Book Review: Secrets & Lies by Susanne Matthews

Secrets and Lies by Susanne Matthews

Secrets and Lies

Publisher & Release Date: Self-Published, November 16, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, Braden, Iowa

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Length:  340 pages

Heat Level: 1 Sweet Heart

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

DEA agent, Emily Shepherd, is after the Chef, a crystal meth cook, who sets up labs for the Mexican cartel and walks away—the same man responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Her search leads her to Braden, Iowa, a small town just right for the Chef’s specialty. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy when she’s up against a woman who sees her as a threat, a male chauvinistic deputy sheriff, and an attractive school principal who might just be at the center of it all.

 Jackson Harris has sworn off women. Life is satisfactory, if lonely until he meets a hazel-eyed damsel in distress who gets under his skin, and triggers that protective instinct of his. There’s a killer in town, one who may or may not be a notorious drug lord. Finding him, and keeping his town, his students, and Emily safe may be harder than he thinks.

 Love is breaking out in Braden, Iowa. Follow all the romance with this collection of stories. Secrets and Lies is part of the Hearts of Braden Series, a multi-author series Secrets and Lies stands alone for your reading enjoyment, but the story doesn’t need to end there.

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Vikki’s Musings

Once I read one of Susanne Matthews’ books, I was hooked. Her writing style flows beautifully across the page, her pacing is always superb. She pulls me into the story from the beginning and hold me enthralled until the last. When I received a request from the author to read Secrets and Lies in exchange for an honest review, I immediately accepted. As always, this book had me sitting on the edge of my seat at times and pulled at my heart strings.

DEA agent, Emily Jacobson Shepherd goes undercover to find the Meth cooker, known as the chef. It’s reported he is setting up operations in Braden, Iowa. Emily and the chef go way back. He was responsible for the death of her husband and her unborn child, along with coming close to taking her life as well, leaving her permanently disabled.

When Jackson Harris comes to the aid of a young woman, little does he know she’s the nutritionist sent to implement the Healthy Living Initiative for his school. The attraction is fierce between them, but when murders start happening, he wonders if he can protect the woman he is falling in love with, or will the chef get to her first?

I really liked Emily’s character from the start. Her tragic backstory, which Ms. Matthews expertly weaves into Secrets and Lies, gains my empathy right away. She is a strong woman, determined to bring down the chef at all costs. She does not let the loss she suffered that left her crippled to keep her from accomplishing her goal. Ms. Matthews writing is so moving, it brought tears to my eyes when I learned what had happened to her and her family.

Jackson is a great hero. He’s strong, good looking, determined to protect his school and loyal to his friends. Even though Emily tries to keep him at arm’s length, he burrows his way under her defenses. Although he has good reason to be leery of secretive women, he looks below the surface to the loving and caring woman Emily is, and he is determined to earn her trust.

I truly loved Secret and Lies. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is a little stronger finish. While is does have a happy ending, it felt a bit rushed to me. However, the rest of the book is so strong, it deserves a great rating. If you enjoy stories of intrigue and suspense with a bit of a mystery, then you will love this book. Happy reading!


Book Review: The White Lily by Susanne Matthews

The White Lily by Susanne Matthews

The White LilyPublisher & Release Date: Crimson Romance, October 12, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, NYC

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense/Thriller

Length:  315 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

The Harvester is out there…watching, waiting, biding his time.

FBI cult specialist Lilith Munroe lives in dread that one day the man who tortured her when a case went bad will find her again. So leaving her sanctuary in Quantico to join the Harvester Task Force in Boston is her version of hell. But the Harvester is kidnapping babies, and Lilith’s profiling skills may mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent in society.

Australian millionaire and former member of the New Horizon commune Jacob Andrews returns to the United States searching for his sister. Instead of the happy reunion he expects, he discovers she is dead and his twin brother may be responsible. He agrees to lend his law enforcement skills to help find his former cult leader before the man can implement his plan to kill millions.

Now, uneasy partners, Jacob, and Lilith must learn to trust each other even as they fight their growing attraction. But when Lilith’s greatest fears materialize, will Jacob be able to set aside his anger and save the woman he loves?

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Vikki’s Musings

I am a huge fan of Susanne Matthews. I first discovered her books when I read Echoes of the Past, and I have been hooked ever since. I believe I have now read almost every book she has written. Her writing style is incredible. Even when the story may not completely resonate with me, her writing does.

Lilith Munroe works as an FBI Cult profiler. When the Harvester strikes again, she goes to Boston to help find the man who is stealing babies and leaving behind dead bodies. A survivor herself from a Cult she had infiltrated five years before, she is determined to bring the cult’s reign of terror to an end and find the babies.

Jacob Andrews, an Australian citizen, arrives in Boston to learn his missing sister is a victim of the cult he escaped as a seventeen-year-old. He also learns his mild-mannered brother, James, is dead, and he brutally murdered several women after impregnating them for their evil uncle’s flock.

When Lilith and Jacob become partners as they attempt to end his uncle’s terrorism, they fight a growing attraction. Can Jacob find a way to capture Lilith’s heart and save her and the babies in time?

The White Lily is a riveting story from the first page to the last, keeping me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next murder to occur. And, there are a lot of heinous murders of defenseless adoptive parents. Her gruesome descriptions of the victims froze my soul and almost turned my stomach. The White Lily is not for the faint of heart!

Lilith’s character is a kick-ass heroine who is hell-bent on stopping the Harvester once and for all. While she is extremely hardened by what she experienced at the hands of the cult, she has a vulnerability that is very appealing. Ms. Matthew’s ability to bring her readers into the heart and soul of her character kept me totally engaged.

I fell in love with Jacob’s tormented character from the very start. When Ms. Matthews describes what he experienced at the hands of his uncle’s lackey was heart-wrenching. His fierce desire to protect the prickly Lilith put him high in my esteem.

This is an action-packed story and it takes the reader on a thrilling ride. This is one of the best thrillers I have ever read. I do admit I do not normally read them, but I am glad I had the opportunity to read and review this one.

Now, for the one thing that keeps me from giving this 5 Gold Crowns. The White Lily is not a true romance, even though it does have a strong romantic element in it. It needs to be categorized as a suspenseful thriller with strong romantic elements. I am not saying there is not a romance with an HEA, but that the romance is not the central focus of the book.

If you are looking for a nail-biting thriller that will have your heart pounding and your pulse racing, and you can handle graphic descriptions of violent scenes, then you will absolutely love The White Lily. I do recommend this book. Happy reading!

Book Review: All for Love by Susanne Matthews

All for Love by Susanne Matthews

All for Love

Publisher & Release Date: Anaiah Press, May 26, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, Vermont, USA  

Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Suspense

Length: 257 pages

Heat Level: 1 Sweet Heart

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

To overcome your fear, you must first face it. 

Someone is out to destroy Greg Simmons and everyone he has ever loved. After an accident leaves his teenage daughter depressed and distraught, Greg will do anything to make her happy again, including hiring a bodyguard to protect her.

Olivia Marshall lost both her fiancé and her cousin in a deadly avalanche. She has vowed never to set foot on a ski hill again. But now, working as a bodyguard with Anderson Security, Olivia must face her greatest fears to save Greg and his daughter.

Something about Olivia’s determination strikes a chord in Greg, but will she be the salvation he needs, or will he be her destruction? 

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Vikki’s Musings

I am a huge fan of Susanne Matthews. Once I read Echoes of the Past, I was hooked, and searched for her entire back list and read all of them. All For Love is a bit of a departure from her usual writing style. Normally she writes sensual romantic suspense. This book is still a romantic suspense, but it has overtones of an inspirational story. While this is not my favorite book of hers, I did enjoy it.

Andrew Gregory Robertson is an author of hugely successful spy thrillers. When his daughter is almost killed in a car explosion that does kill her mother, a movie star and his ex-girlfriend, he turns to his cousin to protect Sheena. When Olivia Cummings is assigned as his daughter’s bodyguard, because she was once an Olympian skier and his daughter wants to try out for the team, he is immediately attracted to her. He will not find it hard to become her husband in name only to provide cover for his daughter. His problem will be keeping it in name only.

Olivia hasn’t skied in five years, ever since the avalanche that claimed the life of her fiancée and cousin, leaving Olivia alive. Her guilt over not perishing with them is almost more than she can bear.

Will Olivia be able to maintain her distance from her new husband and protect her charge from the maniac who is determined to end her young life, or will she give into her feelings for the man she has fantasized over for years?

While the overtones of an inspirational are definitely in the book, it is not overdone at all. It is refreshing to read a romantic suspense that does not have a sexually driven romance. The romance between Greg and Olivia focuses on their growing love and plays done anything sexual, but the romance is very fulfilling, and I enjoyed it a great deal.

Olivia is a great character. She is fearless in her desire to protect Sheena. She has strong ties to her family and it’s obvious that her loved ones are central to her life. Although she never planned to sky again, to protect her charge, she faces her fear.

While Greg has never had a close relationship to his daughter, his love for her come through loud and clear. He will do whatever is needed to ensure Sheena’s safety, even if it means putting his own life in danger. It’s refreshing to have a male character in tune with his spirituality for a change, a man whose honor is part of his very being.

I am glad I have the opportunity to read All for Love. If you enjoy a tale with a sweet romance and a touch of faith intermingled in, yet with plenty of action and suspense, then you will enjoy this great book. Happy reading!

Book Review: Seduced by His Desire by Dilys J. Carnie

Seduced by His Desire by Dilys J. Carnie

(The Lost Sisters Trilogy)

Seduced byPublisher & Release Date: Beachwalk Press Inc., May 15, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, Manchester, England

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 178 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flames

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Saving her is going to be one of the toughest jobs of his life, because instead of his mind ruling his heart, his heart is ruling his mind. 

Security expert and ex-Navy Seal Kent Lloyd steps onto British soil wishing he was anywhere else. But when Jasmine Owen refuses to visit her sisters in Washington, giving them one lame excuse after another, even Kent knows something is seriously wrong.

The last person Jasmine expects or wants to see at her door is the super sexy man who walked away from her bed after one wild night. But when her sisters suspect something is wrong, they send Kent to check on her. Jasmine hasn’t told her family about the stalker who’s making her life a living hell and has her in a constant state of fear, but it looks like she might not be able to keep the truth from them any longer.

Both Kent and Jasmine agree on one thing—they want him to leave England and return to the US as soon as possible. However, he refuses to leave until she’s safe, which means he has to track down her stalker first, and Jasmine has no clue who it is or why the person is obsessed with her.

As Kent struggles to solve the mystery, he also struggles to keep Jasmine at a distance, which is proving to be difficult. The woman stirs his toughened soul, and if he has to spend too much time around her she just may squeeze her way into his heart. 

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Vikki’s Musings

I received Seduced by his Desire from the author for an honest review. I read the first two books in the Lost Sisters trilogy and enjoyed them immensely. Each book is about one of the triplets who were adopted shortly after their birth. This story was about Jasmine, the sister raised in England. Jasmine only made very brief cameos in the first books, so I knew the least about her.

Jasmine Owen is a successful business woman, owner of Panty-Luscious, a Lingerie boutique in Chester, England. When she starts getting anonymous phone calls and mysterious texts threatening the lives of her sisters and their families, so isolates herself, refusing all invitations, even the recent one to attend her latest niece’s birth.

When Kent Lloyd is asked to fly to England to check on Jasmine, he is reluctant to go. He’d had a one night stand with the woman at his partner’s wedding to her sister, Rose. His behavior had been less than gentlemanly, sneaking out on her as she slept after their passionate encounter, but he can hardly refuse without giving all away.

Sparks fly when he sees the fiery red-head again. Can he keep her safe from the stalker, while keeping his heart protected from the green-eyed temptress, or will he succumb to her allure?

Seduced by His Desire is jam-packed with plenty of action and suspense from start to finish. It also has a lovely romance between Kent and Jasmine. Both characters have loved and lost in the past, so neither of them is anxious to enter into a romantic relationship. The sexual tension between the pair sizzles on every page, and the love scenes are hot, hot, hot, to say the least.

Again, Ms. Carnie has penned another plot-driven story with a surprising villain and a great many twists to the plot, which kept me glued to my Kindle. The story is very fast paced and can easily be read in one sitting. Her suspenseful scenes are very well-written and kept me on the edge of my seat.

I would have liked to see just a bit more character development in this book. I never felt as if I got into either character’s minds as much I would have liked to, especially Jasmine. I would have enjoyed learning more about her relationship with her ex-husband. There were definitely clues, but there just wasn’t enough information given to truly understand why that relationship fell apart.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Seduced by His Desire. Ms. Carnie truly writes exciting tales filled with emotion and intrigue. I highly recommend this book and the other two in the series. Anyone who loves romantic suspense will relish the Lost Sisters Trilogy. Happy reading!

Book Review: Rejecting His Desire by Dilys J. Carnie

Rejecting his Desire by Dilys J. Carnie

(The Lost Sisters Trilogy)

Rejecting his Desire

Publisher & Release Date: Beachwalk Press Inc., September 11, 2014

Time and setting: Present Day, Wilmington, North Carolina

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 174 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flames

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

When Rose’s past catches up with her will she survive? Jack will stop at nothing to make sure she does. 

Rose Eagleton has never let anyone penetrate her tough exterior. She won’t allow herself to be hurt again, nor will she let anyone uncover the secrets of her past, which she has successfully hidden for years. But when she meets Jack Calloway he refuses to let her hide behind her shell. She’s confused about her feelings for this man who takes every opportunity to be close to her, to touch her, to make her feel. But she knows one thing for sure—she can’t let him become important to her.

Jack’s motto had always been ‘to protect’. An ex-Navy Seal who is now part owner of a security firm, he takes his work seriously. When he installs a security system in Rose’s club as a favor to her sister, he finds himself intrigued by the beautiful young woman who fights so hard to keep him at a distance. As he discovers the secrets she’s trying so desperately to hide, it becomes clear that her life is in danger. Can he break through her shell and provide her with the protection she needs but refuses to accept? 

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Vikki’s Musings

I received Rejecting his Desire from the author for an honest review. I read Undone by his Desire, the first book in the Lost Sisters trilogy, the three stories of a set of triplets adopted shortly after their birth, so I was anxious to read the next book in the series. I met Rose, Daisy’s elder sister by two minutes, briefly in the first book, and wanted to find out what had happened to her. The small tidbits of information given in the first book intrigued me. This is a nice addition to the series, and Rose’s story is definitely original and unique to say the least.

Rose Eagleton has one companion, her dog Harley. Fear rules her life and robs her of ever attempting to have a meaningful relationship with anyone, let alone a man. When Jack Calloway arrives to install a new security system for her bar, she realizes she is attracted to him in a way that has never happened before.

After Rose rescues a young innocent girl from the clutches of a kidnapper, Jack is determined to protect her from the repercussions, but can he do it and still walk away—once she is safe—with his heart intact? Will he even want to?

I immediately liked Rose’s character. She’s the typical red-head with green eyes. Jack finds this out at their first meeting. Her fiery temper comes through loud and clear. It’s no wonder Rose is so secretive; she has horrific things in her past which would cause anyone to be wary of people. The only creature, she has allowed in her life is her trusty dog, Harley.

Jack’s character has quite a bit of baggage as well, and I fully understood his motives from the start. What I liked most about his character is his loyalty to his friends, and his desire to keep them safe. While he doesn’t know Rose’s secrets in the beginning, he senses her fear, and immediately wants to protect her. He’s the typical former Navy SEAL, tough on the outside, a fierce leader and warrior, while on the inside, he is tender and caring.

Rose and Jack are both terrific as a couple. The chemistry is combustible from the beginning and only grows stronger as the story progresses. Ms. Carnie can definitely build sexual tension, keeping it going through much of the book. I couldn’t wait for Jack and Rose to finally come together, and it was truly worth the wait.

I did struggle with the story line a bit. There are a couple things about the story that didn’t work for me. I had a hard time seeing the villains in this piece doing what they did. I know I’m vague on this, but to say more would give too much away. My other issue is that so much time has passed since the events that led to the present danger; it had me asking why now. Again, I am purposely being evasive because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

Let me just add, even with those issues, I did enjoy this book. I truly wanted Rose and Jack to find their “happily ever after.” They both deserved to find love after all they had gone through. If you enjoy a tale with plenty of mystery and intrigue with a wonderful love story mixed in, you will like Rejecting his Desire. Happy reading!

Book Review: The White Carnation by Susanne Matthews

The White Carnation by Susanne Matthews

The+White+CarnationPublisher & Release Date: Crimson Press, April 20, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, Boston area, USA  

Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Suspense

Length: 270 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flames

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls.

For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée.

Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize?

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Vikki’s Musings

This is not the first book I have read by Susanne Matthews, and it will not be the last! Once I read Echoes of the Past, I was hooked, and searched for her entire back list and read all of them. I love her writing style, and The White Carnation is another fantastic read by this amazing author. This is the first book in the Harvester series, and I can’t wait to read the next one, and I am not normally a huge fan of romantic suspense, especially one with thriller elements.

Faye Lewis isn’t happy attending garden parties and dog shows, but when she is demoted for writing a story that later proofs false, she is relegated to mundane stories, instead of investigative ones. When she receives a message from her BFF’s mother, she goes to her apartment only to find the woman with her throat slit.

In a knee-jerk reaction, she calls her ex-fiancée, Rob Halliday, a detective with Boston PD. He quickly takes over the investigation, even though he is tied up with the search for a serial killer, the Harvester. When Faye is attacked, but not killed, he rushes her to safety until they can find the Harvester.

Faye studies the evidence and tells Rob she thinks the Harvester is part of a cult. This starts them on a chase that leads to danger. When Faye is kidnapped, Rob is determined to find the only woman for him. Will he find her in time, or lose her forever?

Wow, just wow! This is a page turner from the first page to the last. Ms. Matthews has penned one exciting, suspenseful story. The plot kept me guessing to the end and I couldn’t stop reading. I love when that happens. This fast-paced tale intrigued me, pulling me deeper into the story, riveted to what would happen next.

The plot has it all, mystery, thriller, romance, all in one phenomenal read. The White Carnation is filled with twists and turns, a truly compelling story. This is definitely a plot driven stories. The romantic element is a second chance romance, and there is great chemistry between the hero and heroine.

For such a plot-driven tale, the characters are well-developed. I particularly liked Rob’s character; he’s a great hero, loyal, protective without being over-bearing, and determined. Faye’s character has a tough exterior, and she’s fearless and doesn’t give up when faced with a horrific experience.

If you want a story that will keep you riveted throughout the entire book, then The White Carnation is for you. This is a great start on a promising series. Happy reading!

Author Bio:new picture of me

Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

Amazon author page    and    Goodreads author page

Book Review: Leave Yesterday Behind by Lauren Linwood

Leave Yesterday Behind by Lauren Linwood

Leave Yesterday BehindPublisher & Release Date: Sole Mate Publishing, June 3, 2015

Time and setting: Present Day, New York City, Louisiana  

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Length: 244 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flames

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Callie Chennault vaulted to fame on the nighttime soap Sumner Falls, but after a decade of playing the same role, she is ready for a new acting challenge. When Callie is attacked by a stalker on the streets of New York, she takes a leave of absence from the show and returns to her roots in Aurora, Louisiana, to heal both physically and emotionally and determine her next career move. 

Former professional baseball pitcher Nick La Chappelle has also come to Aurora to lick his own wounds after a messy divorce. A Cy Young winner and one-time ESPN broadcaster, Nick longs for the quiet of a small town in order to write murder mysteries under a pen name.

Sparks fly when Callie believes Nick is taking advantage of her great-aunt’s hospitality, but they resolve their differences—and surprise themselves by falling in love. Their bond is tested when both Nick and Callie become the focus of a serial killer nicknamed Lipstick Larry. Can they outwit a murderer bent on seeing them dead and survive to build a lasting relationship? 

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This is definitely an exciting read, filled with plenty of suspense from the first page to the last. I’ve read Ms. Linwood’s medieval romances and also one of her western stories. I enjoy her writing style and her stories are unique. Leave Yesterday Behind is her first foray into contemporary romantic suspense, and it is fantastic!

Callie Chennault, a soap opera star, is questioning her recent lack of enthusiasm for her job. She wonders if something else would bring her more fulfillment. While walking to her subway stop after Yoga class, she’s attacked and left for dead. Her injuries are so severe she takes a leave of absence to recover. She heads to Aurora, Louisiana, where her amazing great-aunt lives.

While recuperating, she meets Nick La Chappelle, a man she met briefly when she was a teenager. The attraction she feels for him is stronger than anything she has ever felt before, and he returns her feelings. When she finds out he is also one of her favorite authors of murder mysteries, that only makes him more attractive.

When Callie starts receiving notes from a stalker, she realizes that the man caught in New York was not the same stalker who killed all those women, resembling her. Now he is not only after her, but Nick as well.

In a race for time, will she and Nick evade the serial killer, while discovering a love that will stand the test of time, or will they find themselves victims of the killer?

Wow! Ms. Linwood has penned a compelling and thrilling story that had me flipping pages as quickly as possible on my Kindle. Not only are the main characters unforgettable, she also has amazing cast of secondary characters who enhance the tale of murder and mystery greatly.

I’m amazed by her ability to switch so dramatically from historical romance to contemporary romantic suspense and doing it so successfully. That is not easy to do. Romantic suspense is not my first choice of a read, but Leave Yesterday Behind may very well change my mind.

If you’re looking for a story with plenty of twists and turns and a great romance as well, then you will not be disappointed. This story is unique and is full of surprises along the way. I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I have. Happy reading!

Author Bio: Lauren Linwood

Lauren Linwood became a teacher who wrote on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Her historical romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire for one another grows into the treasured gift of love. Her romantic suspense novels feature strong heroes and heroines who unite to defeat a clever antagonist and discover a deep, abiding love during their journey.

A native Texan, Lauren lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with long walks. She plans to start a support group for House Hunters addicts—as soon as she finishes her next piece of dark chocolate.

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