Member Reviews

A novel of love, betrayal, and new beginnings.
Resistance when it first began in the summer of 1940 was based upon what the writer Jean Cassou called refus absurde ("absurd refusal") of refusing to accept that the Reich would win and even if it did, it was better to resist. Many résistants often spoke of some "climax" when they saw some intolerable act of injustice, after which they could no longer remain passive.Life in the Resistance was highly dangerous and it was imperative for good "resistants" to live quietly and never attract attention to themselves.In occupied France, one had to carry at all times a huge cache of documents such as an ID card, a ration card, tobacco voucher (regardless if one was a smoker or not), travel and work permits etc.For these reasons, forgery became a key skill for the resistance as the Germans regularly required the French to produce their papers, and anyone whose papers seemed suspicious would be arrested.A major difficulty for the Resistance was the problem of denunciation.Contrary to popular belief, the Gestapo was not an omnipotent agency with its spies everywhere, but instead the Gestapo relied upon ordinary French people to volunteer information since it was difficult for a German to pass off as French.The problem of informers, whom the French called indics or mouches, was compounded by the writers of poison pen letters or corbeaux.These corbeaux were inspired by motivations such as envy, spite, greed, anti-Semitism, and sheer opportunism, as many ordinary French people wanted to ingratiate themselves with what they believed to be the winning side.A major reason for young Frenchmen to become résistants was resentment of collaboration horizontale ("horizontal collaboration"), or sexual relationships between German men and Frenchwomen. Immediately following the liberation, France was swept by a wave of executions, public humiliations, assaults and detentions of suspected collaborators, known as the épuration sauvage (wild purge).This period succeeded the German occupational administration but preceded the authority of the French Provisional Government, and consequently lacked any form of institutional justice.

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The story unfolds in two different countries and eras, captivating the reader with its complexity. While the author clarifies that the characters are fictitious, the historical contexts are depicted with striking realism. The narrative unfolds across two timelines, plunging the reader into France during the Nazi occupation and Wales amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The stark contrast between the perilous times of wartime France and the tranquil 2020s propels the narrative forward.
Initially, the book's pace seemed slow, yet the engaging characters and vivid settings quickly captured my interest. Soon, I was fully engrossed in both storylines, eager to see how the pieces would fit together, and the outcome was unexpected!
It's an enjoyable summer read for fans of WW2 narratives, and mysteries, or those who fantasize about managing a rural hotel.
My thanks to NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for the digital ARC.

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I really enjoyed Katherine Williams’s book Lost Family. The book is written with dual story lines that mold together in an enjoyable and engaging way. Once the dual lines were starting to come together, I wanted to finish reading the rest of the book in one sitting.
Thank you to NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for this advance copy with no pressure to write a review.
#AtmospherePress, #KatherineWilliams

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Katherine Williams' Lost Family is a dual-timeline novel that introduces us to Ben, a Welshman living during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Amelie, a young woman in rural France during World War II. As with many of the novels of this type, the connection between Ben and Amelie is slowly revealed throughout the book. In this case, Amelie's tale is much more riveting and I wish that the Williams had chosen to write only about her. I didn't feel that Ben's story added much to the plot. Still, Lost Family is a good read for those who enjoy historical fiction!

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are my own.

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Ben Griffiths meets Melanie Harris at a work presentation and she tells him she’s seen an old photo and one of the men in it looks a lot like him. He travels to North Wales and amongst his late grandmother's belongings he finds some old landscapes and he's sure one’s painted in the same location as the photograph of the three people and Ben's confused by it all.

The story has a dual timeline, its set in 2020 and 1939 and it’s told from the two main characters points of view, Ben and Amélie, and I had no trouble following it.

Amélie Maurois wants to be an artist, when she’s accepted into the art school in Tours and the German invade France. Amélie fills in as a substitute teacher at the local school in Sable-sur-Manse and uses her skills to forge all sorts of documents. Amélie's involved in the resistance, so is her father and unfortunately their neighbours think her sister Paulette is a collaborator. Amélie meets a British agent, he’s dropped into the area, she helps him find his contact and later he saves Amélie from the Germans.

I received a copy of Lost Family from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Katherine Williams uses her own Welsh heritage and visits to the stunning Loire Valley, France to write her historical fiction story.

A narrative about two things that caused different kinds of upheaval, mayhem and death in the world the Covid Pandemic and the Second World War. She covers topics such as coincidences, love, betrayal, violence, secrets, harsh judgement, and the French resistance and how collaborators were treated, to what extent do you know someone and people chose to forget what they’ve been through and make a fresh start. someone and people chose to forget what they’ve been through and make a fresh start.

I really liked the characters in the book, Ben and his parents are so funny, him creating the North Star Lodge and Sian, Melanie, and Amélie and her dad Alain, Bruno and Antoine, and Georges. Four stars from me, I highly recommend and it's released on the 11th of June 2024.

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Katherine Williams did a wonderful job of capturing the horrors of living in occupied France during WWII. She used the fear to tie into the modern 2020’s storyline and focused on how lives can be changed in an instant outside of your own control.

I LOVED Amelie’s storyline and my heart clung to every page of her story. I was less interested in Ben’s story, but appreciated how they tied together. Williams did a wonderful job, as the dual POV was easy to follow and did not make the book confusing.

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On a business trip, Ben is approached by a woman who claims he looks like a man from an old photo her grandmother owns. A few weeks later while going through his late grandmothers belongings, Ben finds an old painting that has a man that looks like him! Ben travels to France to uncover the mystery behind the paintings and photograph- who is the man? Who is the painter? Who is the photographer and how does Ben fit into the picture?

An alternate timeline set in 1944 follows 17 year old Amélie as she is entering young adulthood in the midst of war. She uses her artist skills to join the underground resistance and works on forging documents for those needing escape. Surrounded by death and terror, will Amelie survive the madness? Will life every return to normal?

This book was well-written. I enjoyed all the historical fiction elements even if the ending was a bit predicable. Recommend to any WWII historical fiction fan!

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A quick and easy read for historical fiction fans. An interesting jump between present day and early 1940s POVs, but the characters felt very one sided. There wasn’t much time devoted to getting into the characters heads or immersed into the moments except in random, extremely-limited spurts.

I felt bored through most of the modern day, with most of the interest in the story taking part in the 1940s and not much book for Ben’s modern story. Very little time was actually spent investigating his grandmother.

Readers of Kristen Hannah and other larger historical fiction authors will probably feel uninterested as I did.

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Thank you Netgalley for the ARC of this book. I am not a big historical fiction reader but the description of this book hooked me immediately. I am so glad I was able to read this wonderful and touching story. The storyline is told in dual timelines and makes you want more after each chapter. The characters were well developed brave and strong. Fabulous story and highly recommend

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I'm very torn about this book. I LOVED the overall plot, which involved two timelines. Amelia lives in France during the German occupation and her family is pulled into the Resistance. She meets a British undercover agent who helps her family and a relationship develops between the two of them. The other timeline tells the story of Ben, who years later is trying to solve the mystery of an old photo of a man who looks just like him. The clues lead him to the same village Amelia lived and he discovers a tender and heartbreaking past that finally fills in the gaps of his family history.

This book had heaps and heaps of potential. I loved Amelia's story. I was engrossed in her family's work in the Resistence and wanted to know more details about their experiences helping others to safety and hiding. I was a little confused about the romance. It seemed to come out of nowhere and I would have really enjoyed a slowburn intimacy between the two characters.

While Ben's POV was not as intriguing, I do appreciate how it ties into the plot. I would have liked to learn more about his past and the connections to the other characters.

Sometimes I struggle when books are too long and drawn out. This book could have been longer and I would have enjoyed it more. As I read I felt like the book was just skimming over this amazing story, leaving out important and intriguing details I would have loved learning.

I'm giving this book 3.5 stars because I adored the overall story. I just wish there was more of it. I have this silly little hope that the author will one day add more to it, because it could be absolutely amazing. One of my all time favorites.

Lost Family will be released June 11th.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Atmosphere Press for the opportunity to read this beautiful book.

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Oh this book was amazing. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. It instantly drew me in. I haven’t cried in a while over a book and I was in tears when I finished this one.

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Although the author makes clear that this story isn't based on real people, the historical situations are as real as it gets. Told with a dual timeline, the reader is immersed in France during the Nazi occupation and Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic. In both timelines, the main characters' lives have been upended by the circumstances, forcing them to make major changes in their life goals. I felt that the beginning of the book dragged a bit, although I liked the characters and loved the settings. However, it wasn't long before I was completely invested in both timelines and trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces would come together. If you are a WW II historical fiction fan and believe in destiny, this book is for you.

My thanks to NetGalley and Atmosphere Press for the digital ARC. All opinions and the review are entirely my own.

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I absolutely loved this book, it tells the story of brave people who sacrificed their lives in a time when war was all around them, they wanted to fight for what they believed in, it is a dual time line but not a complicated one. It has been written so well it makes you feel like your in both places and can imagine the areas.
I can so highly recommend this book
My thanks as always to NetGalley and to publishers Atmosphere press for the early read

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I really enjoyed how well the historical fiction element worked with the World War 2 element. The characters felt like they were supposed to be in this world and was glad I got to read this. It had a great overall feel to this and enjoyed how well Katherine Williams wrote this. It showed the horror of war and was glad it didn't shy away from it.

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The stories left untold can haunt us...yes they can. And this story will stay with me for a long, long time. Beautifully rendering, if follows a young French woman whose artistic skill makes her an invaluable member of the French Resistance, and yet there is so much more - courage, heartbreak, sacrifice. It is an incredibly story about an incredible woman and I loved every page. Highly recommended!

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Synopsis:

This dual timeline novel weaves together the stories of Ben, in present day Wales and Amelie, in France during World War 2.

Ben meets Melanie on a work trip. Melanie has found an old photo of someone that looks exactly like Ben and it seems to have been taken in the same location as a painting Ben has found, which belonged to his late grandmother. Together, Ben and Melanie are determined to uncover the mystery around where his grandmother came from.

Amelie is an aspiring artist in 1939, accepted into her dream art school before the war brings an end to her plans. She uses her talent instead to forge documents for the persecuted to help them escape death.

My thoughts:

I love a book with a dual timeline and dual POV so this already had two ticks for me going into it. The story was captivating. I found Amelie's story particularly interesting and heartbreaking and I liked the way the two timelines and stories were interlinked and woven together by the end of the book.

My only reservations were that the ending was predictable and the story was very slow in parts, especially around Ben's chapters.

Overall though I have the book a 3.5/5 rating.

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Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. I am a fan of historical fiction, especially about the World War II era, and with each book I read I always learn something new. In this book, which is a dual timeline story involving World War II and during the Covid pandemic it centers on a young woman in France named Amelie and her family, and the current day story focuses on a young man named Ben who lives in Wales. This book addresses the difficulties of the people during the occupation of France, but it shows their resilience, faith, determination and also how it brought people together but also tore families apart. The current story was a bit different focusing on a young man trying to get his footing after a breakup with a girlfriend and loosing his job during Covid. This story had a bit of everything that made it an interesting read, mystery, love, history, determination and it all came together in the end.

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Thank you Atmosphere Press and NetGalley for this ARC.
I was drawn to the description of Lost Family by Katherine Williams and the idea was unique. This did not hit the mark though. Historical fiction seems like a really tough genre to write in. The best historical works I have read include heavy research and descriptions that pull me into the world the stories are based on. Lost Family seemed like it was missing these pieces. I thought the cover could have shown more of the artistic ability that Amelie was explained to have. Each chapter had me feeling like I skipped a whole chapter before it. I feel like this story has so much potential but ultimately left me wanting a more immersive experience. Great story idea but we need more detail, more feeling, and more showing (instead of telling).

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Katherine Williams masterfully weaves a tale rich in detail, emotion, and suspense in her latest World War II novel, Lost Family. This gripping story begins with a seemingly bizarre encounter when Ben Griffiths learns of a vintage photo resembling him. Initially dismissing it as a flirtatious gimmick, Ben’s curiosity is piqued when he finds a painting among his late grandmother’s belongings, painted in the same location as the photograph. This discovery propels him on a journey to France, uncovering a heartbreaking secret from the past.

The narrative seamlessly shifts to 1939 France, where seventeen-year-old Amélie Maurois, an aspiring artist, sees her dreams shattered by the German invasion. Instead, she bravely uses her artistic skills to forge documents, aiding the persecuted in escaping death. Her resistance efforts intertwine with a British agent, testing her courage as they face threats and violence from their own neighbors.

Lost Family delves into the harrowing experiences of life in Occupied France, exploring themes of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. Williams’s vivid storytelling and well-developed characters ensure that this novel will linger in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned.

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First off, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to NetGalley and Katherine Williams for the ARC. I must say, I really wanted to like this book, and I initially enjoyed it, but I feel like it's missing a lot.

Content:
The book is divided into two stories. On one side, we have Ben, living in 2020, who discovers his passion thanks to Corona. On the other side, there's Amélie, living in France during World War II with her family, experiencing the war firsthand and witnessing her dreams crumble.

Review:
The beginning isn't particularly gripping, but still intriguing. The chapters are short, which keeps you motivated to read. Plus, there's regular switching between centuries, keeping it engaging. The writing style is very appealing. French words are used, but always well explained, so there's no need for translation, making the book more lively and authentic. The blend of English and French is excellently executed. Both characters fall in love during the book, and we follow their journey to self-discovery. Family and love are central themes.

While initially empathizing a lot with Amélie, I find Ben’s story dull and disruptive. I would have liked more chapters about Amélie's life. The purpose of Ben's character is to connect to the present. He tries to find out more about his family. Since I couldn't connect with him, his life and the story with Sian didn't interest me. My interest in his part was only sparked at the end, but the interludes were very disruptive. They were supposed to add to the tension but had the opposite effect.

Amélie's part feels like a summary of events. There's hardly any detail, leading to confusion about how much time has passed. Often, I felt like I missed a page because important events were only briefly mentioned, and then several weeks were skipped. As a result, it was difficult to build an emotional connection to her, which I find really unfortunate.

Apart from the connection to her family, there's hardly any intimacy between her and other characters. The relationship with the love interest was very surprising to me, as they had little contact and, from my point of view, didn't build a relationship. I believe in love at first sight, but it felt very artificial. They had barely spent any time together and didn't know each other.

Furthermore, towards the end, it seems like the text wasn't properly proofread, as punctuation was often incorrectly placed (especially in direct speech).

The story has so much potential, but it was exhausting to read because one is so interested in what comes next, yet receives very few – or uninteresting – pieces of information. It's difficult to build closeness to the characters. I find the idea of two simultaneous stories very exciting. Also, Ben discovering the connection to his ancestors is good. The author writes very well and has a lot of potential.

The story is very detailed in some places (for example, I didn't know that different times prevailed in Germany and France), and exciting, but overall too short and with too few details. I would love to read a longer version about Amélie and her adventures. The idea that the whole family pursued a goal gave me goosebumps and hope. Unfortunately, everything is too short.

Overall, the book felt like an extensive summary of a book. I would have greatly wished for the author to write more about Amélie and perhaps add 200–300 pages.

Spoiler:
I would have liked to learn more about the time in the bunker or during the arrest. It was presented as a fact and never mentioned again, which is a shame. Such situations would have been so formative for her character development. Instead, you could read twice that she was afraid Allumette wouldn't love her because of her starved body. Also, I would have liked it to be mentioned again how old she is, just so you don't have to flip back again. The months and years pass so quickly for her that you can't keep up.

Also, many questions unfortunately remained unanswered. You hardly learn anything about Allumette or his background. What happened to Amélie's family can be guessed, but I simply missed content.

Ben:
I find Ben as a character incredibly problematic. Ben in 2022 seems to think more old-fashioned than Amélie in 1945. Two girls say goodbye in their letters with "Hugs and Kisses", but sure... they were just friends! #TheyWereRoommates

Moreover, he advises his colleague not to do anything because of her pregnancy that she might "regret" and tells her to talk to her partner first when she tells him that she doesn't yet know what to do about the pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Amélie notices that her sister Paulette doesn't love her child, but doesn't judge her for it. It's mentioned without her receiving criticism for it, which I find so refreshing.

"As he watched her eat, Ben loved how Melanie devoured every mouthful as if she hadn't eaten for a week; most girls he'd been out with just picked at their food." What a disappointing "not like other girls" sentence...

//

Zuerst möchte ich mich ganz herzlich bei NetGalley und Katherine Williams für den ARC bedanken. Ich möchte noch sagen, dass ich dieses Buch wirklich mögen wollte und es mir anfangs sehr gefiel, jedoch fehlt mir vieles.

Zusammenfassung:
Das Buch ist in zwei Geschichten aufgeteilt. Zum einen haben wir Ben, der 2020 lebt und dank Corona seine Leidenschaft entdeckt. Auf der anderen Seite haben wir Amélie, die zur Zeit des Zweiten Weltkrieges in Frankreich mit ihrer Familie lebt, den Krieg hautnah miterleben muss und sieht, wie ihre Träume sich in Luft auflösen.

Rezension:
Der Anfang ist nicht sehr fesselnd, aber dennoch interessant. Die Kapitel sind kurz, was zum Lesen motiviert. Zudem wird regelmässig zwischen den Jahrhunderten gewechselt, wodurch es spannend bleibt. Der Schreibstil ist sehr ansprechend. Es werden Wörter aus der französischen Sprache verwendet, die jedoch immer gut erklärt werden, sodass man sie nicht übersetzen muss. Dies macht das Buch lebendiger und authentischer. Die Mischung aus Englisch und Französisch wurde hervorragend eingesetzt. Beide Charaktere verlieben sich im Laufe des Buches, und wir verfolgen ihren Weg zur Selbstfindung. Familie und Liebe sind dabei zentrale Themen.

Während man mit Amélie anfangs sehr mitfiebert, empfinde ich Ben’s Geschichte als langweilig und störend. Ich hätte mir mehr Kapitel über Amélies Leben gewünscht. Der Sinn der Figur Ben ist, eine Verbindung zur Gegenwart herzustellen. Er versucht, mehr über seine Familie herauszufinden. Da ich keine Verbindung zu ihm aufbauen konnte, interessierte mich sein Leben und die Geschichte mit Sian nicht. Mein Interesse an seinem Teil wurde erst zum Schluss geweckt, jedoch haben die Zwischenszenen sehr gestört. Sie hätten zur Spannung beitragen sollen, haben jedoch das Gegenteil bewirkt.

Amélies Teil fühlt sich wie eine Zusammenfassung der Ereignisse an. Es wird kaum ins Detail gegangen, wodurch Verwirrung entsteht, weil man nie weiss, wie viel Zeit vergangen ist. Oft hatte ich das Gefühl, eine Seite verpasst zu haben, weil wichtige Ereignisse nur kurz erwähnt wurden und dann mehrere Wochen übersprungen wurden. Dadurch konnte man kaum eine emotionale Verbindung zu ihr aufbauen, was ich wirklich schade finde.

Abgesehen von der Verbindung zu ihrer Familie, konnte man keine Nähe zwischen ihr und anderen Charakteren spüren. Die Beziehung mit dem Love Interest kam für mich sehr überraschend, da sie kaum Kontakt hatten und sich aus meiner Sicht keine Beziehung aufgebaut hat. Ich glaube auch an die Liebe auf den ersten Blick, aber es hat sich sehr künstlich angefühlt. Sie hatten kaum Zeit miteinander verbracht und kannten sich nicht.

Zudem wurde der Text gegen Ende wohl nicht richtig durchgelesen, denn Satzzeichen wurden oft fehlerhaft gesetzt (vor allem bei direkter Rede).

Die Geschichte hat so viel Potenzial, aber es war anstrengend, sie zu lesen, weil man so interessiert daran ist, was als Nächstes kommt, jedoch sehr wenige – oder uninteressante – Informationen erhält. Es fällt schwer, Nähe zu den Charakteren aufzubauen. Die Idee mit zwei gleichzeitig laufenden Geschichten finde ich sehr spannend. Auch, dass Ben die Verbindung zu seinen Vorfahren erfährt, ist gut. Die Autorin schreibt sehr gut und hat wirklich viel Potenzial.

Die Geschichte ist an manchen Stellen sehr detailgetreu (ich wusste beispielsweise gar nicht, dass in Deutschland und Frankreich verschiedene Zeiten herrschten) und spannend, aber insgesamt zu kurz und mit zu wenigen Details. Ich würde unglaublich gerne eine längere Version über Amélie und ihre Abenteuer lesen. Die Idee, dass die gesamte Familie ein Ziel verfolgt, hat bei mir Gänsehaut und Hoffnung ausgelöst. Nur kommt leider alles viel zu kurz.

Insgesamt lässt sich sagen, dass sich das Buch wie eine ausführliche Zusammenfassung eines Buches anfühlt. Ich hätte mir sehr gewünscht, dass die Autorin mehr über Amélie geschrieben und vielleicht noch 200–300 Seiten hinzugefügt hätte.

Spoiler:
Ich hätte gerne mehr über die Zeit im Bunker oder während der Verhaftung erfahren. Es wurde als Fakt hingestellt und nie wieder erwähnt, was sehr schade ist. Genau solche Situationen wären für ihre Charakterentwicklung so prägend gewesen. Stattdessen konnte man zweimal lesen, dass sie Angst hatte, Allumette würde sie wegen ihres ausgehungerten Körpers nicht lieben können. Zudem hätte gerne nochmal erwähnt werden können, wie alt sie ist, einfach damit man nicht nochmal zurückblättern muss. Die Monate und Jahre vergehen bei ihr so schnell, dass man nicht mehr mitkommen kann.

Auch wurden viele Fragen leider nicht beantwortet. Man erfährt kaum etwas über Allumette oder seinen Hintergrund. Was mit Amélies Familie geschehen ist, kann man sich denken, jedoch hat mir einfach Inhalt gefehlt.

Ben:
Ich finde Ben als Charakter unfassbar problematisch. Ben 2022 scheint altmodischer zu denken als Amélie 1945. Da verabschieden sich zwei Mädchen in ihren Briefen mit „Hugs and Kisses“, aber klar... sie waren nur Freundinnen! #TheyWereRoommates

Ausserdem empfiehlt er seiner Kollegin, sie solle wegen ihrer Schwangerschaft nichts tun, was sie „bereuen“ könnte und sie solle mit ihrem Partner zuerst darüber sprechen, als sie ihm sagt, dass sie noch nicht weiss, was sie wegen der Schwangerschaft tun soll.

Währenddessen merkt Amélie, dass ihre Schwester Paulette ihr Kind nicht liebt, verurteilt sie aber nicht dafür. Es wird erwähnt, ohne dass sie dafür Kritik bekommt, was ich so erfrischend finde.

„As he watched her eat, Ben loved how Melanie devoured every mouthful as if she hadn’t eaten for a week; most girls he’d been out with just picked at their food.” Was für eine enttäuschende „not like other girls“-Bemerkung...

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