Meet Julie Lessman

It’s our pleasure to welcome Julie Lessman, “The Kissing Queen” of CBA, to the Lightning Blog. In honor of all things that SPARK this February, she’s offering a fantastic giveaway for five lucky readers, and if you ever hoped Gone With the Wind had a different ending, well, she’s your gal. Get your digital copy of SPARK (we’ve rebranded Splickety Love!) right here.

Who is your favorite character in all of literature and why?

Okay, here’s a shocker for you—Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind.

I know, I know, most people think I’m crazy when I say that, but Scarlett was definitely one of a kind. I mean, seriously, how many heroines do you know who were as selfish as she was, yet carried people’s interest in a novel over 1,000 pages long, won a Pulitzer Prize, and made over $400 million as a movie, which when adjusted for inflation is the highest grossing film of all time?

Yeah, I thought so.

When I first read Gone With the Wind at the age of twelve, I was so swept away by the romantic tension between Scarlett and Rhett, that I actually wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what today is my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Scarlett was not exactly a role model, I know, but I loved her strength, her confidence, her inability to be false or phony … and I especially loved the pull she had over Rhett whether he liked it or not. That’s what true romance is—a man who will cherish you and love you no matter your failings.

What story has inspired your writing the most?

Uh-oh. At the risk of being redundant, I have to say … Gone With the Wind, the novel that kicked off my romance-writing career at the tender age of 12! I was so hooked on romance after reading that novel that when I was in high school, I actually dressed up as a nun to go to a free re-released showing of GWTW for the local religious and clergy. One of my friends had a sister in the convent, so she loaned us novice habits and off we went! I sat there mesmerized, shoving free popcorn into my mouth as I watched the tug-o-war between Rhett and Scarlett. It was one of the most fun times of my teens … until we ran into the nuns from our high school! Whew, we got into trouble … but it was soooo worth it!

It was almost forty years before God inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him! It happened in a beauty shop where I was reading a Newsweek 2001 cover article about Christian books, movies and music. It said they were on the threshold of exploding, and my heart jumped. Something in my spirit said, “It’s time to write your book,” and the pull was SO strong, that I started writing A Passion Most Pure one month later. From the moment that I wrote the first line, all roadblocks were gone, and I was off and running into the world of a very close-knit and very passionate Irish family called the O’Connors during the tumult of WWI.

What classic are you ashamed to admit you haven’t read?

Uh … afraid to say for fear I’ll find tomatoes splattered on my windows, but … ahemPride & Prejudice. However, in my defense, I did see the movie with Keira Knightly at least fifteen times, so hopefully that will vindicate me.

If you were a teacher, what classic work would get you most excited to share with your students?

You have to ask? Gone With the Wind, hands-down, because it gives such a vivid and PG-rated view of the worst time in American history—the Civil War. Second would be To Kill a Mockingbird because it and GWTW were my favorite books as a child.

What are your writing quirks?

I don’t suppose it gets much quirkier than writing on a veranda overlooking a lake with my feet up on a chaise three quarters of the year—in Missouri. I’ve been out there writing in as low as 39 degrees in the dark of night with a heater, or as hot as 100 degrees with a fan.

Of course, a cup of hazelnut decaf with Half ‘n Half is a MUST in the winter or peach iced tea in the summer, a box of Kleenex (for the soggy scenes I write), a mirror handy for those facial expressions I’m trying to capture, and … ta-da! … lip gloss! That would definitely qualify as one of my staunchest quirks—lipstick and lip gloss. I bet I apply one or the other 20 times a day because I wear it everywhere I go, even to bed! 🙂

Tell us about your writing goals for 2017.

I am finishing up my Isle of Hope contemporary series with book 3, His Steadfast Love, due out late summer, early fall. Book 1 in that series, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love, is a double love story loosely based on my own dysfunctional relationship with my estranged father. I’m happy to say that Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love is an award-winning novel that made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015 AND currently has a solid five-star rating on Amazon with 194 reviews. Here’s the jacket blurb:

Can a wild girl gone good rebuild bridges with a good boy gone bad?

She’s the girlfriend serving up temptation. He’s the pastor’s kid bent on serving God. Till tragedy separates them for eight long years. Now she’s a woman of faith, back to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she betrayed. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?

The good news for your readers is the prequel novella to the Isle of Hope series, A Glimmer of Hope, has just been revised and is currently available for FREE DOWNLOAD on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Here’s the jacket blurb:

She’s bent on fun. He’s bent on faith.

 Jack O’Bryen kissed the tomboy next door and knew he’d love her foreverthe perfect wife for a would-be pastor. Lacey Carmichael dreamed of marrying the only boy who filled the void of her father’s rejection. But when Lacey goes astray while Jack’s away at seminary, is there even a glimmer of hope for a future together?

My latest release, book 2 in the Isle of Hope series, Love Everlasting, also has a five-star rating on Amazon, and here’s that blurb:

He sets hearts on fire. She’s been burned by love. Can hope survive the flames of the past?

School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. But can he convince a woman who’s been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?

Finally, I hope to rerelease three separate Christmas novellas in 2017 that were originally part of anthologies, plus a prequel novella to kick off a Western Historical series I am writing. It’s called The Silver Lining Ranch series, and it’s the fun and family-oriented story of two suffragists from New York who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers and their family in Virginia City, Nevada in the late 1800s. This is the “Wild West,” so think “Bonanza meets McClintock” with lots of fireworks going on between two couples during the fascinating era of the transcontinental railroad and the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built. Here’s the blurb:

A Match Made in Heaven? Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer? 

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking to give women the vote. He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking to give her a piece of his mind. But when things heat up, they just may give each other a piece of their hearts.

Thank you SO much for hosting me on your blog—it’s been fun! I love to hear from readers, so they can find and contact me at, or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest or by signing up for my newsletter or my Journal Jots blog. I am also part of a group blog called Seekerville that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond. Although Seekerville has been listed on Writers Digest 2013, 2014, and 2015 “Best 101 Websites for Writers,” it is also a blog devoted to readers as well. Oh, and readers can also check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Meet the Author

A lover of all things Irish, Julie Lessman enjoys writing Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. Award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 romance author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. Winner of 18 RWA awards, Julie made Booklist’s 2010 Top Inspirational Fiction and Family Fiction’s Top Novels of 2014 and 2015. Contact Julie or read excerpts at:


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62 comments on “Meet Julie Lessman
  1. Courtney says:

    Thanks for sharing this interview. Julie Lessman’s novels are some of my favorites.

    • COURTNEY, thank you SO much for your kind comment! And just FYI, my friend — don’t know if you have read the FREE DOWNLOAD of the prequel to Isle of Hope yet, but if you have, I have a rewrite available with four additional chapters with background on Tess and Ben plus a different ending, so just contact me, and I will tell you how to get it.

      If you haven’t read the prequel yet, here’s the updated version for FREE:


      HUGS and Good luck!

  2. Janka H. says:

    I love everything JULIE LESSMAN! Such a gracious lady.

    Thanks for the great interview!

    • JANKA … my favorite chocolate provider!! Thanks for coming by, you sweet thing, and it’s easy to be “gracious” to “gracious” readers like you!!

      Good luck in the contest, my friend!


  3. Connie Hendryx says:

    Great interview!! Thanks!

  4. Sally Shupe says:

    Absolutely love this interview and Julie’s books. Such a great writer!

  5. Linda Herold says:

    I like the story of Cinderella!

    • Ooooo, LINDA, I do too!! Thanks for coming by, and good luck in the contest!

      And just FYI — if you haven’t read any of my books before, do I have good news for you! The prequel novella to my latest series — the Isle of Hope Series — is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo, so I hope you check it out. Here’s the link to Amazon:



  6. Kerri says:

    One of my favorite classic literary couples is Darcy and Lizzie Bennett. Loved the interview and the insights into Ms. Julie’s writing. I love the Isle of hope series. A passion most pure was so excellent I couldn’t put it down. Thanks.

    • Gosh, KERRI, thank you SO much for your sweet comment!

      And just FYI, my friend — don’t know if you have read the FREE DOWNLOAD of the prequel to Isle of Hope yet, but if you have, guess what? I have a rewrite available with four additional chapters that gives background on Tess and Ben plus a different ending, so just contact me, and I will tell you how to get it.

      If you haven’t read the prequel yet, here’s the updated version for FREE:


      HUGS and Good luck!

  7. Lientjie Human says:

    Great interview!I have read Pride & Prejudice multiply times, but have to admit I’ve never read or watched Gone With the Wind!

    • LIENTJIE!! SOOOO good to see you here, my friend, and because I like you so much, I will forgive you for not reading Gone With the Wind. But I do encourage you to at least watch the movie because it won thirteen Academy Award nominations and ten Academy Awards, so it’s not a dog, I promise!

      I haven’t ever read Pride & Prejudice in book form, but I have seen the movie a ton of times, so hopefully that ocunts. 😉


  8. Manuela says:

    Your nun story never fails to crack me up, Julie! 🙂 You’re such a nut in a good way and I absolutely love your fiery storylines! Love to hear about your passion for GWTW. I am like that when it comes to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Have you read it? It’s my favorite classic.:)

    • MANUELA!! LOL … me, too, sweetie — I always smile when I think of the looks on the faces of our high school nuns. Would you believe one of them tried to push me into a vocation after that??

      Yes, I believe I have read Jane Eyre in high school, but I’ll be honest — that was SOOOOO very long ago that I mostly remember the movie instead. But I really liked it, so we are on the same page, my friend. 🙂

      Thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest!


  9. Kathryn Voss says:

    I love Jane Austen’s stories. And I love Julie’s!!!

  10. Sara says:

    Your Boston series made me fall in love with your books. Your books are one of my all time favorites now. Keep doing what Jesus has called you to do because you are such a blessing.

    • Okay, SARA, you’re going to make me cry, girlfriend, but that’s fair turnabout, I guess, eh? Thanks for your very sweet comment and really, just for reading my books in the first place.

      Fingers crossed for a win!


  11. Sarah Claucherty says:

    Ooh I love Pride & Prejudice! I also really enjoyed the recent remake of Cinderella – Ella and Kit were just charming.

    Julie, congrats on the opportunity to rewrite the ending of GWTW!

    • SARAH, thank you!! It was a blast, and I LOVE Splickety because I never, EVER thought I could write flash fiction, but I did!!

      I hope you get the chance to read it, and by the way, I’m running a contest on my Journal Jots blog where you can win a signed copy of the Feb. issue of SPARK Magazine with the GWTW alternate ending, so I hope you check it out.



  12. I always loved the story Desiree by Daphne De Muer. I think I read and re read that book a number of times and if I still had it I would read it again. I do have GWTW and that is one of my favorites also.

    • Uh-oh, RORY LYNN … I have never read Desiree, so I hope you will forgive me. But I did read Rebecca, so I hope that counts for my literary points today! 😉

      I bet I have read/seen the movie of GWTW no less than 20 times, and don’t even get me started on the sequel, Scarlett! 🙂

      Thanks for coming by, my friend, and good luck in the contest!


  13. Bonnie Roof says:

    Thanks for the fun interview – I have the digital copy of Spark and love your ending rewrite for Gone With the Wind!! Since I have each of your other books in both print and digital, I’m not entering the Rafflecopter giveaway here – however, would love to purchase a paper copy of this month’s Spark, if available.

    Thank you for all the enjoyment and inspiration I’ve received from reading each of your books/novellas, for being so transparent, and for following His lead in everything you write. Your writing and friendship have blessed me more than you know!!

    One question: when is your full rewrite of Gone With the Wind going to be available?? I’ll be first in line to purchase it!!

    • Bonnie, I’m not sure which of you bought the first e-issue — you or Lynne, but I thank you both from the bottom of my heart for your ongoing support!

      LOL on your question, my friend. How I wish I had been in the running as the author chosen to pen the sequel, but alas, Alexandra Ripley beat me out! She can’t touch Margaret, but a true GWTW freak doesn’t really care — they just want more of Rhett & Scarlett, and I thought she did a great job of teasing the reader in the prequel.

      Thanks again, Bonnie, for your kind words, but mostly for your precious friendship.


    • Oh and, Bonnie, I’ve got a paper copy with your name on it, girlfriend, so no worries!


  14. Lynne M Feuerstein says:

    Loved this interview ,Julie! Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with us be it through your stories or interviews like this. Also want to say how much I loved your version Of GWTW! You did such a wonderful job of delving into the characters even with the limitation of 200 words. Next to Margaret Mitchell herself I think you show a wonderful understanding of these characters. Which is why I love all your stories,you always put a lot of heart and inspiration into them. Can’t wait ’till your new ones come out! Thank you so much,Julie for the gift of your stories and the blessing of your friendship.

    • LOL, LYNNE, I barely managed with a 1,000 words (which was the actual count Splickety gave me), but I do understand that the word count for some flash fiction can be as low as 200, so in my opinion that is the true creme de la creme of talent to be able to tell a story well in 200 words. I aspire to that, but that’s about it. 😉

      Thanks, Lynne, not only for reading the piece in SPARK Magazine, but also for your incredible support and friendship.

      Hugs and more hugs,

  15. Jessica says:

    I just wanted to let you know that you have ruined almost ALL books for me. Nothing I read anymore even comes close to your amazing books! ….Except of course Gone With the Wind. You have set the bar high and nobody else can reach it 🙂 thank you for all your wonderful books, including the tears, laughter, and empowering words we have all experienced while reading your works of art.

    • Okay, JESSICA, you just made me cry, but I suppose that’s fair play if I’ve made you cry too! 😉

      Seriously, thank you SO much for your incredibly kind words — they blessed the socks off of me, which is a good thing since it’s in the 80s where I am right now. 😉

      Your sweet comment will put me on a high for the rest of the day, I’m sure, so God bless you, my friend, and GOOD LUCK!!


  16. Ginny says:

    My dear cousin, Jessica from the above comment, introduced me to your books. What she said is so true. No books I have read since have had the same effect. They are uplifting and we both feel like we want to work harder at being a better Christian after reading them. Also, we experience so many emotions!
    (We both really want to meet you so bad!)

    • OH MY GOODNESS, JESSICA, now your cousin made me cry!!! Are you sure you girls want to me a weepy CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) like me???

      GINNY!!! Thank you for listening to your cousin!!! And thank you for your sweet comment as well. I would love to meet both of you, too, so if you EVER get to the Lake of the Ozarks (Osage Beach, MO), we have a date at Panera, okay?

      Where do you guys live anyway?

      That blesses me more than I can say that you work harder at being a better Christian after you read my books, my friend — that is every Christian author’s dream, so GOD BLESS YOU!!

      Praying we get to meet someday soon.


      • Jessica says:

        Unfortunately we live way down in Southeast Texas and Missouri isn’t exactly on our normal route. We do hope we can meet eventually though. You have really touched our lives. We’re over here giggling and tearing up as we speak. It’s a day of waterworks! 🙂

        • Hey, Jessica and Ginny, how about we all pray that we DO get to meet someday, okay? I will be at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Nashville next summer, so if you girls are aspiring writers, that is the PERFECT place to go!! Then I would LOVE to have coffee with you, so let me know if that is ever a possibility.

          You have touched my life, too, my friends, blessing me with your encouragement, so THANK YOU!! I guarantee you I’ll be doing my fair share of giggling and tearing up when we do get to meet.

          Hugs and more hugs,

  17. Bonnie Roof says:

    Jessica and Ginny – you girls “hit the nail on the head” with your comments re: Julie’s writing. Her writing is truly in a league of it’s own – I’ve found none other like it. She likes to run her readers through the gamut of emotions along with her characters doesn’t she?? However, all that emotion is one of my favorite things about her writing – my most favorite being the emphasis of the importance of a personal relationship with God in one’s life and following His plan for her/his life. Along with the enjoyment of a beautiful, heart-warming family story comes the inspiration derived when reading one of her works – which bids the reader do some “soul-searching” re: her/his own spiritual life. That, to me – is the most important purpose of her writing (drawing readers to Him).

    Julie – you have truly blessed and inspired so many readers with your writing!! I love that you make Him first in all you do and are led by Him in all you write.

    • You know what, Bonnie, Ginny, and Jessica? I think we are all just emotional girls, which is why you like my writing. But somebody has to write for us emotional types, right??

      Bonnie, you already know what a blessing and influence you have been in my life, my friend, because we are sisters in Christ who really are sisters in heart as well.

      Love you!

  18. Pam K. says:

    I’ve always enjoyed Anne and Gilbert’s love story in the Anne of Green Gables books. You know I’m a big fan of your books, Julie. I haven’t yet read Love Everlasting, but I’ve read all the others.

  19. Winnie Thomas says:

    What a fun post, Julie! I’ve always loved Gone With the Wind, too. I love your movie/nun story. LOL I was always too reserved to do something like that, but my sister would have definitely been in on it! She was always up for shenanigans.

    • WINNIE — yep, your sister and me sound like two peas in a pod, my friend, which means you and I would probably get along just great! Some of my favorite people are calm, collected, and reserved people like you. Good luck in the contest, girlfriend!

  20. Donamae says:

    Gone with the wind!I thought about it for a long time.

    • DONAMAE — do you mean you thought about it for a long time after you read it? Or do you mean you thought about it for a long time that you wanted to read it? If the second, and I highly encourage you to do so, my friend, because it truly is a classic that everybody should read.

  21. Sonnetta Jones says:

    I love your books. I am waiting for Shannon’s twin book. I have not read many classics. My favorite is the Three Musketeers series and The Count of Monte Cristo. My sister is a big fan of Jane Austin.

    Continue to write stories that touch our hearts and remind us that we are loved by an amazing God we get to call Abba.

    • Hey, SONNETTA, I loved The Count of Monte Cristo, too!

      I am almost halfway through Cat and Chase’s story and am hoping to release it this summer, so prayers for productivity and anointing greatly appreciated!!

      And thank you SO much for your very kind comment, my friend! As long as God continues to touch my heart for Him — and he does daily — I will try to continue to touch yours and others for His mighty name, so THANK YOU for reading my (His) books in the first place! 😉

      Hugs and here’s to a win!

  22. Caryl Kane says:

    JULIE, I LOVE your books! Your writing is an exquisite masterpiece. I love how your honor ABBA with your writing. His love oozes from the pages. (((((HUGS)))))

    • CARYL!!! Thank you SO much, my sweet friend — appreciate your encouragement more than I can say. And God made me an “oozer,” that’s for sure, so I will continue to “ooze” for Him as long as He ordains it.

      Have you seen your new character in Love Everlasting yet? Hope you like her better than the last one. 🙂


  23. Becky Lee says:

    My favorite literary love story is probably Gone With the Wind. I’d love to be loved by a guy like Rhett who will love me & stand by me no matter what.

  24. Alison Boss says:

    Thanks for the GREAT interview! It’s always fun to learn the inspiration that started an author’s career and more about them as a person. Gone With the Wind is such a great movie. And I LOVE Pride and Prejudice! The movie starring Kiera Knightley is amazing… one of my all-time favs! Thanks for the opportunity of this giveaway!!!

    • ALISON, I am soooo with you on P&P!! One of my and my hubby’s top faves to watch, particularly because of Kiera Knightly — we just LOVE her!!

      Thanks for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest!


  25. Brenda Murphree says:

    The interview was great!
    I can’t wait to read your ending of GWTW because it’s really my all time favorite of “classic” books.

  26. Amy R. S. says:

    So glad you wrote A Passion Most Pure. One of my all time favorite novels. You are right about Scarlett, she is such an interesting character. I don’t know if I should like her or not but I do.

    • Aw, AMY, thank you SO much, my sweet friend! And, yes, Scarlett is certainly memorable if not likable to most. And I don’t know if I should like her either — but I do and always have. 🙂

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

  27. Kathy says:

    Okay Julie, I cannot visit here without saying hello! There is something about your books, so fabulous, so very good to read. Even twice, three times or more. I’m working on Steven and Annie’s story again. Oh my!

    Would love to read your ending for GWTW. 🙂 Blessings for your day and keep on sharing God’s word through your writing.

    • KATHY!! I am SO blessed you did stop to say “hello”! And God bless you for your kind encouragement, my friend — it blesses me more than I can say. I actually just reread Steven and Annie’s story recently as well, and it is a favorite of mine. I’m glad you like it too. 🙂

      Kath, I would love to send you a winning signed paper copy of Spark Magazine that has my GWTW ending and a number of other excellent classics revised, so I encourage you to head over to my Journal Jots blog to enter my contest where I am giving away five copies of the magazine and five of my books. Here’s the link and GOOD LUCK!


      HUGS and THANK YOU!!

  28. Anne Payne says:

    Hey, Julie! I didn’t know you live in MO!!! I was just there last week to see my son who is in the USAF. I haven’t read this new series but heard many great and wonderful things about it from Diana and the gals at OWG. 🙂

    Re-writing the ending to GWTW….hmmmm….that will be interesting!

    My favorite classic novel is Emma. I just love Mr Knightley! But I am also extremely fond of Mr Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South. The books are sooooo much better than the mini-series’!

    Blessings, my friend!

    • ANNE!! Girlfriend, where were you in Missouri?? I lived in St. Louis for 64 years till we moved to Lake of the Ozarks two years ago, so if you ever get down this way again, DO let me know so we can hang out at Panera, okay?

      And, Anne, I just rewrote the prequel novella for my new contemporary Isle of Hope series, adding four chapters and a new ending, so I hope you check it out. And did I mention it’s available for FREE DOWNLOAD?? That will give you a glimpse of the series to see if you want to read it. 🙂 Here’s the link:


      I am ashamed to say that not only have I never read Pride & Prejudice, but I’ve never read Emma either, or any of Jane Austen’s books. Forgive me?

      Hugs and GOOD LUCK!

  29. Susan Rogers says:

    Enjoyed the interview. Always nice to learn more about a favorite author. Met you in Nashville last August @ CFRR. Finished all 7 O’Connor books. My favorite is Marcy & Patrick’s story in “A Light in the Window.”

    • SUSAN!! I am SO glad we got to meet at CFRR in Nashville last year. And THANK YOU for reading all the O’Connor books, my friend — SO appreciated! I don’t know if you have read any of the O’Connor Christmas novellas that were part of the Seekerville collections, but I plan to re-release them as single novellas this Christmas plus write a new one for Katie and Luke. So far I have a Christmas novella for Charity & Mitch and one for Lizzie & Brady, and by next year, I hope to have one for Faith & Collin too. Eventually, I would like to write one for Marcy & Patrick as well and include all of them in an O’Connor Christmas Anthology down the road.

      Susan, have you had a chance to read the prequel novella to my new contemporary Isle of Hope series, A Glimmer of Hope? If not, I just rewrote it to include four additional scenes and a new ending, so I hope you take advantage of the FREE DOWNLOAD on it right now. Here’s the link in case you missed it.


      Thanks for coming by, my friend, and here’s hoping it nets you a win!


  30. Julie Jobe says:

    I have enjoyed the books of yours that I’ve read. I can’t believe you’ve never read Pride and Prejudice! 🙂 It’s a good one! Love Jane Austen!

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