Smart Girls Read Romance





Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Weird Fascinating Facts by Joan Reeves

Yep. Today is the last day of September. Weird? I know. Right?

Seems only yesterday we were celebrating New Year's Eve with the hope that 2021 would bring the end of Covid.

As Otto in the movie, A Fish Called Wanda, shouted, "Disappointed!"

Yeah. Totally disappointed, but I guess we're learning to live with it. I've even begun ordering cotton masks that are breathable and don't fog my glasses from an Etsy shop.

Let's wave goodbye to the 9th month of the year with an entertaining post of a baker's dozen of random facts.

By the way, the image above is by Prettysleepy from Pixabay 

Weird, Crazy, Amusing, Fascinating, and Above All Random Facts

1. According to a 2017 Oxfam report, the top eight richest billionaires own as much combined wealth as half the human race.

2. The most disliked video on YouTube is "YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind" by Youtube which has 19 million dislikes.

3. Shakespeare was a master of the insult. Try these on for size:

"There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune." — Henry V

"[Thou hath] not so much brain as ear wax." —Troilus and Cressida

"Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty to make thy riches pleasant." —Measure for Measure

Shakespeare Image by WikiImages from Pixabay. 

4. Banging your head against a wall for one hour burns 150 calories.

5. The worst book is reported to be Irene Iddesleigh by Amanda McKittrick Ros. The book, published in 1897 by the author's husband as an anniversary present, is generally described as "the worst novel ever written." (What a relief. Nothing I write can ever be that bad.)

6. Unbelievable, but, 7% of American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. (And these people have the right to vote?!!)

7. Armpit odor is caused by the ABCC11 gene.

8. The average person produces enough saliva to fill 50 bathtubs.

9. Amazon founder and chief shareholder Jeff Bezos is no longer the richest man in the world. Bernard Arnault, a 72-year old  Frenchman, replaced him.

Arnault is the founder and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton (LVMH), a luxury-goods conglomerate with fashion, jewelry, cosmetics, wines, and spirits in its portfolio.

Don't worry about Bezos though. As of 2021, Amazon was raking in $638 million each day.

10. J.K. Rowling became the first person to become a billionaire by writing books.

11. The beautiful autumn colors of leaves are due to carotenoids and anthocyanin in the leaves. As the days go shorter, there's less light so a tree's chlorophyll production slows down and then stops. All of the chlorophyll is destroyed which allows the carotenoids and anthocyanin present in the leaves to be revealed.

12. Believe it or not, researchers found that cursing or swearing when in pain may release endorphins which lessen the pain.

13. The phrase, baker's dozen, consists of 13 items, not 12. The origin of the phrase is supposedly a medieval law that specified the weight of bread loaves. If a baker didn't give the customer the right weight of bread, he was punished. To be safe, bakers included a 13th loaf with each dozen.

Trivia Lover

I guess it comes as no surprise that Trivial Pursuit was my all-time favorite game. 

I sometimes insert bits of trivia into a character's mouth, when appropriate.

For instance, my heroine in Heat Lightning, a romantic suspense that's a Kindle Unlimited free read, spouts a little trivia when she's trying to make conversation with the hero.

Secrets, lies, passion. What Tessa doesn't remember may mean the death of her.

See You Later

For Texas, autumn sneaks in at night and departs with the sunrise, but October brings true autumn complete with cooler days and falling leaves. Love, love, love autumn. Enjoy those falling leaves!


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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Autumn is Finally Here

(Glorious dahlia)

After suffering a hot, humid September (and summer), I've enjoyed a reprieve as this month draws to a close. October promises far cooler temps, ideal for getting outdoors. I have a number of perennials to transplant and bulbs to get in the ground so this is a gardener's boon. I love crisp fall days and wish they lasted longer. If I took a vote, I imagine I could get a consensus on that, tough to do these days, with all the vehement dissension. 

(Carding Mill Rose)

For the most part, I've found gardeners to be an easy group to get along with. Although, debating the best method for making compost can get heated, and organic gardening verses non-organic... Don't go there. Other than that... And now, it seems I'm also a rosarian, which sounds pretty cool. Speaking of, my roses are deliriously happy in the cooler sunlight. Neither of us liked the sweltering heat. 

(Apricot Rose)

The dahlias have gone crazy with color. My earlier attempts to stake and tie the plants have failed and they are tumbled everywhere but don't seem to mind. I keep saying dahlias are too much work, digging up the tubers after frost and storing them over the winter. Then they bring brilliant life to the late season garden and leave me concluding they're worth the effort. Some gardeners suggest skipping all that work and treating dahlias as annuals. That goes against my nature. I am a plant saver. The notion of letting them freeze and rot seems wrong. 

(Another reason to plant dahlias )

My amazing great Uncle Houston grew dahlias. I managed to lose the ones he gave me one winter from improper storage and bad luck. When I see mine blooming now, I think of this dear man. He also grew roses, much loved by him, and lilies. I'm following in his footsteps.

(Dwarf  dahlia really attracts bees and butterflies)

Signs of fall are underway in the Shenandoah Valley with early leaf change and more will soon follow. I'll report back. 


Sunday, September 26, 2021

HOW I WRITE TRULY STRONG HEROINES By MICHELLE PENNINGTON


So often when I hear people discussing female characters, they always say that they want more strong heroines. Most writers, including me, want to write strong heroine. However, so many storytellers miss the mark.

I'm always hearing movies, books, and shows touted as having "strong heroines". More often than not, I'm left supremely disappointed. Why is it that so many storytellers--in various mediums--fail at something that should be so easy?

My conclusion is that they failed to understand what makes a woman strong.

For example, is it having equal strength or physical prowess to their male counterparts? Is it being tough, cold-hearted, and independent? Well, they can certainly have and be all those things, but I would argue that those things don’t make male characters “strong characters” in the way people mean either.

When Disney's live-action “Mulan” came out, I was incensed that their idea of making the titular character “stronger” was giving her super-powers that made it unnecessary for her to work hard, grow, or overcome anything hard. She started out powerful and stayed that way.

If you'll remember the animated movie, Mulan was physically weak, struggled with endurance, and had no fighting skills. The things that made her strong were her courage and willingness to sacrifice for her family. Those two qualities meant something because she had truly difficult circumstances and enemies to win against. And she did. In the end, we adored her because of how she earned the title of a kick-butt heroine.

Just recently, a new version of “Cinderella” came out on Netflix. I won't go into a full review of the show or anything, but I want to point out that in this instance too, in trying to make Cinderella a more powerful, girl-boss kind of female character, they watered down almost everything from the original story that made her BECOME the strong character she was.


 

Poverty, bullying, social class, and being an orphan were the obstacles she had to climb over to get to her happily-ever-after. The only thing they left in was gender inequality, and even that was done in a weaker way. Believe me, most of us would have been bitter, petty, greedy, and lazy if we'd had to live Cinderella’s life, but she wasn't! Marrying the prince was NOT the victory in her story.

When watching “Shang Chi” with my husband—which does have strong female characters by the way—he turned to me and murmured that he was frustrated that the big, bad monster was beaten so easily.

I whispered back, "This movie wasn't about slaying the dragon."

"Oh, you mean it's about the metaphorical dragons."

Yes!



Heroines don’t have to slay dragons to be strong, though of course they might do that. Even if a prince comes in to protect and defend them, it doesn’t necessarily strip them of their power, courage, or resilience. In fact, there is nothing better than strong male and female characters working together and complementing each other.

Strong characters begin with weaknesses, flaws, and obstacles that they have to overcome. It's the internal journey of growth that makes characters resonate with us. It's seeing them struggle, hurt, fail, fall down...and then pull themselves to their feet again that makes us cheer for them and love them.

It’s just like developing muscle, which you can only do by working them repeatedly and breaking them apart so they can come back…stronger. Also, it’s important to note that there is no one, single way to be strong. Ways to be strong are as varied as the challenges that we face.

What we really want is for fiction to reflect what we see in the real world—because strong women are all around us. I saw it in my mother as she worked so hard to raise her five kids on her husband's teacher's salary—canning, sewing, making everything from scratch, and counting her pennies to buy birthday and Christmas presents. I've seen it in my mother-in-law when she was battled with breast cancer and grieved the loss of her husband. I've seen it in my sister when she struggled with infertility—and in the resilience and courage of her daughters that she adopted through foster care. I've seen it in my own daughters as they've faced bullying, insecurities, and losing friends to suicide. And when I give myself credit, I even see it in myself.

Strong heroines aren't hard to find in real life. The reason so many stories fail to deliver them is that the writers failed in the most important step...recognizing what it is that makes women strong. Because of that, they usually make things easier for them.

This is why I’m not afraid to give my female characters weaknesses, flaws, and struggles. Making life hard for my female characters will make them as powerful and courageous as the women I love and treasure in my real life.

Michelle Pennington writes clean, heart-pounding, sigh-inducing romance across multiple genres: romantic comedy, young adult, contemporary, Regency, and fantasy. The genre might change, but her characters will always be falling in love. Find out more about Michelle at https://www.michelle-pennington.com


Friday, September 24, 2021

Hacked Off by Bea Tifton

 

I have a confession to make, but keep it between us. Recently I did something so stupid, so obvious, because I was in a hurry trying to multi task with too little time and too little sleep. 

I was catching up on my Facebook Messenger and I clicked.on.a.link. Really? I know better. I promise I do. But just as I thought, “What am I doing?” and exited, it was too late. Immediately, every one of my Facebook friends was sent the awkwardly worded message. Yes, the syntax was even so bad it was obvious it was not sent by a native speaker. 

My phone and my Messenger blew up with friends who were trying to open the link, asking if they were supposed to open the link, telling me they had opened the link, or telling me I had been hacked. Some of them were pretty testy, too. I frantically tried to tell everyone NOT TO OPEN anything. To top it off, someone reported me to Facebook. I think they thought they were reporting that I’d been hacked, but I was put in Facebook jail so I could no longer troubleshoot or communicate. 


Why do people do this? The usual answer is that they are phishing, trolling in an attempt to obtain sensitive information to steal identities. Another answer could be just for the thrill of it. The obvious answer is that they are despicable human beings.

I have mixed feelings about social media, anyway, but I am not on the fence about how annoying it is to get those, "You are so bootiful. Please be my friend" appeals from some handsome guy who is either a doctor or a serviceman, usually holding a puppy. Yes, of course those are real, and I know this because I frequently get that reaction from total strangers on the street as I walk through the world. Ahem.




And phishing can be sneaky. Those links people post  on their Facebook pages, usually not even realizing and sharing with all their friends so they can take a quiz to find out what kind of vegetable/superhero/tree they would be? Those are attempts at phishing. And those fun questions that prompt discussions asking, “What was the model of your first car? The name of your favorite pet? Your dream vacation?” Yup. That’s phishing. Many questions on Facebook, especially in fan reader groups, are harmless, but if it sounds like a security question you would answer when you are paying your mortgage, give it a miss. 


The world is a dangerous, wonderful place. It's such a drag to have to be so super vigilant with our
private information, to have to be practical when we play. But in the long run, it's a small part of social media. Change your password frequently and be wary of anything oddly worded or anything that sounds like phishing. And no matter how tired or busy you are, don't click without thinking. It could land you in (Facebook) jail. A cautionary tale, to be sure.



Rain Trueax is in a no wifi zone, but she will be back soon!



Thursday, September 23, 2021

THE MIGHTY APPLES OF AUTUMN

by Judy Ann Davis

Hello, Autumn! And here she comes with the wonderful fall harvest of foods and desserts. My favorites are pies. Although pumpkin is my favorite, my husband is a fan of apple. He is also the biggest fan of applesauce, and a jar sits in our refrigerator year ‘round.

Here in the Northeast, Johnny Appleseed Day is celebrated twice a year. On both March 11th and September 26th.  September 26, 1774, was actually the day when John Chapman or Johnny Appleseed was born. It coincides with the season of apple harvest. His date of death was not formally recorded, but it is believed he died on March 11, 1845, from the “winter plague.” History tells us that John Chapman was deeply religious person, often preaching during his many travels.

A nurseryman by trade, John Chapman initially started planting trees in New York and here in Pennsylvania. He was also know for going “West” to plant, but we must remember that “West” was Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. It is estimated that he traveled 10,000 square miles of frontier country. As he traveled, he sold apple trees and seeds to settlers and planted many trees and seeds himself along the way during a forty-year span. He also started a string of nurseries spreading from western Pennsylvania across Ohio and into Indiana. When he died in 1845, he owned 1,200 acres of land.

No matter what the legends tell us about John Chapman, one thing is certain. He brought about the recognition of the apple and its versatility whether eaten fresh, stewed, baked or fermented. The food list that includes the mighty apple is exhausting—applesauce, pie, cider, crisp, cake, pancakes, apple butter, juice, and even vinegar, to name a few. Early settlers dried apples to use on their trip to West as we know it today.

When I was growing up, we had apple trees around our farmhouse and MacIntosh was my favorite for taking in my school lunch bag. We also had apple trees in what we called “the old orchard” in a pasture on the edge of our farm. It was an orchard planted by early settlers of the 1800s (or before) and had heirloom varieties like Northern Spy, Strawberry, Baldwin, and Winesap. Our dairy cattle loved to scout the old orchard and look for any fallen ones for a delicious treat.

Are you a fan of apples? After an extremely rainy summer here in Central Pennsylvania, I’m excited about the arrival of a drier autumn and the rich scent of apples, sugar, and cinnamon baking in the oven or cooking on my stove top. 

                                Visit my Amazon Author Page for all my books

        Here's a peek of the cover for my Christmas novella,"A Maple Cookie Homecoming," making its appearance on December 7th



 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Country Living, Corn-Picking Time, And a Taste Of City Life

 by Laurean Brooks


When you're a child from a large family and live on a farm, every season has its unique chores. October meant corn harvest time for us. The nights became cool and crisp, making sleep near an open window feel like a piece of heaven after the humid summer nights.

After the old rooster crowed at the crack of dawn, Mama would rise, start a fire in the wood stove, then start on breakfast. The delicious aromas from the kitchen pulled us kids out of bed and to the table. 

Every morning Mama mixed flour, lard and milk in a large granite-wear bowl. She would form a well in the middle of the flour, fill it with a little milk and lard, then gradually pull flour from the sides of the bowl into the mixture until it was thick enough to roll out on a board. 


She had her own unique rolling pin—a round, floured ketchup bottle. After she'd cut out the biscuits with a metal drinking cup, she placed each biscuit in the white 9 X 12 enamel pan, plus a large iron skillet. If any biscuits were left after supper, the dogs gulped them down.




It took a lot to feed our brood. When Mama added scrambled eggs from our hen house and poured thick milk gravy over our cat-head biscuits, it eased the news of...

“Y'all count on picking corn when you get in from school. It's ready.” The words didn't sound half as bad.







When we got home, my brother Ralph, fueled up the old Farm-all tractor then hitched the two-wheel trailer to it. 

When that was done, he inserted the hand crank and yanked until the old tractor puffed smoke from its stack like a locomotive.


We kids tugged on work gloves before climbing up on the trailer for a jostling ride toward the field. Once we reached the cornfield, we hopped off and began yanking corn from the dried stalks. We worked until it was too dark to see, or until the the trailer spilled over. Whichever came first.



If it was a weeknight, Daddy and Mama unloaded the trailer the next day while we attended school. We'd come in that afternoon, eat a quick supper and start picking again. It took several days and the same number of trailer loads, to pick the three cornfields clean.



When the last load was piled into the corn crib, we knew the chickens would have enough feed to last until next year's harvest.


 Every morning before school, Jewell (my sister) and I shelled several ears to toss to the chickens. I remember how we looked for the driest ears with shriveled corn and shelled it first. Because the ears that were not yet shriveled were hard to shell and rough on the hands.



Being raised on a farm meant everyone had to do his or her part to keep it running. I remember thinking, “When I grow up, I'll move to the city so I won't have to work this hard.” 

But one week as a teen spent with city cousins in Jackson, Tennessee, changed my mind.

My sister and I had a blast for six days. We went to a roller rink on Saturday night, and walked a few blocks to Mrs. Sullivan's Pecan Pie factory, where you could go on Tuesdays and purchase a paper bag of ten slightly smashed, personal-sized pecan pies for a quarter. Still, city life had a downside.



The downside was our cousins' house sat at an intersection on a very busy street. I'm a light sleeper. Screeching brakes, loud trucks, honking horns, and sirens kept me awake every night as they pulled up to the stoplight. After 6 nights of the horrible racket, my mind was screaming for the peace and quiet of the country. The hoot of a nigh owl, croak of tree frogs and the chirp of katydids.

What about you? Do you prefer the country or the city?

********************************************************************************


He wanted a sedate, mature woman who could cook and care for his young daughter. She expected an exciting cowboy who thrived on travel and adventure. 

Both were in for a surprise.

https://www.amazon.com/Ryans-Reckless-Bride-Matchmakers-Mix-Up-ebook/dp/B094Q9XXRB/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ryan%27s+reckless+bride&qid=1632001584&s=books&sr=1-1


Thursday, September 16, 2021

When Life Is Like a Country Music Song by Joan Reeves

By the time September rolled around, I'd begun to think that Life was like a country music song.

Image at left: "Cowboy-guitar-music-western-hat by Алекса Вулф from Pixabay

I wryly decided that because it made me chuckle rather than give in to the stress that has dogged us since May.

You may have thought that I resigned from this blog, but the truth is that Life in all of its frustration, stress, and change fell on me like a dump truck full of bricks.

Long Story Made Short

May: our home went up for sale and we experienced the joys of living in a house that had to look like a model home from dawn until dark. Said house sold the first week, but our realtor wanted to take backup offers, so we had to maintain the model home look until a week before closing. With out house sold, we had to find another place to live! Yikes. We'd  put off the closing date on our house until July, thinking that would give us plenty of time to house shop.

Rest of May and June: The housing market that helped us get top dollar now was our enemy as we tried to find the unicorn, i.e., a one-story home in good condition with a nice yard at an affordable price. We hunted high and low, but everything was too huge, too dirty, too over-priced, or needed too much work.

July: on the first day, we saw the second unicorn—the second one-story house—good bones but needed serious upgrading. We made an offer within 10 minutes of leaving the house, and it was accepted. We asked for a closing date the first business day after closing on the house we were selling. Everything seemed to fall into place. Uh oh!

Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me (Written by Buck Ownes and Roy Clark)

Yep, like the country song says, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." The day we made the offer on what was to be our new home, the thunderstorms started. 

From July 1, every day there was a major thunderstorm with gully-washing rain.

That's when we discovered our soon-to-be new home had no gutters on the house. We also discovered the underground French drain was completely clogged up. All that rainwater gushed down the roof, onto the patio, and flowed like a river toward the back of the house.

That beautiful mature live oak tree in the back yard blocked up all drainage routes for the sides of the lot. Day after day of rain. When we closed on the house we sold, it was pouring rain. When we closed on the house we were buying, you guessed it. Pouring rain.

Through all of that, we were packing up our house and lining up contractors to handle the remodeling and upgrade of our new house.

You Done Stompt on my Heart and Smashed That Sucker Flat (Written by Mason Williams.)

Here are all the things that happened next. 

The beautiful oak tree in the back yard had to be removed because it and the huge roots were primary causes of near-floods every time it rained. *head banging wall*

Moving day featured the biggest thunderstorm yet! A wet stray dog ran into the house through the open door, leaving puddles of rainwater all over the new wood floors we'd had installed that week. Everything brought in was soaking wet even though wrapped in moving blankets. *head banging wall*

The plumber underestimated the cost of installing a gas line. *head banging wall*

The only appliances we could buy that could be delivered that first weekend included a microwave and a refrigerator that aren't what we wanted. *stuck with them until they die which means they'll outlive me*

Gutter companies and French drain installers charging twice what they did a year ago. If you can get on their schedule! *head banging wall*

Electrician unable to begin work on our project until alarm company installed the security system. Alarm company was backed up until mid-September—2 months away. *head banging wall*

In early August, our older daughter who was not vaccinated, contracted CoVid pneumonia, was hospitalized, and almost died, but they resuscitated her. *scared to death & praying constantly*

When she was well enough to go home and try to regain her health, our younger daughter and her husband, both of whom were vaccinated, caught CoVid. *head banging wall*

Then my sister-in-law hoisted a case of Gatorade into the trunk of her car—something she's done countless number of times before—and suffered a compression fracture of her L1 vertebrae. After an agonizing week of pain that couldn't be relieved with anything because there were no hospital rooms or staff available due to CoVid, she finally had surgery. *head banging wall*

That's it. I've never felt more helpless than when my daughter was alone in the hospital and my sister-in-law was in such pain and couldn't get in a hospital! I felt as if my heart had been stomped flat. I didn't care a fig about the house or anything but getting my family healthy  again. I was ready for this summer to be over and done with!

Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone (Written by Larry Kingston and Ed Nix.)

August, that hateful bitch, finally left. September rolled in, but I was too worn out to celebrate. I decided to take the month off. Actually, I've been "off" writing and off-line since May.

I'm trying to get my writing groove back, but, honestly, I'd rather talk to family, read books, and stream videos. So this blog post is a first step in the writing direction.

The Truth

Most of what frustrates people are merely irritants. Rainstorms, remodeling delays, over-priced everything, and all of the stuff that bothered me in May, June, and July are petty things. Stuff like that pales to insignificance when someone you love is sick or in pain or threatened in any way.

Work on the house continues. I'm no longer concerned about that. If it's finished this month, fine. If it's next month, no problem. I'm grateful and feel blessed that our family has survived.

Maybe I'll write a country song and call it, "No Worries. No Problems. Too Blessed to Be Stressed."

Giveaway

If you've stuck with my far-too-long post about how I spent my summer, then enter my giveaway, open to residents with a U.S. mailing address.

The prize is a copy of Cheatin' Hearts, Broken Dreams, and Stomped-On Love: The All-time Funniest Country Music Titles by Jim McMullan.

This little book is from my personal library. I've started unpacking my books, and I'm giving many away because I've downsized from 4 bookcases to 2. The book is in good condition and from a home of non-smokers.

I'll randomly draw a name from all eligible comments on Sunday, September 19, 2021. An eligible comment is one left with an email address so I can contact the winner.

Now, go forth and enjoy September. Don't worry. Be happy. Spread love and joy. And leave a comment to enter the Giveaway.


If you're down in the dumps and need an attitude adjustment, try one of my romantic comedies, Just One Look, a Kindle Unlimited free read or buy for $3.99 and keep forever.


Seduction and sex can be pretty funny—especially when both sides play dirty!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Falling in Love by Bea Tifton

Fall is fast approaching, and I am almost giddy.  In North Texas, the summers are blisteringly hot and I am heat intolerant so I am unable to do much. The State Fair of Texas begins in late September, and I have many fun memories of attending.  The air seems a little less humid and more crisp. I make baked apple dishes and soup. And some years I can even break out the fall sweaters. Actually, fall comes late to Texas if it comes at all, mid-October usually. Sometimes we skip fall altogether and go from summer to winter. But I love the idea of fall. At the top of my bucket list, I have the desire to go to New England in the fall and take a leaf peeping/whale watching tour. Some people think the leaves don’t change at all in Texas, but they do somewhat. We take what we can get. 

 

So, even though I’m jumping the gun a bit, I’d like to share five quotes about the loveliest of seasons, fall. 


“There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus


“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Autumn whispered to the wind, ‘I fall, but always rise again.’” Angie Weiland-Crosby 

And, of course,every day is always a great day to fall into a good book. 


Happy fall, everyone!

 

Photo Credits: Pexels.com

Squash still life: Mathias P.R. Reding

Boy in leaves: Scott Webb

Mountains: Michael Block

Tree Branch: Pixabay

Baby: Marina Abrosimova

Forest with Sunlight: Johannes Plenio

Lady with Leaves: Andrea Piacquadio

Redhead Reading: Geri Art