Natural Born Charmer (Chicago Stars Series #7)

( 171 )

Overview

It wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard's larger-than-life world. He slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.

The beaver marched right past, her big, flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed . . .

She was definitely a ...

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Overview

It wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard's larger-than-life world. He slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.

The beaver marched right past, her big, flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed . . .

She was definitely a girl beaver because her beaver head was missing, revealing sweaty, dark hair pulled into a scraggly ponytail. He'd been praying for a little distraction from his own depressing company, so he threw open the door and stepped out onto the shoulder of the Colorado road . . .

Funny, sexy, and touching—Natural Born Charmer is the unforgettable love story of a golden boy who might be losing his luster and a spirited woman who's learned never to depend on anyone but herself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this latest installment in Phillips's romance series starring the Chicago Stars football players (This Heart of Mine; Nobody's Baby but Mine), the bestselling novelist delivers a love story wrought with delicious sexual tension and charged banter. When debonair starting quarterback Dean Robillard, on a soul-searching road trip after a serious shoulder injury, happens across Blue Bailey, walking alongside the road wearing a beaver costume, he stops to help her. Blue is far from a Barbie-esque football groupie, but broke and stranded, she needs both a ride and a job, and the football all-star (driving a sexy Aston Martin) poses an interesting opportunity. As the two travel from Colorado to Dean's new farmhouse in east Tennessee, Blue resists his advances, and both athlete and vagabond struggle with deeply rooted trust and familial issues that are soon exacerbated by the unexpected presence of Dean's mother at the farm. While the verbal sparring in this textbook case of opposites attracting feels stagy at first, the rough edges come together in an alluring way. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Brimming with audacious humor, delicious sensuality, and beautifully developed characters, this touching, multilayered story also has an emotional depth that readers will savor. Fans (and libraries) who missed out on the hardcover edition of Phillips's 2007 award-winning best seller and Quill nominee will want to add this paperback version to their collections. One of the author's "Chicago Stars" titles. (LJ2/15/07)


—Kristin Ramsdell
Library Journal
The woman famed quarterback Dean Robillard encounters along the roadside is beautiful if a little odd she's wearing a beaver costume and he's intent on winning her over. With a one-day laydown on February 6. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060734589
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Series: Chicago Stars Series , #7
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 333,802
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has found fans all over the world with her warm and wonderful contemporary love stories that manage to touch both hearts and funny bones. She's the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America's prestigious Favorite Book of the Year and was also honored with their Lifetime Achievement Award. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is a wife, the mother of two grown sons, an avid hiker, and—unlike some of her characters—notoriously inept at any sport requiring a ball.

Biography

Susan Elizabeth Phillips believes if Jane Austen were writing today, novels like Pride and Prejudice would be sitting on the bookshelf alongside the love stories that she and her fellow romance novelists pen. "Oh, and one more thing," she said, wagging her finger at a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1999, "Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy should have kissed at the end of that story, and if I'd have written it, they would have -- and it would have been a good kiss, too."

Such sass is Phillips' calling card, and since her 1994 football romance It Had to Be You, she’s been stitching threads of humor into her romance novels.

"I'm not a particularly funny person in person. I can't tell jokes, but it just seems like it happened when I started to write," she told The Romance Reader in 1997. "It wasn't anything that was planned. I'm a very intuitive writer; I just sort of let the characters talk to me, and they started saying funny things, so I wrote them down."

A schoolteacher until her first son was born, Phillips began writing in the early 1980s with her best friend and neighbor. The two were both regular readers and decided to try their hand at a book of their own, plotting their story during nightly bike rides with their toddlers in tow. They got the name of a publisher at Dell who liked the book and published it under the pen name Justine Cole.

Her friend moved into a legal career, but Phillips continued writing and publishing, this time under her own name. She released what she calls her "big books," titles like Fancy Pants and Honey Moon featuring Hollywood starlets and jet-setting London socialites.

Her stories, she has said, moved outside of the mainstream after that. She gives her romantic characters emotional wounds and personal difficulties that often impede their inevitable happy endings. But without such obstacles, there would be no story.

"I've grown increasingly interested in writing about family dynamics and much less interested in sticking a psychopath with a gun in any of my books," she said in an interview with the web site iVillage. "Technically, I've simply learned how to capitalize on my own distinctive voice and how to be a better storyteller."

The healing process that the characters go through is what makes the novels work. "Creative plotting adds sparkle, and entertaining, well-drawn secondary characters round out the novel, but it is the growing, healing relationship between the protagonists and how they finally form a family that touches the heartstrings and makes this contemporary romance an unforgettable read," the Library Journal wrote in a review of Phillips' 2000 book First Lady.

The dialogue, she has said, is also important. The exchanges in romance novels are satisfying to women who love to communicate, she told USA Today. "Women really like to talk. That's one of our processes. We talk to gather information. Women love the connection that comes from conversation," she said. "My husband says we broadcast. He thinks through things before he talks, but he says women just kind of broadcast until they zero in on what they want to say."

Phillips has also disputed the notion that romance novels are nothing more than books about "throbbing thighs." They aren't about sex, she told the Chicago Tribune in 1992, but are instead complicated fictions about women taking charge of their lives and being the stories' heroes.

"The woman always wins the man," she said, "and he always gets tamed in the end."

Good To Know

Phillips wanted to publish her first novel under the pseudonym Chastity Savage, but her best friend and co-author nixed the idea.

Though two of her books -- It Had to Be You and This Heart of Mine -- have football plots, Phillips doesn't consider herself much of a sports fan. "In my mind, if you don't have to wear mascara to do it, it doesn't count as recreation," she told Book Page.

Her family helps her keep the details straight. Husband Bill was her technical adviser on describing Dallie Beaudine's golf game in Fancy Pants, and son Zach's interest in knives, guns, and dead insects surfaced in Teddy, the son of the novel's leading lady. He also wrote and recorded a companion CD to her title This Heart of Mine, which is available from her web site.

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Read an Excerpt

Natural Born Charmer LP


By Susan Phillips

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Susan Phillips
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061233050

Chapter One

It wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Dean Robillard's larger-than-life world. "Son of a . . ." Dean slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.

The beaver marched right past, her big flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed. She was definitely a girl beaver because her beaver head was missing, revealing sweaty, dark hair pulled into a short, scraggly ponytail. He'd been praying for a little distraction from his own depressing company, so he threw open the door and stepped out onto the shoulder of the Colorado road. His newest pair of Dolce & Gabbana boots emerged first, followed by the rest of him, all six feet three inches of steely muscle, razor-sharp reflexes, and unsurpassed gorgeousness . . . or at least that's what his press agent liked to say. Still, it was pretty much true, although Dean didn't have nearly as much personal vanity as he let people believe. But emphasizing the superficial was a good way to keep people from getting any closer than he wanted them to be.

"Uh, ma'am . . . You need some help?"

Her paws didn't break rhythm. "You got a gun?"

"Not with me."

"Then I've got no use for you."

On she marched.

Hegrinned and set off after her. With his extra-long legs and her shorter, furry ones, it took just a few steps to catch up. "Nice day," he said. "A little warmer than I'm used to for May, but I'm not complaining."

She hit him with a pair of grape lollipop eyes, one of the few curvy things about her. Most of the rest of her came to sharp angles and delicate points, from a set of fragile bladed cheekbones, to a petite, arrow-tipped nose, to a chin keen enough to cut glass. But after that, things got dicey. A razor-edged bow marked the center of a wide and startlingly plump top lip. Her bottom lip was even fuller, giving him the disconcerting feeling that she'd somehow escaped from an X-rated nursery rhyme.

"An actor," she said with the trace of a sneer. "Just my luck."

"What makes you think I'm an actor?"

"You're prettier than my girlfriends."

"It's a curse."

"You're not even embarrassed?"

"Some things you have to accept about yourself."

"Brother . . ." She gave a grunt of disgust.

"Name's Heath," he said, as she picked up the pace. "Heath Champion."

"Sounds phony."

It was, but not in the way she meant.

"What do you need a gun for?" Dean asked.

"Murder an old lover."

"Is he the one who picked out your wardrobe?"

Her big ol' paddle tail smacked him in the leg as she spun on him. "Beat it, okay?"

"And miss all the fun?"

She gazed back at his sports car, a lethal, midnight black Aston Martin Vanquish S with a V-12 engine. The machine had set him back a couple of hundred thousand, but even that hadn't made much of a dent in his net worth. Being the starting quarterback for the Chicago Stars was pretty much like owning a bank.

She nearly poked out her eye as she pushed a sweaty spike of hair away from her cheek with her paw, which didn't seem to be detachable. "I could use a ride."

"Are you going to gnaw my upholstery?"

"Do not mess with me."

"Apologies." For the first time all day, he was glad he'd decided to get off the interstate. He tilted his head toward the car. "Hop in."

Even though this was her idea, she hesitated. Finally, she shuffled after him. He should have helped her in--he did open the door for her--but he just stood back to watch the fun.

Mainly it was the tail. The sucker was basically spring-loaded, and as she attempted to wedge herself into the leather passenger seat, it kept smacking her in the head. She got so frustrated she tried to rip it off, and when that didn't work, she stomped on it.

He scratched his chin. "Aren't you being a little tough on the ol' beaver?"

"That's it!" She started to take off again down the road.

He grinned and called out after her. "I apologize. Comments like that are exactly why women have lost respect for men. I'm ashamed of myself. Here, let me help you."

He watched her struggle between pride and necessity and wasn't surprised to see necessity win. When she returned to his side, she let him help fold over her tail. As she clutched it to her chest, he guided her inside. She had to sit on one cheek and peer around the tail to see through the windshield. He climbed behind the wheel. The beaver suit emitted a musky odor that reminded him of a high school locker room. He cracked the window a couple of inches as he pulled back out onto the road. "So where are we off to?"

"About a mile straight ahead. Take a right at the Eternal Life Bible Church."

She was sweating like a linebacker underneath all that malodorous fur, and he turned the AC to full blast. "Are there a lot of career opportunities in beaver work?"

Her derisive look told him she knew exactly how much entertainment he was having at her expense. "I was doing some promotion for Ben's Big Beaver Lumberyard, okay?"

"When you say promotion . . ."

"Ben's business has been down lately . . . or so I was told. I just got to town nine days ago." She nodded straight ahead. "This road leads to Rawlins Creek and Ben's lumberyard. That four-lane highway back there leads to Home Depot."

"I'm starting to get the picture."

"Right. Every weekend, Ben tries to hire somebody to stand out by the highway with a sign to draw some of the shoppers his way. I was his latest patsy."



Continues...

Excerpted from Natural Born Charmer LP by Susan Phillips Copyright © 2007 by Susan Phillips. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 171 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(114)

4 Star

(35)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 171 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Charmed the heck outta me!

    Natural Born Charmer is a wonderful and quirky and sometimes erotic novel. Susan Phillips is a wonderful writer. This is the first book I read from her. She brings you in the story and makes you feel for all the characters. She gives everyone live and really reels you with her wit. It is a comedic and sometimes dramatic love story. Romance and family. It really is one great book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    Another winner!

    I have always enjoyed Susan Elizabeth Phillips' stories, and this one is no exception. Natural Born Charmer has great characters in Dean and Blue, the dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny (when you get to the interactions between Blue and Nita, you'll see what I mean), and I love how her stories don't just deal with the two protagonists, but also has stories-within- the-story, detailing the lives and feelings of other characters close to the main couple. There are other, more prolific writers who are beginning to bore me with the same old formula - woman has heartbreak or tragedy, moves to another town, someone wants to kill her, she finds some rugged hot guy, gratuitous intimate encounters ensue, they escape near death, and usually get married. While I sometimes enjoy these, I know that with a SEP novel, I am going to get fast-paced, fantastically witty dialogue, characters I care about, and they don't involve damsels with killers after them. Most of her books focus on families, and she does it so well that you wish you could jump into the book and be a part of all the fun. You cannot go wrong buying this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    Charmer's Hidden Message

    In addition to the well-written and interesting plots and storyline exhibited in this romantic comedy, an interesting trait is common to all the main characters. They all have developed a talent through hard work and refinement of natural skill sets. I think the emphasis of that character trait is the predominant reason for the believability of the novel. That is also why it works on a personal level.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2007

    awesome writer

    nobody in their sane mind would ever rate a susan elizabeth philip's novel anything less than 5 stars.she's awesome.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Lots of laughter =)

    Looking for a wonderful weekend or beach read? "Natural Born Charmer" may be right for you. There is a lot of laughter and poignancy to this story. Imagine a football player driving down the road spotting a "headless" beaver walking down the side. Once Dean stops and gives Blue a lift, his life changes forever. Come meet these lovable characters and join them as mysteries and family members are revealed. This book was a great departure from some of the heavy stuff I was reading, and provided many needed laughs. Come on, join the fun!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    What's not to love?

    One of my favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips' novels. Well written, great characters and subplots. This book was pure fun and I'm glad I own it so I can re-read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2009

    LOVED IT!!

    This book was HILARIOUS - LOL FUNNY! Don't hesitate to buy it you won't regret it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2009

    Laugh out loud funny in places

    Funny, charming, sweet, even a little heartbreaking.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    In my list of books I'm going to read again

    Loved this love story, The characters are great, the plot is great even the sexy scenes were lovely. This is my favorite book out of the Chicago Stars series followed by Match Me If You Can. I recommend this to everyone that likes romance and couples that are nothing alike. It was funny, touching, loving!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2009

    Easy Read & Hilarious

    I thoroughly enjoyed Natural Born Charmer. It was an easy read and I laughed through the entire book. Couldn't put it down. Entertaining. This was my first SEP book and I am looking forward to many more.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    I'm a longtime SEP fan, and have always enjoyed her special blend of romance and humor. That said, though, NATURAL BORN CHARMER is not, in my opinion, nearly as good as some of her former work. <BR/><BR/>With unrealistic situations (what woman would hitchhike with a stranger in this day and age, even if you knew, technically, who he was -- and then go off with him to his vacation home) that made me dislike the main character, I had to work to get into this story. Once involved, though, I did enjoy the plot, but not nearly as much as I have in the past. <BR/><BR/>This isn't a bad book, but it's by no means SEP's BEST work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2008

    Best Book Ever

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. I just came upon this book and I'm glad that I decided to read it. It is outstanding not the least bit disappointing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2008

    Wonderful

    I read this book this week. I couldn't put it down. It was such a wonderful story. I recommend anyone to read it that likes love stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2008

    Hilarious Page Turner

    First of her books I've read - and loved it. If you like Evanovich's sense of humor, you'll love this one. I laughed out loud every other page, it seemed. Definitely worth reading - I'm buying another!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2008

    Entertaining Read!!

    This book will make you laugh out loud. I couldnt put it down. If your looking for a romantic, funny and entertaining book, you definately need to read this one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2007

    GREAT BOOK

    This is a awesome book. I had a hard time putting it down. This would be one of her best books written.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    listen and find out if love conquers all

    Actress Kate Fleming who recorded audio books as Anna Fields died recently. Audio book fans remember her for her magnificent narrations and her versatility - reading the works of authors as diverse as Joyce Carol Oates and Molly Ivins. She won an Audie Award, and was a narrator for the 9/11 Commission Report. Kate will be greatly missed but thankfully we can still enjoy her voice performances, I treasure her take on the life of Blue Bailey in this heartwarming story by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Yes, this is a love story, and a funny one, too. Who can resist smiling at the thought of a young woman walking along the side of a Colorado highway in a beaver suit? Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard did more than smile, he came to a quick stop and picked her up. This is a man who has it all - great looks, life in the fast line, adulation, and more money than he's quite sure what to do with. He's on his way to Tennessee to check on a farm he recently purchased. Blue (she in the beaver suit) is down on her luck and appreciates the ride, hoping to get somewhere where she can restart her portrait painting business. Despite a bit of bickering she's quick to ingratiate herself with Dean and convince him of how much help she can be . Help is what he needs when he reaches his farm and finds that the person hired to oversee the renovations is actually his mother, April, whom he hasn't seen in years. Motherhood wasn't exactly April's thing - drugs were, and now she's trying to make amends. It's not too long before Dean's Dad appears - ditto Dean's half-sister. Can these folks ever forget and forgive? Listen and find out whether or not love conquers all. - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2014

    Why oh, why have I let my reading of every new book and her old

    Why oh, why have I let my reading of every new book and her old ones I missed slip lately. There was a time I would read each new release, but then blogging took over. So when I was approached by Megan, the publicist at Harper Collins, I had to jump at the chance to be part of this amazing blog tour. I get to review two of Susan’s previous titles (watch for Ain’t She Sweet in two weeks) and then I get to read her new one, Heroes are my Weakness. Three SEP’s in one summer, heck yes!!

    And her books are just like I remember them, full of great characters, lots of humor and banter and a wonderful love story. Natural Born Charmer did not disappoint. What was even better, this was my book I enjoyed on the houseboat we rented to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday. There was no better place to enjoy this book!

    Is there a better place to relax with a book (note the Atlantic Ocean is just on the other side of those dunes and Cape Lookout was my other view, happiness!)

    So Natural Born Charmer starts off with a bang. A hot guy in a hot car picking up a literally hot headless beaver on the side of the road. I mean it seems absurd but I could see it happening. Said beaver has quite a bit of spunk, a jerk of an ex and no money so she embarks on a trip with hot hunky football player to get where she needs to go, not knowing at the time that where she needs to be is with said football-player.

    Dean and Blue are amazing characters. Dean is a natural born charmer which is one of the things that makes Blue hold off from him for awhile. Blue is a flighty but smart woman who has grown up in several homes so she’s a little scared of commitment. Dean is not all in from the beginning of the book either, he’s just intrigued by how different Blue is, but he is just as afraid as her that they can’t make it work because of their differences and because of his own issues in his life.

    As they finally make it to Nashville where he is having a house redone as a second home (his first is in Chicago where he’s a Chicago Star football player). But he wants a more permanent home and he loves the one in Nashville. He comes home to a surprise or two that make the book interesting. I like how the book focuses on several other characters. At times I almost felt Blue and Dean’s romance was secondary, but it was okay, it really worked in the framework of the book and once the storylines started coming together, I could hardly put the book down. I was even reading it on the boat ride home and I never do that, I usually just enjoy the scenery, but it was that hard to put down.

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips fails to disappoint as usual. You get romance, you get drama, you get laughs. I’m pretty sure I laughed and cried in this one. I loved every minute even when I was about ready to kill the main characters becasue of their usual stupidity at not facing love. But that just added to the story as well. This is number 7 in the Chicago Stars series, but reads great as a stand-alone. However it reminds me I want to go back and fill in the books I have missed and with a lighter review schedule I should be able to do that. Thank you Susan Elizabeth Phillips for providing me with a wonderful beach read and I look forward to continuing my summer of SEP soon!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    Forestbranch

    Nods and licks her cu<_>nt, sluding his tongue along her sl<_>it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2013

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