White Hot

( 104 )


#1 bestselling author Sandra Brown ignites crackling suspense and fiery emotion in an unforgettable novel of passion and vengeance.

When her younger brother, Danny, commits suicide, Sayre Lynch breaks her vow never to return to her Louisiana hometown, and gets drawn back into her tyrannical father's web. He and her older brother—who control the town's sole industry, an iron foundry—are as corrupt as ever. Worse, they have hired a shrewd and disarming new lawyer, Beck Merchant…a man with his own agenda. When the ...

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#1 bestselling author Sandra Brown ignites crackling suspense and fiery emotion in an unforgettable novel of passion and vengeance.

When her younger brother, Danny, commits suicide, Sayre Lynch breaks her vow never to return to her Louisiana hometown, and gets drawn back into her tyrannical father's web. He and her older brother—who control the town's sole industry, an iron foundry—are as corrupt as ever. Worse, they have hired a shrewd and disarming new lawyer, Beck Merchant…a man with his own agenda. When the police determine that Danny's suicide was actually a homicide, Sayre must battle her family—and her passionate feelings for Beck—as she confronts a powder keg of old hatreds, past crimes, and a surprising plan of revenge.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A masterful storyteller."
USA Today

"[Sandra Brown] carefully crafts tales that keep readers on the edge of their seats."
USA Today

"Ingenious storytelling...top-notch."
The Roanoke Times

Publishers Weekly
White-hot labor disputes, family conflict, murder and romance are ablaze in bestselling Brown's latest romantic thriller (after Hello, Darkness), when Sayre Lynch returns to Destiny, La., for her brother Danny's funeral. Estranged from her family for 10 years, Sayre arrives in town believing Danny committed suicide, but suspects otherwise after a surprise encounter at the cemetery and a disquieting interview with the sheriff's deputy. The Bayou-born firebrand now San Francisco interior decorator stays to investigate her brother's last days, confronting her father, Huff Hoyle, the powerful owner of the foundry that provides most of the town's jobs and all its corruption; defying her brother Chris, Huff's heir apparent and OSHA's worst nightmare; and becoming the first woman on the floor of the hellish factory that fuels the family fortune. At every turn, Sayre crosses paths with Huff's handsome lawyer henchman, Beck Merchant, irresistible although he represents everything she despises. The steamy pair cannot escape each other or their conclusions about Hoyle Enterprises. Brown makes up in pace and intensity what she lacks in prose style, guaranteeing readers a brain vacation in print, much like watching a favorite movie: an exciting yet familiar experience, the satisfactory resolution never in doubt. Agent, Maria Carvainis. (Aug. 17) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Interior designer Sayre Lynch vowed never to return to her hometown of Destiny, LA, yet she finds herself on a plane headed there after learning about her little brother Danny's suicide. Wanting nothing to do with her ruthless family, she plans on attending the funeral only. But Sayre stays when the new deputy sheriff tells her Danny was murdered, perhaps by Chris, his own brother. Sayre also learns about past family crimes, gets involved with a labor dispute at the family-owned foundry, confronts her father for meddling in her affairs, and finds herself attracted to Beck Merchant, the family lawyer/lackey. Brown's (Hello, Darkness) latest plods along at times but is helped by its human, realistic characters and exciting ending. This should be a popular late-summer public library choice. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/04.]-Samantha J. Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743466769
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 7/19/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 294,767
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 4.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Brown is the author of fifty-seven New York Times bestsellers, including Smoke Screen. Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, most of which remain in print. As of 1990, when Mirror Image made the New York Times bestseller list, each subsequent novel, including reprints of earlier books, have become Times bestsellers. Sandra and her husband, Michael Brown, live in Arlington, Texas.


In 1979, Sandra Brown lost her job at a television program and decided to give writing a try. She bought an armful of romance novels and writing books, set up a typewriter on a card table and wrote her first novel. Harlequin passed but Dell bit, and Brown was off and writing, publishing her works under an assortment of pseudonyms.

From such modest beginnings, Brown has evolved into multimillion publishing empire of one, the CEO of her own literary brand; she towers over the landscape of romantic fiction. Brown has used her growing clout to insist her publishers drop the bosom-and-biceps covers and has added more intricate subplots, suspense, and even unhappy endings to her work. The result: A near-constant presence on The New York Times bestsellers list. In 1992, she had three on the list at the same time, joining that exclusive club of Stephen King, Tom Clancy, J. K. Rowling, and Danielle Steel.

Her work in the mainstream realm has taken her readers into The White House, where the president's newborn dies mysteriously; the oil fields and bedrooms of a Dallas-like family dynasty; and the sexual complications surrounding an investigation into an evangelist's murder. Such inventions have made her a distinct presence in a crowded genre.

"Brown is perhaps best known now for her longer novels of romantic suspense. The basic outline for these stories has passionate love, lust, and violence playing out against a background of unraveling secrets and skeletons jumping out of family closets," wrote Barbara E. Kemp in the book Twentieth-Century Romance & Historical Writers . Kemp also praises Brown's sharp dialogue and richly detailed characters. "However, her greatest key to success is probably that she invites her readers into a fantasy world of passion, intrigue, and danger," she wrote. "They too can face the moral and emotional dilemmas of the heroine, safe in the knowledge that justice and love will prevail."

Critics give her points for nimble storytelling but are cooler to her "serviceable prose," in the words of one Publishers Weekly reviewer. Still, when writing a crack page-turner, the plot's the thing. A 1992 New York Times review placed Brown among a group of a writers "who have mastered the art of the slow tease."

Staggeringly prolific, Brown found her writing pace ground to a halt when she was given a different assignment. A magazine had asked her for an autobiographical piece, and it took her months to complete. Her life in the suburbs, though personally fulfilling, was nonetheless blander than fiction. That may be why she dives into her fiction writing with such workhorse gusto. "I love being the bad guy," she told Publishers Weekly in 1995, "simply because I was always so responsible, so predictable growing up. I made straight A's and never got into any trouble, and I still impose those standards on myself. So writing is my chance to escape and become the sleaziest, scummiest role."

When she started writing, her goal was always to break out of the parameters of romance. After about 45 romances, the woman who counts Tennessee Williams and Taylor Caldwell among her influences told The New York Times that felt she had reached a plateau. In fact, she doesn't even look at her books as romances anymore. "I think of my books now as suspense novels, usually with a love story incorporated," she said. "They're absolutely a lot harder to write than romances. They take more plotting and real character development. Each book is a stretch for me, and I try something interesting each time that males will like as well as women."

Good To Know

  • "I hate to exercise and only do so because I absolutely must."

  • "I love to eat and my favorite foods are all bad for the body. Fried chicken and gravy, TexMex, red meat (hey, I'm from Texas!). My only saving grace is that I'm not that fond of sweets. Salty is my thing. Chocolate cake and ice cream I can skip. But a bag of Fritos. . ."

  • "It takes me a long time to go to sleep, usually because I read in bed and hate to put down the book. But when I do nod off, I'm a champion sleeper. I can easily do eight or nine hours a night."

  • "My worst "thing" is mean-spirited people. People who deliberately belittle or embarrass someone really irk me. The people I admire most are the ones who find something good about even the most undesirable individual. That was a quality my mother had, the one I hope most to emulate."

  • "I have a fear of gravity. Recently my whole family went to Belize. We had several adventures. We tubed a river through miles of cave, wearing head lamps so we'd have illumination. No problem. I scaled Mayan ruins. I rode horseback (on a monster named Al Capone) through the rain forest. No problem. But I couldn't zip line. Even though my five-year-old grandsons did it with glee, I just couldn't make that leap."

  • "I and my husband are huge fans of Jeopardy! We never miss it if we can help it. Does that make us complete dorks?"

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Also Known As:
        Laura Jordan, Rachel Ryan and Erin St. Claire
      2. Hometown:
        Arlington, TX
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 12, 1948
      2. Place of Birth:
        Waco, Texas
      1. Education:
        Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt

    Chapter One

    "Do you remember Slap Watkins?"


    "The guy who was spouting off in the bar."

    "Can you be more specific? What bar? When?"

    "The night you came to town."

    "That was three years ago."

    "Yeah, but you should remember." Chris Hoyle sat forward in an attempt to goose his friend's powers of recall. "The loudmouth who caused the fight? Face that would stop a clock. Big ears."

    "Oh, that guy. Right. With the..." Beck held his hands at the sides of his head to indicate large ears.

    "That's how he got the nickname Slap," Chris said.

    Beck raised an eyebrow.

    "Whenever the wind blew, his ears — "

    "Slapped against his head," Beck finished.

    "Like shutters in a gale." Grinning, Chris tilted his beer bottle in a silent toast.

    The window blinds in the den of the Hoyles' home were drawn to block out the shimmering heat of a late-afternoon sun. The closed blinds also made the room agreeably dim for better TV viewing. A Braves game was being televised. Top of the ninth and Atlanta needed a miracle. But despite the unfavorable score, there were worse ways to spend a stifling Sunday afternoon than inside a semidark, air-conditioned den, sipping cold brews.

    Chris Hoyle and Beck Merchant had idled away many hours in this room. It was the perfect male playroom, with its fifty-inch TV screen and surround-sound speakers. It had a fully stocked bar with a built-in ice maker, a refrigerator filled with soft drinks and beer, a billiards table, a dartboard, and a round game table with six leather chairs as soft and cushy as the bosom of the cover girl on this month's issue of Maxim. The room was paneled with stained walnut and furnished with substantial pieces that wore well and required little maintenance. It smelled of tobacco smoke and reeked of testosterone.

    Beck uncapped another bottle of beer. "So what about this Slap?"

    "He's back."

    "I didn't know he was gone. In fact, I don't think I've seen him since that night, and then I was looking at him through swelling eyes."

    Chris smiled at the memory. "As barroom brawls go, that was a fairly good one. You caught several of Slap's well-placed punches. He was always handy with his fists. He had to be because he shot off his mouth all the time."

    "Probably defending against cruel cracks about his ears."

    "No doubt. Anyway, that smart mouth of his kept him on everybody's fighting side. Soon after our altercation with him, he got into a feud with his sister's ex-husband. Over a lawn mower, I think it was. Things came to a head one night at a crawfish boil, and Slap went after his ex-brother-in-law with a knife."

    "Killed him?"

    "Flesh wound. But it was right across the guy's belly and drew enough blood to warrant an assault with a deadly weapon charge and probably should have been attempted murder. Slap's own sister testified against him. He's been in Angola for the past three years, now out on parole."

    "Lucky us."

    Chris frowned. "Not really. Slap's got it in for us. At least that's what he said that night three years ago when he was being hauled away in a squad car. He thought it unfair that he was being arrested and we weren't. Screamed invectives and threats that made my blood run cold."

    "I don't remember that."

    "That may have been when you were in the men's room nursing your wounds. Anyhow," Chris continued, "Slap is an unstable and untrustworthy ne'er-do-well, a trailer trash Bubba whose only talent is holding grudges, and in that, he excels. We humiliated him that night, and even drunk as he was, I doubt he's forgiven and forgotten. Keep an eye out for him."

    "I consider myself warned." Beck glanced over his shoulder in the general direction of the kitchen. "Am I invited to dinner?"

    "Standing invitation."

    Beck settled even more comfortably into the sofa on which he was sprawled. "Good. Whatever's baking in there is making my mouth water."

    "Coconut cream pie. Nobody can make a better pie than Selma."

    "You'll get no argument from me, Chris."

    Chris's father, Huff Hoyle, strode in, fanning his ruddy face with his straw hat. "Get me one of those longnecks. I'm so damn thirsty, I couldn't work up a spit if my dick was on fire."

    He hung his hat on a coat tree, then plopped down heavily in his recliner, swiping his sleeve across his forehead. "Damn, it's a scorcher today." With a sigh, he sank into the cool leather cushions of the chair. "Thanks, Son." He took the chilled bottle of beer Chris had opened for him and pointed it toward the TV. "Who's winning this ball game?"

    "Not the Braves. In fact it's over." Beck muted the sound as the commentators began their postmortem of the game. "We don't need to hear why they lost. The score says it all."

    Huff grunted in agreement. "Their season was over the minute they let those high-paid, non-English-speaking, prima donna players start telling the owners how to run the show. Big mistake. Could have told them that." He took a long swig of the beer, nearly draining the bottle.

    "Have you been playing golf all afternoon?" Chris asked.

    "Too hot," Huff said as he lit a cigarette. "We played three holes, then said screw this and went back to the clubhouse to play gin rummy."

    "How much did you fleece them of today?"

    The question wasn't whether Huff had won or lost. He always won.

    "Couple of hundred."

    "Nice going," Chris said.

    "Ain't worth playing if you don't win." He winked at his son, then at Beck. He finished his beer in a gulp. "Either of you heard from Danny today?"

    "He'll show up here in a while," Chris said. "That is if he can work us in between Sunday morning worship and Sunday night vespers."

    Huff scowled. "Don't get me in a bad mood by talking about that. I don't want to spoil my dinner."

    The gospel according to Huff was that preaching, praying, and hymn singing were for women and men who might just as well be women. He equated organized religion to organized crime, except that churches had impunity and tax advantages, and he had about as much intolerance for Holy Joes as he did for homosexuals and laborers with union cards.

    Chris tactfully steered the conversation away from his younger brother and his recent preoccupation with spiritual matters. "I was just telling Beck that Slap Watkins is out on parole."

    "White trash," Huff muttered as he toed off his shoes. "That whole bunch, starting with Slap's granddaddy, who was the lowest reprobate ever to draw breath. They found him dead in a ditch with a broken whiskey bottle jammed in his throat. He must have crossed somebody one time too many. There's bound to have been some inbreeding in that family. Down to the last one of them they're ugly as sin and dumber than stumps."

    Beck laughed. "Maybe. But I owe Slap a debt of gratitude. If it hadn't been for him, I wouldn't be here sharing Sunday dinner."

    Huff looked across at him with as much affection as he showed his own sons. "No, Beck, you were meant to become one of us, by hook or by crook. Finding you made that whole Gene Iverson mess worthwhile. You were the only good thing to come out of it."

    "That and a hung jury," Chris said. "Let's not forget those twelve. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be here sharing Sunday dinner. Instead I could be sharing a cell with the likes of Slap Watkins."

    Chris often made light of having been put on trial for the murder of Gene Iverson. His joking dismissal of the incident never failed to make Beck uncomfortable, as it did now. He changed the subject. "I hate to bring up a business matter when it isn't even a workday."

    "In my book, every day's a workday," Huff said.

    Chris groaned. "Not in my book, it's not. Is it bad news, Beck?"


    "Then can't it wait till after supper?"

    "Sure, if you'd rather."

    "Nope," Huff said. "You know my rule about bad news. I want to hear it sooner rather than later. I sure as hell don't want to wait through dinner. So, what's up, Beck? Don't tell me that we've been slapped with another fine by the EPA over those cooling ponds — "

    "No, it's not that. Not directly."

    "Then what?"

    "Hold on. I'm going to pour a drink first," Chris said to Huff. "You like to hear bad news early, I like to hear it with a glass of bourbon in my hand. Want one?"

    "Lots of ice, no water."


    "I'm fine, thanks."

    Chris moved to the bar and reached for a decanter and two glasses. Then, leaning closer to the window, he peered through the slats of the blinds and twirled the wand to open them wider. "What have we got here?"

    "What is it?" Huff asked.

    "Sheriff's car just pulled up."

    "Well, what do you think he wants? It's payday."

    Chris, still looking through the blinds, said, "I don't think so, Huff. He's got somebody with him."


    "I don't know. Never saw him before."

    Chris finished pouring the drinks and brought one of them to his father, but the three said nothing more as they listened to Selma making her way from the kitchen at the back of the house to the front door to answer the bell. The housekeeper greeted the callers, but the exchange was too softly spoken for individual words to be understood. Footfalls approached the den. Selma appeared ahead of the guests.

    "Mr. Hoyle, Sheriff Harper is here to see you."

    Huff motioned for her to usher him in.

    Sheriff Red Harper had been elected to the office thirty years before, his campaign substantially boosted and his win guaranteed by Huff's pocketbook. He had remained in office by the same means.

    His hair, which had been fiery in his youth, had dulled, as though it had rusted on his head. He stood well over six feet tall but was so thin that the thick leather gun belt with the accoutrements of his job attached looked like an inner tube hanging on a fence post.

    He looked wilted, and not only because of the heat index outside. His face was long and gaunt, as though three decades of corruption had weighted it down with guilt. His woebegone demeanor was that of a man who had sold his soul to the devil far too cheaply. Never jolly, he seemed particularly downcast as he shuffled into the room and removed his hat.

    By contrast, the younger officer with him, a stranger to them, seemed to have been dipped in a vat of starch along with his uniform. He was so closely shaven, his cheeks were rosy with razor burn. He looked as tense and alert as a sprinter in the blocks waiting for the starting gun.

    Red Harper acknowledged Beck with a slight nod. Then the sheriff looked toward Chris, who was standing beside Huff's chair. Finally his bleak eyes moved to Huff, who had remained seated in his recliner.

    "Evening, Red."

    "Huff." Instead of looking directly at Huff, he focused on the brim of his hat, which he was feeding through his fingers.


    "No thanks."

    It wasn't Huff's habit to stand up for anyone. That was a show of respect reserved for Huff Hoyle alone, and everybody in the parish knew it. But, impatient with the suspense, he pushed down the footrest of his recliner and came to his feet.

    "What's going on? Who's this?" He gave the sheriff's spit-and-polish companion a once-over.

    Red cleared his throat. He lowered his hat to his side and nervously tapped it against his thigh. He waited a long time before looking Huff in the eye. All of which signaled to Beck that the sheriff's errand was much more consequential than picking up this month's graft.

    "It's about Danny..." he began.

    Copyright © 2004 by Sandra Brown Management Ltd.

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 104 )
    Rating Distribution

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 104 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted January 18, 2011

      WOW so many things I did not expect

      I have been reading Sandra Brown books for years. I have to say this one is just as good as the others. I love a good ending!! There were so any twists and turns in this book that it just kept me guessing. I love a book that I can read and say on my goodness I did not expect that. All in all I thought this was a great read!!

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted June 11, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      White HOT...

      This was my first book by this author, and I only picked it up because I was bored with a series I had been reading. Needing a break I looked for a distraction before going back. I was caught up from the beginning and now look forward to reading more by S. Brown.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 4, 2014

      My favorite book

      It has twist after twist. So many shocking turns of events. Lust and love and many family secrets. I read it in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 21, 2011

      Loved this book has a great surprise ending one you would never guess!

      1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 8, 2014


      I did not like the characters in this book as much as her other books. The story was good but everyone seemed so mean spirited.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted September 23, 2014


      I am going to the other book! U can choose another book there.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 6, 2014


      I couldn't put it down!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 30, 2014

      Power & Greed at its best

      Sandra Brown is my favorite story teller. I have read her books for years. This book did not disappoint. It held my interest from 1st page to the last. Loved Beck and Sayre. All i can say is ... there must be a continuation of this story? I certainly hope so. EXCELLENT READ

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 1, 2013


      So many twists and turns, totally absorbing, absolutely loved it

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 4, 2013


      My only book I have read from her so far and I liked it.:) trying to find another of her books like this one.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 18, 2012


      One of her best, and they are all good. Brown, Roberts, and Brockman. You can't find better.

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    • Posted June 3, 2012

      Highly Recommended - Couldn't put it down. A MUST read.

      This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The story of Sayer, Beck, Chris, and Huff is excellently written. It has a surprise ending that even I (who usually can detect them) couldn't guess in a million years. Because this book is so great, I'll be reading other Sandra Brown books. Enjoy. :o)

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

      Posted February 27, 2012

      Great read!

      Loved this book

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    • Posted October 3, 2011

      A mystery that was hard to solve!

      White Hot was a very good book. It's a long book, with a lot of characters and plots. It took me a little bit to get into it, but then I loved it and had fun trying to figure out all the mysteries. Was a perfect vacation book when I could read it all in a few days!

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted June 19, 2011

      LOVED IT!!!!

      Omg! I loved this book! I couldnt put it down and i loved the way the characters werent the happy fairy tale kind. The twist at the end was unpredictable and totally caught me by surprise.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted July 2, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      Great Read

      I've read this book twice and it still excited me. Could not put it down and the ending "WOW"

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

      Posted April 24, 2010

      GREAT ENDING.... Such a good book!!

      This book was awesome! The ending is full of surprises that will keep you turning the pages and have you guessing all the way to the end. My mouth literally fell to the floor on the last page. I didn't want the book to end, I hope there is a sequel sometime in the future. I want to know more about about the main characters. The love scenes are so sweet and well written. I have read many Sandra Brown books this is for sure one of her bests! A must read!!

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    • Posted September 25, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      typical Sandra Brown

      Twists at the end but overall good book about a family in the iron ore industry that is told by the daughter
      one brother kills another and she falls in love with the family attornye

      0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 28, 2009

      hot indeed

      This book is good. Once it's over there's an unexpected twist and then surprise another twist and just when you think it's done one more is thrown out there. White Hot is definitely hot. Way to go Sandra Brown I'm enjoying your work.

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

      Posted May 23, 2009

      Good enough-not great!

      This book took a little before I got involved with it. The plot-kind of sags at the beginning and then steps up. A complete twist at the end-give it a 7.5 on a scale from 1-10.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 104 Customer Reviews

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