of unfinished business.

To die so young…

She finally looked at the portrait’s backdrop. A vivid depiction of Château de Maincy surrounded Jean-Daniel. A cluster of servants was working in the fields adjacent to the splendid house. Wide-eyed bluebirds perched on the tree branches over his wigged head.

So that’s the way the estate looked in its heyday.

Stepping closer, she zeroed in on Jean-Daniel’s astounding eyes. They seemed to come alive—and for the briefest moment, he did as well. If only they were on a first-name basis! The thought exhilarated her.

While she and the figure locked stares, a new layer of goose bumps sprang up on Ella’s arms. She retreated. Despite the warmth of the room, a chill barraged her body.

    “Jean-Daniel Girard is quite swoon-worthy, non?” whispered an unfamiliar voice.

Marina Myles’s love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale. During her college days in Dallas, she received degrees in English Literature and Communications—and enjoyed the unique experience of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Now that she lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she hasn’t left her glamorous life behind completely. After all, she gets to divide her time between her loving family, her loyal Maltese, and worlds filled with fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs.

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