No Regrets

(6 customer reviews)

“If you marry me, I’ll want you in my house, in my life, and in my bed.”

Lizzie has known and loved Thomas all her life. But they are at an impasse. Neither of her brothers are willing to run Pembroke in her parents’ absence, and it has fallen to her. When Thomas gives her his mandate, she is heartbroken. It seems there is nothing they can agree upon.

Thomas is ready to marry. Lizzie is not. Can they have a future together at all? When she is called to the deathbed of a family acquaintance the day after Christmas, her wrists are clasped and she is pulled closer. The woman stares into her face and says, “I’m sorry, Elizabeth. I’m so sorry.” And the woman dies, right in front of her. Suddenly, Lizzie finds her life complicated beyond belief as she realizes she’s the sole heir of yet another estate, one inhabited by a ‘familiar.’

Thomas is there, although he has no idea if there is a future for them.
He’s her strength, her rock, and her encourager.

And Lizzie wonders if she’ll ever be able to dispel the regrets that plague her.

Publisher’s Note: This action-packed, sweet, historical romantic mystery contains themes of power exchange.

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One



Saturday, December 23rd, 1876…

Lizzie watched from the doorway of the drawing room with a grin on her face. Nick was carrying Katie, his new bride, up the steps to their rooms on the third floor after their wedding. He was making comments about her being heavy; she was mouthing comments back at him. Suddenly, she forgot about the cast on her wrist and whacked him on the back with it, and Nick’s expression changed. A storm overtook his face as he began to scold his little bride, afraid she’d hurt her wrist again.

Lizzie shook her head, laughing. Nick was funny, even when he was angry; at least she’d always thought so. It would be fun having Katie in the house if Nick ever let her out of his bed. A pang of dismay echoed through her as she wondered if this kind of love would ever happen to her. She had held Thomas in her heart since she was a child but lately had put those thoughts behind her. Since being back home at Pembroke and in his company, it had awakened those feelings once again. She wondered, however, if a marriage between them would ever happen.

“Miss Lizzie?” A voice tried to get her attention but barely registered. Christmas would be here in two days, and there was so much yet to be done. Her mother and father were about to leave town to travel after Geoff’s wedding in a week. Neither of her brothers had agreed to run the estate while they were gone. That left it to her alone, and she wondered if she could do it. In January, the semester at the women’s college would begin again, and it would be time to finish the spring semester and complete her certificate. But the house needed someone to run it now, and it seemed to be falling to her. Was no one else willing to accept the responsibility of it?

“Miss Lizzie? Thomas is still waiting for you in the drawing room.” Miss Hazel’s voice lowered in volume suddenly, although it was never very quiet. “And after that, I need some final instruction on decorating for Christmas and planning the meal.”

Lizzie’s eyes opened wide. Thomas! She’d completely forgotten he was here. Whirling around, she realized he was standing right behind her and began to apologize profusely. “Oh, Thomas! I’m so sorry.”

Thomas, usually good-natured, had a frown on his face. “I think perhaps this is not a good time,” he said firmly.

“No, it’s just—” Lizzie’s disappointment showed in her voice as she drew him toward the drawing room. “No one around here wants to be responsible for the household just now, and I—” She scowled. “But that isn’t your problem. I said I was sorry.”

“Would tomorrow afternoon be a better time for our chess game?”

She sighed. “Perhaps. I’m truly sorry, Thomas. Please remind your family they are welcome to come for Christmas? Miss Betsy, too?”

He smiled and leaned down to kiss the top of her head. Just as he did, however, James cleared his throat from the doorway.

“Pardon the interruption, Miss Lizzie. Simms is here from the Wilmington estate.”

Thomas dropped his arms from her shoulders, and Lizzie stepped back.


James moved to allow in a rather scruffy-looking gentleman. He looked tired and impatient. His riding whip still in his hand, he stepped forward into the drawing room.

“I bear a message from Lady Wilmington,” he said, “for the Wellingtons. It’s of urgent importance.”

The news caught Lizzie by surprise. “I’ll get them,” she announced uncertainly. Realizing Thomas had taken a protective step toward her, she glanced up into his face.

“I should go,” he said, a worried frown etching its way into his eyes.

Lizzie rose up on tiptoe and leaned toward his ear. “Thomas? Please stay?”

Dark brown eyes studied her face a moment before he nodded. “I’ll stay, then.”

Lizzie moved toward the doorway, pausing as she waited a moment for the man to move out of her way. His frown was strange, almost sinister, as he glanced from her to Thomas and back.

“Pardon?” Lizzie raised her chin, staring at him.

As if realizing he was staring, he moved out of her way.

Lizzie felt her shoulders tremble as she heard Thomas’ voice in the drawing room.

“Feel free to take a seat, sir. She’ll return with them soon enough.”

Pausing again, she waited to hear his answer.

“I’ll stand.”

Thomas’ answer was as abrupt as the visitor’s had been. “Suit yourself then.”

Lizzie ran up the curved staircase and then up again to the third floor as fast as she could go.

When she came back down the stairs with her parents, she felt as if she’d just interrupted a stare-down. The visitor was standing, erect, and tapping his whip against his boot, while Thomas was sitting in a relaxed pose on the settee, glaring back at him as if daring him to move. Lizzie moved back and allowed her mother and father to move into the room first.

“Simms,” Geoffrey nodded. “What brings you?”

Simms frowned, glancing toward Thomas. “It is of a private nature, my lord.”

Lizzie turned to her father. “I asked him to stay, Father.”

Geoffrey glanced at Lizzie and then Thomas and turned to face the visitor.

“Anything you wish to say to me; you may say before Thomas. Proceed.”

Simms cleared his throat. “Very well. Lady Wilmington wishes you to come soon. It is imperative, sir. She has something she must discuss with you.”

Lizzie watched her father as he began to pace slowly back and forth before the grand piano.

“Of what nature?” he asked.

“I am not at liberty to say.” Simms seemed to have expected the question.

Geoffrey frowned. “Then answer me this. Can it wait until after Christmas?”

Simms closed his eyes briefly then opened them again and fixed his gaze on Geoffrey.

“I have not been given liberty to share this with you, but the doctor has given her only a few weeks to live, sir. She’s adamant that you come.”

Lizzie watched as her mother raised a hand to halt her husband’s pacing. “I’ll go with you, Geoffrey—”

He put a hand over hers. “I don’t like the idea of you going at all, my love.”

Simms stepped forward. “Pardon. It is the younger Miss Wellington she wishes to see.”

Lizzie met her parents’ eyes with misgiving. “Why ever would she want to see me?”

Her father echoed her sentiment. “Yes. Why indeed?”

Simms considered what to say as Geoffrey stared. “Forgive me, but I honestly don’t know.”

Geoffrey took a deep breath. “It seems that you know more than you’re saying, Simms, as usual. I will come this afternoon. My wife and daughter will not.”

Simms gave a long sigh. “I will take your message. Be prepared, however, for her to refuse your entrance without your daughter.” He put his heels together, saluted and bowed before turning to leave. “Thank you for your time, sir.” His voice was curt.

Geoffrey moved to the window to watch him as he mounted his horse and rode away stiffly

“I can’t think she would refuse to see me. I’ve checked on her at least once a month since the elder Charles died.”

“And since the younger was killed, I couldn’t possibly be in any danger.” This came from Angelica, and Lizzie turned to stare at her incredulously.

“What do you mean, Mother?”

It was as if she hadn’t spoken. She watched as her father raised her mother’s hand and kissed it. “Still, Angel,” he insisted. “I will allow you and Lizzie to go early in the day, when there will be no travel after dark. And only then.”

“I could go with you, sir,” Thomas said from across the room.

Geoffrey swiveled slowly to face him. “An excellent idea, Thomas. Nick is not likely in any mood to go since he just married, and Geoffrey Francis is who knows where with Miss Polly.”  Glancing down at Lizzie, he smiled. “Sorry, Lizzie. I can’t allow you to go. Surely, she’ll tell me what’s going on. James?”

The butler moved closer. “Sir?”

“Please fetch Sebastian and have him prepare the coach.”

* * *

Lizzie waited until Thomas and her father had left before facing her mother. “Whatever did you mean by saying you shouldn’t be in any danger since the younger Charles was killed?”

Her mother looked weary. “Oh, Lizzie. It was a long time ago. Charles Wilmington grew up with your father and Francis Adams. There was always such rivalry between them. When Geoffrey married me, Charles was very difficult. He didn’t want me; he just didn’t want Geoffrey to have me, either. Not me. Anyone. At our first ball after our marriage, he kidnapped Merrie Adams and me. I was expecting Geoffrey Francis, and your father was worried to death for the both of us. But he and Francis found us before it was too late. We were blessed.”

Lizzie leaned back into her chair and breathed a heavy sigh of relief. “And Charles?”

“I awakened within a few moments and demanded Geoffrey allow me to confront Charles at the ball. He’d returned, certain no one would suspect him. When he looked up and saw me standing there, with both Francis and your father next to me, he became white as a sheet. The sheriff and some of the other men escorted him to his coach. But he ducked under it and took off running out the front and across the road.”

Lizzie sat up straight. “Toward the cliffs?”

Her mother looked exhausted. “Yes. He plunged down in the darkness toward the bottom and broke his neck. His evil deeds killed him.”

A hand flew to Lizzie’s mouth, and her mother nodded.

“He met a bitter end.” She paused, lowering her gaze to the chessboard, still lying on the small table in front of her. “But your father is still unsure how much a part Lady Wilmington played in all that. He has continued to go and check on her through the years out of a sense of duty to his own father because they had been friends, but he’s been very careful over the years about letting me go there to visit with him. All the servants there seem still quite loyal to her, but on the other hand, they may have no place else to go. Woodstock hasn’t many opportunities for employment.”

Lizzie frowned. “I see. It explains a lot.”

“Yes.” Her mother nodded.

“Miss Lizzie?” It was Miss Hazel this time who put her head in. “Oh, my lady, I didn’t realize you were down here.”

Angelica shook her head. “I do have a dreadful headache, Miss Hazel. Lizzie, if you’re willing, please allow Miss Hazel to direct her questions to you? Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.”

“Of course, Mother.” Lizzie tried to keep her voice from showing her disappointment as her mother rose to leave. “Yes, Miss Hazel?”

* * *

Thomas studied Elizabeth’s father as he sat across from him and relayed the story of what had happened all those years ago. As he finished, Thomas nodded.

“It’s no wonder you were reluctant to bring her. Mrs. Wellington as well.”

“Yes. I still don’t trust the Wilmingtons.”

“And rightly so. Simms seems quite loyal to them.”

“He is. Simms is not a bad man, only disillusioned. I’ve watched him through the years. He’d give his life for Lady Wilmington.” His eyes crinkled at the corners. “I’m sure you noticed he referred to me as ‘my lord’. It comes from the old days when my parents came over from England. It’s taken me all these years to get the staff at Pembroke to stop calling me that, although they slip and forget at times. And the Wilmingtons reveled in it, particularly Charles’ mother. I must admit I have never lost my distrust of the family. Charles’ mother doted on him. He came along late in life, and they failed to teach him the one thing a parent should. Honor.”

Thomas moved his gaze toward the window. “Which you’ve passed along to your children in abundance, sir.”

“Thank you, Thomas. But I failed to have passed along to my sons the importance of responsibility. Except for Lizzie, perhaps.” He was smiling. “And she takes it to extremes, like everything else she does. But, I’m sure you know that.”

“About Elizabeth, sir,” Thomas stopped abruptly and shook his head. “This is not the time.”

Her father met his gaze. “Go ahead.”

He took a deep breath. “I’d like very much to ask for Lizzie’s hand in marriage. Although I’m not sure, at this point, she’ll have me. Pembroke seems to be first in her priorities—and I’m not saying it shouldn’t.”

“Patience, Thomas. It seems so, I realize that. Lizzie is troubled at the moment. I can tell you this, however. She cares for you deeply. I do intend to speak with my sons in the near future and remind them of their responsibilities. Taking care of Pembroke is not Lizzie’s responsibility. At the same time, Angel and I have wanted to travel for so many years now, and if we don’t do it soon, I’ll be getting too old. Don’t give up on Lizzie, son. Not if you love her.”

A shout from Adam at the helm drew their attention to the slowing of the coach. Geoffrey leaned forward and peered out the window.

“We’re here.”

He led the way as they ascended the steps, and the butler opened the door for them.

“Lord Wellington,” the man said respectfully but solemnly.

“Simms informed us that our presence was required.”

“A moment please.”

“Of course.”

They were led into the drawing room and waited there. A long period of time passed, and Geoffrey leaned forward, ready to speak, when the family doctor entered and bowed.

“I apologize,” he said quietly, appearing uncomfortable. “You did not bring the young Miss Wellington with you, I see.”

“No, I did not.”

The doctor shifted from one foot to the other and shook his head. “I regret to tell you, sir. She will not see you without your daughter.”

Geoffrey rose to his feet. “Can you tell me expressly why she insists on Elizabeth being here?”

“No. Again, my apologies. She only says it’s of utmost importance.”

As Thomas also rose, Geoffrey nodded. “I cannot promise to return with her. It troubles me that after all these years of my looking out for her, she would refuse to see me after summoning me.”

“I understand.”

Geoffrey sighed. “Give her my best, sir.”

“I shall.”

A nod to Thomas and both men left. The butler gave a brief bow as they approached.

“The utmost appreciation for your coming, sir.”

Geoffrey paused and put a hand on the gentleman’s shoulder. “Please let us know if she changes her mind and decides to see us, Edmond.”

“Yes, sir.”

The trip on the way back was silent. Thomas studied Geoffrey, wondering at his ability to continue to befriend a family who treated him with such disregard. He was awed.

* * *

Sunday morning Mass…

Lizzie approached St. Mary’s in the carriage early for Sunday morning Mass, the only one in the family to come in early. She knew her brothers would be coming but had decided not to wait for either of them.

She wasn’t entirely sure Thomas’ invitation would still be open for her to come after Mass; she dearly hoped so. Father had come home late from the Wilmington Estate, and although she had run to meet him, Thomas had already left for home. Father had looked tired, and she had not pressed him for information despite how curious she was.

The coach pulled to a stop and she rose, leaning forward to peek out the window. Greenery and red bows were hung on the outside of the doors of the church, and it reminded her that Christmas was the next day. She was pleasantly surprised to find Thomas on the steps of the church, waiting for her.

“Good morning, imp.”

She shot a withering glance at him.

“Ah. Perhaps you’d rather I called you brat, then.”

“No.” Her eyes were twinkling now.

“All the better for me to do it, then. We can stand out here in the cold and argue or go inside where it’s warm. Father Michael has lit the fireplace, and the church looks festive.” He held out a hand. “Mind the steps. We did get a skiff of snow last night here in town, and I came up this morning and knocked it off the steps. But they’re still a little slick.”

Lizzie grinned. “That was sweet of you.”

“No.” He shook his head. “Father Michael is aging, and it’s hard for him to do the things he’s always done. But look what’s been done inside. I think the Wilder sisters helped to make the wreaths.”

Lizzie gasped with delight when she looked at the inside of the sanctuary. Wreaths made of fresh greenery and decorated with red bows were placed between the windows. The Wilder sisters, Eleanor and Audra, were inside and rushed to greet her when Thomas brought her in. She tried not to grin at the way Audra bounced from side to side as she came forward.

“Welcome, this morning, Miss Lizzie. Are you hoping for snow for Christmas? I am. Not Eleanor, of course, but I’m afraid we had all our snow early this year.”

Eleanor nodded, her head bobbing up and down. ‘Oh, I do hope not. My sister is too adventurous, don’t you think? But I’ve seen all the snow I care to for a good while.”

Lizzie smiled. “I tend to agree with you, Miss Eleanor. I think Strasburg has seen quite enough snow for one year. But Miss Audra, if you really want to see snow, we still have a good bit left at Pembroke. You’re coming tomorrow, aren’t you? We’d be very disappointed if you didn’t. And I wanted to tell you, the church looks wonderful today.”

“Oh, we wouldn’t miss it. Which brings us to our question for you.” Audra looked full of enthusiasm. “After Midnight Mass tonight, there will be all these wreathes and no one will see them again. Would you care to have them for Pembroke to decorate for Christmas tomorrow?”

Lizzie was pleasantly surprised. “Miss Audra, that’s a superb suggestion! Are you sure? They would go wonderfully in the ballrooms where the guests will be.”

“Yes, your mother invited us,” Miss Eleanor answered, her eyes full of excitement. “We could bring them out in the morning. It would be lovely to see them there.”

Father Michael’s voice spoke up from behind her. “Gleason volunteered to pick us up in the coach in the morning when he comes for the Thatchers. We’ll be bringing Mrs. Billings from the dormitory with us. Please, Lizzie, tell your parents thank you for the invitation.”

Lizzie smiled into his pleasantly crinkled face. Despite his age, he was looking well. She leaned forward to whisper in his ear, “Father, we’d love for you to announce that anyone who can come is welcome tomorrow at Pembroke. We can send Sebastian to pick up anyone else who would like to come.”

But later, as he made the announcement, she thought of all there was to be done and wondered if she dared take the afternoon off to spend it with Thomas. She was also irritated. Geoff hadn’t been seen this morning; he’d gone to the Andrews’ house to see Polly and eat breakfast there. Nick hadn’t come out of his rooms on the third floor with Katie, but that wasn’t at all surprising since they had just married yesterday.

Only her parents had come down for breakfast. She’d spoken to them about the situation at the house. She had not even referred to Christmas and all its festivities but had explained she didn’t feel as if she should have to be responsible for the decision-making. But when her mother earnestly looked up at her father and said, “She’s right, Geoffrey. Perhaps we should cancel our travels for now until one of the boys makes a decision.”

At her mother’s suggestion, Lizzie had felt terribly guilty.

“Imp?” Thomas whispered in her ear as Communion was over, bringing her back to the present. “You look beautiful this morning.”

“Thank you, sir,” she said, giving him a weak smile. “You look quite handsome, yourself.”

It was the truth. He did; a lopsided smile emerged as he held out his hand. “My offer still stands, you know. Betsy is fixing roast goose with the hopes that you’ll come.”

Lizzie took his hand, realizing how eager she was to spend the afternoon with him. At least they’d be free from interruptions from the housekeeping staff. It was indeed a relief, and she relaxed. The next time she looked up into his face, he was smiling down at her.


6 reviews for No Regrets

  1. Redrabbitt

    The Strasburg: The New Generation is a spinoff from the Strasburg Chronicles. While each story would read as a stand-alone, they do have many people that are now in this new series. The story is a fun new generation, seeing the young people of Strasburg now grown up and pairing off for marriage. There is a great cast of characters, many from the original series that will be in these stories, but you will not be lost if you haven’t read them.

    While the story has many of the characters from previous stories and includes the marriages of Nick and Katie, and then Geoff and Polly, it will be more about Lizzie and Thomas. Lizzie is home from college for the holidays and then plans to return for her last semester and graduation. Thomas wants her to marry him and isn’t pleased that she turns him down, wanting to finish school. But more than that, he is concerned about a serial killer who is targeting young women, Lizzie’s age, with red hair, and that includes women from her school. He also isn’t happy with how both of her brothers aren’t doing their part running the Pembroke estate, and Lizzie must do it all.

    “If you were to agree to marry me, you should know this. I would expect you to be with me, at my side. I’d expect you to be in my house, in my life, and in my bed. Not here at Pembroke taking care of responsibilities others should have.”

    When a summons comes from another estate owned by Lady Wilmington, and she insists that Elizabeth be present, it will come with shocking news. An apology and that the entire estate has been left to Lizzie. Now, what is Lizzie to do? She wants to return to school and graduate, but someone must stay at the estate. It will be her father who helps make the decisions. What will she do when she learns that the estate is considered haunted but the ghost of Charles?

    “One thing was certain. There were things going on in this house, things unexplained, and things that needed desperately to be changed.”

    Against the wishes of Thomas and her family, Lizzie will return to finish up her schooling. She will correspond with Katie and Thomas, but the letters leave her more confused, and it seems winter is harsh, adding to her emotions. When another girl at the college is murdered, it has everyone on edge, yet Lizzie stays on to finish. Leaving to return home Lizzie will be met with a stranger, and the danger of Lizzie’s life will keep this story in suspense. Thomas will rescue her, but who is trying to harm Lizzie and why? Returning home will have more questions arise with her inherited estate and new mysteries. Will they be able to solve them before someone is hurt?

    “I’ll teach you. You’ve betrayed me one too many times. I’ll not leave until your blood is as plentiful and as red as your hair.”

    The story is full of mystery, suspense, danger, with several unsolved murders of young ladies, all with red hair. It will have Thomas and Lizzie at odds about their future, but finally, they will make things happen. There are several spanking scenes and very limited sex scenes after marriage. It is fun to see the children of the couples from the Strasburg Chronicles find their happily ever after endings.

  2. Marybeth

    First, you do not need to have read the previous books to enjoy this one. This is Thomas and Lizzie’s story. They are finally getting together, but something always pulls them apart. When Lizzie inherits the Wilmington Estate, more problems follow. There is a mystery to solve and a murderer to find. There is a satisfying HEA at the end

  3. Rjr

    No Regrets is the story of the romance between Elizabeth or Lizzie and Thomas. Lizzie is in her early 20s and is just finishing college along with helping her parents with their estate. Her two older brothers are busy; one with his wife and the other with his fiancé. Her mother isn’t feeling well and Lizzie feels as if she is the only one fulfilling their responsibilities. Thomas is a friend she grew up with and whom she loves. She hopes to one day marry him, but she knows he needs more of her than she can give at this time. She’s a person who puts everyone before herself. Thomas is getting more and more serious about marrying her and making their future together. And then a terrible series of crimes puts her and other young women in danger. Thomas is determined to keep her safe. In addition, an unexpected and huge change happens in her life. Elizabeth doesn’t know how she’s going to handle everything by herself. This was a great story. I’ve read the others in the series and enjoyed this one just as much. We get to revisit was some of the characters from the earlier books, briefly. This story is largely about Thomas and Elizabeth and their determination to lead the lives they want. I found it very romantic and there were quite a few spankings. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I know I will be rereading it again, and I highly recommend it.

  4. Ajjmb

    Thomas and Lizzy’s story seems to be long in coming and is well worth the wait. It seems like all the second generation is pairing off, getting married, and having babies. Some like Nick and Geoff are more interested in their new wives than their responsibilities. I really felt sorry for Lizzie because she has such a hard time committing to Thomas when she has school to finish and two estates that have seemed to fall to her to run. The author has done a great job of showing both her and Thomas’s frustration. On top of that a mystery murder is running loose and targeting women with red hair. This book had a lot of mystery in it and I really loved the ending. It was perfect. I have voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

  5. Hope W

    No Regrets is a spinoff series from The Strasburg Chronicles. While it can be read as a standalone, I enjoyed knowing characters from the original series. The story is well written with an engaging storyline. I also loved the characters of Lizzie and Thomas. They both loved deeply but also wanted to meet individual goals. Blending this together could be a challenge while distance kept them apart. However, this was still a time when women were to obey their men or find themselves across the knee for a well deserved spanking. Of course, who could blame these men for wanting obedience when a serial killer is on the loose. The danger, suspense, and mystery kept me on the edge of my seat. Yet other times during the story there were heart warming scenes that even brought on laughs at times. Overall this story had a little of everything for the reader to enjoy put together for a great 5 star read!

    I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

  6. Julie

    “No Regrets” is a delightful book full of complication, obligation, action, mystery, suspense and danger. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.

    Lizzie is 22 and came home briefly for the holidays intending to return to finish her last semester and have her graduation.

    Thomas wants to marry her instead and is displeased she turned him down wanting to graduate instead.

    Thomas is concerned because he knows Lizzie is in danger. A serial killer is loose, killing redheaded women like Lizzie in her school.

    Not only that Lizzie has to manage Pembroke estate while her parents are away. Her two brothers are not doing their part to help.

    Lady Wilmington summons Lizzie on her deathbed grabs Lizzie’s wrist and says, “I’m sorry” before she dies. Lizzie promises to attend her funeral as well.

    Lizzie is in complete shock as she finds out she has inherited yet another estate she must keep up with and run. Rumored haunted makes this estate different but something mysterious is at least going on.

    Thomas is not happy but sticks by her side and is determined to keep her safe.

    Lizzie kept finding herself deeper and deeper in danger and had no idea why. The threat lurking is not of her doing, or is it?

    Will Lizzie and Thomas be able to solve the mysteries surrounding the new estate she inherited before someone is hurt? How about the unsolved murders? Can they find a way to compromise and live happily ever after or will they go their separate way?

    I received a free copy of this book. This honest review was posted voluntarily.

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