Never Dare a Wicked Earl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

Never Dare a Wicked Earl is the first book in the Infamous Lords series by Renee Ann Miller.

Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield lives with terrible guilt and the only way to keep it from overwhelming him is for him to live up to his hard-earned, yet false reputation as a womaniser and rogue. Unfortunately, one of his conquests is not of sound mind and takes their break up badly. So badly that in a fit of pique she nearly kills him on his doorstep. Fortunately, he only ends up with a gunshot to his thigh.

Sophia Camden is a medical assistant to the local doctor. Normally she only helps with female patients, but as she is the only one available, she is the one that is hired by Hayden's sister to look after him. He isn't pleased to have a female attendant, and as she won't take any nonsense from him he tries to fire her many times. She can't be fired by him as he isn't the one who employed her but to make life easier for both of them she comes up with the idea of a dare. If Hayden can give her 10 days to prove herself and is happy with her care he has to keep her on. If she doesn't, then she will stop looking after him and will forfeit something that he hasn't decided upon yet.

So begins their relationship. It's not long before they are both having lustful thoughts for one another. It's something they both know can go nowhere but can they keep from each other's arms? Will Sophia learn who the real Hayden is and will she help him overcome his guilt? She will have to if they are to have any chance of a future together.

I enjoyed this book immensely, it's hard to believe that this is the author's debut novel. There was the perfect amount of light and shade to the story. One minute poor Hayden was being shot by a mad woman, the next I was delighted to see Sophie treating him like a child when he did things like refuse to take his medicine. There were so many funny moments between the couple that it helped keep the levity in the story when it could have become quite dark. The demented women who shot Hayden has quite a role in this book, she brings the trauma and danger to the story. I loved that although she was wicked, I couldn't bring myself to dislike her. Poor thing was obviously out of her mind. I enjoy a story where you can feel empathy for the 'bad guy' despite wanting them to be caught. This book really does have all that it takes to make a wonderful read and I couldn't read it quickly enough to see if our couple could have their happily ever after.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers' copy of this book. (
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What a wonderful debut! Compelling story and complex characters. I loved Never Dare A Wicked Earl from start to finish. The main characters chemistry and banter were delicious. As the story unfolds, we learn the hero is much more than a debauched Earl.
 
Looking forward to the next book in this series.

I received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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While this book was a breezy and enjoyable read, I found it to be a bit bland at times and it relied too much on certain tropes to feel like an original story. The characters were never fully fleshed out. For instance, the heroine wishes to be a physician but there is very little of her doing this work. Much of what we learn about the characters we are told rather than shown in the course of their relationship. The book was sweet and funny and very readable, it just needed a little extra work towards building complex characters.
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So, look… Have you ever done something because a favorite character (or, y’know, a fictional boyfriend) would do it, and you want to experience what that hilarity would be like? This is what this review is. This is why I went for an ARC of Never Dare a Wicked Earl by Renee Ann Miller. (And thank you, NetGalley, for providing it in exchange for an honest review.)

When the scandalous Earl of Westfield, Hayden Milton, is shot by a vengeful ex-lover, he’s unexpectedly sent an intriguing, female medical attendant rather than a male physician. Sophia Camden is training to be a physician, a role of which is unheard of for women, and won’t let anything derail her from her dream, least of all the Earl of Westfield, no matter how surly or philandering he may be. Stubborn and professional against Hayden’s antics, Sophia offers him a dare: if she can prove her competency in ten days, he owes her a favor to help change the law barring women from the medical field, but if she gives up before the ten days are through, then she will be beholden to him. Thus, a battle of wills and a game of seduction ensues… Kinda…

Fun fact about me: I hate when I’m told that a book is going to be about one thing, but then it’s about something else completely and the thing I wanted to read about is barely covered. Yes, Sophia and Camden do engage in this dare early on, and as it was happening, I was entertained. Sophia was a smart and grounded protagonist, and it was amusing to watch Hayden react to her, even though her “medical experience” was hilariously basic and minuscule.

All too soon, though, the dare falls apart, the characters succumb to lust, and Sophia flees the estate. Only a third of the way through, the novel plummets towards a bunch of contrived tropes and plots to lengthen the text and throw in a bunch of other, unnecessary drama. I don’t even read many regency romance novels, but so much of this novel was overdone and unoriginal.

And it would’ve been so much better if it had just been written around the dare, focusing instead on these two characters competing, showing off their strengths and weaknesses, and slowly getting to know each other and falling into their feelings naturally. But no.

It’s a shame because, while not gorgeous or stylistic, the writing isn’t terrible. I kept bracing myself for cringe-worthy euphemisms of sexual organs, but I did so mostly in vain. For the sex that was written, though, it wasn’t very engaging, steamy, or varied enough for me.

I also quickly lost any intrigue towards Hayden because he wasn’t wicked or seductive or witty at all, and I couldn’t take his name seriously most of the time. He tried his best, I’m sure, but the text was limiting. It seemed like the only line he had to fluster Sophia was to tell her she looked “lovely,” and that got old around the second time he did it, which was not the last. He’s also, in case you couldn’t guess, Secretly a Good Man All Along! His bad reputation is all an act and a way for him to repent for his sins concerning his first wife, and now he wishes to do right by his daughter but doesn’t fully conform until Sophia “teaches him to love again.” Bleh! I’m asleep. He’s so boring.

Sophia didn’t hold my attention or my respect for very long, either. She started out as a worthwhile heroine, but her brain went out the window the second she caught feelings for Hayden (which was almost immediate), and for claiming to be a medical professional, she is far too ruffled by a tight butt and sculpted abs. C’mon, girl… The more I read, the more she became a passive victim in her own story.

It was already a stretch for me, too, to accept that Hayden was already a father but somehow still considered by society to be a horrible person because he “slept around.” Did we really have to make Sophia pregnant and force them to get married on top of it? Did I really need to sit through pages and pages of these two not talking to each other about how they felt and what was really going on with their respective pasts?

There’s a lot about Hayden that screams “fake feminist” that I won’t get into here, but just know that it’s there, and that was another reason why I couldn’t take him or this novel too seriously.

Honestly, writers, I would rather your hero/villain love interest be a wicked, immoral piece of crap rather than just pretending to be one because you’re always going to try to sell me this narrative of “but he’s actually Good and a Feminist, too,” and it’s always going to be sub-par. It’s always going to be “he’s a feminist because he treats her like a person,” which is the bare minimum requirement and not what actually being a real male feminist means.

So it goes with Never Dare a Wicked Earl. I didn’t hate it, but it definitely disappointed me and didn’t manage to hold my attention, turn me on, or assault me with fluffy scenes of tenderness, and y’all, that’s supposed to be the point of books like this.
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Hayden Milton is a well known rogue. When he’s shot by an ex-mistress, he’s stuck recuperating at his townhouse. His ornery personality has him going through physicians. When a nurse is the next to show, Hayden absolutely refuses to let her take care of him. When Sophia dares him to let  her stay for 10 days, he can’t resist. He also can’t resist acting his roguish worst to get her to leave. 
I didn’t like this book at all. It was very much over the top with Hayden’s actions and started with Sophia’s insta-lust over an unconscious patient. I felt that every way she acted was exactly why women weren’t allowed to be doctors. 
**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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I really enjoyed this book. The characters are unique and the plot thick. I loved that Sophia was pursuing to be a physician at a time when that was societally unacceptable. I also loved Celia's character. She's an innocent that adds a bit of lightness to the story.
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As I’ve said in the past, I make it a point to try new authors when I can – after all, I had some pretty good luck a couple of years back when I found not one, but three début authors whose books have since become ‘must reads’, and I live in hope of finding others.  Unfortunately, however, on the strength of her first novel, Never Dare a Wicked Earl, Renee Ann Miller isn’t going to make that list by a long chalk; the cover trumpets a “fresh new romance” – but it’s about as fresh as week-old kippers, and I ended up reading a story I’ve read several times before.   It’s a solidly average book; not badly written, but the story is hackneyed, the characters are stereotypical and the author seems to have thought it a good ideal to throw the kitchen sink into the (very weak) plot.   Plus – what on earth is the heroine wearing on the cover?  The book is set in 1875, and by no stretch of the imagination is that dress from the late Victorian period.  I know that’s not the author’s fault, but it nonetheless telegraphs “Danger, Will Robinson!” to the potential reader.  With good reason, as it turns out.

When Hayden – a very unlikely name for a man (let alone an earl) in Victorian England – Earl of Westfield is shot in the leg by a demented ex-mistress, he is confined to bed and not at all happy about it.  He runs off two male attendants by virtue of his appalling manners and threatening  behaviour, so his sister, thinking he might not be quite so rude and abrasive towards a woman, engages a nurse by the name of Sophia Camden.  Of course, the fact that Sophia is female makes no difference to Hayden’s dreadful behaviour, and he begins to try to get rid of her, too, adding not-so-subtle sexual innuendo to his established repertoire of bad manners and ill temper.

Naturally, Sophia is wise to his tricks, and decided to stay, especially as – and here’s where we get lip-service to the title – Hayden dares Sophia to stick it out for ten days.  If she wins, he will throw his political weight behind a new bill to allow women to qualify as doctors (as this is what Sophia wants to do) and if he wins he’ll get… well, he’ll think about that tomorrow.

Okay – this is a romance, we know where things are headed and that whole wounded-rude-hero-with-a-damaged-psyche falls for well-bred-female-fallen-on-hard-times thing is one we’ve all read lots (and lots) of times before.  Hayden and Sophia banter.  They ogle each other.  He squirms in his seat a lot, she gets warm and tingly – from pretty much the first chapter.  We get it.  He’s hot and she’s beautiful.  How about giving them some personality outside of his constant feelings of guilt and  inadequacy over the way he treated his first wife, and her insecurities because her uncle continually taunted her over her dusky, Mediterranean skin (she has Italian ancestry), calling it inferior and vulgar compared to the creamy complexion of the traditionally English rose?

To add insult to injury (!), Sophia – supposedly a strong, intelligent, professional woman who is determined to enter a profession previously dominated by men – is a mess of breathless, quivering lust and tears around Hayden and doesn’t really do anything for him that his valet or servants can’t do.  She brings him his meals on a tray, his valet bathes him and she doesn’t go near a bedpan or chamber pot.  Other than putting on a bandage or two, she does nothing ‘medical’ for him whatsoever.  Yet she wants to become a doctor because of the oldest cliché in the book:

… everyone she’d loved had died and perhaps if she became a doctor, she could stop others from losing those most important to them…

Gimme a break.

The kitchen sink I mentioned is thrown into the second half of the book with gusto, when we are treated to ALL THE DRAMA – kidnapping, attempted rape, attempted murder – you name it, it’s in there, all courtesy of a villain whose identity is blindingly obvious from the start.  There’s a heartbreaking and potentially interesting backstory to Hayden’s first marriage, but it’s little more than an obvious attempt to introduce more drama into the story and its treatment lacks subtlety.

So my search for GOOD new authors continues.  I’ll let you know when I find one.

Grade: D+
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Not bad for debut! Ms. Miller’s Infamous Lords series is off to a solid start. Shot by his crazed ex-mistress, Lord Hayden is bedridden and mean spirited! This patient is out of patience and chases his caregivers off in record time. Enter Miss Sophia. She’s seen worse. Hayden is intrigued when Sophia refuses to be chased away. She’s even so brave as to dare him that she’s the woman for the job.  Their initial interactions will put a smile on your face but will guilt and secrets end their fragile beginnings? 
A quick read that will pass a rainy afternoon!
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Prior to this novel, it had been a long time since I actively sought out to read a Historical Romance.

I’ve always been a fan, in fact, it was my first love and the only romance genre I read for years, but about two years ago I just seemed to lose interest. 

I stumbled upon this author while browsing titles on NetGalley and was immediately intrigued by the plot. 

Luckily, I was approved by the publisher to review and I’m so happy I sent the request!

It’s hard for me to believe that this was a debut novel by this author! 

Excellently written with descriptions so wonderfully vivid I was able to clearly visualize the era.

The chemistry and sizzling sexual tension between Hayden and Sophia was immediate and exciting! 

The banter witty, engaging, and sometimes hilarious. 

What I loved about both Hayden and Sophia was the fact that there was so much more to them then what they seemed. 

I enjoyed getting to know them both as the story progressed, my heart hurt for them both for different reasons and I rooted for them to find a way to trust one another with their vulnerabilities, and realize that together they could be whole and complete. 

This book was a reminder of all the reasons why I love historical romance, and I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series!
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Never Dare a Wicked Earl by Renee Ann Miller is a charming historical romance that had me laughing out loud. The story begins when the Earl of Westfield is shot by his unhinged ex-mistress. Being a typical Regency romance hero, he's a domineering rogue who has scared off all his nurses — except for one. Her name is Sophia Camden and she aspires to be a physician, so when Westfield wagers that she won't last ten days as his nurse, she accepts the challenge and demands that if she wins, he'll support a law allowing women to practice medicine. Swoon!

This novel reads like a classic Regency romance with the alpha rogue, the spitfire heroine and the silliness (Oh, that scene with the dog in the bedroom!), but it doesn't feel dated. While our smart and competent heroine can be a bit of a ninny about sex and our hero occasionally verges into excessive alpha territory due to his lack of emotional processing power, this is still a highly enjoyable read, packed with danger and intrigue, snappy banter, sexy times, Secret Pain and Past Heartaches and a happy-ever-after that's exactly what I wanted.
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ooh I loved this one guys! 

It was funny, spirited, smart and I just loved the whole situation from the start.  I really enjoyed it, I thought it was quite original and kept a smile on my face throughout reading the book.

I have to say that I felt that Hayden was really special and something else entirely.  Sophia, I got her straight away but Hayden kept me on my toes and I loved him! 

If you love a good regency, some fun and even deep moments, this is the one for you! Honestly, highly recommended and I am in need of more!
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Never Dare a Wicked Earl by Renee Ann Miller is the First book in the series "Infamous Lords". This is the story of Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield and Sophia Camden.
Hayden has a bad reputation but inside he is a guilt redden about his wife's death. On the 5th year anniversary of his wife death he is shot by his mistress Adele, who wanted to maim him . After being shot he has been a hard patient and his sister Lady Prescott hires Sophia. Sophia is a nurse working as a Doctors assistant with dreams of becoming more. Hayden and Sophia butt heads but there is a spark of interest in both of them.
This was a very enjoyable book and hard to think this is the first book by this author. I will be looking forward to more from her.
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***ARC received in exchange of an honest opinion***

As far as historical romance goes, this was an okay one.

From the way it started I expected more from it. The first half was better than the second.

The banter between Sophia and Hayden was fun, but the story became flat pretty fast for me. Unfortunately, the love story wasn’t captivating enough to get me hooked from the beginning to the end.
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Thanks Kensington Books and netgalley for this ARC.

Don't make wagers with a bed-redden earl or you might get more than you bargained for. Loved the daughter that brought just the right touch of tender feelings to this red hot romance.
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This is a premiere novel for this author. Her hero, Hayden, was an Earl and a man with a bad reputation, not all desrved.  He was a man tortured by his past.
Her heroine, Sophia, was hurt as well. She had lost everyone she loved, her parents, her sister, her niece. She was intelligent and wanted to persue her career as a doctor. She coild have been content as a nurse but wasnt. 
In taking care of the Earl, who had been shot by one of his former mistreses, these 2 tortured souls are drawn to one another and help heal one another. 
I loook forward to your next book Renee Ann Miller.
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As I began to read Never Dare a Wicked Earl and the reason his crazy ex-lover shot him, you kind of realize he should never gotten mixed up with her.  As Hayden’s character development continues, the reasons for his mess of a life indicate he is punishing himself by maintaining a horrible reputation.  But, in secret he is helping others.  Hayden seems to hate himself with his ray of sunshine being his daughter, Celia.

Hayden’s third caregiver, Sophia, refuses to let him run her off no matter what he tries.  Their bargain could go her way if she can just hang on for only ten days.  Well, that is not going to happen.  These two have an almost instant attraction that both know cannot go anywhere.  That does not stop Sophia from being shocked by her own personal eye candy and telling him he reminds her of one of the little boys she cared for previously.  

Ms. Miller does a great job of bringing these two together even as they both believe they do not deserve the other.  Miller adds in so many challenges that I started to think, “What a mess!”  Hayden wants to protect Sophia to the detriment of their relationship.  All Sophia ever wanted was her independence which Hayden takes away in his need to protect her.  There are some definite communication issues between them.

I kept wanting to advise Sophia and Hayden to just sit down and talk because Hayden seems to think everything is forgotten by making love.  Sophie is such a strong character, but the wife of that time period is owned and controlled by her husband.  She is too smart not to figure things out.

I do not believe this could be considered a light-hearted book, but neither is it ‘dark.’  Maybe more like troubled.  It is a really good book to ready over your weekend.  It is great between them, but does not solve anything.  Take time to read, it is a really good book on the way to their HEA.
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4.5 stars

It’s a wonderful read with notes of mystery, betrayal and of course, romance.

What do you assume when a baby is born 7 months after the marriage? Whatever it is you’re guessing, you’re probably wrong. Unfortunately, the truth send our hero down a rabbit hole and into the arms of a crazy mistress who refuses to be left. Crazy mistress leaves him need medical attention. The heroine of the story is nurse #3, after the previous two have been assaulted or frightened into leaving. Not long after they come to terms, she gives into their growing attraction. Their HEA doesn’t come immediately or easily, but it’s probably sweeter and more cherished because of it.

I received an ARC of this book, from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Completely controlled by guilt after the demise of his wife, Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield lives the life of dissipation and self-indulgence to assuage his failure. 
His comeuppance occurred one night when his unhinged former lover shot him in the thigh. His sister employs Sophia Camden, a doctor's assistant to nurse him back to health. 
The Earl is a nightmare of a patient. Sophia has stayed on because the Earl has the power and influence to help her pursue her desire to study medicine. She even took up the challenge of this wicked Earl that she's not going to last 10 days in this employment! Most importantly, she empathizes with his emotional turmoil, having undergone experience of loss herself. 
I can't give this five stars. Nurse Sophia is ogling her patient, so unprofessional. Hayden is incessantly rude. But their growing attraction is palpable and they suit each other's needs. They became each other's strength.
This is an eGalley from the publisher. This is my impartial and honest review.
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3.5 Stars

Never Dare a Wicked Earl is the first book in the Infamous Lords series by Renee Ann Miller. It is the story of Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield and Sophia Camden, a female medical attendant. Hayden has a reputation as a philanderer following his wife giving birth to a baby less than nine months after the wedding. He eventually learns the truth of the circumstances around the birth and experiences regret for his behaviour, especially since his wife passed away, but his reputation still remains intact. Hayden’s last mistress was a beautiful but mentally unstable woman who did not take kindly to the breakup and shot his leg in retaliation. It is at this point we meet Sophia, a nurse or medical attendant, hired by Hayden’s sister after he ran off a string of previous male attendants, the idea was that he may be kinder to a female. We soon find out that Hayden has no problem being rude to a female, especially one that he is attracted to and does not want to be. He tries his best to frighten her off but Sophia wants to prove to herself and to her profession that a female can handle the medical field and difficult patients, and so dares Hayden to give her a trial.

The story started off a bit slow for my liking and I found some descriptions of the characters to be a bit forced. For example Hayden was complaining that Sophia volunteers her time to help the poor and, once Sophia was gone, Hayden’s sister asks him why he was pretending that he does not also help the poor. This interaction, and a few more like it, just did not seem genuine. There was more explanation than needed, if you are Hayden’s sister then you obviously do not need to outline (to your brother himself) every charitable organization he donates to and his status in those organization – I would assume that he would already know this. It would have been more believable if she has just scolded him for lying and then explained everything he does to someone, like Sophia, who does not know him. These awkward descriptions seemed more for the sake of the reader, since Hayden came across as an ogre in the beginning, and it was almost like Miller was trying to convince us that he is not. Sophia’s desire to have more females in the medical profession seemed genuine, however, it would have been better if she did not ogle Hayden’s naked body every chance she could. It makes me question if she becomes a female doctor is she going to be flustered around every attractive male she treats? I am not even sure why a medical attendant was necessary for Hayden, since everything Sophia did seemed like it could have been done effectively by a valet.

These issues aside, after a few chapters the story picked up the pace and I really enjoyed it. Sophia and Hayden have very fun conversations and it kept me engaged in their dialogues and made the love story more realistic because we got to see how it developed over time. While this was a story with immediate mutual attraction, there was more depth and development to each character and to them falling in love – both have past secrets and pain that they had to work through. This made their story more realistic for me, and made me enjoy reading it. Add in the secondary characters, who were also very well developed and really rounded out the story, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. I look forward to more books in this series.

~ Harshita
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Publisher's Description:

A ZEBRA SHOUT FRESH NEW ROMANCE
 
They are the infamous lords, unrepentant rogues whose bad behavior makes for good gossip among the ton. But these sexy scoundrels have stories no one knows. And it takes a special touch to reveal the true hearts behind their devilish disguises . . .
 
Known as a brazen philanderer, Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield, is almost done in by a vengeful mistress who aims a gun at a rather essential part of his anatomy—but ends up wounding his thigh instead. Recuperating in his London townhouse, Hayden is confronted by his new medical attendant. Sophia Camden intrigues him, for behind her starched uniform is an enticing beauty better suited for bedding than dispensing salves and changing bandages.
 
Unshaken by his arrogance, not to mention impropriety, Sophia offers Hayden a dare: allow her ten days to prove her competency. If she resigns in exasperation like her two predecessors, she will be beholden to this wicked seducer. As a battle of wills begins, Sophia finds herself distracted by the earl’s muscular physique . . . and discovers that the man within longs only for a second chance to love.

My Thoughts:

This wonderfully written debut novel is going to make it difficult to write anything to surpass this one.
I was engrossed in this book from page one.
Hayden, after narrowly escaping losing a very essential appendage, seems bent on getting rid of every nurse procured to make certain he heals.

Sophia isn't easy to scare off. She is bent on becoming a doctor in spite of the undeniable fact that women aren't allowed to study medicine. She embarks on a dare with Hayden that she can last ten days. If she can last, Hayden will owe her a boon. If not she will owe him, but what will he collect?
A battle of wills ensues. Will it lead to a lasting love?
This book starts off with so much humor then turns much more serious.
The humorous part made me laugh out loud. The serious part made me want to cry.
I gave this exceptional debut novel 4.75 of 5.0 stars for storyline and character development and a sensual rating of 4.5 of 5.0 flames.
The intimacy between our hero and heroine is a well drawn out part of this story. Sparks fly when these two get together.
I received a complimentary digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley to read and review. This in no way affected my opinion of this book which I read and reviewed voluntarily.
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