Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind (Miss Julia Series #1)

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Overview

Miss Julia, recently bereaved and newly wealthy widow, is only slightly bemused when one Hazel Marie Puckett appears at her door with a youngster in tow. But this perfectly practiced composure is quickly reduced when Hazel Marie unceremoniously announces her intentions: the child is Wesley Lloyd's bastard son and, since the man left her penniless, she's leaving little Lloyd in Miss Julia's care. Suddenly, this longtime church member and pillar of her small community finds herself in the center of an unseemly ...
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0736680829 Complete set of 7 audio cassettes in original clamshell case. Tapes in very good condition, clean (untested). Case shows mild shelf wear on edges, light scuffing on ... front and back. Read more Show Less

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Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind (Miss Julia Series #1)

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Overview

Miss Julia, recently bereaved and newly wealthy widow, is only slightly bemused when one Hazel Marie Puckett appears at her door with a youngster in tow. But this perfectly practiced composure is quickly reduced when Hazel Marie unceremoniously announces her intentions: the child is Wesley Lloyd's bastard son and, since the man left her penniless, she's leaving little Lloyd in Miss Julia's care. Suddenly, this longtime church member and pillar of her small community finds herself in the center of an unseemly scandal -- and the guardian of a wan nine-year-old whose mere presence will turn her life upside down.

With razor wit and perfect Steel Magnolia poise, Miss Julia speaks her mind indeed -- about a robbery, a kidnapping, and all the other disgraceful goings-on that are precipitated by her husband's death.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Charming Southern eccentrics breathe life into a predictable story of a proper Presbyterian wife ("Miss Julia") who finds her true self after the sudden death of her husband of 44 years, wealthy but parsimonious banker Wesley Lloyd Springer. Julia is becoming accustomed to the role of rich widow when another shock intrudes: Hazel Marie Puckett appears on the front porch wearing "heels too high, a dress too short, and hair too yellow," with a nine-year-old boy in tow whose "eyes were so much like Wesley Lloyd's it was like looking at her husband before she ever met him." Hazel Marie is on her way to beauty school in Raleigh, N.C., since Wesley senior left no provision for her support, and Miss Julia realizes that she must take her husband's "last legacy" into her home. Meanwhile, her inheritance attracts a variety of small-town opportunists, beginning with Pastor Ledbetter, who insinuates that her departed husband planned to leave his money to the church, then enlists the aid of "Christian psychologist" Dr. Fred Fowler to prove Miss Julia's incompetence in a court of law. Ross's characters resist their stereotypical outlines--Miss Julia's black maid, Lillian, might talk like a character from Gone with the Wind, but she provides the strategy for retrieving Little Lloyd Jr. when he's abducted by Hazel Marie's shifty uncle, Brother Vern, a televangelist who also has designs on Miss Julia's money. Miss Julia's luck turns when, ransacking the pantry for Lillian's cache of Oreos, she comes across a Winn-Dixie sack secreted by Little Lloyd, which contains a new will and testament from the dead Lloyd Sr. Along with its homespun appeal, the novel offers an interesting take on gender, race and family in the South; it's fast-paced and funny despite Ross's persistent asides to readers and reference to serious issues (the church's stance on homosexuality and abortion). In the end, Miss Julia's prim self-absorption gives way and she begins to "feel like a real person, saying what she was thinking instead of packing it down inside." Agent, Peter Miller/Delin Cormeny. Author tour. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An apparent comedy of errors that gradually reveals itself to be a comedy of greed and calculation, by the author of The Pilgrimage (1987). Julia Springer suffered through 44 years of a woebegone marriage before she could spread her wings and emerge as her true self—a merry widow. After husband Wesley's recent death, Julia found that she'd been named his sole beneficiary. Which was a surprise, given Wesley's low opinion of Julia's financial capabilities, but not so astounding as the size of the estate itself. Now a rich woman with no domestic restraints, Julia is set to enjoy the remainder of her years in quiet style, flipping idly through the Neiman-Marcus catalogue as she expertly fends off investment bankers and begging philanthropists. One day, however, her peace is interrupted by a knock on the door: a young woman named Hazel Marie Puckett introduces herself as Wesley's longtime mistress and, before Julia has time to absorb the shock, departs, leaving her nine-year-old son Wesley Jr. on Julia's doorstep. What to make of all this? Julia contacts the police and her lawyer straightaway—and discovers to her horror that everyone in town knew about Wesley's decade-long affair. He had even set up Hazel Marie in a little house, which was not mentioned in the will and from which Hazel Marie and the boy have now been evicted. Furious, Julia decides to take her revenge the only way she knows how: by keeping the boy and acknowledging him as her husband's bastard son. But then the plot thickens. A creepy televangelist, Brother Vern, kidnaps the boy, and Julia and Hazel Marie team up to get him back. Wesley Sr.'s will wasn't so straightforward, after all. And Julia learns fromher pastor that she's something called a nymphomaniac. Is there any way out of such a mess? Good-natured entertainment, done with a sharp eye for the details of small-town southern life and domestic melodrama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780736680820
  • Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Series: Miss Julia Series , #1
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

Ann Ross

Ann B. Ross, who taught literature at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, is the author of Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, one of the most popular Southern debut novels in years, Miss Julia Takes Over, Miss Julia Throws a Wedding, and Miss Julia Hits the Road. She lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I'd just caught my breath after the shock of my husband's sudden passing when his last legacy showed up on my front porch. We'd buried Wesley Lloyd Springer some few months before that hot, still morning in August, and I hoped I was through signing forms and meeting with lawyers and shuffling through various and sundry legal papers. I declare, this business of dying has more legal aspects to it than you would think. The deceased never knows what you have to go through to get his affairs in order, and Wesley Lloyd's were in as much order as they could get. I thought.

Lord, it was hot that morning, and I recalled again how Wesley Lloyd had always put his foot down about air-conditioning the house, even when the Conovers had theirs done. Central air, too. Wesley Lloyd said it was a waste of money and, besides, fresh air was good for us. He felt that way only at home, though, because his office at the bank was kept cool enough for the threepiece suits he wore day in and day out. But I don't believe in speaking ill of the dead, even when it's the truth.

So I was sitting in my living room trying to get my mind off the heat by looking through a stack of mail-order catalogs. Making a list of the items I intended to call in for and having a good time doing it, since Binkie Enloe'd said I needed to spend some, money. Sam Murdoch had agreed, and he ought've known since he was the executor of the will that had put me in my present more-than-comfortable position. Lord, there was more money than I ever knew Wesley Lloyd had, and it all belonged to me, his grieving widow. But a proud widow, too, and justly so, because I'd made such a fine andfortunate choice of husbands.

But I tell you, I thought I'd never get over the shock of finding Wesley Lloyd dead as a doornail, slumped over the steering wheel of his new Buick Park Avenue. Steel gray with plush upholstery, parked right out there in the driveway.

But I did, laying him to rest in a properly ordered Presbyterian ceremony as he would've expected. Then I had to suffer another shock when I found out how well-off Wesley Lloyd had been. Why, besides the bank his daddy'd left him, he owned half the county, seemed like, plus stocks and bonds and tax-deferred annuities, all of it making more and more money every day of the week. When the extent of his estate was laid out for me, all I could think of was how he used to hand me a housekeeping allowance every Friday, saying, "Make it last, Julia. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know." And all the time he was cultivating a whole grove! Well, a lot of good it did him, because I ended up with every penny.

Now, after forty-four years in blissful ignorance of Wesley Lloyd's activities, financial and otherwise, I had settled down to enjoy the benefits of widowhood and a full checkbook, both of which I was mastering with hardly any problems to speak of.

I looked out the window as a few cars passed by on Polk Street, headed down to Main. I declare, everybody and his brother seemed to have a telephone glued to his ear, though this town's not big enough to need BellSouth whenever you drive to the grocery store. Across the street the parking lot spread from Polk to the back of the First Presbyterian Church of Abbotsville, my church and the one Wesley Lloyd and his father, before him, had supported with their presence, tithes, offerings, and over-and-above donations. Advice, too, which was always taken but not always appreciated. Heat waves shimmered up from the asphalt lot as I took note of whose cars were parked over there. It was my custom to keep up with what went on around me and, since Mondays were Pastor Ledbetter's days off, I couldn't be blamed for wondering why he was meeting with several men on the session at the church. But far be it from me to be nosy.

I could hear Lillian humming along with the radio above the occasional clatter of pans out in the kitchen as she prepared my lunch. That was another thing that was different, now that Wesley Lloyd wouldn't be home for meals anymore. He'd liked a quiet house, meals served on time, and everything done right on schedule. I had already begun to enjoy a little freedom from that schedule, telling Lillian that we'd eat whenever either of us got hungry or she got the urge to put something on the table.

I licked a finger and turned a page in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, wondering what Sam and Binkie would say if I ordered a few trinkets from it. I declare, some of the offerings were for people with more money than sense, a condition that didn't apply to me, I'm happy to say. I expect, though, that any number of people would've said it did if they'd known the full extent of Wesley Lloyd's prudence and foresight.

However. His prudence and foresight hadn't taken heart attacks into account. I knew as sure as I was sitting there he never intended to leave me in charge of everything he owned. I knew it as soon as Pastor Ledbetter came sidling up to me not two days after laying Wesley Lloyd to rest, telling me he knew I'd want to 'honor Mr. Springer's last wishes even if they'd never gotten written down. That was the first I'd heard that Wesley Lloyd had planned to make the First Presbyterian Church. . .

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind. Copyright © by Ann Ross. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary

After the unexpected death of her husband of 44 years, Julia Springer is more than just a grieving widow, she's a rich one. She's also a woman on the verge of finding herself. Freed at last from her husband's sheltering, often suffocating gaze, Miss Julia realizes that she must learn to manage her money, to run her own household, and to carry on the substantial reputation that her husband built in their small Southern town. It's a tall order, and one she's excited to take on. But just when she thinks she's got her new life under control, an unexpected visitor arrives with news that would send anyone, let alone a proper Southern lady, into a tailspin. How Julia copes with the news of her husband's secret life, and learns to rebuild her own, is the subject of this charming, often zany and always riveting novel.

In Julia Springer, Ann B. Ross has created a unique and utterly compelling character who forces us to rethink our concept of how a respectable, well-to-do woman should behave. On the outside, Julia is a formidable presence, proud of her position in the town, and unquestioning of the choices she has made. But news of her husband's infidelity shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life. Miss Julia is forced to reconsider not only the man her husband was, but what kind of marriage she had. And, as the people in the town learn of Julia's plight, their treatment of her becomes a lesson of a different kind-about the value of honesty over lies, and about the importance of being true to oneself, even in the face of judgmental neighbors.

Ann B. Ross overturns many prejudices in this wonderfully vivid portrait of Southern life,including those involving class, race, and religion. But her most important triumph lies in the surprising transformation of a sheltered white woman who learns to stand on her own two feet; to value money wisely spent and generously given; to make friends with all kinds of people; and ultimately to trust her own good instincts and speak her mind whenever she sees fit.

Questions for Discussion
  • Miss Julia remarks to Deputy Bates, "Don't you know it's always the wife's fault if a man strays? . . . There's always something the wife's doing, or not doing, that pushes a man over the brink. That's just the way it is." Do you think she believes this, or is she merely commenting on a societal prejudice? Either way, do you think Miss Julia is accurately predicting what the town will think of her husband's infidelity?
  • How well does Miss Julia know herself? Is she a reliable narrator? How does the author use point of view and tone to develop Julia's character?
  • What does Julia learn about her late husband as a result of his death? Why do you think her revelations about his personality have come so late in their relationship? What kind of person did Julia think she was married to? To what extent was Julia's ignorance about Lloyd's negative traits willful ignorance, and to what extent was she misled by him?
  • Ann B. Ross's portrait of Miss Julia's church and its leadership is far from flattering, yet religion plays a big part in Julia's life. Discuss Pastor Ledbetter's actions. Is there any difference between his deceptions and those of Brother Vern? What is Miss Julia looking for in religion that neither of these men can provide?
  • Why do you think Julia is so easily taken in by Dr. Fowler? Why is he so willing to believe that there is something psychologically depraved about her?
  • Julia goes from being terribly concerned about what the townspeople will think of her connection to Little Lloyd to taking a very defiant stance about the choices she has made. What is she risking by refusing to give in to the town's prejudice? What is she gaining?
  • How does Julia's relationship with Little Lloyd change over the course of the novel? What signs are we given of Julia's affection for the boy?
  • How do you think you would react in Miss Julia's situation? Would you take in Little Lloyd? Would you befriend Hazel Marie?
  • Why do you think Miss Julia develops such strong friendships with Lillian and Hazel Marie? What do these very different women have in common, and what does their affection for each other reveal about each of them?
  • What has Julia learned about life and love by the end of the novel? How have the obstacles she's overcome made her stronger and wiser?
  • Do you think Ross's portrait of a small Southern town is accurate? What aspects of Abbottsville and its denizens ring true to you? How does she use satire and slapstick to illustrate Abbottsville's more ridiculous qualities? How would Miss Julia's story have been different (if at all) had it taken place in your own community?
Reading Group Guides come in packs of 20 and are available free of charge from your local bookstore, or by calling 1-800-242-7737.
Reading Group Guide ISBN: 0-06-095887-1
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 103 )
Rating Distribution

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(54)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 103 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!

    This book is the first book in the AWESOME Miss Julia Series. It is a series everyone can enjoy. As the "prim and proper" Miss Julia and Lillian get themselves into trouble time after time, I find myself literally laughing out loud; while people around me look at me funny because I am laughing out loud. Ann B. Rice really makes you smile and warms your heart with these delightful characters. While waiting for the next book to come out, I tend to miss the characters as the long months pass without them, as I'm sure you will too. So, if your are thinking of picking up this book, don't wait any longer. You won't be disappointed!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2009

    Hurray for Miss Julia

    I bought this book on the spur of the moment, and I'm glad I did. Miss Julia is a hoot! She says things that I would love to say. Ann B. Ross has a writing style that is quick and witty. We learn about the characters through the eyes of Miss Julia. Miss Julia faces life's challenges head on with no excuses and few regrets. Surrounded by people who love and care about her, she manages to meet each challenge with her sense of humor-and opinions-intact.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Miss Julia Characters Make For Odd, But Perfect, Family

    The entire Miss Julia series, including this book, is a delight. Although somewhat conservative and old-fashioned in nature, it is just the sort of book that makes you feel comfortable and at-home with the characters.

    As a matter of fact, you probably "know" some of these characters in your own life experiences. I know I do and have.

    Especially encouraging is how Ann B. Ross defines the title character. It is refreshing, indeed, to see an "older" female lead as anything but a helpless and "done-with-life" individual.

    All characters are brought to life in a realistic fashion and you feel they are friends, or not.

    Perhaps the books are not for everyone and not especially deep in subject matter, but they are, somewhat, a flight from the world of today and that is enough for me, at this particular time.

    Ann B. Ross and her Miss Julia characters and series have been an enjoyment from the first to the lastest installment. Looking forward to the next.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Highly recommended!

    Miss Julia is so funny at times, so real at times and can get herself in the most unusual situations! Love it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    LAUGHtabulous!

    There have not been very many books that make me laugh out loud, but I roared with this one! (I recomnend not reading it during church services.) Oh, Miss Julia, you are a hoot! You act so proper and prim, but girlfriend, you are a firecracker!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    So much fun to read

    The Miss Julia series is one I could read over and over again. The tale is of an older woman's resolve to not let any circumstance get her down, no matter how embarrassing or distressing. I love her spunk and how she says things. Lots of fun.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Miss Julia Steals the Show

    The first book in the Miss Julia series stole my heart. Ann Ross has created a world peopled with lively, off- beat characters and situations that kept me turning pages. This book made me laugh and moved me to tears on a few occasions. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind puts a twist on the traditional coming-of-age novels with this feisty southern lady. Great summer read!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2011

    Good Read

    While I enjoyed this book - I don't know that I enjoyed it enough to spend $12 a book for each book in the series. Wonder if others feel that way too?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    Cutie Mark Gone Wrong - Pt Two

    "Twilight! Twilight!" Screeched Sweetie Belle. "Its Apple Bloom!" She thrust open the door and ran inside, not noticing the pile of books there. She tripped and the books scattered. By now my flank was aching like the time I hit my hoof with a hammer when we rebuilt the barn. I swiveled my head around towards my flank and gasped. A red, bruised welt was staring back at me. It was hard to walk and I felt dizzy and sick. I could barely hear the conversation in front of me. "..hurts........she said so....well......no..l..we need your....help." Scoots droned. My ears flopped and buzzed. I could barely keep my heavy head up. Then, everything went black.



    The next thing I knew, Twilight was holding a wet cloth over my head and wiping over my eyes. Her magic she was using felt tingly and warm against my face, but I did not move. She noticed I had woken up and smiled. "I need to do some research on this...." she trailed off. I could hear her mutter 'strange cutie mark issue' but I guess she didnt want to scare me by saying it aloud. She peered at my flank and examined it. She palpated the inside of my leg, rubbed and poked at my injury("ooowww!" I yelped again) and even tapped it with her horn. She sat down, finished with her thorough work. Twilight Sparkle took her quill pen and took notes. Sweetie and Scoots tried to look over her shoulder, but she blocked them. What could be so secret? Was this serious? I was too afraid to ask her!! Twi closed her eyes. "Apple Bloom...." she said solemnly. "I'm afraid this cannot be fixed. This is the result of a minor birth defect." Scoots and Sweetie gasped in horror. "Apple!!! I-I had no idea...." Sweetie Belle said quietly. Twilight wasnt finished. "This means....you will never get your cutie mark." I could not believe this. It all seemed like a terrible string of events in a bad dream. I blinked hard, but I still was sitting in Twi's library, my shocked friends staring at me sadly. "You were born without the DNA to recieve your cutie mark on your flank. With your Crusaders club with missions to try and force a cutie mark to appear, that made it all worse. Then, your brain got exhausted and your flank got this wound." No. No. No!! I could barely breathe. My flank ached and throbbed in sheer pain. I tried to get up, but my leg got limp and I flopped. Scoots raced over. "Will she be like this....forever, Twilight?" She asked. Sweetie's eyes widened. She looked at Twilight expectantly. "I cannot say." Twi replied. "But girls...." she looked down at the two remaining "Cutie Mark Crusaders." "To avoid any more problems happening, we must not do any more cutie mark missions." My friends looked a little sober, but they still seemed to worry about me. "We will not!" announced Scoots. "If it wasnt for her, there would be no CMC. We cannot go on!" Twilight nodded. I looked gratefully up at them. "But I still don't understand. We dont have birth defects like...she does." Sweetie said quietly. "Its to be safe." Twi replied. At hearing the word 'birth', Scootaloo's eyes looked a little watery, but she said nothing. Twi used her magic to lift me up onto her bed. "I will let Apple Jack know, okay?" Her kindness soothed me a little, but I felt a pang in my flank and I felt worse. Goodbye Crusaders. Goodbye cutie mark. Wait - did this mean I didnt have a special talent? I rolled over in the bed and began to sob.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 1, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    If you need a nice fund book, this series hits the spot. Start with Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, the first book in the series where you meet all the players in Miss Julia's life.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    To nico

    She was at jason res 2 with another guy

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2013

    highly recommended

    A funny and exhilarating read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Love Ann B. Ross & Miss Julia

    Miss Julia is always keeping me in stiches. Never can wait to read next installment.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    Loved it!

    So glad i read this. It made me laugh times and kept me interedted. What a great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2010

    A great series

    This is the first book in the series and I cannot wait to get the next one. You wanted to know what happened next, and I did not want to put it down

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    Miss Julia is a unique character.

    I enjoyed the older main character. I wouldn't call her a Mrs. Polifax but the age is about the same. I look forward to reading more about this character's adventures.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2004

    What an enjoyable light mystery to read

    This book was hard to put down once I started reading it. Ms. Julia had me 'cracking up' as I read each chapter. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Many thanks to my friend Julie for sharing this book with me!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014

    Eva

    The vo<_>luptuous girl steps inside, her supple legs carrying her on large strides across the room. She distractedly tugs up the drooping collar of her shirt, but it drooped even more, momentarily revealing her perfect and perky pink ni<_>pples and her large, smooth ti<_>ts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014

    Kim

    Walks in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2014

    Anna

    She came in, her body wet from the shower she had taken. She could barely fit the towel over her cheast, and she sat in the corner glancing at her rommate.

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