The Courtship (Bride Series)

( 13 )

Overview

The stunning Regency-era romance from #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

Characters from two of Coulter?s most beloved novels in the Sherbrooke Bride series find each other in The Courtship. Helen Mayberry of Mad Jack has one passion: to track down a mystical treasure. That is, until she meets the thoroughly wicked Spenser Heatherington in a clash of the titans. 

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Overview

The stunning Regency-era romance from #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter.

Characters from two of Coulter’s most beloved novels in the Sherbrooke Bride series find each other in The Courtship. Helen Mayberry of Mad Jack has one passion: to track down a mystical treasure. That is, until she meets the thoroughly wicked Spenser Heatherington in a clash of the titans. 

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Editorial Reviews

Kathe Robin
With help from the Sherbrookes and an assortment of eccentric secondary characters (her father invents the mimosa: champagne and orange juice) their search becomes even more complicated, and dangerous. Add to this Ms. Coulter’s usual sense of off-beat humor and high degree of sensuality and you have a book her fans wil enjoy.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in Regency England (though not a Regency romance), Coulter's latest historical novel describes, with delectable humor and sexuality, the romance between the beautiful Lady Helen and the Spenser Heatherington, Lord Beecham. A libertine, Spenser has vowed that he won't marry and produce an heir until just before he's ready to meet his maker. But his resolve wavers when he meets Helen, an inn-keeper who enchants every man she meets. At first, Helen would rather have Spenser as her partner than her lover, but she soon changes her mind. Helen's powerful discipline not only engenders great enjoyment for her and Lord Beecham in the bedroom, but in less steamy situations provides levity for the reader. In addition, a mystery subplot--concerning what might have happened to Aladdin's Lamp had the Knights Templar brought it back to England during the realm of Edward I--is intermixed with the love story. The novel reintroduces several beloved characters from Coulter's The Sherbrooke Bride and The Hellion Bride, who add to the droll good times. Coulter's romances may sometimes miss the mark, but she's in top form here, with a good-guy hero in pursuit of a worthy heroine. Readers will wish them years of delightful torment, silk cravats and all. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Coulter has written many stories about the large and extended Sherbrooke family (Sherbrooke Bride, Sherbrooke Twins, etc.), and here are two more. The Scottish Bride focuses on Tysen Sherbrooke, a minister and the youngest of the three Sherbrooke brothers. Tysen, a widower with three young children, has inherited a title and a castle in Scotland, so he travels there to investigate. Among other things that happen to him, he meets up with Mary Rose Fordyce, and eventually a romance and marriage ensue. The Courtship features characters who have had roles in other novels: Spenser Heatherington (Lord Beecham) meets Lady Helen Mayberry at the Sherbrooke home. She needs a partner to search for a treasure that she calls King Edward's lamp. The obligatory steamy romance is a big part of this story. Anne Flosnik is a competent reader for both books and does not intrude too much in the tales. Optional purchases for libraries with a strong demand for historical romance and Coulter fans.-Mary Knapp, Madison P.L., WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515127218
  • Publisher: Jove
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Bride Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 318,847
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.68 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine  Coulter
Catherine Coulter is the author of the New York Times-bestselling FBI thrillers The Cove, The Maze, The Target, The Edge, Riptide, Hemlock Bay, Eleventh Hour, Blindside, Blowout, Point Blank, Double Take, TailSpin, KnockOut, and Whiplash. She lives in northern California.

Biography

The author of dozens of bestsellers, Catherine Coulter made her Romance debut with 1978's The Autumn Countess, a fast-moving story she describes as "a Gothic masquerading as a Regency." Six more Regency romances followed in quick succession; then, in 1982, she penned her first full-length historical novel, Devil's Embrace. She counts several trilogies among her most popular historicals, notably the Bride Trilogy -- which, in turn, spawned an ongoing story sequence featuring the beloved Sherbrooke family of Regency-era England.

In 1988, Coulter tried her hand at contemporary romance with a twisty little page-turner called False Pretenses. Her fans ate it up and begged for more. Since then, she has interspersed historicals with contemporary romantic thrillers (like the novels in her bestselling FBI series) in one of the most successful change-ups in the history of romance publishing.

Good To Know

Suspense writer Catherine Coulter tells us her top ten sleuths and her top ten heroes. We think you'll be as intrigued by her answers as we were ...

TOP TEN SLEUTHS:
Hercule Poirot
Jane Marple
Columbo
Inspector Morse
Jack Ryan
Indiana Jones
Pink Panther
Sherlock Holmes
Sid Halley

TOP TEN HEROS:
Harry Potter (Every Single Book)
Colin Firth as Darcy
S.C. Taylor from Beyond Eden
Lucas Davenport
Dillon Savich
James Bond (Sean Connery)
Jack Bauer
John McClain (All Die Hard)
Shrek (l & 2)
Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Read an Excerpt

London 1811

May 14

Just before midnight LORD BEECHAM STOPPED

dead in his tracks. He turned around so quickly that he

nearly tripped over a huge potted palm.

He couldn’t believe it. He had to be wrong. She

couldn’t have said that, could she? He looked for the

woman he had just heard speaking.

He parted two huge palm fronds and peered into the

Sanderling’s library, a long, narrow, shelf-lined room just

off the ballroom. Where the library was filled with darkbound

tomes, cobwebs in gloomy corners, and just one

small branch of candles casting shadows, the ballroom

was overflowing with lit candles, plants, and at least two

hundred guests, all of them laughing, dancing, and drinking

too much of the potent champagne punch.

The woman he had heard before spoke again. He took

2 Catherine Coulter

a step closer to the dimly lit library. Her voice was rich,

tantalizing, filled with laughter. “Really, Alexandra,” she

said, “doesn’t just the simple thought of discipline, just

hearing the word, saying it slowly to yourself and letting

it caress your tongue as you say it, doesn’t it conjure up

all sorts of delicious scenes of dominance? Can’t you just

see yourself? You are completely at the mercy of another,

that person is in total control, and there is nothing you

can do about anything. You know something is going to

happen, you’re dreading it, your heart is pounding, you’re

afraid, so very afraid, yet it’s a delicious sort of fear you

feel. You know, deep down, that you are anticipating what

is to come. You can’t wait for it to come, but there is

nothing you can do except imagine what will be done to

you. Ah, yes, your skin is rippling with the excitement of

it.”

There was dead silence. Wait, was that heavy breathing

he heard?

Lord Beecham, whose very active imagination had conjured

up a vision of himself standing over a beautiful

woman, smiling down at her as he tied her hands over her

head and her legs, spread, to the posts of his bed, knowing

that in just a few minutes, he would remove her clothing,

one lovely garment at a time, slowly, ever so slowly,

and—

“Oh, goodness, Helen. I have to fan myself. I believe

my bosom is palpitating. You are far too good at painting

word pictures. What you describe—it sounds terrifying

and wonderful. It rather makes my mouth water. It also

sounds like a grand production that requires a lot of planning.”

“Oh, yes, but that is part of the ritual. It is very important

that it be planned perfectly. You are part of the

ritual, the most important part, if you are the one in control.

It requires that you be constantly inventive, that you

don’t continue to rely on the same old disciplines. Remember,

anticipation of something unknown is a very

THE COURTSHIP 3

powerful thing. To be effective, discipline must constantly

grow and change. In most cases, it is effective to have

other people nearby to witness the discipline. This makes

the recipient all the more frightened, his senses more

heightened, his thoughts more focused. It is an amazing

process. You will have to try it. Both sides of it.”

More deep silence.

Try it? He wanted to run into that room this very instant

and try everything he could possibly envision or dream

about. His fingers were already on his cravat, ready to

jerk it off so he could tie the wrists of the woman speaking,

together over her head, so she would be helpless, her

eyes large and frightened and excited as she stared up at

him, her lips parted. Damnation, he had only one cravat,

the one he was wearing. He needed at least two. He shuddered,

imagining the smooth flesh of her wrists as he

lightly wrapped the cravat around and around them, then

pulled them bound, over her head—

He heard a deep sigh.

“All of that is well and good, Helen, but what I need

are specific disciplines to try. A list of disciplines, if you

will. From mild disciplines to the most rigorous.”

He realized suddenly that he knew that voice. Good

God, it was Alexandra Sherbrooke. He couldn’t believe

it. On second thought, he pictured Douglas Sherbrooke in

his mind’s eye, that big, hard man who had reputedly kept

his wife happy for eight whole years now. And Alexandra

wanted to know about discipline? To try on her husband?

What a delightfully wicked idea.

Who was the woman speaking to her, this Helen?

“On the other hand,” Alexandra said after a moment,

“I would like to know how you know so very much about

discipline.”

“I have read every book, every article, every paper—

both scholarly and secular—ever penned on the subject.

I have seen every painting, etching, and drawing of disciplines

employed throughout the world and throughout

the ages. Now, the disciplines in China—goodness, talk

about inventive. The drawings show that the Chinese are

exceedingly flexible.”

A bit more silence, then Alexandra said, her voice lowered

a bit, as if she were leaning closer to this other

woman, speaking in confidence, but he could still make

out her words. “Helen, you are laughing at me. All right,

I accept that you know all about discipline. Now, you

must force yourself to come to my level. You have told

me how you discipline your servants. You have told me

about the ritual, how to build to a climax, how to squeeze

out every tantalizing drop of fear and excitement during

the discipline to achieve the result you wish.

“Now I want to go directly to the extreme pleasure end

of things. I want specifics. I am talking about physical

pleasure, Helen. I want to know exactly what you would

do to a man to drive him to the brink of madness. Since

you have read every tome written about the subject, you

must know something that would help me.”

Lord Beecham would not have moved if a beautiful

woman had stripped naked in front of him and started

kissing him. Now this was a kicker. Alexandra Sherbrooke

wanted to know how to drive Douglas to the brink

of madness? That made no sense. Driving a man like

Douglas to the brink would require very little effort on

her part. It would probably require an effort of ten seconds,

no more. Actually, any man who was still breathing

was a suitable candidate. He himself, for example.

Suddenly it simply became too much. He was eavesdropping

on two ladies discussing discipline, for God’s

sake. He was lurking there behind a palm, listening to

them, sweating, and ready to remove his cravat. It was

not to be borne. Lord Beecham couldn’t hold it back. It

just burst from his mouth. He laughed—something he

didn’t normally do because he was, after all, a man of the

world; a lazy nod or a slightly contemptuous snicker was

usually more fitting. And so what poured out of his mouth

THE COURTSHIP 5

sounded a bit rusty, perhaps a tad hoarse to the casual ear,

but it was a laugh, a good strong laugh, and it just kept

rolling out of him.

He realized they could hear him. That would never do.

He tried so hard to stop laughing that he hiccupped. He

clapped his hand over his mouth and quickly slipped behind

another giant palm tree. And none too soon.

“I know I heard someone, Helen. It was a man and he

was laughing. Oh, dear, you don’t think it was Douglas,

do you? No, Douglas would come right in here and laugh

in our faces. Then he would look at me with a smile in

his eyes and tell me to forget the thought of disciplining

him, that he is in charge. I am tired of his controlling

everything. Eight years is a long time, Helen. I want to

make him wild first, for once.”

“Well, that can’t be too difficult. Simply distract him

when he is reading the Gazette. Start nuzzling his ear,

kiss his neck, bite him. Why haven’t you done this already?”

Dead silence.

“Oh, dear, you are scarlet to your hairline, Alexandra.”

“I have bitten him, Helen, I have. My bites simply take

place in a different context. There is no Gazette lying

about.”

“A context that Douglas has provided?”

“Yes. You know, it’s just that Douglas has only to look

at me, perhaps give me a small touch anywhere with his

hand or his mouth, and I lose every shred of thought. I

puddle right on the floor, directly in front of him. It just

does not stop, Helen. Help me. Oh, dear, what if he is out

there, listening? Now he knows what power he wields

over me.”

“Trust me, he already knows. Now, you’re right, of

course. If it had been Douglas, he would be standing right

in front of us, laughing his head off. But then, perhaps he

would have let you lead him off to begin disciplining him

this very night—that is, if he didn’t decide to discipline

you first.”

Alexandra sighed.

“Goodness, you mean it? You’re serious here, Alexandra?

Doesn’t Douglas ever let you have control? Eight

years of one-sided marital sorts of things? From everything

I’ve read, this isn’t good. The Italians, especially,

believe that participation in lovemaking should be balanced.

You must pull yourself together.”

“It’s difficult once Douglas turns his attention on me. I

would like to read what the Italians have to say about

this.”

“I will lend you a treatise on it. Now, you cannot allow

Douglas always to discipline you first. You must focus

your mind, Alexandra.”

Alexandra’s eyes nearly crossed. She shuddered delicately.

“Douglas has never said anything at all about discipline.

I’m sure he’s never done any to me.”

Helen laughed and patted her cheek. “From everything

I’ve read, I’ll wager Douglas already performs a lover’s

standard discipline on you and you don’t even realize it.

You’re just having fun.”

“Do you really think so? I wonder what specific sorts

of things that Douglas enjoys with me one could call discipline?

Perhaps I shall ask him.”

“Or perhaps not, at least not yet.”

“Whatever he does, it’s true that I do sometimes forget

to think,” Alexandra said, then squared her shoulders, “but

that’s another problem, one I will have to solve.” Her

shoulders squared even more and her magnificent bosom

achieved new prominence. “I will have to learn how to

retain my own control if I want to have a chance of controlling

Douglas. I will have to have a specific goal in

mind, a course that I will have to follow. I will get the

upper hand of Douglas. The brink of madness—yes, Helen,

that is where I want to dispatch Douglas. You must

tell me specifically what I am to do.”

Helen looked down at her fingernails a moment. She

knew she should keep her mouth shut, but she couldn’t

help herself. She said on a deep, wistful sigh, overflowing

with exquisite memories, knowing that Alexandra would

be enraged within moments, “Ah, even when I was fifteen

and I first saw Douglas and fell in love with him, I knew

instinctively that he wouldn’t be a clod. I knew he would

excel, and I wanted to be the female he chose to excel

upon. Such a pity that it wasn’t meant to be.” She sighed

again, a sad, forlorn sigh.

Helen watched beneath her lashes as Alexandra’s eyes

narrowed remarkably, and her voice turned mean and low.

“Helen, I will not tell you again. You will forget those

early years of infatuation with Douglas. You will forget

those tender feelings you cherished for him when you

were too young to realize what was what.”

“Yes,” Helen said at her most humble, her head bent

to show how contrite she was, “I will try.” She hoped

Alexandra couldn’t hear the laughter in her voice.

Lord Beecham heard the laughter. And then he realized

that here he was, a man of immense savoir faire, hiding

behind huge green palm fronds, hanging on these

women’s every word. He hadn’t yet seen the disciplinarian,

but he could see Alexandra Sherbrooke now. She was

looking around, just a bit apprehensively, her fingers

splayed over her incredible bosom. It was too bad Douglas

insisted she keep all that lovely white flesh more covered

than not. It wasn’t at all the style. God gave women bosoms

to flaunt, and every woman he knew flaunted, except

Alexandra Sherbrooke. Everyone had seen Douglas drag

his wife into a corner from time to time to pull up her

bodice if he thought there was too much white flesh showing.

A pity.

Lord Beecham loved breasts: bountiful breasts like Alexandra’s

that would overflow a man’s hands, small

breasts that were ripe and sweet, breasts pushed up to be

lovingly framed by a gown’s satin and lace. He loved to

bury his face in a woman’s breasts.

He got hold of himself. Who was the other woman, the

self-proclaimed mistress of discipline? He knew only that

her name was Helen.

Lord Beecham was not normally a skulker, but he had

to know who she was. He waited, veiled by the palm

fronds, until, finally, the two ladies came out of the Sanderling’s

library.

He nearly dropped his glass of champagne when he saw

Helen. She was the woman he had seen riding in the park

with Douglas. He remembered remarking to himself then

that he wanted a better look at her. Now he was getting

it. She had to be nearly as tall as he was, but there all

resemblance between them ended. His imagination soared

to Mount Olympus for suitable comparisons. She was

sculpted like a goddess, statuesque and beautifully curved,

skin so white it was alabaster, and her hair—surely even

goddesses didn’t have hair like that, thick and pure blond

with no hints of gold or red. She wore it twisted atop her

head, making her appear even taller, with long, lazy curls

caressing the white flesh of her shoulders. Her eyes were

bluer than Aphrodite’s, her smile so charming, so utterly

seductive, it could have belonged to Helen of Troy. He

would wager that this new Helen could launch even more

ships.

Lord Beecham had just lost his wits. Frankly, his

literary-inspired imagination had made him produce tripe.

She was a woman, just a woman, and her name was

Helen. She might be on the magnificent side, but she was

still only a woman, nothing more, nothing less. He had

seen women who were more beautiful, had bedded

women who were more beautiful. She was not a goddess,

not even close to a siren of myth. She was just a very big

girl who happened to have very nice hair of a shade that

sparked poetry in a man’s soul. And she had spoken authoritatively

of discipline.

All other things being equal, she was a man’s dream.

He watched Helen and Alexandra walk away from him,

down the corridor to the ballroom.

She wasn’t a young, untried girl of eighteen either,

newly released from the schoolroom to prey upon the hapless

bachelors of London. No, she had been released a

goodly number of years ago, which meant she was well

married and knew exactly what was what—and that was

surely an utterly excellent thing.

He had always preferred married women. What man

didn’t? They were safe. They wanted what he wanted—

a bit of excitement, a bit of warmth, a new companion to

add spice and passion. They didn’t usually whine or carp

when he was ready to move on. He did not have to worry

about their husbands, most of whom were his friends and

who bedded other friends’ wives just as he did. Many men

and women were not discreet, and that sometimes

stretched civilized manners to the limit. Lord Beecham,

however, never spoke of his conquests. There wasn’t any

need to even if he had been inclined to bray and brag.

For some reason, he could not escape the gossips, no matter

how silent he remained.

He tossed down the rest of his champagne as the two

women disappeared from his view back into the ballroom.

He rubbed his hands together.

Helen was a very big girl. He spread his fingers out.

He thought of her breasts. Were his hands big enough for

her? Oh, yes, he thought, his hands would make do quite

nicely. He looked at his hands, pictured her breasts, and

knew that if he had been speaking just then, he would

doubtless have been stuttering.

Why were they talking about discipline? His flesh rippled.

He pictured Helen on her back, her white arms

pulled above her head, her wrists tied with two of his

softest cravats to the posts at the head of his bed.

A woman who was well versed in the art of discipline?

She had read everything ever written about it? Had she

also employed everything she had learned? Had it all been

employed upon her? It was a heady thought, one that

made him swallow a bit convulsively.

When he reached the ballroom he looked and looked,

but the big girl was gone.

He wasn’t worried. He would simply call upon Alexandra

and, with his exquisite finesse, discover Helen’s address

and the name of her husband.

He hoped Alexandra would cooperate. He had stopped

trying to seduce her at least six years ago, when one evening

in the midst of one of his more effective offerings

she laughed at him. It had wounded him greatly. He was

a renowned lover—at least that was what the gossips were

always saying.

But in the end, he quite liked Alexandra Sherbrooke,

despite her appalling preference for only her husband in

her bed. He liked her husband as well, all the more so

once Douglas determined he wouldn’t have to kill him for

trying to seduce his wife. It was nothing more than attempted

poaching, and that, Douglas had told him some

years before, he would let slide. Thank the heavens that

there were not all that many couples like the Sherbrookes

in London.

Exactly what did the big girl know about discipline?

Like Alexandra, he wanted specifics. He couldn’t wait to

find out. Other than her far-flung reading, had her husband

taught her? Or a lover?

Lord Beecham wanted her in his bed, and he wanted

her there very soon. He would be a lover who would teach

her something altogether new about discipline. He would

take his fill of her and when they eventually parted, she

would never forget him. Whenever she spoke of discipline

after her time with him, she would remember him, and

smile.

He rubbed his hands together in anticipation even as he

wondered if her hair was long enough to fall over her

shoulders and curl lazily around her breasts.

Lord Beecham was a man with a very detailed imagination.

He saw her beneath him, all of her, stretched out,

smiling up at him, and her hands were busy, very busy.

He was forced once again to swallow. He would bed her

soon. Very soon.

Tomorrow night would fit nicely into his schedule.

His fingers clenched at the emerging picture in his

mind, a very big picture.

So much white canvas.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    So witty

    This is one of my favorite books by this author. The story moves fast and the banter between the hero and heroine so great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2000

    Courtship (Bride Series)

    This was not one of the best books I ever read by this author. It was hard to get into the plot. I did finish it, but would not read it again.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2000

    I'm not impressed.

    This book failed to keep my interest for long, and I struggled to finish it. The plot was completely unrealistic, especially because it's set in the 19th century, when the prevailing view of women was 'virtue or else'. None of the women in this book, excepting perhaps the grandmother, had an ounce of virtue and would never have survived the harsh realities of that time. And the hero would realistically have died of some venereal disease long before turning 30 if his exploits are anything to go by. Sorry, Catherine, my first and last read by you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2000

    Courtship (Bride Series)

    This is a good book to enjoy and at times hard to put down. It does have an unusual twist as well, with the husband 'gone but not forgotten.' What a position to be in in life...A good love story that keeps your atttention for sure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2000

    Funny and Romantic-One of Coulter's Best

    I have read many of Coulter's books and this was wonderful, full of humor, adventure and love. I highly recommend it. Her books are hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2000

    Not one of her best

    I've read many of Catherine Coulter's books and I don't think this is one of her better ones. Her other books have made me laugh and made me cry. This one did nothing. With some books, when you get to the end you wish the story would continue. Not so with this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2000

    Must Read!!!

    The Courtship,one of the newer Catherine Coulter publications, is prime example of why her book's have had such success. The Courtship is set in 1811 London and manages to combine humor, passion, and danger in one package. I won't tell you the plot(because that would ruin it) but the art of discipline is a main feature and this aspect will have you laughing and appreciating the antics of Lady Helen and Lord Beecham, Spenser Heatherington. And for anyone who has read a Catherine Coulter novel, this holds to the tradition of excellence and reintroduces you to former characters that may hold a special place in your heart.

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    Posted January 11, 2011

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    Posted July 25, 2009

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted November 26, 2009

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    Posted March 9, 2009

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