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Beverley Eikli: Wicked Wager (Giveaway)

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Beverley will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Wicked Wager

A dissolute rake, a virtuous lady, a ruthless society beauty, and a missing plantation owner with secrets – just another day in Georgian England…

1780

Wealthy Jamaican plantation owner, Harry Carstairs has disappeared – and everyone wants to know where he is…

Celeste Rosington knows her place in society, and while she may not be overjoyed at her upcoming wedding to her detached cousin, Raphael, she nonetheless hopes the marriage will be successful. When Raphael asks her for her help to save Harry, she agrees. But her decision costs her more than she knows…

Celeste’s clandestine visit to Harry’s home is witnessed, and her connection to Harry misconstrued. Harry’s secrets put Celeste into more danger than even Raphael understands, and throws her into the path of the ruthless, cunning, beautiful Lady Busselton and the dissolute, dangerous Lord Peregrine.

Raphael is invested in keeping Harry alive. Lady Busselton is invested in keeping him quiet. Lord Peregrine is invested in anything that staves off boredom. And Celeste is becoming increasingly invested in Lord Peregrine.

After all, what resistance does an innocent young woman have against something so deliciously wicked?

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Excerpt

Chapter Two

Setting the Scene: Lord Peregrine contemplates his ‘wicked wager’ …

Peregrine rubbed thoughtfully at his left knee with the sea sponge, careful not to slosh water over the side of the bathtub. Two candle sconces above the mantelpiece cast long shadows across the chamber, which was silent but for the crackle of the fire and the ebb and flow of the bathtub’s contents as Peregrine reached up to place his scoring markers on the cribbage board.

‘Ha! Trump that!’ he muttered softly, as his giant, broad-shouldered Negro manservant, Nelson, bent to study his own cards.

Nelson frowned. ‘I accept your challenge, master.’ The corner of his mouth quirked at the oblique reference to the ambiguous relationship between the two men.

Nelson could not in fact be free under the current legislation, yet it was on account of this slave’s heroic actions that Peregrine was still alive today.

Cursing as he conceded a loss at Nelson’s next play, Perry relaxed back into the soapy water, stiffening when Nelson, remarked, glancing up from his cards, ‘I gather there’s trouble a-brewing with Miss Paige, m’lord.’ Nelson’s English was as impeccable as his master’s.

Perry considered the question. In no other servant would he have countenanced such impertinence, but Nelson was not the usual servant.

Until the dramatic incident five years before, when footpads had set upon Perry one night, Nelson had been a silent, obedient footman acquired some years previously to form a matching pair.

However, since Nelson had hurled himself into the fray and succeeded in disarming to the blackguards, and doing a great deal of damage besides, before assisting a seriously wounded Perry back to his home, an unusual bond between the men had been forged. Nelson had been promoted to valet and there had been a great many mutually enjoyable conversations since then between master and servant over the cribbage board in the bathtub.

‘Trouble, yes. And more than just a-brewing,’ Perry admitted, glad of the opportunity to unburden himself. With the game concluded, Nelson held up a strip of linen to wrap about his master and Perry elaborated. ‘It’s not just my sister. There’s another young lady.’

‘There is usually another young lady.’ Nelson nodded sagely, the candlelight highlighting his noble features. Nelson had been groomed for the chieftainship before he’d been snatched from his coastal village by slavers.

Clad in his banyan and seated in his dressing room, Peregrine picked up a nail file from his grooming box and toyed with its smooth mother-of-pearl handle. He wondered if Miss Rosington’s pale skin would feel as smooth beneath his hands. The mere thought of his immoral wager made his breath quicken with desire but his conscience gave him pause. The woman had the face of an angel, but what of her morals? Xenia would have it seem they were as corrupted as his own.

‘I’ve just returned from visiting my sister who has got it into her head that a certain young lady is the source of all her troubles.’

Charlotte’s hysteria had been disconcerting when Peregrine had ventured to suggest she might have been mistaken in identifying Miss Rosington as Harry Carstairs’ accomplice. ‘Ask her if she knows anything of this, then!’ she’d screamed, hurling a gold locket at his head. ‘I tore it from Harry’s neck as he ran past me.’ Peregrine was aware now of the locket’s oval contours against the lining of his pocket as he watched Nelson consider the matter. To be sure, the cryptic, half-torn message the locket contained was perplexing, but it was not enough to convict Miss Rosington of the charges Xenia had laid at her door.

‘Miss Paige has no husband.’ Nelson looked up from folding his master’s clothes and his mouth stretched wide in a slow grin. ‘If she blames another woman for the fact, I pity that woman. Perhaps you will have to protect her from Miss Paige’s ire, m’lord,’ he added suggestively. Charlotte was, after all, famous for her hot and cold moods.

Peregrine grunted. ‘I’m ashamed to say I’m involved in a scheme to discredit this other young woman, yet the truth is, even if she is guilty, I’ve lost the appetite.’

‘Lost the appetite?’ Nelson’s face contorted into an expression indicating great disgust. ‘So she is not a woman you’d care either to besmirch or champion?’

‘God, no!’ Peregrine shook his head emphatically. ‘She is angelic. There’s the rub. I should be flayed for entering into such devilry.’

‘You are an honourable man, m’lord. If you have doubts, I suggest you relinquish your involvement and leave this possibly innocent young woman be,’ Nelson said with another sage nod, pausing on the threshold, having brushed and put away Peregrine’s coat.

It was as if Nelson was dismissing him, Peregrine thought with a mixture of irritation and amusement as Nelson offered him a bow before stepping gracefully backwards.

‘I shall do nothing of the sort.’ He floundered for a plausible excuse, aware that his motives for furthering his acquaintance with Miss Rosington were cloudy at best. ‘Indeed, she may, as you suggest, need my protection,’ he added, feebly.

‘Then if this young lady is worthy of your protection, my lord, I wish you great joy of her.’

An ambiguous remark, Peregrine reflected as he climbed into his carriage a short while later, and took the short journey across London to Vauxhall Gardens where he was to meet Lady Busselton.

Joy of her? Well, he was fully anticipating more pleasure than pain at the end of all this, but he’d rather he was protected by the usual indifference that ensured he never lost his heart or his head. The truth was Miss Rosington, up close, had unleashed a veritable storm of emotions that denied rational explanation. A visage of such purity surely could not belong to a woman who’d betray her cousin and the man she was to marry. Hers was not the guise of a hardened strumpet capable of destroying his sister’s happiness.

Now he was in danger of becoming mawkish. He turned his head away from the gathering group of beggar children chasing his carriage, frowning deeply at the extraordinary conundrum beginning to consume him. A moral dilemma? That would be a first.

Yet if there was more to her behavior than met the eye, Miss Rosington did need to be revealed. And if Perry went through with Xenia’s wager and Miss Rosington did indeed throw herself at Perry, as Charlotte claimed she’d done to Harry Carstairs, then Miss Rosington deserved everything she got.

Suddenly filled with charity, Peregrine tossed a handful of coins out of the carriage window, the corners of his mouth lifting as he looked back to see the children throw themselves upon the spoils like starved animals, their shouts and wails fading as the carriage rounded a bend by the river.

Yes, if the spoils were worth it, he didn’t mind getting a little dirty along the way. For ten long years he’d wanted Xenia.

Yet as he drew in a breath laden with anticipation, it was not Xenia’s heaving bosom that speared him with excitement.

Ah, Xenia, he sighed, closing his eyes to savour the thought of what shared delights would soon be his for the taking, irritated that instead of Xenia’s creamy, sculpted perfection, it was Miss Rosington’s fresh-faced visage that nagged at him.

About the Author

Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, HomerBeverley Eikli wrote her first romance when she was seventeen but discovered that killing her heroine on the last page was death to her burgeoning romance writing career.

She became a journalist, occupied for many years with life’s newsworthy – but often, unhappy – events until romance finally trumped after she met a handsome Norwegian bush pilot around a camp fire in Botswana’s beautiful Okavango Delta where she was running a safari lodge for a couple of months.

Unhappily, Beverley was due to return home the following day to marry her Australian boyfriend.

Happily, though, that fell through and after a whirlwind eight-month courtship based on regular 18-page letters between Botswana and South Australia, Beverley returned to live with her handsome Norwegian bush pilot in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest beside a flood plain of lurking wild animals, marrying her handsome bush pilot in Norway shortly afterwards.

Twenty happy years—and 12 countries later—Beverley is now back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne.

She writes traditional Regency romance as Beverley Eikli and sensual historical romance as Beverley Oakley.

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Eva Scott: Red Dust Dreaming

Interview with Eva Scott

Susana: Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Eva%20Scott%20Web copyEva: Red Dust Dreaming is about losing your dreams, and finding them again. It’s about what makes a family—and that sometimes it’s okay to choose your family rather than stick with one that diminishes you.

Susana: Are you working on something at present that you would like to tell us about?

Eva: I am working on another rural romance—this one is about an Aussie showgirl who has spent the last 12 years dancing at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. She’s exhausted ( a dancer’s life is short) and inherits a farm off of her favourite uncle. So she decides to head home and see if she can make a career out of farming cattle. Of course she knows nothing about cows—but she can learn anything she needs to know off of Google, right? Throw in a handsome neighbour with a secret and stir.

Susana: What are you reading now?

Eva: Right at this very moment I’m reading The American Lady, the second book in The Glassblower Trilogy by Petra Durst-Benning. Next on my list is Deep by Kylie Scott. I’ve been hanging out for that one…

Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

Eva: I read Isabel Allende in the early 1990s and she blew my mind. Magic Realism was something I’d never encountered before and it was mesmerising. More recently I learned a lot about the elegance of writing from reading Donna Tartt and Kauai Hart Hemmings.

Susana: What would we find under your bed?

Eva: Abandoned Lego, my dog taking a nap and the odd random shoe.

Susana: Describe the “perfect hero.” What about the “perfect hero” for you?

Eva: Okay, so this will sound super corny but it’s my husband, G.W.Gibson. He is thoughtful and attentive. My happiness is a priority for him and he knows me better than I know myself. As a result he is there to catch me long before I fall from exhaustion/stress/whatever else ails me. He’s romantic (yes, flowers and jewelry girls!) and there’s never a moment I don’t feel valued and loved.

Susana: What is the one modern convenience you can’t do without?

Eva: My smart phone. It acts as a book/phone/notepad/internet/game. If I’ve got it on me I can get anything done on the run. Genius!

About Red Dust Dreaming

In the battle of duty versus desire, only one can survive the hot Australian sunshine.

Elizabeth Langtree has her life in order—safe, organised, planned. Sure, she has her troubles, but they are nothing she can’t handle. Then everything is turned upside down when her family send her to Australia to collect her orphaned nephew.

It all seemed so simple in New York, but Australia is nothing like she expected, and she soon falls under the spell of the Outback—the station, the lifestyle, and the seriously sexy owner who has been caring for Luke since the death of his mother.

Elizabeth soon discovers that what seemed simple a world away is anything but, and her duty is at odds with the dictates of her heart. She must choose, knowing that a mistake will not only cost her everything, but destroy the future of a devastated little boy.

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Excerpt

“You know it’s wrong to put those ideas into Luke’s head, don’t you?” Elizabeth hissed at him from across the table.

Red Dust Dreaming Cover copy“Don’t look at me.” He raised his hands in mock surrender. “All of that came from your sister.”

“New York smells and there are no horses?” She folded her arms across her chest and glared at him with those blue eyes.

“Okay, so that bit was me,” he admitted.

“And I bet you think it’s all very funny, don’t you?” She glowed with a strange kind of beauty when she was fuming.

“You’ve got that wrong, sister. This isn’t a joke to me. This is war. You’re trying to take Luke away from the only home he’s ever known to give him to people who his mother spent her life trying to get away from.” He leaned towards her, palms pressed flat against the table.

Elizabeth pushed her chair back and stood up. “You’re the one who’s got it wrong, buddy. And if you cared so much for my sister and her son why didn’t you marry her and adopt him?”

Caden’s chair scraped loudly on the floor as he rose to his feet. “My relationship with Angela is none of your business. She lived her life the way she wanted to.”

Elizabeth gasped in outrage. “What are you implying?”

“Implying? Nothing at all. I’m not implying anything I’m saying it plainly. She ran away from your dysfunctional family and made a new family here with us. We’re Luke’s family, maybe not by blood but sometimes blood just doesn’t matter.” He noticed he’d walked around the table to face her. When had he done that?

“I live my life the way I want to.” She narrowed her eyes, her fists were balled up at her sides. Unless he was mistaken she was sizing him up.

“Right, sure you do. You did whatever Mummy and Daddy wanted. I bet life is just peachy. Well it wasn’t, to hear Angela tell it.” Caden really hadn’t meant to start this fight. If he could take it all back he would but the words just kept pouring out of his mouth uncensored. He had to stop before they both all went too far.

“My childhood wasn’t so great either but I made the best of it. Angela rebelled every inch of the way and look where that got her!”

“What exactly are you implying?”

“I’m not implying anything. I’m calling it as I see it. She ran away to hide in this godforsaken place and left me to face our parents on my own.” Her hands were on her hips and her cheeks were flushed. Damn she looked pretty! And that particular fact only fuelled his anger.

“I can’t stop you from taking Luke to New York. Believe me if I could I would. Just ask yourself this question, if New York is so damned good why did Angela run so far? Why did she deny your parents their grandchild? Why didn’t she tell you she was dying? She had a choice and she exercised it. She chose freedom. Do you really want Luke to wind up as uptight and miserable as you are?” He’d gone too far now. His words whirled about their heads like a flock of startled sparrows. Caden’s heart pounded in his chest. In some strange way he was having Angela’s argument for her, the one she never got to have. He’d heard her side of the story a thousand times and part of him justified his cruel words in defence of Angela.

Elizabeth looked as shocked as if he’d slapped her, and in some way he had—verbally. His bravado evaporated as he looked into her eyes. Fury and pain lurked in their blue depths. He’d ignited both tonight.

“I am not uptight,” she bit out between clenched teeth. She looked so angry, so small and alone in his kitchen there was only one logical thing to do.

He took a step closer, inhaling her scent of sultry summer flowers. “Oh really,” he said before crushing her to him and kissing her with everything he had.

About the Author

Eva Scott writes contemporary romance set in her homeland of Australia and historical fiction set in the Ancient World. Her books offer passion and adventure in some of the most beautiful and intriguing places in the world. Her heroes and heroines are strong, sassy and ready to rise to their challenges, and learn a little bit about themselves along the way.

Having lived overseas for several years, Eva returned to study anthropology before heading off to live in Papua New Guinea for a year. There she met the love of her life, author G.W. Gibson, who was stationed there with the Australian Defence Force. The rest is history, romantic history.

She now lives on the Redcliffe peninsula with her husband, small son and an assortment of animals. When Eva is not writing she enjoys mentoring first-time authors, cooking up a story, practising yoga and getting out on the bay on her stand-up paddle board.

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Téa Cooper: A Sneak Peek at Jazz Baby

Thanks for the invitation to stop in … I’ve got news! I’ve got news! Hot off the press ….

October 1st will see the release of my next historical romance from Escape Publishing and it is a bit of a diversion from Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s Freedom.

About Jazz Baby

In the gritty underbelly of 1920s Sydney, a fresh-faced country girl is about to arrive in the big, dark city–and risk everything in the pursuit of her dreams.

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Sydney is no place for the fainthearted—five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more, and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.

Dolly Bowman is ready and willing to take on all the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, a time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back on her childhood, she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future.

World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he’s luckier than most. He’s survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off, and he’s set for the high life. But a glimpse of a girl that he had forgotten, from a place he’s tried to escape suddenly sets all his plans awry. Try as he might he can’t shake the past, and money isn’t enough to pay the debts he’s incurred.

Coming Soon

I can’t show you the cover of Jazz Baby yet but I have to admit to drawing on an Australian TV series called Underbelly Razor for inspiration, especially as far as the clothes are concerned, which I adore. This is one of my favourites….

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I spend a fair amount of time in Sydney and I stay right in the middle of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills where the story takes place. Most of my research consisted of pounding the pavements, checking out the back alleyways, terrace houses and dubious bars and pubs! One of my favourites is called Love Tilly Devine. There is a great story on their website.

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I’ve also written a sequel to Jazz Baby entitled The Wages of Sin, a spinoff story about two of the secondary character–as yet I can’t give you a release date and a blurb would give away the story of Jazz Baby.

You can find all the information on my website www.teacooperauthor.com or be the first to hear all my news by joining my free readers’ newsletter group.

About Téa

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallTéa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the time-warp village of Wollombi, NSW Australia. When she isn’t writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who offer a never-ending source of inspiration.

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Guest Interview: Eva Scott and The Last Gladiatrix

Today my guest is Eva Scott, who recently joined a Facebook group called History Lovers, which was originally formed by several of us who were teammates in Savvy Authors NANO Smackdown with Entangled Editors last fall. We’re all history lovers, of course, and we write historical romance, although with quite diverse settings. 

Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Eva!

eva scottThanks, Susana. It’s great to be here!

What inspired you to start writing?

My first grade teacher told my parents she thought I’d make a good writer one day.  I remember thinking I could do that.  And off I went.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was five years old.  I’ve loads of old notebooks with stories, notes, and general gibberish in them.  They’re hilarious to read!

What advice would you give writers just starting out?

Get a critique partner.  I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be published right now if not for my superb critique partner.  She pushes me to keep the quality of my work high and improving all the time.  And it’s nice to have someone in your corner who really does know what it feels like to get a knockback or that email saying we’d like to offer you a contract.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t often get writer’s block.  I do, however, get the writer’s blues.  After I finish a book and type THE END I tend to feel down and rather sad for the next few days.  So I make sure I’ve got loads of trashy gossip magazines, some rom-com movies and chocolate.  They’re just the pick-me-up I need.

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

It varies from story to story.  I’ve got these two great characters sitting around in my head, not doing much, waiting for the right story to come along.  Then I also have some great stories in need of characters to go with them.

Are you working on something at present you would like to tell us about?

I’m working on a story about a minor character, Klara, who appears in The Last Gladiatrix. My editor was intrigued by Klara’s story and asked me to write about it.  I’m having tremendous fun following Klara about Ancient Rome.

What are you reading now?

When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman.

The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen

Lily’s Leap by Tea Cooper

I always seem to have more books on my nightstand then I can manage to read!

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Jane Austen—I quote her all the time.  I come back to her books regularly as a great example of how to tell a story and win readers hearts and minds.

What is your work schedule like when writing?

Crazy.  I call it the Sara Lee approach—layer upon layer upon layer… I have a toddler so things rarely go according to schedule.  I grab time when I can.  My little boy has recently given up midday naps, which is when most of my writing got done, so it will be interesting trying to adjust my schedule around him.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer or a zoologist.  One out of two ain’t bad.

What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Favorite food would have to be pizza, homemade with loads of delicious deli toppings.  We like to make them on a Friday night and ‘pimp’ up the bases with different herbs and spices.

Least favorite food is probably mussels—too strong a taste for me.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a hybrid—a plonster?  I usually jot down my story scene by scene along with loads of information about the characters.  Then I get writing.  The chapters form naturally as a combination of scenes.  Sometimes the story will change and a scene will be rewritten or left out entirely.  That’s the panster bit of the deal.  It works for me.  You know what they say—don’t fix what ain’t broke.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

I love aprons.  I have a small collection I wear daily.  They somehow make me feel in control of the day, even when it’s clear I’m not!

Is there a writer you idolize? Is so, who?

Vikram Seth blows me away.  So does Kaui Hart Hemmings and Barbara Kingsolver.  I’m always on the lookout for new authors and new voices.  Good writing inspires me to take my own work to the next level.

What would we find under your bed?

Dust bunnies.  Long forgotten lego blocks (belonging to my 2 year old).

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book. Where would you most likely want to go?

Central America—I’ve got an idea for a book and some of it takes place there.  I know absolutely nothing about Central America.  I hear it’s stunningly beautiful.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

I have loads of quotes I love but the thing I say most often is “There’s more way than one to skin a cat.”  Charming!

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

At the moment I’m writing contemporary romance and historical romance.  I’m not ruling out anything!  I’ve got some great ideas (at least I think so) for a thriller and a chick-lit style book.  I’ll go wherever the storyline takes me.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

Get an agent!

Gladiatrix_Final (427x640)About The Last Gladiatrix

Captured and enslaved by a Roman legion, Xanthe never expects to end up training for the Coliseum floor, but every night after the day’s march, she is put through her paces by a Roman solider who challenges her, tests her, and excites her.

Titus is drawn to Xanthe, her fire and her spirit, so he breaks one of his rules and brings notice on himself, offering to train her as a gladiatrix to spare her a courtesan’s role. But training her, working with her, soon becomes too much. Titus knows the penalty for taking property that does not belong to him, but how long can he resist?

Excerpt

The flash of her green eyes in the candlelight reminded Titus of the verdant wild forests of Northern Italy, which they had recently left. He rubbed a smear of dirt from her cheek with his thumb, and then taking her hand, he raised Xanthe up to stand. With deliberate, slow movements he unfastened her tunic, letting it fall from her shoulders to pool on the ground at her feet.

Xanthe made no move to stop him, their eyes locked, her fear and trust clear to see. He slid his fingers beneath the waist of her leggings and tugged them down over her hips, leaving her naked, standing there before him.

Titus took a sponge and dipped it into a bowl of warm water, letting it soak before applying it to Xanthe’s flesh. He washed her with firm yet gentle strokes, and as the water ran over her skin it dripped deliciously from her breasts. The centurion bent his head and licked at a droplet, pleased to feel her shudder in response. Her nipple hardened, inviting him to explore further. He needed no invitation. Xanthe had to summon all her self-discipline to stand still while Titus explored the curves of her body. His touch turned her core to molten fire; she could barely contain her need.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Gladiatrix-ebook/dp/B00BSKJF98/

http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/products/tag/historical

About the Author

I live on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland Australia with my fabulous husband and gorgeous little boy. When I’m not writing romance you can find me out on the water kayaking, fishing or swimming. When on dry land it’s all about the shoes and the coffee.

http://www.evascottromance.com/

http://www.facebook.com/eva.scottromancewriter

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