The King's Mercy

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Using her expansive knowledge of early American history, Lori Benton once again crafts an immersive story that will make any reader grateful for air conditioning and cars. Sadly, the accuracies of the time period include the the main character Joanna, who has many favorable qualities but depends on the men around her to move her own life forward. Readers who enjoy a historical fiction will undoubtably enjoy this novel and the vibrant character of Alex MacKinnon. Those who like to also read about strong female characters may find this story to be frustratingly too accurate to the time period.
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The King's Mercy is a story somewhat different from the rest of Lori's other books. While the narrative does still feature Native Americans, they play a much smaller part in this than they have in her other works.

I was pleasantly surprised by the history woven into this story. While I had already known that many people had been forced into indenture by various kings as a form of punishment, I had not known of the conflict which took place in this book which resulted in Alex's being sent to the colonies. These little nuggets of history are why I love author's like Lori Benton.

However, I was not as taken with this book has I have been with Lori's others. It was still an enjoyable read, but I did not find myself relating as well with the characters or the events of the story. While the day to day tasks and mannerisms of this book are perhaps better researched, the historical events did not seem to play as great of a part.

Still, I appreciated the diversity of characters and the differing view points they all had on the same events. And once Joanna began to question whether or not her life, and that of those around her, truly had to remain as it always had been, I was excited to find out how she would go about changing things... or perhaps what plans God had for all of them.

I think that this will be a great read for those who enjoy novels set on plantations, as well as stories surrounding the issue of slavery and human suffering. For fans of Lori's usual tales of the clash and melding of Native American and White culture, however, this may not be your preferred one of Lori's books.

I have provided an honest review after receiving an ARC from the publisher.
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What an amazing story! This is the story of Joanna who is trying to run her stepfather's plantation, and Alex an indentured slave from Scotland. But the story is so much more than that and so consuming that you just can't put it down. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It is one of my top five favorites of all times!
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I read this a while ago... but am just getting around to reviewing.  I absolutely loved this book.  It was written with attention to detail and a lot of heart.  It wasn't always easy to read - because let's be honest - history is full of horrible moments, but this novel reflected the current mindsets and those who maybe didn't hold the popular opinion.  It was a novel of "fate", love, and tragedy.  I highly recommend.
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The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton is a grand historical fiction novel revolving around Alex MacKinnon (an indentured Scotsman taken to NC after being taken prisoner from the failed Jacobite rebellion) and Joanna Carey (the stepdaughter of the plantation owner) in the 1740s. 
Alex is instructed in learning the trade of smithery and through his presence on the plantation, meets Joanna. 
What happens next is exciting, interesting, and leaves the reader with a satisfying ending.

I enjoyed Alex and Joanna, their chemistry, and their ability to overcome obstacles and continue to abide by their strong moral compasses despite their natural flaws. 

I enjoyed the cast of characters overall, as well as the time and physical setting of the novel. 

The reader is left with the desire to read more about how their lives continue after the book’s ending. Great book.

5/5 stars

Thank you NetGalley and WaterBrook for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

My link for Amazon: under review of RF 7/10/19

My link for B&N under review of Rachel_Denise01:
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Alex MacKinnon is a Scottish rebel granted the king's mercy exiled and indentured to Captain Edmund Carey to serve as a blacksmith. Alex is drawn to Severn Plantation's conflicts as well as its mistress, Joanna Carey. As his life becomes entangled with the Careys he finds himself stuck between loyalty and freedom.

Joanna took on the running of Severn after the death of her mother when she was twelve years old. A duty that weighs heavy on her shoulders, as many aspects of it conflict with her beliefs.

As Severn's losses increase, Alex finds himself framed for crime he did not commit, will he have to choose between saving himself or the woman he has come to love?

King's Mercy is nothing short of an epic, set in colonial North Carolina. A story of family, friendship, love, loss, betrayal, and the faith that binds people together, as well as a re-telling of sort of the book of Philemon and Paul's letter in regard to Onesimus.

Joanna had to grow up quickly after the death of her mother, she is a kind and humble mistress, caring for those under her charge with her own hands. Her father desires her to marry his protégé Phineas Reeves, in order to ensure the future of Severn. Joanna wants to live out her faith, and hates the divide that slavery puts between her and those under her care.

Alex is a born leader, a man with words to inspire many, exiled to North Carolina he is sold to the Careys under an indenture. Alex is drawn to the capable Joanna, and admires how she humbly care for those around her, and finds her a kindred spirit, wishing for freedom and simpler life. he is mentored by Elijah Moon, the previous blacksmith, who was severely burned and lost his arm in a terrible accident, one of many that have mysteriously been plaguing Severn.

I loved the complexity of the characters, especially Elijah who has lost so much, and is struggling to come to terms with what it means for his future. The characters are vulnerable, and raw at times, and very well crafted. Jemma is a spunky, stubborn young woman, who knows how to stand up for herself. Reverend Pauling is very much like the biblical Paul, wise and steeped in the Scriptures, with good insight with a magnetic humility about him that draws many to the Gospel.

Overall, a completely engrossing read, with great tension throughout. Lori Benton just get's better and better with each book, because now King's Mercy  is my new favorite by her. Heartfelt, compelling, laced with heartache and betrayal, strong faith, and rich history. The whole time I was reading, I couldn't help thinking what a great TV mini-series this book would make! Rugged and filled with drama, this is a book that you won't soon forget!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Following the Jacobite defeat at Culloden, a tall Scotsman named Alex MacKinnon is given the merciful sentence of indentured servitude in the New World. Bound to Edmund Carey, a plantation owner, he learns the trade of blacksmith, nursing a bitterness against both God and his circumstances. Even the itinerant preacher, Reverend Pauling, can't convince the Scot that God is both perfectly sovereign and perfectly good. Can Alex wait seven long years for his freedom, or will he seize the opportunity to escape into the wildnerness?

The one bright spot on the plantation is Joanna Carey, the stepdaughter of the plantation owner. She has a dream to give up the family's luxurious life, built on the back of slaves, and live in simplicity but equality. Joanna's stepfather, however, has no such intentions. To continue the legacy of the plantation, he is determined to wed her to his overseer, Phineas Reeves. Reluctant to acquiesce to her stepfather's wishes, Joanna feels a gentle pull to the strong and silent Alex MacKinnon. If only he would accept the teachings of Reverend Pauling and give up his anger at God! 

When misfortune after misfortune strikes the Carey home, Joanna learns that not everyone has her family's best interest at heart. Alex is blamed for the disasters, and she must decide whom to trust. As the darkness swirls deeper and deeper around the plantation, misfortune turns into a fight for survival that keeps the reader turning pages till the very end.

This book started out as an understated adventure in the eighteenth century wildnerness. The setting reminded me of S.K. Keogh's book, The Driver's Wife. Alex MacKinnon interested me from the first, his losses in the aftermath of Culloden painting just the right amount of sympathy for his character. Joanna, having assumed the role of mistress of the house at a young age, was a competent housekeeper but still young enough to be shy and awkward around Alex. The story had all the makings of a simple, sweet romance until the villain of the piece was revealed, and what a villain he was! In the last third of the book, the tension tightened like a noose. Alex, thankfully, got over his peevishness with God in time to be the hero that Joanna needed.

One interesting thing about the novel is that the author based many of the characters off of a New Testament story--I won't tell you which one--transposing that tale to the early days of the Americas. The connection was cleverly done, something I didn't recognize until the very end, at which point it made complete sense. I look forward to reading more titles by Lori Benton.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions in this review are my own.
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The King's Mercy is masterfully vivid with emotionally intimate depth and solid spiritual strength. Lori Benton's skillful storytelling is captivating and illuminating as the age-old conflict of light and darkness unfolds page by page.

I love Alex, he is a warrior yet vulnerable, independent yet indentured, and a fierce force of brute strength and tender devotion. Alex's story requires a grand scale, a wide spectrum of emotion, and deserves to be savored. Joanna is compassionate and dedicated to those in her care. Joanna's story illustrates the power of one person's willingness to stand firm in faith and conviction.

This story is loaded with characters worth examining as a myriad of diverse cultures and beliefs converge. I highly recommend The King's Mercy and strongly urge fans of historical fiction to pick it up without delay!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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Lori Benton has a unique voice. Her books are well researched and you will find yourself learning about history as you are enjoying an entertaining read.

I will say at first I was a bit bored. It wasn’t until Alex arrives at the Carey’s and I met Joanna that I really began enjoying the story.

This isn’t a quick read, light read. If you want something that will take you deeper and make you really think this is a book you will enjoy.

A copy of this book was given to me through All opinions are my own.
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When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king's mercy--exile to the Colony of North Carolina--he's indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey's slaves--and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant's heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father's overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he's faced with the choice that's long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex's very life.
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While the description of an indentured Scotsman in the Colonial South enticed me to pick Lori Benton's newest book The King's Mercy, this book contains so much more.

The first surprise when reading this book is that although the picture features a woman, the bulk of the story focuses on Alex, the indentured Scotsman. As such the story is a little grittier and real than most of what is published by Christian presses. Specifically as Alex was imprisoned by the English and then sold as an indentured servant, Benton includes details to indicate the inhumane cruelty experienced by Alex and his fellow prisoners as well as the slaves on the plantation. In many ways having a good deal of the story told from the male point of view was a refreshing change and opens up the audience for the book considerably.

The second "aha!" is that The King's Mercy has a double-meaning in that the main character receives "mercy" from two different king's. As the title suggests, mercy is a recurring theme throughout the book. In particular, the difference between giving mercy and forgiveness to others or denying mercy and how that impacts an individual is depicted in the life of the antagonist. In addition to these psychological insights, Benton does a great job demonstrating how restrictive the live of women was at the time period. Lori Benton was not an author I had encountered previously, but I will be seeking out her other novels.
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Every book I've read by Lori Benton is like an epic journey into a time and place in history that hits on all points of the 5 senses. You are literally able to see, hear, touch, smell and taste what the characters do. Granted, these characters are fictional, but their story is written in such a detailed manner, and reflect the lives of those who really did live in that time period, that it has the feel of reading a true account. That's the appeal of her books, in my opinion. While she doesn't go into all of the details of the evil that was done to some of the characters, I physically felt the rise and fall in the tension as my heart sped up along with the angst that the author, I'm sure, wanted her readers to feel. Lori Benton also knows how to write some great romantic tension. And thank you for a Scotsman as a hero...they rarely disappoint ; ). 
The book is also cleverly titled, as "the king's mercy" is the way a person given his or her life by mercy of the king of England. Although Alex MacKinnon initially doesn't see his path to an indenture at Severn Plantation an act of mercy. At every turn, Alex is being mistreated and betrayed. His one bright spot there is Joanna Carey, but she struggles with the hold that Severn has on her as well. The story takes many twists and turns, several of which were unexpected. I really enjoyed those surprise twists, although they addressed the heartache of what many slaves, Native Americans, indentures, and others faced during that time. As the story went on, Alex saw the work of God, and His mercy, on his life. I would certainly recommend this novel if you're a fan of historical Christian fiction. While it is long (400 pages), it is worth the time!

**I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley, in order to give an honest review. All opinions are my own.**
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This was a tough book for me to read, I just couldn't quite get into the story. Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read it an exchange for my honest opinion. I just wasn't a fan.
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Once again, Lori Benton has managed to transport me heart, soul, mind, and all five senses to another time and place. Her stories don’t just make me feel invested in her characters; they make me feel invested in the communities they inhabit. They make me feel a part of the historical setting they inhabit. And they always, always, make me wonder anew at the ways in which God works in and through all circumstances. I think Joanna said it best towards the end of the novel:

“Scripture tells us that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. I thought that meant the Almighty uses even our tragedies to bring about some good thing, some unforeseen blessing, given time. Now I think there’s more to it—that the very thing that causes our pain can become the source of our joy, much as a baby causes agony in its birthing, but once born is cherished, its mother’s rejoicing beyond measure.”

Alex McKinnon was a wonderfully complex character (and a wonderfully SCOTTISH character, it must be said)—honourable, yet embittered by his circumstances. Those two opposing qualities created an internal tension that only increased as Alex began to take an interest in the lives of the people living and working at Severn, and I found myself fascinated as much by the unfolding events as by the prospect that he would eventually come to understand the heavenly King’s mercy in the midst of such trials.

Joanna, too, drew me in with her compassion and determination. I felt her frustration at the inability to realise her vision for Severn, and as I began to understand—or at least suspect—all that was really going on at Severn, I became more and more anxious for her and the whole community of secondary characters whose stories were the warp to Joanna and Alex’s weft. I couldn’t have been any more anxious were they living, breathing people!

And the antagonist… *shudder* The man made my skin crawl. And yet, there was a sense in which I pitied him as well. He has the grittiest back story of any of Lori Benton’s antagonists to date, I think, and the author did a wonderful job of conveying that sensitively, but he was definitely a piece of work.

In short, if you’re looking for fully immersive historical fiction that will grip you until the last page, look no further.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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I’m a huge fan of Lori Benton (even if I quibbled a bit…ok so a lot with her last book). I love the way she combines history and storytelling and complex characters to create a layered novel. My thoughts:

What I liked

Alex. He’s a man of conviction and honor. He’s handed a pretty rough deal from the beginning of the book and my heart immediately went out to him. I found him completely fascinating and I enjoyed being in his head…even when he made mistakes.

Joanna. She’s a bit naive and tad bit passive at moments, but she still managed to come across as a heroine who cared (which I actually think can be difficult when your main character lives on a slave plantation). She’s a perfect foil to Alex who at times tries very hard not to care.

Plot-wise, a lot happens in this book. There is constantly something new so that the story never quite slows down.

The romance was something I found to be very sweet and one that made sense even with the class differences between the main characters.

Historically, it was lovely. You learn a lot about the Scottish rebellion against England, about indentured servitude in America, about slavery and the American Indians. At no point, did I feel like Benton entered lecture-mode. Everything she shows the reader, she does with a deft hand.

Secondary characters. Benton created richly layered characters who had their own stories and their own dreams. Alex and Joanna are not the only interesting characters in the book that I wanted to spend time with. Typically, I am not a fan of the main characters being apart in a novel, but in this one, I didn’t mind so much because of the other stories being told alongside theirs (for the most part).

Spiritually, I caught on to the story the author was telling two seconds before I read the Author Note, but once I realized where she was going, I was able to appreciate the story she was telling. There is a big theme of forgiveness here…and surrendering.

What I didn’t like

The “bad guy” is very obvious in a lot of different ways. I kept waiting for some kind of twist, but there isn’t one.

As the blurb states, Alex goes to live with the Cherokees at some point in the narrative. I will admit that after a while, I began to skim this part. There was a lot going on there and at times it didn’t feel relevant to the narrative (like I get what was going on there…character arc and development, etc., etc., but I was ready to move past it).

    This is a more personal problem I had and that is this: while I get the comparison Benton was trying to make between being an indentured servant and a slave, they are not the same thing. At all. Indentured servants came to the table with a history behind them that gave them certain skills and mindsets that a slave didn’t have (especially if they were born into it), a specific deadline, and the ability to put their servanthood days behind them. That is not how slavery functioned in America, so you can miss me with that comparison. Yes, their time was not their own, but seven lousy years is better than a lifetime and broken families. I found myself rolling my eyes a bit at Alex. His life was rough, and he felt the ties of service keenly as he didn’t ask for it, but he wasn’t a slave. That is all.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I enjoyed this book (it did feel very similar to Laura Frantz’s An Unbound Heart which also came out this year though they are very different books). Lori Benton is quite the storyteller and she weaves together facts and fiction so well that I think I will always read her books even if I don’t love every single one of them. She’s a gifted writer and I can’t wait for the next Lori Benton novel!

**I received a copy from Waterbrook through Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**
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Serving a seven year indenture in exile after participating in rebellion hardly felt like mercy to Alex. Especially serving in the sweltering heat of North Carolina in a forge, under an overseer who appeared to have only his own best interests at heart.

This gripping story followed Alex from a battle in England to the plantation where he was purchased to serve, to the mountains of North Carolina. As Alex's heart was torn by grief and guilt and, especially, anger at God, my heart was filled with compassion and admiration for him.

Hints of the darkness in Phineas Reeves' soul were tossed out from the beginning and as was the suggestion of a mystery surrounding the relationship between him and his slave. As the truth was revealed, I wasn't fully prepared for seeing the magnitude of evil in his heart. While this was ugly, the author kept the details clean and allusions to depravity were kept as such without actually being spelled out. Nevertheless, I only recommend this book for more mature audiences.

The contrast between the manner in which Alex and Phineas responded to the trials in their lives wasn't emphasized, yet both men had experienced tribulation. Alex responded with strength and dignity while Phineas didn't. I won't say more than that.

I loved the descriptions of the time spent with the Cherokee and the lessons learned there. The pictures painted of the area, the lifestyle, and the village all vividly showed me what this would have been like. Seeing the mountains through the eyes of the Scotsman longing for home made me want to go there myself.

As I read, I couldn't help but think of the contrast between the brand of mercy the king of England offered to Alex with the mercy offered to us by Christ. Alex was slated for death by hanging - a traitor's punishment. Yet the king instead offered him life - at a price. Indenture and exile.

We, too are condemned to death for our wrongs against the King. Our rebellion from birth deserves nothing less than this and eternal separation from Him. Yet He extends mercy to us, a full pardon without condition. No exile, no slavery. True freedom.

As a side note, there is an author's note indicating that this was loosely inspired by a story from the New Testament. It wasn't until I read the letter from Reverend Pauling to Joanna's step-father that I realized this connection. Once I read this, I saw the allegory.

Mature readers of Christian historical stories, be sure to consider this The King's Mercy.
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I was first introduced to Ms. Benton’s writing in Many Sparrows, Which I loved so much I subsequently read each of her other published books. For me, for some reason, I did not like this novel quite as much as her precious work. It is obviously well researched and full of detail, but I did not connect with the relationship between Alex and Joanna and the other characters quite as much. Overall still a beautiful book.
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Alex was on the 'wrong' side at Culloden and survived but was captured. After being shown 'the king's mercy', he was not executed but sent to America as an indentured servant for seven years. On arrival in America, he is chosen by Captain Carey's overseer to be trained as the plantation's new blacksmith. Despite hating and resenting his servitude, Alex settles in, and quickly grows close to Joanna Carey, the captain's step-daughter. But she is expected to marry the overseer, and herself feels burdened by the responsibility of caring for the plantation's slaves and servants. Alex offers the chance for a new life - but will she be brave enough to take it? Meanwhile, things at the plantation are gradually going wrong, and Alex is blamed for some of the disasters. When given a chance to escape, he runs - but in his travels he meets an itinerant preacher who has likewise befriended Joanna. Alex turned away from God after Culloden, but Pauling challenges Alex's lack of faith. In the end, Alex has the choice to either trust in God again and return to his servitude, whatever consequences might await, or stay free, but live with the feeling that he has failed God - and Joanna.

This is not a short or light read, but I loved the greater depth of character and plot that the longer book allowed, and a book with a bit more substance was a nice change from some of the lighter stuff. With believable characters that I definitely grew to sympathise with, an interesting setting (though not one I feel a desire to visit in person), and a well-worked plot, this book has made me want to read more of the author's books, and possibly to come back and re-read this one at some later stage. Though some heavier/darker issues are touched on, they are dealt with with a light hand and nothing too descriptive is included. The content is clean, and I would happily recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and this is my personal opinion of the book.
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The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton was a wonderful historical novel about a Scotsman who was exiled and forced to work to pay for his choices.  He lands himself at a plantation that puts him to work as a blacksmith as their current one had been unable to proceed with his job.  The main lead lady is promised to a creep and the sooner she gets out of it the better.  He appeared to not really show his true identity much.  The indentured man and the lead lady find themselves growing closer to them each other.  This was what I really liked about the story.  It was challenging to see her learn contentment and growing in choose it.  The traveling minister was inspirational as he shared with all that he had and the impact was far reaching.  The story all tied together with such satisfaction with the great descriptions and relational aspects, resulting in a wonderful read.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

***Also posted on CBD, B&N
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1747. Alex fought for Prince Charles Edward Stuart in his Jacobite Army. When they were defeated, he was taken prisoner by the English. A tall, handsome Scottish warrior and a born leader with a big heart. This story is SO skillfully told. A fairly long read, thoroughly told from Scotland to England to a Carolina plantation to Virginia. One of those books you fall into and fall in love with. The backstory slowly unfolds while you're fully absorbed with the relationships, especially between Alex and Joanna the daughter of the plantation owner. Alex was released from prison by the Kings Mercy as an indentured servant. The plantation is run with slavery. These topics are as thoroughly felt out as the main plot(s).  Add in some of the Cherokee American Indian way of life. Wonderful story, wonderfully told with biblical situations that could be taken from the Apostle Paul's writings. A fabulous journey as you get lost in this story. Thoroughly enjoyable to the very end.

". . .go in confidence. As you go, pray. Listen. He’ll guide you— deliver you, need be. Shut every door you aren’t meant to pass through. He’s practical, our God. But you’ll never know what good may come if you don’t take the first step of faith.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
#TheKingsMercy  #NetGalley  #LoriBenton  #BooksYouCanFeelGoodAbout
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