holliefur

A teacher and avid lover of mystery thrillers.

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Unexpected and Unique

When I read the blurb, reviews, and website info on Respite, I was so excited to read this story. Finally, a new type of erotica. One which isn’t built against an unbelievable backdrop of cliches and contrived notions. One which blends reality with fantasy in equal measure. As soon as I read the first two chapters, I was spellbound. The concept of a story within a story left me in awe. I felt connected to both lead males and practically devoured through the short chapters to see how each unravelled.

Then, there is the fantastical portrayal of parenthood and marriage - two pillars which bring such body to this sensual tale. For some moments I forgot I was reading erotica altogether until it arrived and hit me in the face!

Unlike the considered and respectfully crafted scenes of family life, the topic of sex was dealt… altogether differently. Unfortunately, I found most of the depictions of sex very uncomfortable to read. Personally, some of the language choices were too crude, and I found the sexual acts themselves too coarse. I guess, given the ancient, tribal element, their intercourse was bound to be animalistic, but I found it to be too extreme for my tastes. Reading other reviews, people have been able to appreciate these scenes as a sort of unfiltered, raw beauty. Everyone’s fantasies are different of course. I guess I just expected something more subtle and soft given the sophisticated subject matter of Autism.

The two sides of the story were quite confronting to read. In some ways, this was to the author’s credit. I had a very visceral reaction to this story. I felt sympathy, admiration, sorrow, frustration - proving that I did bond with this author’s work.

There is no doubt, this is an important tale, and I admire it for taking on such an underrepresented issue and bringing it into the light of day. For that, I highly value this story and its intentions.

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Atmospheric and intense

Gorgeous artwork design and succinct blurb. This story is action-packed, tense, and brilliantly dramatic. I loved the fight scene and the struggle depicted in chapter 4. What a fight!

As we are thrust into the action, there is a lot to digest – numerous characters, ships, and frequent flashbacks. I struggled to keep track of it all in places and wondered if some sections would be better placed in a separate chapter altogether.

When I did get into the story though, I found myself piecing bits together and making connections that brought some clarity to the scenes. What I am still left wondering however is what is the main goal for Aine and the rest of the crew? Is this a survival story or a revenge story or both? Are they trying to protect their civilisation? Who is the main target or enemy and why have people branched off into different ships? I know all this will probably unravel as the story progresses, but I think to keep a reader engaged, some of these questions need addressing sooner rather than later. Or at least hinted at.

Apart from this, I absolutely loved the rollercoaster of a ride. It is fast-paced and thick with atmosphere. Your description and characterisation is wonderful, and I haven’t read anything like it before on Inkitt.

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Emerging Fantasy

Thanks for bringing your work to my attention. You are obviously a creative writer, and I applaud anyone that can create their own world and rules. It may be because I’m not a fantasy fiction reader myself, but I am struggling to follow the plot. I think it is because the chapters seems to skim the surface of what is going on and the scenes move at a rapid rate with shifting POV. I want to immerse myself in your world and see things unravel at a slower pace, so that I can better understand the world and its characters. Most of what we learn is through blocks of speech, rather than through actions and setting description. You know your world, but as a reader it is information overload. Drop feeding such points and unravelling the nuances of your world over time would give them room to shine and help the reader digest them better. Although, I have to say that the description and dialogue you have included are very good, and you provide excellent characterisation. The story needs a few edits. To help, I’ve left in-depth feedback on key chapters regarding ways to improve spelling errors. I hope you find this useful. I know that I’ve provided lots of feedback, but I did enjoy reading your work and feel the premise has oodles of potential! Looking at your previous reviews, you obviously have fans as it stands, so you have lots to be proud of :)

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Artistic

Wow! I couldn't disagree more with some of the critics of your other reviews. Unless you have edited your work since their input? I enjoy mythology and personally would feel intimidated to base a story around such a premise, but what you've done is take an ancient fable and brought it into the modern-day. The story is imaginative, full of gorgeous description AND emotion. I wasn't bored one bit. I think you intended the story to unfold with the protagonist. We are confused as to what is going on when the main character is confused. We discover things through her eyes. Some sentences can be a little too embellished and long, but I think that is the style you are going for. Keep doing you!

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Gorgeously written

This story has real promise. As soon as I read the overarching plot I felt intrigued. The premise here is striking, and potentially heart-breaking. There is no doubt the description is expertly written. I like how we see an event from each character's perspective. Reminds me of 'The Affair'. I too like short chapters, I think it helps build tension. I think adding in more internal dialogue to flesh out their inner thoughts and feelings would help bring depth to their connection. Why are they drawn to each other? The flashback illustrates why she doesn't mourn her husband, but what of her children? This is my only critic! Everything else is beautifully done, and the fact you are fitting this around studies is even more impressive. You have a natural flair for prose :)

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Invaluable Experience!

Thank you so much! What excellent and detailed feedback. All of this has given me so much direction and enthusiasm for developing my stories further. What a brilliantly run competition. Seriously. One of the best. Everything was professionally organised, and I’ve gotten so much out of it.

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Soren

After reading The Spirit of Fire, I was excited to read this prequel!

Evident is this author’s amazing storytelling. As an outcast, Luna is a girl trying to understand herself and realise her true magic. Her quest to better identify with her lineage and identity sends her on a journey of romance and discovery. Even though you don’t need to have read the other book in the series to appreciate this tale, the backstory does give The Spirit of Fire more depth. It is fascinating to see Luna uncover a world for the first time and make strides towards her goals. Soren is such a sweet-natured boy and I love how he is with Luna - so gentle and compassionate!

In terms of writing style, the story has some info dump at times, especially with the description of the characters in the initial chapter, but I understand this was to distinguish Luna from the people that she lives with. I do like the way this author progresses the plot in the subsequent chapters.

In The Spirit of Fire, everything felt very polished. I still feel this story is in the early stages of editing as I did notice a few silly mistakes. Some examples are: in the blurb it says ‘this all this time’ but should just say ‘all this time’. In chapter 1, there is a clunky sentence that should be separated or reworked. It starts ‘The best way I can describe it is like…’ In chapter 3, the spelling for all though should be although. I’m used to high standards with this writer, so I hope they appreciate these minor details.

I know this is going to be an exciting read and an accomplished piece of literature when finalised :)

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Poetic Suspense

To start off, I was completely out of my depth reading this story. Fantasy is not my preferred genre to read, but as my judge, I was required to review. I read the first 10 chapters to mirror the competition, and I am conflicted on my thoughts…
You are clearly an interesting, imaginative, and talented writer. Your style is original, thought-provoking, and intelligent. Because of this, it is also a little intimidating. I found it difficult to absorb. The ornate richness of the description and the wordy sentences made my head hurt. I struggled to understand what was going on as there was so much showing and barely any telling. Instead of getting lost in the narrative, I had to work really hard to decode it. I will say this does soften and improve as the story progresses. From chapter 6, things felt more balanced and therefore more immersive. I started to connect with the characters and navigate the plot more steadily.
On the other hand, I am in awe of your creativity and dedication. You have clearly put immense work into this detailed and comprehensive tale. The cast and world building are unique and dramatic. There is so much originality, magic, and vision. What it must be like to live in your head!
Like a piece of art, I appreciate the beauty and skill on display.

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Fantastic!

First of all, I’m definitely not familiar with Manga, so the glossary at the beginning was super helpful!

The descriptions pulled me in and quietly built a vivid picture of two central characters fighting against a backdrop of redemption and self-preservation.

The snippets of internal dialogue reveal past traumas that drive the protagonist’s actions. Kurama was such an interesting and clever dynamic to Naruto’s character. It reminded me of the book The Host, where a character converses with someone living inside their body - experiencing a shared conscience. Kurama has his own demons and motivations, and although Naruto works with him, there is clear tension between them at times.

The whole premise is so well choreographed, I thought I was there. As always, the characters were so well crafted and differentiated. Amazing, exciting work!

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A breath of fresh air

Breathe is a tantalising tale of two-halves. Familiar teen angst is pit against the backdrop of an authoritarian regime, and I’m totally here for it. With nods to the Hunger Games franchise, we are thrown into the midst of a war - a war of the world and a battle of the hearts. Protagonist, Mina, weaves a narrative of unrequited love and struggles to find her place in life.

After reading the thrilling opening chapter, I was left with so many exciting questions. Time had torn the main characters apart, but why and how? You can feel the torment between them, a sense of unfinished business, and Mina’s intimate turmoil. Then, as if reading my mind, the author rewinds the clock and take us back in time.

Something I love about this writer’s work is her effective, discrete description. It is embedded with the maturity of an experienced writer and leads to excellent immersion. The world unfolds steadily, but continues to hold back on some intriguing points – what is the sickness, the rain? I still don’t know, and I want to!

The only chapter that seemed to lack the thoroughness of the others was chapter 7. It offers a brilliant contrast to The Party, but feels abruptly short and stand alone. However, I really enjoyed reading this tale and will look forward to future instalments.

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Polished and Poised

It is clear that the author has put her blood, sweat, and tears into this story. She has clearly researched long and hard to ensure her world convincingly reflects life from a bygone era. The exquisite details, interlocked so masterfully between dialogue and introspection, paint the most vivid of pictures. I reread passages with great fondness just to pour over every moment once more. Take for instance her description of the market on exhibition day. This could have been done with such cliché, but she managed to make poetry out of flora and archways. She takes something as simple as squash and turns it into works of art through her choice of words and placement. It is a feat to behold!

At times, I was wonderfully wrapped up in Aleida's life. Her friends, so well balanced and thought out, brought facets of humour and emotion. Thomas was unexpectedly kitsch and gregarious at times, lifting moments of woe and sorrow. Speaking of joy and heartache, I loved the poignant chapter depicting Aleida's dance. It was full of feeling and meaning and felt like a pivotal part of her story arch. Likewise, the deliciously steamy scene with Haden was surprisingly refreshing too. It did feel however a little abrupt. More sexual tension dotted throughout could have made the moment more believable and carry more weight. Despite this, you can tell that this is an author used to crafting stories. I felt secure as a reader. It is an odd phrase to use, but the only way I can describe it is to compare it to dining put at a revered restaurant. You can sit back and relax and just enjoy the experience. The read was fluid and easy-going. Effortless. I knew I could trust there to be no issues with grammar or punctuation. I could trust that everything would be as it should. This leads to my next point, however...

Sticking with the same metaphor… my only critic would be that even though I loved what I ate, it wasn’t what I was expecting upon reading the menu. I’m not sure if this is down to the story being an excerpt or not, but after reading the blurb and prologue I expected a different story. After a firecracker of an opening, the story takes on a rather mundane turn. There is no mention of magic or fantastic beasts until Chapter 22. Grey, the mysterious traveller, rarely makes an appearance which is a little frustrating as I am longing to know how everything links back to that epic prologue! Most of the initial chapters surround a competition and after such a strong prologue I felt although these were beautifully written, more drama/action was missing. Aleida has lots of internal conflicts, but it lacks in comparison to the beginning of the story and at times feels a little underwhelming. One way to get around this would be to alter the blurb so that it reflects the majority of the story better. That way, it won’t feel like the plot doesn’t meet the blurb's potential. I’m sure that the full story is more satisfying and will no doubt be on bookshelves in the near future!

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Revealing

Firstly, hats off for writing over a hundred poems. That is amazing!

Your poems read like inserts from a diary. You convey so much intimacy. Your poems really do reveal your innermost desires and thoughts, and that is what I find admirable.

The title for the collection, Inner Woman, is perfect. Looking at these and some from volume 1, you capture all sides of what it means to be a woman. All our wonderful complexities and intricacies are laid bare through your short, adept wording.

I can almost imagine you reading them out loud to an audience. I can hear where you’d pause and how you’d intonate your pitch with certain stanzas. The lines may be made of simple phrases, but they are powerful statements as a whole.

Make it 200 poems :)

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Indulgent And Salacious

Reading this story is like being cocooned in silk and being force-fed heady old-fashioned liquors. It is both simultaneously addictive and suffocating. Mirabelle is like peering inside the head of lunacy. Upon reading the prologue, the personality of the protagonist immediately hits you as antagonistic and full of ego. I think some readers have misinterpreted the author’s ambitious language choices as arrogant but from my perspective, this was a deliberate reflection of the narrator’s flamboyant nature. The moments of inner dialogue are so intimate and visceral. I totally understand why people compare the author’s writing to that of gothic poetry. The backdrop triumphantly matches the dark romance of this twisted tale. I loved the use of foreshadowing and metaphorical references to love and ballet. It is a beauty that requires pain. It must be endured to be appreciated and therefore a brilliant motif for a story of dangerous liaisons.

The drop in star rating for the plot was because sometimes the story was hard to follow. Take for instance the prologue. I didn’t quite understand the timeline as it flittered between past memories and the present day without warning. I couldn’t tell where Mirabelle was. She begins by recalling her sister’s funeral, then a fortnight later she moves to America, and then an hour later she is at a ball. My head was dizzy with information. In chapter one, I didn’t quite understand how she could go from biting Xavier so outlandishly to being afraid of criminals as she walked through the night. Then later in the same chapter, you introduce a poem and then switch POV. There was that ‘an hour later’ phrase again jarring me into an intermission. The sheer amount of timestamps in the middle of chapters seemed unnecessary. Although creative, these moments took me out of the story and into a head spin. Thankfully, these greatly subside as the plot thickens.

Regarding punctuation, I noticed some issues with speech. There were occasions where the author would capitalise the dialogue tag when this should all be lowercase. For example, in chapter 1, it should read: “Why ever not?” he inquired as a slow grin slid across his face… If the tag didn’t have the ‘inquired’ part (synonym for ask) and was just action then you would be able to capitalise ‘He’. I haven’t decided to mark the writer down for this as it is such a minor detail in what is otherwise a well-executed novella. If I could award 4.5 stars for overall rating, I would!

These things aside, the writing style is unequivocally decadent, lavish, bold, and daring. The characters are both intoxicating and audacious. Speaking of intoxication, this author knows how to build sexual tension. Despite the main character being somewhat of a villainess, she captivates the mind and the soul of the reader with her irresistible yet despicable ways. She fleets between Xavier and Xander with conviction and fortitude. There are also some killer twists to be devoured along the way that I won’t spoil for future readers. They certainly prove that this author’s flowery tongue has depth and intelligence. When you read the epilogue, you will feel like you can finally breathe, but you will miss being encaged in the fortress of this beguiling tale.

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Frantic and fearless

This on-going mystery is more about survival than a who-done-it but worth the ride anyway! The writing style is fast-paced and each chapter pushes the plot on. I would have liked to have seen more backstory or flashbacks of memories between Maddy and Sadie to really understand the intensity of their bond as Maddy goes to extreme lengths to find out what has happened to her best friend. Maddy as a protagonist is bold and adventurous beyond her years, making her a very likeable character. It’s hard to feel sympathy for Sadie when we know next to nothing about her. Adding in some chapters on their friendship to slow down the building anticipation and instead focus on character development would make us root for Maddy all the more. Prior interactions with Sadie could also help to make the suicide angle more viable. Was she sometimes depressive? We need those red herrings to make it believable. Also, what really drove Sadie to meet up with someone on that fateful night? Fully exploring this would help to make the story feel more robust. I did like the intensity of the chapters when action did take hold. You really get a sense of the frenzied panic felt by Maddy and how smart this chick actually is. I’m hoping there are more twists to come and some type of retribution at the end too. Grammatically, I can tell the author writes with the same fury and speed as Maddy as there were some mistakes throughout, but the author is open and accepting to making these changes which is nice to see. My star ratings reflect how I feel this story is still in its raw stages and although an exciting read, would benefit from a bit more depth. I’ll be sure to keep following :)

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Absorbing and Intelligent

This ongoing story depicts a world of elemental wielders in an almost post-apocalyptic backdrop where Earth as we know it has altered. I thoroughly enjoyed how the author gradually revealed more and more about this premise over the chapters. Take for instance Chapter 1. We learn something isn’t quite right when Saffire (a lovely play on words) begins to talk about rationing. The author holds back an explanation to this, leaving the reader guessing. Something this author does in abundance and demonstrates adept skill in is her use of world-building. Descriptions are rich and detailed, drawing you in.

Despite the fantasy genre, at its heart, this is a story many can relate to. Saffire strives to overcome challenges in her life, both on a personal level and a grander scale. Being thrust into the role of a Fire Spirit Elemental Leader is empowering but brings a lot of hardship to her life. It is nice to see peppers of light-hearted and even humorous notes woven throughout the drama. It breaks up the arduous core of the writing and makes the characters all the more dimensional. I too love to use the notion of good and evil, dark and light, as a central theme, so I enjoyed the trials and tribulations. You aren’t afraid to tackle challenging subjects head-on, knowing how integral they are to the characterisation of your cast and backstory. Abuse is a powerful tool when used sympathetically and you did this superbly. I also love (bias here) stories written from a first-person perspective as I find them immersive. The connection I had for Saffire made me feel for her all the more intensely.

On a personal level, I like fast-paced fiction, so I do agree with the feedback around breaking up your chapters so that they are punchier. We tend to read until the end of a chapter and sometimes I found myself wanting a break before I reached the end. Not because of your plot but it just felt a little overwhelming. Like the concept of being over faced at a meal even when you are starving! Relating to grammar and punctuation, everything is close to perfection. The main issue I found was specific to speech. I was always taught to begin dialogue with a capital letter even if it starts mid-sentence. The only exception to this being when you do broken speech and the tag goes in the middle. I noticed that the author often places the tag before the speech, which is a nice alternative but then begins the speech with a lowercase letter. It could be that there are different preferences for different countries (I’m from the UK), but I thought I’d raise it all the same.

I’m not surprised this creative and fascinating tale has so many positive reviews. You have crafted a well-rounded story with a clear story arc and character development. I’m intrigued to see how things progress and ultimately end.

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Touching and thought-provoking

I really like how this author maximises the potential of a short story. He manages to compress so much atmosphere, character development, and emotion in so few words. I loved his first romantic story so jumped at the chance of reviewing his second instalment. This time around the premise tackles deeper and more sorrowful themes. I loved the wartime era and how this turbulent backdrop acts as a metaphor for the character's struggles. The inclusion of the letters gave the prose such a raw and intimate touch. It was a refreshing change to dialogue and perfect for the setting. Just when you think the story arc is complete, the author delves a layer further. The ending was so satisfying and heart-breaking at the same time. Everything comes full circle and you are left reflecting on the words with a new perspective. I really feel you have a true gift for storytelling.

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Absorbing and thought provoking

From the very first line, I felt a connection to this author’s writing style. When reading, all I want is to be transported elsewhere. I didn’t need to force myself here as I was instantly sucked in and that is a rare find on Inkitt. The tale begins in the midst of the narrator’s mind, my favourite place to be when writing for myself, and this introverted perspective continues to rise its confident head throughout, as the story unfolds. Each character is clearly defined, and I love how Hallmark brings joy and humour to the darkness. His contrasting personality brings so much to the plot. It too is so refreshing to read about an alternative romantic encounter to mainstream literary. I only ever read and write thrillers, so I was curious to see where the twists would surface. They develop subtly and leave many questions lingering off the page. As a short story, it achieves everything it set out to accomplish. However, the only reason I’ve pulled back a star for the plot is because I wish the story was longer! Quiet frankly, I didn’t want it to finish so soon, and I would have loved to explore more of Hallmark, Advay and Valencia’s personalities.

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Breathtaking

This is a fantastic thriller! The concept of a character entering other people’s dreams is so unique and enthralling. When I came across the blurb I knew this was my type of story. I am fascinated by dreams and suffer from sleep paralysis, so I felt invested from the onset. The characters are so developed and the plot unfolds meticulously. I felt connected to the story with the use of such exquisite writing, and by the end I was truly moved. The book could easily translate to publishing. I urge this author to do so if they haven’t already!

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Fun and frightful

What entertaining mini-stories! What you’ve created is ambitious and exciting fables. Your passion for prose shines through and I credit your creativity and imagination. Good job!

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Poignant

This fable unfolds like a diary, intimate and emotive. I loved how the beauty and simplicity of the wilderness mirrored the sweet innocence of the children. I think the story could translate well into a poem too - it has that romantic and dream-like quality. Well done!

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Beautiful

A short, bittersweet tale of missed chances and unspoken truths. Beautiful.

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Full of twists and turns

Well what an adventure ride this turned out to be. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns in this tale of jealousy and lunacy. There are lots of differing characters to keep track of and plenty of red herrings to keep you guessing along the way. The flashbacks eventually help fill in the blanks and I really enjoyed how the story ended. A satisfying read :)

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Enticing read

After recently finishing Game of Thrones (I know I am really late to the party), this story reminds me of such fantasy drama. It has the majesty of a period plot but with a magical edge. You definitely need to keep developing this story! Looking forward to seeing more chapters in the future :)

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So interesting!

I love this! So nice being able to gain further insight on other Inkitt writers :)

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A digital Hunger Games

This story has an engaging plot, it reminds me of season 2 of The OA where teens go missing when playing an addictive, cryptic game. Think a digital version of The Hunger Games. Looking briefly at the the writer’s other story it is clear they have a creative mind! There are definitely moments of magic where the writer beautifully describes a scene or character, but you have to persevere. A fellow Inkitt user pointed out some mistakes in my writing and it has made my story so much better! I hope you don’t think me doing the same is trying to be negative - I really want your story to be as good as possible! The main areas of development of the first 2 chapters, especially chapter 2 where so much goes on and I couldn’t keep up or understand everything. As the author you know your story inside and out but don’t expect your readers to read between the lines. A good tip is can someone summarise what has happened in a single chapter? If they can’t then split it into 2 chapters and flesh them out a bit more. For grammatical/punctuation errors websites like Grammarly are free and would quickly highlight the little mistakes that are holding this story back. You are an imaginative and talented writer (and an extremely nice person), just keep rereading and editing :)

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Captivating

This story is all about the characters and what well-crafted characters they are. Each come with their own personalities and back stories. Some are still emerging and mysterious, but each one brings something unique to the tale. I imagine these misfits will all bring out the best and worst of one another. The character building here is woven so strategically too - just take the flashback in chapter 1 and late arrival Peter for instance. So far, there are characters we feel empathy for, those we are rooting for and those we don’t trust. The varying dynamics make for a compelling read. Set against the backdrop of the visceral and emotive Wild West, the combination is as comforting as a heady tonic in front of an open fire. Although Wild Westerns are a genre that can feel a little predictable, when the people are interesting enough, like this, you enjoy the ride.

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How has no one reviewed this!

This story is brilliantly written, I can't believe no one has reviewed it yet. The sign of a good author is someone who can pull you in from the very first sentence, and this story did just that. I'm normally not into pop culture romance novels, but the dry humour and sheer personality of the protagonist radiates off the page. No damsel-in-distress here and thank goodness! I love the inner dialogue, that reveals the main character's real feelings, compared to the outward persona she presents on the show. It makes her feel more real.

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Full of personality

The speech in this story is what brings it to life! You get a real sense of the character's age, connection and emotions. I love these types of stories filled with mystery. I was also pleasantly surprised when I discovered the time setting was present day. The plot made this sound like a period drama - could be something you play around with in flashbacks or something? The plot is really interesting, but so much happens in a single chapter. Or perhaps this is a mini story? If not, you could have built tension by spreading out the description of the mansion on approach. There is almost a supernatural or paranormal aspect to the story, which could be really exploited. An excellent first chapter, well done!

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Effortless

I love descriptive writing, and those are the magical moments for me in this story. The writer feels one with the page, making this an easy read to digest. Although the genre isn't my go-to, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and their individual personalities. Dialogue is something I have to try hard at, and this writer embeds idioms and dialect wonderfully.

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