Knot Real by M.C. Roth

Knot Real by M.C. Roth
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

Vale will never have to worry about a mating contract, right?

Vale considers himself lucky that he’s exempt from having a mating contract. Why would any omega want thousands of alphas to bid on them and try to prove themselves worthy?

From his best friend Zyke to the cute omega he met at a house party—everyone’s lives seem to revolve around the search for a single mate. It’s simple… The alphas bid and the omegas make their choice, while protective instincts take care of the rest.

But the barbaric practice has its own beauty that will always be just out of reach for Vale. Maybe if he had a contract, he would find someone who would love him wholly and completely and he wouldn’t have to spend his time cherishing the last few days with his best friend before Zyke inevitably finds a mate of his own. Maybe he wouldn’t be so lonely…

Knot Real is a standalone as far as I can see, but I would love to return to this world and see further into how it works!

Vale and Zyke are best friends who everyone thinks are a couple. Vale is one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to have a mating contract, but he’s not looking forward to when Zyke has one in case it impacts their friends. Well, Zyke gets a contract, and it does have an impact, but maybe not in the way Vale was expecting!

This was a great story with plenty of emotion. It was pretty clear what the lay of the land was, but I enjoyed staying with Vale as he discovered the truth about the situation, Zyke’s feelings, and his own.

A quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed and have no hesitation in recommending.

Bewitched By The Bear by Jessica Coulter Smith

Bewitched By The Bear by Jessica Coulter Smith
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Discover the power of true love in this spellbinding tale of magic and adventure.

All Amara wants is to live a life of adventure, without being tied down. With the dark fae relentlessly pursuing her, she needs a place to hide. Her gram’s cottage seems like the perfect spot, but the old witch’s words leave Amara unsettled — What you seek is in Cutter’s Creek.

Alpha bear shifter Hale is determined to safeguard those closest to him. His life takes an unexpected turn when he crosses paths with a captivating witch. Enchanted by her very presence, he’s unable to banish her from his thoughts.

As destiny ties them together, not even the dark fae will destroy their newfound happiness.

Uncover the magic in this fast-paced, insta-love story that’s sure to warm your heart.

Amara wants to be free and have adventures, but with Dark Fae pursuing her she need to hide out and her gram’s quiet cottage seems like the perfect place. Only her path crosses alpha bear Hale and they both discover their destiny is something neither of them can outrun.

I really enjoyed this short story. With Hale being a cranky old bear who was clearly ready to turn a corner and start fresh I found him to be a wonderful and believable hero – with issues and not being perfect. I also found Amara to be a strong and enjoyable character, with plenty of magical powers of her own and not one to just swoon and give herself easily over to Hale. I thought they were very well matched and deliciously modern.

Readers who don’t like insta-love (or insta-lust) stories might not find this story suits their tastes. While I completely understand Hale as a were-bear recognized Amara as his true mate and couldn’t help his physical and chemical reaction to her it was rather amusing that he did seem to pretty much lose control and his mind over the whole situation. I was pleased Amara seemed to take it in stride – and with a bit of humour herself – but it was a little disappointing that it meant the sexiness was fast-tracked and they didn’t have much time initially to get to know each other.

There was a really intriguing sub-plotline around another werewolf – Sage – part of Hale’s pack and the dark fae prince that I found interesting. I suspect this leads off into a different book and I found the whole plotline interesting enough I may very well search that book out. This also helped the story feel like it wasn’t simply about Amara and Hale and their mating but helped the story feel like it was part of a much larger paranormal world and I really enjoyed that.

With interesting characters and plenty of steamy intimacy this was a good book and one I enjoyed reading.

Dogboy v Catfish by Luke Gracias

Dogboy v Catfish by Luke Gracias
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Ginger

On the day of her second wedding, Katherine Fisher, aka ‘Catfish,’ set the date for her divorce. In precisely 18 months, she would be entitled to half of their combined assets and receive maintenance payments until her five-year-old daughter, Emma, turns 18. Just as Catfish was about to take her husband, Lindsay ‘Dogboy’ Kramer (a successful businessman and dog whisperer) to the cleaners, he goes missing.

The police investigation into Dogboy’s disappearance leads them into the dark world of counterfeit designer goods, money laundering, and drug smuggling.

With Dogboy’s assets frozen and the mob protecting their interests, the missing persons case escalates to homicide. Catfish is in a race against time to get hold of Dogboy’s assets before the police get hold of her.

One question remains – is Dogboy dead or alive?

There are several slang words that fit Katherine Fisher, gold digger could be one. A gold digger is described as a person or woman who seeks out wealthy men or enters a relationship with someone for money, gifts otherwise basically exploiting or deceiving the other person rather than for a love interest. However, the author gave Kath an appropriate name of ‘Catfish’. This slang title is defined as a fictitious attractive persona with malicious intent.

Kath has timed her divorce from Lindsay ‘Dogboy’ Kramer after 18 months of marriage, she knows she will be entitled to half of his assets and receive child support payments for her five-year-old daughter, Emma, until she turns 18 but there seems to be a bit of delay in her plan. Her husband Lindsay ‘Dogboy’ Kramer is missing.

Be warned: if you do not have time to read it in one or two sittings, you may want to hold off until you can block off time and make sure your eReader is charged in advance. I like the organized set up of the breakdown or table of contents that shows the different sections and how each chapter has a name, reminding me of how episodes in a television series are named. The title references a phrase said during that chapter or episode. I like that the author provided the dates so that I was able to follow along in the timeline of events and investigation easily. What attracted me to the book was first the cover and then the excerpt. I like that the cover ties into the storyline where the three snakes were mentioned by Matthias in Bangkok and again in the tale of the Endless Knot that explains the color and what each snake represents.

This book has all the right ingredients for a suspenseful and remarkably interesting storyline. I can tell research was done on the criminal and family laws in Australia, statistics were reviewed on the suicide rate among men and my favorite since my background is in fraud and forensic accounting is reading about the money laundering and counterfeit/luxury handbags. I enjoyed the storyline; the author gave details that kept the story going enough to help set up the scenes, but he did not overdo it or get carried away being too wordy. Kath is an entitled individual that I did not like from the very first chapter when she met with the family law attorney Freya Keogh and there are many more instances that shed light on her true gold digger characteristics. Sadly, readers are not introduced to Lindsay, or his persona but I feel like his character was represented and created clearly by those that he considered devoted friends and acquaintances. The other characters spoke of Lindsay in a positive way which led me to believe he was a smart and good person, and I like how the author carried that out. Lindsay was a huge part of the story but yet he was not a physical character so to speak he was only mentioned and talked about, and the author executed that very well.

The author effortlessly captivated me with this complete, intriguing well told novel where the good guys win. A book of greed, crime, illegal pursuits, and friendship; however, the characters play a small part as the novel is plot driven. I normally like to get to know the
characters I am reading about better, but the narrative surrounding counterfeit designer bags, and the twist of illegal activity in this exceptional story took precedence.

A must read for readers seeking a good crime thriller!

Scorned by Angela Addams

Scorned by Angela Addams
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Moonflower

Hell hath no fury like a werewolf scorned.

All I’d ever wanted was to blend in among the humans, but my stepbrothers had other plans. When one of them sent a thug to abduct me, I had to let my true self out, claws and all.

That was the thing… The men in my world were always underestimating me.

Being the hothead that I was, I went straight to the source of the problem—the new alpha of my family’s clan, my stepbrother Sal. He had a surprise of his own, though, and when he hit me with a magically infused pure silver collar, I crumbled like I didn’t have A-plus DNA in my blood.

That was when the Duke brothers entered my life. Heroes in their own minds, they worked a deal with Sal to buy me… as if I were a commodity. To the males in my species, that was what I was, but to the Duke brothers I was the final piece in a prophecy puzzle. They wanted me to rule their clan, be alpha to their pack, which meant they wanted me to take the bites of all three of them.

To that I said, not on your life, boys. But, damn, they were hot, and I was willing to give cohabitation a try. I’d explore their old-world scrolls and prints and listen to their fairy tales about a superpowered queen alpha. I could even get behind training with their pack, but I wasn’t ever going to let a werewolf take a bite out of me.

At least that was what I kept telling myself. The beast inside me had other plans, and I’d never truly known how to stop her from getting what she wanted, no matter who she might have to destroy to achieve her goals.

Scorned is the first book in the Hell Hath No Fury series, and we start with Charlie trying to live as a human after being exiled from her pack. After something happens, she returns ‘home’ to give her stepbrother, Sal, what for. Things don’t turn out the way Charlie was expecting though – including her being sold to a different pack!

The three brothers are all unique, with their own very differing personalities. They want Charlie to lead their pack and they’re not too bothered about how they go about that, being as they say she has been calling to them for years. I loved the aspect of Charlie learning about her beast and abilities with the brothers.

I was thoroughly enjoying this book, right up until the last scene. And it’s not because I don’t like BDSM scenes because I do. What I didn’t like was how this took place in the dreamscape with no consent or talks about limits. Yes, that may take the sexy out of it, but it is needed!

I look forward to reading more in this series and seeing how the story continues.

Now Or Never by John Carson

Now Or Never by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

You can’t make up your own ending…

The lifeless body of a renowned author is found murdered within his residence, prompting DCI Harry McNeil to uncover the unsettling truth that not everyone held the man in high regard. Initially dismissed as a tragic mishap stemming from a misjudged publicity stunt, this incident swiftly transforms into a grim realization of foul play.

As a remorseless and deranged murderer prowls the streets, McNeil finds himself embroiled in an intense pursuit, exacerbated by the absence of one of his key team members.

Meanwhile, a surprising call interrupts DCI Angie Fisher’s routine – none other than her ex-husband, DI Dougie Fisher, whom she believed would remain estranged. Dougie, now residing in London with his new spouse and infant son, has come north to Fife for a family funeral. A nagging suspicion haunts him – he suspects his father-in-law’s demise was no accident. Frustratingly, his position as a detective in London’s MET has yielded no cooperation.

Initially hesitant to engage, Angie’s resolve wavers when Dougie discloses that his family has become a target. Yet, this is merely the prelude to an intricate sequence of events that ensnare Angie in the investigation. Amidst the labyrinth of twists and turns, the ultimate revelation catches her off guard, leaving her blindsided as events reach their irreversible climax.

DCI Harry McNeil books are always complicated but really well plotted with plenty of twists and turns and I found this book to be no exception. I enjoyed the fact that this full-length novel had about three main plotlines twisting and turning together which helped make me feel like the pace of the whole book kept up at a good clip. There was significant movement in DI Frank Miller’s story-arc which I feel should keep readers of the series very happy, but there was also a good plotline around the murder of a mystery author and some family drama with other members of the police team. I heartily empathize with Frank’s character – he has absolutely been through the wringer, and I definitely hope there’s a bit of peace and stability in store for him soon.

While the plots were all well explained I do feel readers might struggle if they pick this book up just fresh by itself. While certainly not all the previous books in the series need to be read to fully enjoy this – I do feel that at least a few should have been read, mainly so the reader can know and be able to juggle the many different characters and their relationships together all in order. I also finally felt like some of the personal drama between Harry and his wife – a fellow Detective in a different unit, Alex, had reached an easy equilibrium and some semblance of normalcy had returned to them.

While a lot of the different plots did get neatly wrapped up, there was one particular thread that was only partially finished. I personally don’t feel as if this book ended on a cliff hanger – but I will admit that I was relieved the next in the series had already been released so I could move immediately on to it. This is not particularly unusual for this series – frequently the author wraps most things up and leaves just a few loose threads that can be followed into the next book, but I do feel readers who prefer to have the next book ready and waiting might feel that need here.

With a whole cast of funny and interesting characters, a number of different groups all circling around and working together as well as numerous plots twining together this was a good book and an engrossing read.

Mysterious Island 3: Here Be Dragons by Greig Beck

Mysterious Island 3: Here Be Dragons by Greig Beck
Publisher: Severed Press
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Below the English town of Ipswich a tunnel boring team is digging through solid rock when unexpectedly, they break into an ancient cave system filled with animal bones. Strangely, there were also the remains of men, knights in armor, some crushed, and some seemed to have had their bones and flesh melted. And there was one more thing found: a huge, egg-shaped ruby that glowed like a setting sun.

Just over 2000 miles away, still trapped on the lost island of Lemuria, Troy and Anne know that the time of monstrous beings long thought only existing in our legends or lurking in our nightmares, was returning.

But they now have a chance of escape – they have found the fabled submarine, the Nautilus.

Together, Troy, Anne, the secretive Elle, and the huge Viking woman, Yrsa, work together to break free so they can warn the world of the terror that is coming.

Under the earth on a mysterious island, Troy, Anne, Elle and the huge Viking warrior Yrsa are working together to escape the lost island of Lemuria. They’ve been gone for almost two years, but after surviving death many times they remain determined to return to their world. Will they be successful?

Meanwhile in the town of Ipswich in England a team is boring a tunnel unexpectedly find they break through into an ancient cave system filled with animal bones. The team discover an enormous, egg shaped ruby and all too soon human greed takes over on a journey that can’t be reversed.

This is the third – and technically final – book in the “Mysterious Island” trilogy by Greig Beck. While I do feel this book can be enjoyed by itself and much of the plot is very well explained just be reading this book alone, I do strongly feel the characters, the overall story arc and much of the deeper emotions will be better enjoyed if readers start at the beginning with the first book. I was very relieved and pleased that the bulk of the story throughout this full length novel was centered around Troy, Elle and Anne returning back home. This was the part of the story I was most heavily invested in from the previous two installments.

That said, I thought it was exceedingly clever of Mr. Beck to have incorporated from the beginning a secondary plotline about a new egg/dragon ruby being found in England and the new problems arising from this. A part of me felt very vindicated for Anne – human greed being what it is I nearly despaired of anyone believing her theory about these “dragon rubies” and having Anne proven correct felt wonderful to me. I was also deeply satisfied that even though I felt he was seriously slow on the uptake – Troy finally managed to work out who he could trust and who would turn on him when the opportunity arose.

I must point out that a number of Mr. Beck’s books don’t end on a traditional Happy Ever After (and not even a Happy For Now) style of ending. This is absolutely one of those series. There are a few twists at the end. One of them was fairly clear – to me at least – from early on in this book but another was quite a sharp plot twist right at the end of the book that I really didn’t see coming. Readers who like all their loose threads neatly tied up might not find this to be a fully satisfying ending, so be warned. This also does not have anything close to a traditional ending so readers should be aware of that, as well, going in.

Mr. Beck has loosely mentioned on Facebook that there may be a fourth installment coming. I think I’d be equally fine whether that happened or not. While I completely understand the ending might not be comfortable for everyone and might not be my own personal preference – with exceptional writing, brilliant characters and a fabulous plot a few small niggles can be easily overlooked.

A brilliant trilogy with a solid plot, dragons and Vikings and deep under-ground worlds, adventure and plenty of danger, I feel this book straddles numerous genres and should be a fabulous read for everyone.

A Cat’s Garden of Secrets by Jacqueline Diamond

A Cat’s Garden of Secrets by Jacqueline Diamond
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Awakening magical powers? Yes! Solving a murder, sure. But turning into a cat? Who, me?

On the weirdest day of my life, my cat starts talking, my car kidnaps me to a charming hidden village, and I inherit a mystical library. Plus, I discover I have superpowers!

As an orphan who grew up in foster care, I had no idea I came from an enchanted land full of furry shapeshifters, including—surprise!—me. Or that I had a gifted grandmother, who’s been murdered. Now it’s up to me, with the help of a handsome, otherworldly detective and my know-it-all cat, to uncover the truth… if someone doesn’t kill me first.

Identity matters…even for folks who don’t know much about where they come from yet.

The mystery elements of the storyline were handled nicely. This was one of those books that wove multiple genres together seamlessly. While it did feel like slightly more of a mystery to me than anything else, the fantasy themes were strong as well. There’s something to be said for authors who pull this off. It’s not an easy thing to do by any means, and I tip my cap to Ms. Diamond for following the rules of all of the genres she included here while still leaving space for a few surprises.

I struggled to keep track of the large cast of characters in this novella. There simply wasn’t enough time or space to develop dozens of different people and animals, and the ones that were given more attention were still only able to reveal limited parts of their personalities due to how many of them there were. As interested as I was in the world building and storyline, this prevented me from choosing a higher rating.

With that being said, the world building was handled nicely. Sometimes I found myself wishing I really could travel to Loobly and explore all of the magical things to be found there. I’d recommend taking notes about how the characters know each other and what the mysterious terms they use mean unless you have a photographic memory as recalling all of these details will be extremely important later on. There were a lot of moving pieces in this tale, but the complexity of it truly pays off later on.

A Cat’s Garden of Secrets kept me guessing.

A Murmuration Of Opas by William Meikle

A Murmuration Of Opas by William Meikle
Publisher: Weird House Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Mankind is spreading through the Solar System but, as yet, is still alone in the vastness of space.

That is all about to change.

A small team of intrepid scientists and engineers have made the long trip through the dark to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and set up camp on an icy plain under the looming watch of Jupiter above them.

Initial samples show that the planet is host to primitive, unicellular life.

A submersible makes its first dive under the moon’s icy surface and finds signs that the life forms may not be quite so primitive after all. They uncover an indigenous species that shows signs of being capable of swarming together to achieve goals impossible for a single cell, a colonial organism that they nickname Opa. These Opas swarm in several different configurations in the cold dark ocean beneath.

The teams A.I. is set the task of deciphering the science behind the Opa’s dances, a swirling, and swooping that looks very similar to the movements of great flocks of birds back on Earth. Science is done, samples are taken back to the lab on the surface… and that’s when the trouble begins.
The Opas have been given a chance to roam in a new environment. A human environment.

Mankind is not the only species hungry for exploration. The Opas escape into the expedition’s living quarters.

They are curious, and hungry.

They are voracious for food…

And they will kill every living organism in the space station!

A small team of intrepid scientists and engineers have made the long journey to Jupiter’s moon, Europa. While at first, they believe only primitive, unicellular life is possible, under the ocean’s icy surface the team soon finds signs that some of the cells can swarm together to achieve goals impossible for a single cell. They nickname the organisms Opa. The Opas can swam into many different configurations and soon samples are captured and sent back to the lab for study. Only now the Opas have a new environment within which to swam and explore – and eat.

I have enjoyed many of William Meikle’s horror and paranormal books and this was an excellent addition to the pile I’m growing. While I am usually not a fan of Sci-Fi or inter-space styles of stories, the fact I am such a fan of Meikle led me to give this book a try and I’m really glad I did. Meikle is exceptional at writing “monster eats all the humans” sorts of stories and this was another fast paced and excellent adventure.

Readers who are used to Meikle’s other tales should be warned this one does feature a fair bit more heavily on the Sci-Fi front than his others. While there is absolutely a strong element of “monster eats everyone” to the story this didn’t really kick into high gear until after the first quarter or so of the book. The Europa moon and otherworldly nature of the setting featured heavily in the beginning, as well as introducing our six main characters and letting the reader get a feel for their dynamics and interactions. Speaking personally, I found this different focus was very well written and I did enjoy it, but I have to be honest that I was present – and really largely interested in – the monsters aspect to the story so I was pleased when this part took center stage.

Readers looking for something different – particularly Sci-Fi fans or readers who enjoy the “monster eats everyone” style of story should find this is definitely up their alley and I found this a well-paced book with relatable and interesting characters and a whole bunch of vivid imagination. A story I will re-read in the future.

The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood

The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood edited by Kayleigh Dobbs, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Wile E. Young
Publisher: French Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Horror
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

For all of human history ghosts were real and they were everywhere. Then, one day, after a horrible cataclysm, they all disappeared.

That was the story of THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE.

But there are more tales to be told from that world. And a thrilling lineup, ranging from horror legends to relative newcomers, have joined forces to bring you:

– a roadside attraction featuring a real, dead serial killer

– a pair of twisted sisters whose sibling rivalry only begins with suicide

– a hitman hired to facilitate a ghostly sexual liaison

And more!

The first unhaunted house was just the beginning. Come, stake your claim in…


If you love paranormal horror, I have quite the treat for you!

One of the biggest strengths of this anthology had to do with the wide variety of approaches the contributors took to the theme. A few of them were a little too gory for my tastes, but I still found their stories to be well written and memorable. Horror fans who love the bloody side of the genre may have completely different responses to them, of course, and I thought it was wonderful that so many different writing styles and horror subgenres were included to suit all sorts of readers. I wish I had space in this review to cover every tale, but I will have to limit myself to only speaking about three of them for the sake of brevity.

In “Jurisdiction,” Eddie and his fellow officers tried to figure out who or what had been killing ghosts. I thought the premise of this tale was a clever one, and I couldn’t stop reading until I reached the conclusion. Eddie’s interest in this case overshadowed everything else in his life, including his relationship with his partner. This was an interesting way to realistically showcase some of the protagonist’s flaws while also keeping the pacing strong and steady until the final scene. I was left yearning for more and would love to read a sequel if Mr. Vincent ever decides to write one.

Thomas decided to kill his wife in “The Perfectly Fine Family” so that she could join him in his peaceful afterlife. Honestly, that was not a decision I would expect a ghost to make, so I was immediately sucked into his story as he planned out the ideal way to ensure he and Marie would be together forever. There was a surprising streak of humor in the storyline as well that suited the characters perfectly. Horror and humor should be mixed together more often in my opinion!

While I generally shy away from stories about serial killers, “Addict to Slaughter” had such a creative spin to the topic that I soon became insatiably curious to find out more about John Miller and his terrible compulsion to kill others. The twist showed up early and will probably be something most horror fans figure out early on. Knowing there is more to his life that meets the eye was all I needed to remain interested.

The Perfectly Fine Neighborhood was deliciously scary.

Kiki’s Dream by Susan Coryell

Kiki’s Dream by Susan Coryell
Publisher: Two Sisters Press
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Snow – nature’s exotic creation, magical, beautiful, exciting – is only a dream for Kiki who lives in Hawaii. Growing up in Hawaii, five-year-old Kiki romps on the beach all year round. Still, her dream is to experience snow, which will never happen in Hawaii. With excited expectation, Kiki hopes a surprise family trip to Michigan will make her dream come true.

Snow makes any day a little more magical.

This was the first time I have ever reviewed a picture book for Long and Short Reviews about a child who has never seen snow before so far as I can recall. Kudos to Ms. Coryell for coming up with such an uncommon idea for this age group. It certainly grabbed my attention immediately, and I was intrigued to see how Kiki would react to cold weather after spending her entire lifetime so far in such a warm and sunny place.

With that being said, I was disappointed by how little time was spent showing what Kiki did after she and her family arrived in Michigan. There was such a huge buildup to this moment in her life that I was expecting a large portion of the story to focus on how she felt when she saw snow for the first time in her life and what she might have been surprised by during that experience. If those scenes had been given more space to develop, I would have happily gone with a much higher rating as everything else about her adventures was adorable.

What a playful child Kiki was. I enjoyed her bubbly personality and her endless curiosity about the world. The narrator captured what it can feel like to be five years old and have a strong desire to try something new and exciting nicely. While I don’t know if the author was thinking of turning this into a series, there is certainly space here to do so if she wishes and this reader would be interested in more.

Kiki’s Dream was sweet.