From Amazon: It would be recalcitrant and wayward for anyone to claim to be scholarly and well-read in today’s world if they lack familiarity with the tenets and principles of the bible. The divinely inspired book that was handed over to mankind is an eyewitness account of historical events of inconceivable and unimaginable nature which are beyond the realm of reason.“Fresh Start-off: The Great Themes of Scripture” is the first and one of a kind that has meticulously and minutely studied, sifted, and dissected the bible teachings and is a remarkable piece of writing that contains a message as its very core that is relevant to your everyday life and provides clear teachings of God, life, nature of humankind, our heart desires, fate and destiny, the value and worth of everyone and the goodness of the glory of God. All said and done, Jesus is the only religious leader who conquered death and rose from the dead. All the rest are dead and buried. Moses is dead, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are all dead. Buddha is dead, Mohammed died and will not come back again and even Muslims adulate and hold Jesus in awe as a truly Holy and an Extraordinary Prophet. This page-turner is not only for those walking newly in Christ, but is also for the battle-scarred Christians who want to gain new insights, arouse, evoke and even seek to reassess their knowledge of Jesus Christ after reading it.
My Review: Is God in your life? Have you read the Bible? If you have read the Bible, did you understand what you read? One good way is to cross-reference what you read. Another good way is to buy a book such as this one, then read the words and what is being said and explained within these pages. If you’re not with Him, then you are against Him. God was, is, and will always be. This book enables one to understand scripture and one’s self. Looking within, is a great start on your path in life. Stay true. I’m with God, are you? Five stars.
From Amazon: THE MADWOMAN OF PREACHER’S COVE tells the story of Lucy Addams, a woman who was horribly disfigured in a fire that claimed the lives of her husband and children. After the tragic loss of her beauty, her voice, and her family, Lucy became an artistic genius, sculpting lifelike dolls—replicas of the children of Preacher’s Cove. Lucy, and her workshop, are hidden in the back of the local resort—a hotel and restaurant complex owned and operated by her sister, Libby. Following a series of deaths by lightning strike in Preacher’s Cove, a handsome investigative reporter arrives to solve the mystery of the coincidental accidents. Lucy and Libby find themselves facing yet another enemy. As keepers of an ancient treasure—a secret that binds them—they alone know why the deaths have occurred, and more importantly, how to stop them. With the eventual help of Libby and Lucy, the reporter finds a sacred place in the woods called The Hallows—where Druids once roamed, and where his answers are deeply buried. After months of investigating, the death toll rising, a bit of romance, and otherwordly harbingers of Lucy’s dolls, the mystery of Preacher’s Cove begins to unravel.
My Review: Do you like old folklore about Druids and women who are so angelic with curling red hair and porcelain skin? Rare beauty each? Dashing men coming to the rescue, healing venomous bites with green energy summoned from within? Thunder and lightning? Snakes? Well, I don’t care for snakes at all but this is a book anyone who loves old folklore and romance mixed in should read. Five stars!
Indochina 1945: Arielle, who is half-French, half-Vietnamese, is working as a secretary for the French colonial government when the Japanese storm Hanoi. Although her Asian blood spares her from imprisonment, she is forced to work for the occupiers. The Viet Minh threaten to reveal dark secrets from her past if she won’t pass them information from her new masters.
Drawn ever deeper into the rebels’ dangerous world, will Arielle ever escape the torment of her past? Or will she find love amidst the turmoil of war?
A novel of love, loss, war, and survival against all odds.
Paris, November 1946
Arielle pulled her shawl tightly around her shoulders and stepped out of the entrance to the apartment building and onto the broad pavement of Boulevard St Germaine. An icy wind whipped around her, driving up from the River Seine, funnelled by the tall buildings. She shivered and gritted her teeth against the weather. It was so alien to her, this biting cold air that chilled you to the marrow of your bones. In her native Hanoi, the temperature, even in the cooler months, was always comfortable and she was so used to the sultry heat of that city that this Paris winter was a cruel shock.
Even so, she needed to get out. She couldn’t stay inside the stuffy, cramped apartment a moment longer, and while her father was sleeping it was difficult to do anything in that tiny space without disturbing him. So, each morning she left the building to tramp the streets of this alien city, exploring the alleys of the Latin Quarter, the cobbled lanes and churches of the île de la Cité, the boulevards and gardens of the Eighth Arondissement. And as she walked, she watched the stylish Parisians going about their business, dashing to and fro in fashionable clothes, getting out of taxis, riding on trams, pouring down the steps of the metro. She was trying to understand her new home, to find her place in it, to find some meaningful connection with this great, intimidating city. And there was something else she was searching for too.
Now, as she braced herself against the wind and started walking along the boulevard away from the apartment, she glanced guiltily back up at the windows on the third floor. She always worried when she left Papa alone. What if he were to wake up and call out for her? What if he had one of his coughing fits? But he always encouraged her to go. ‘Go on, explore while I’m resting. You need to get to know the place. You can’t stay cooped up with a sick old man all day. I’ll be fine on my own.’ But still she worried.
She carried on down the road, making for the market in Rue Mouffetard. Cars and buses crawled past belting out fumes. Through the lines of slow-moving traffic wove bicycles and pony traps, army jeeps too. It felt so bleak here and so dull after the vibrant colours of Hanoi; the plane trees that lined the pavements had lost their leaves, their branches stark against the tall, pale buildings, and the sky between them was an ominous slate grey.
She walked past a couple of bus stops without pausing. She’d never yet got on a bus in Paris; she had no idea how they worked and was afraid of drawing attention to herself, even though she told herself it was perfectly safe here to do so. Years of having to keep a low profile in Hanoi had made her fearful of attention from anyone. Not that she need worry here in Paris, people barely noticed her. She could walk in the midst of a crowd as if she didn’t exist. And if anyone’s eyes did happen to light on her, seeing her dark skin and black hair they would quickly flick away, for she was half Vietnamese and it was as if she were invisible to them; a nobody.
Ann Bennett was born in Pury End, a small village in Northamptonshire, UK and now lives in Surrey. Her first book, A Daughter’s Quest, originally published as Bamboo Heart, was inspired by her father’s experience as a prisoner of war on the Thai-Burma Railway. The Planter’s Wife (originally Bamboo Island) a Daughter’s Promise and The Homecoming, (formerly Bamboo Road), The Tea Panter’s Club and The Amulet are also about the war in South East Asia, all six making up the Echoes of Empire Collection.
Ann is also author of The Runaway Sisters ,The Orphan House, and The Child Without a Home, published by Bookouture.
The Lake Pavilion and The Lake Palace are both set in British India in the 1930s and 40s. Her latest book, The Lake Pagoda, set in French Indochina in the 30s and 40s, will be published in April 2022.
Ann is married with three grown up sons and a granddaughter and works as a lawyer. For more details please visit http://www.bambooheart.co.uk
Meet the Thompsons of Locust Street, an unconventional family taking Philadelphia high society by storm…
1870 Kirsty Thompson is determined to begin her own business bringing beloved Scottish fabrics and yarns to Philadelphia but first she must meet the men and women who weave the plaids and spin the wool. How will she ever escape her protective older siblings and sail to Scotland?
Albert Watson is a medical doctor focusing on research, especially that of Joseph Lister and his sterilization techniques. He speaks at universities in America and in England while visiting his London relatives. As he prepares to sail for just such an engagement, Kirsty Thompson boards his ship to beg him to take her with him. What’s a gentleman to do? Albert cancels his trip across the ocean to escort Miss Thompson back to Philadelphia and finds there is danger afoot for her and her family.
Soon he comes to realize there is also danger for his heart, even for a man who rarely pulls his nose from a medical journal. He finds himself unable to put Miss Kirsty Thompson out of his thoughts, where they belonged, because certainly a beautiful, ambitious, and charming young woman could have no interest in him. Or could she?
Kirsty turned as he did toward the doors leading to the inside hallways after glancing longingly at the dock, now getting smaller as they moved from shore. He seated her at a table once they were in the dining room, signaled a waiter, and nodded at her to order. She opened her drawstring bag to see what amount of money she had left after paying for the trolley that day. She was suddenly panicked when she realized she’d have to find a way to travel to Philadelphia from New York when this infernal boat stopped, and she’d need money to do it.
“Nothing for me, thank you,” she said to the waiter.
“I’ll have coffee and this assortment of cheese and olives listed on your menu,” he said. “The lady will have tea. Thank you.”
She leaned forward. “I don’t have enough money to pay for it. Surely they’ll give me a glass of water.”
“Miss T-Thompson, I will take care of the b-bill. Please don’t worry.” He raised his hand as if he was calling to the waiter again.
But a young—very young—red-haired man walked to their table instead. His face had an unsightly burn scar on one side, and Kirsty did her best not to look at it as he arrived at the table. She wondered how Mr. Watson knew him.
“Clawson,” Watson said. “Change of plans. You’ll need to contact the Royal Academy and see about rescheduling my talk.”
“Yes, sir, right away, sir.”
“We’ll be staying in New York tomorrow evening. We’ll need three rooms at the hotel where we often stay.”
“Three rooms, sir?”
“One for you, one for me, and one for Miss Thompson.” He nodded to her. “Clawson, this is Miss Thompson. Miss Thompson, my assistant, Mr. Clyde Clawson.”
“A hotel room? Oh no! I’ll be heading directly home. I have to get home. My family will be frantic!”
“Miss Thompson, I d-doubt we’ll be able to catch a train after we arrive as it will be very late in the day. We’ll have to wait until the next morning to travel.”
“How do you know? Do you always take a steamer to New York? Isn’t it easier to catch the train?”
“Ah,” Clawson said. “I’ll need to see if our tickets can be canceled or sold, perhaps.”
Kirsty watched the young man hurry away. “What did he mean about the tickets being sold?
Mr. Watson stared at her and then looked up at the waiter bringing their cheese platter and pots of coffee and tea. He pulled bills out of his wallet, handed them to the waiter, and told him to keep the change. He stirred several sugar cubes into the cup of coffee the waiter poured for him and looked up at her.
“Tickets for a t-transatlantic crossing.”
“Why would you cancel your tickets? When were you planning on sailing?” she asked, interested to know if the date could work for her, although after she arrived home the day after tomorrow, she doubted if her older sister and brother, Muireall and James, would ever let her out of their sight again.
“The day after tomorrow, Miss T-Thompson. This steamer stops in New York to pick up additional p-p-passengers and then goes directly to England.”
“Well, why can’t you go now? Has something happened?”
He stared at his cup for some time. He would prefer to continue to England as planned but he could not abandon her without an escort. And spending time with this beautiful, vivacious woman would not be a hardship. “I can hardly allow you to t-travel by yourself, Miss Thompson. I will see you back to your home.”
Holly Bush writes historical romance set in the U.S.in the late 1800’s, in Victorian England, and an occasional Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Connect with Holly at www.hollybushbooks.com and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush
From Amazon: How much are you willing to trust someone you love? Eve Calderone has been married to Boyd for forty-two years and is grateful for the many gifts in their lives: good health, loving children and grandchildren, dear friends, a beautiful home, and a flourishing family business. But their blissful marriage is shaken when they meet Peter Murray . . . because it doesn’t take long to discover he’s the son Boyd never knew he had. Boyd’s stubborn insistence to bond with his surprise son ignites a transformation in him Eve is entirely unprepared for. She can’t help but question how his unexpected behavior and impulsive decisions will affect her and alter her family’s identity. And after decades of a loving relationship, she wonders how much she really knows her husband. Ultimate Love is Book 6 in the Calderone Family Romance series. This poignant seasoned romance weaves past incidents with present-day events to journey through the depths of heartache and trust, responsibility and commitment, forgiveness and ultimate love.
My Review: The Calderone family – they are rather “epic” as Jamie would say. This book completes the series in a romantic and magnificent manner befitting the Calderone name. That name will stay with me for quite some time to come. Pain, heartache, misunderstandings, and fear mixed in with all the ginormous love the family has for each other, and reading how books one through five came about, makes fir a don’t miss romance. Five shiny gold stars.
Please welcome Thaddeus Arjuna to my blog. Good Morning everyone!
1. Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.
Hello. I am Thaddeus Arjuna. I am a Retired American Expat living in Bali Indonesia, writing under a penname. I am a lifelong Chef and celebrated Foodie a long way from home.
2. Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?
I actually started writing less than ten yrs ago. My first book was a biography about an insane mother. I started on the manuscript in my mid 50s when I was nearing the end of my cooking career. I shelved it for several years as the material was sensitive and had caused some family tension due to exposing a dark family secret that we had attempted to never talk about.
3. How difficult was it writing your first book?
Extremely. My book “Something is Wrong with Janet” chronicles a life with an institutionalized Manic Depressive as a young boy. It was very painful to write because I, like the rest of my siblings, spent our lives trying to suppress and forget the trauma of living with a troubled mother.
4. Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?
About every five minutes. My original intention was just to write about my mother. But I realized after writing half of it, that I had actually lived an extraordinary life and had material for several books.
5. Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
Almost no one. Laughing. Because of the nature of the first book, which didn’t get published for several years due to procrastination and a desire to ‘not rock the boat’ in the family, and being a chef and not writing a cookbook, (yet) I found little support around my family and friends. I published a different book first and came back to it. I also have written almost exclusively Ebooks and Novellas. I have charted a tiny niche that has been difficult to promote.
6. Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I write in several genres, and I write for art. I believe that not choosing one genre has made it more difficult to create a brand, but I felt my ‘sweet spot’ was the Novella. Under 50,000 words. I have only written one full-length novel. The other 7 books are all novellas and two of them are slightly larger than a short story.
7. What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?
I was fortunate to have grown up around a few well-known authors. Walter Farley was a personal friend of the family and spent every election night with my father. I grew up on his books. John D MacDonald also wrote the forward for my mother’s self-published cookbook. I grew up reading the Travis McGee mystery series. My best advice? Write about your life. Even if you disguise it, you are going to be in it. There is no other way if you write honestly.
8. What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
Anyone who has a Kindle device or app. Laughing. I have written two murder mysteries, (one that was a true story and I am in it) one Sci-fi trilogy based on Mars. ( a childhood fantasy escape for me) A book about Hindu Mysticism based on an early involvement in a Hindu sect as a teenager, the book https://www.amazon.com/Something-Wrong-Janet-brilliant-imperfect-ebook/dp/B0837G8VMT about my mother, and my life with her, and a book of poetry and odes.
9. Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?
The book, “Something is Wrong with Janet” cover was created by Carol Marrs Phipps. She has also done 4 of the 8 books. and several promotional banners for me.
10. What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?
I am currently writing a dark spy novel about an Iranian Assassin living in Paris. I have a friend in the NSA who is giving me tips.
It is called “A Heresy of Angels”, and I hope to have it done in the next 4 or 5 months. It is about two women, one who works in the NSA and the woman who she is tracking who is an Iranian Assassin. This is a poem in the book written in the first person from the viewpoint of the Iranian Assassin.
There are secrets beyond imagination. Secrets that were once innocent, and now are scars on my soul. Secrets of betrayal. Betrayal of my country, my faith, and even love. Because the truth is too ugly. When you love someone so much that you are willing to give up your soul, for revenge, what do you have to live for? Revenge for what was taken from you, or the longing for that innocence that made you pure? The love that gave you wings. Can that be greater than revenge? Is there nothing I will not do to find that revenge, and will this finally satisfy my hate? I can have that feeling of innocence back! I Can be made whole again, I know I can…
11. Any last words before we wrap things up?
I walked away from the Restaurant Business after 47 yrs as a chef. I spent a lifetime creating menus and writing wine lists. Culinary Creativity was my gift. When I retired I needed a creative outlet to keep myself occupied. Writing has been almost a divine gift to me. Relieving me of boredom, and helping me channel some of that leftover imaginative zeal still inside me.
1459. A gifted woman artist. A ruthless Scottish privateer. And an audacious plan that throws them together—with dangerous consequences.
No one on the Greek island of Rhodes suspects Anica is responsible for her Venetian father’s exquisite portraits, least of all her wealthy fiancé. But her father’s vision is failing, and with every passing day it’s more difficult to conceal the truth.
When their secret is discovered by a powerful knight of the Order of St. John, Anica must act quickly to salvage her father’s honor and her own future. Desperate, she enlists the help of a fierce Scottish privateer named Drummond. Together, they craft a daring plan to restore her father’s sight.
There’s only one problem—she never imagined falling in love with her accomplice.
Before their plan can unfold, a shocking scandal involving the knights puts Anica’s entire family at risk. Her only hope is to turn to Drummond once again, defying her parents, her betrothed, even the Grand Master of the Knights himself. But can she survive the consequences?
With this captivating tale of passion, courage, and loyalty, Amy Maroney brings a lost, dazzling world to vivid life.
Sea of Shadows is Book 2 in a series of stand-alone historical novels packed with adventure and romance.
Excerpt 7 (742 words)
The port-side rowers pulled in their oars while the starboard oarsmen put the last bit of their strength into maneuvering the craft alongside the quay. As ropes flew and sailors swarmed over the galley, Drummond touched the amulet hanging from his neck, murmuring a prayer of thanks to Santa Maria for seeing them safely back to Rhodes.
A slight man with a closely trimmed beard and a fur-edged cloak hurried forward from the crowd of knights, servants-at-arms, and bureaucrats who stood assembled along the quay watching the boat tie up. He was followed by two guards leading a mule and cart.
“Did you secure it, Captain?” the man asked in French, stopping short in front of Drummond.
“Yes,” he said.
“All of it?” The man widened his eyes meaningfully.
“Yes,” he repeated, louder. Did the fellow think he was daft?
At Drummond’s signal, two sailors lugged a compact wooden chest forward, staggering with the effort, and deposited it at the Frenchman’s feet.
“To think such a small thing weighs so much,” the man observed with a satisfied little smirk.
Drummond shrugged, making no response.
“Any plunder of note on the return journey?”
Drummond’s hackles rose. He had retrieved the captives and gold he’d set out for; he had safely returned with none dead. And yet the Order still wanted more.
“I chose to hurry back rather than waste time and put more lives at risk by chasing random vessels at sea.”
“And the knights you transported?”
“They don’t have a scratch on them. The infidels treated their captives well, it seems.”
“As they should. We did the same for theirs. What message for the grand master?”
Drummond regarded the man steadily. “Lord de Milly asked me to personally deliver my report along with the captives. I’ll be up to the palace as soon as your guards load the chest into that cart. I’m sure the treasurer is expecting you.”
The man’s expression darkened. Without another word to Drummond, he signaled for the guards to come forward.
Watching the guards load the wooden box into the waiting mule cart, Drummond didn’t notice his silk-clad passenger appear at his elbow, a servant at his side.
“My gratitude for a safe journey, Captain Fordun,” the man said, inclining his head in thanks.
Drummond turned to face him. “Any time you need transport, sayyid, I’d gladly be of service. I’m often tasked with voyaging to Cyprus, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be called to journey to Alexandria again.”
The physician had traveled from Damascus, the city of his birth, to Alexandria, where he’d boarded Drummond’s vessel for the return journey to Rhodes. During snatches of conversation under the canvas shelter in calm weather, he’d told Drummond tales about the medical techniques of doctors in Damascus—stories that were almost too incredible to believe. He’d described observing and even participating in surgeries in which patients’ skulls were opened or their internal organs were repaired. The thought of a man undergoing such procedures and not only surviving but being cured seemed fantastical.
“I won’t forget the offer,” he replied. “And if you have an injury that needs attention, come to me.”
Drummond looked at him in surprise. “I’m just a privateer, sayyid.”
The doctor’s bearded face broke into a smile. “You have better manners than most of the high-ranking members of the Order, though. I can’t recall the last time a knight called me ‘sir’ in my own language. Here, I’m known as Signor Syriano or, more often, ‘the Syrian.’”
“I understand. Most people call me ‘the Scot,’” Drummond returned with a wry smile. “Thank you, but I hope I’ll never need to take you up on your offer.”
The Syrian’s expression grew contemplative. “You take great risks for the knights. You’re lucky to be alive, from what I hear.”
Drummond’s fingers flew to his amulet again. “Santa Maria has been generous.”
“May she ever be so.” The doctor fumbled in his purse and withdrew a length of black silk embroidered in white with the eight-pointed cross of the Knights Hospitaller. He slipped it around his neck. “You’ve your amulet to keep you safe; I’ve my mantle.”
“These streets aren’t always friendly to your kind,” Drummond acknowledged. “For my part, I sometimes wear robes in the Arab style when I’m in Alexandria and Damascus. Why court trouble if you can avoid it?”
“Trouble will find us no matter how well we prepare,” the doctor said softly. “Good day.”
Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an award-winning historical fiction trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Her new historical suspense/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.
From Amazon: Sugar is facing the ten-year anniversary of the day she lost everything. Buried in grief, she’s worried this year the pain and darkness may take her too. The last thing she wants as that day approaches is an unexpected houseguest sent to protect her from a dangerous madman. Special Agent Donovan Walsh is looking for a change. His stint as a single father complete, he has too much time on his hands, and jumps at the chance to protect the new state witness in Minnesota. Little does he know that convincing a beautifully broken woman to trust him will be his hardest job yet. An attempt is made on Sugar’s life, and she must trust Van to lead her through a dangerous rumba of deceit, kidnapping, and murder. When the danger fades away and life returns to normal, there is one question Sugar has left to answer. Will Van be the one to heal her broken heart or shatter it beyond repair?
My Review: Sugar is a complex character and quite strong when she needs to be. That’s not a bad thing, unless one pushes themselves a bit too far without help. Family is the key. Mettner proves that in this book. Family does NOT mean only blood relations. Family includes non blood people such as best friends, surrogate mothers, siblings can be foster kids not related but grow up just like siblings and family. Family is love. That is the key. God bless Family. At one point, I was a little jealous about the wonderful characters who were, and are, Family for each other. I’ve never had that in my life. Oh, and disability due to prosthetics or for any reason is not handicapped but she has a disability or she wears oxygen, etcetera as people are not what you see first. I love happily ever afters as well.
Clara Vincent is “the artful dodger” when it comes to marriage, especially when her father is bent on match-making. Will her attitude change when she meets two eligible suitors and is drawn into the lives of intensely competitive families? Clara falls unexpectedly in love, but when fortunes are reversed and relationships up-ended, she needs to decide whether to trust James Brantford, who is seeking retribution, or accept the love of the man everyone else believes is her ideal match.
As the Brantford wagers unfold and lay bare the history of past relationships, will Clara be able to learn the truth and finally follow her heart?
From Chapter 11 – A Surprising Discovery
‘Who is it, Mama?’ asked Catherine.
‘Mr Brantford and that Mr Hangtree fellow—come to see you again, Catherine, my darling daughter.’
‘The name is Langley, Mother,’ said John. ‘But where is Mr Ashton? Why is he not with them?’
‘I take no mind what he calls himself, so long as he is good enough to call here.’
‘Langley! Do you know his full name—is it Mr Robert Langley?’ asked Clara.
‘You may ask him in a moment,’ said Mrs Stancroft, startled. Surely, they could not be known to one another. Clara had already met Mr Brantford before anyone else (not, Mrs Stancroft fervently believed, that it did Clara much good, since the man was surely sweet on Catherine), and now it seemed she might claim an acquaintance with the other gentleman.
‘They will be at our doorstep any moment. Make haste!’ she urged.
Clara rapidly considered the possibilities. She was alternately excited and distressed, and tried to account for it. The idea of Mr Brantford coming here to pay a visit delighted her. If the other gentleman happened to be her acquaintance from home, unexpectedly visiting her, it would, in the absence of Mr Brantford’s company, also delight her. The wild notion that these two knew one another, and were coming to visit at the same time, threw her feelings into complete turmoil.
The men were coming into the room and, in the flurry of greetings, it was Catherine who first drew Mr Langley’s interest, and it was she who finally called his notice to her cousin. ‘Sir, we are all attention to see if you are of Somerset. Are you, by chance, at all acquainted with our cousin, Miss Vincent of Wellsmere?’
‘Miss Vincent, here!’ he cried, looking quickly around the room. A glow of pleasure spread over his features. ‘Good Lord, how delighted I am to see you!’ he stammered, hurrying to Clara’s side, taking up her hands. ‘I had not expected—I had no idea—it was you who have been ill, then! My word! Had I but known!—to think I did not know you were here! Good grief! I am shocked! And I am thankful to see you recovered—you are recovered?’ He looked at her searchingly. ‘Mr Brantford, I am indebted to you for sending your physician to care for Miss Vincent.’ He took both her hands in his, and said to Clara: ‘How could I answer to your father had you suffered, while I was so close at hand?’ He gripped Clara’s hands tightly.
It was difficult for the others in the room to determine who in the party was more taken aback. Clara blushed, distressed as much by Mr Langley’s actions as by Mr Brantford’s surprise. Mr Brantford was scowling deeply. Mrs Stancroft and the others look dumbfounded.
Mr Langley was unable to calm himself. He remained highly agitated, quite unlike his usual, confident self. His mind, by this point, was racing furiously along.
‘Was that her at the river, then?’ was his first awful thought.
He recollected his various remarks about the Lady at the River—Ashton’s insinuations, his own laughing comments, some unfortunate references to fur-bearing forest animals; perhaps the word vixen had been used. Ill-advised jokes about the child’s illegitimate parentage came floating back to him. He struggled to recall the direction of the wind and the distance between his position and hers. Had Clara heard it all? Perhaps recognised his voice? Had she seen his face? His colour deepened.
‘Had it been Clara who hollered during the race from the ridge and spooked the horses?’ was the next, equally unwelcome, idea. Whether he was more appalled at the idea of her yelling or of her cheering, perhaps for Brantford, he could not say.
Words of his own, spoken when he left Wellsmere— ‘I have important business in the north’—popped unbidden into his head. The gentlemen would all agree, a few weeks of sports and card-playing with the lads was important business, indeed, but would she see it in that light?
The conversation with the uncle, so amusing at the time, about a relative coming to Finstead to escape the attentions of some low-life in her hometown, came next. This woman, the one he intended to court on returning to Wells, was in fact the cousin Mr Stancroft spoke about during their game of billiards. The old man clearly said the aim was to avoid an unfortunate pairing at home and have her be married off here. How was he to untangle all of this? He stared at Clara, bewildered, and stunned into silence.
Brantford shifted his weight from one foot to the other and cast a dark look at Langley.
Following Mr Langley’s dissatisfying recollection came the sudden realisation that here before him was the woman who had caught Brantford’s interest. He understood the situation at last. The Lady at the River was no ordinary country maiden. It was Miss Vincent—attractive, charming, bright, well connected, and not in the least lacking in financial resources. Good grief, that uncle fellow was completely clueless.
Langley’s emotions were a mingled mess of high distress, surprise akin to shock, and sudden happiness. He felt triumph at the look on Brantford’s face.
Brantford was indeed taken aback. He disliked the familiarity and ease with which Langley greeted Clara Vincent, and he was not alone in this.
A surge of resentment pulsed through Mrs Stancroft’s veins. ‘How is it,’ she dragged her brother-in-law aside, ‘that Clara has managed to meet both men before my own daughters? And, pray, why are they smitten with her, while she cares nothing for them?’ Her knees were buckling. She needed to sit.
Clara felt all eyes on her. She wanted to stop the speculation to which Mr Langley’s familiar greeting and words gave rise, but knew it was beyond her ability in this moment to do so. Still, seeing Mr Brantford look towards her hands, held tightly within Mr Langley’s, she found a way to slide her hands free of his hold.
As the visit wore on, Mr Langley, thrilled to discover that Clara was here in this part of the country, and happy to be the centre of so much attention, slowly recovered from his feelings of confusion.
In her début novel, The Brantford Wagers, Nadine Kampen draws on her passion for stories that bring a smile and warm the hearts of the reader. The author immerses the reader in the fictional world of traditional historical romance, set in the memorable Regency England period, sharing the hopes, schemes, and antics of her characters.
Prior to her career as an author, Nadine served as a regional marketing manager with an international consulting firm and as a communications and marketing director on university campuses. Earlier in her career, she worked in public relations and journalism, and was co-author and project lead for five non-fiction books comprising The Canadian Breast Cancer Series, published in 1989.
A resident of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, Nadine loves relaxing with family and friends, reading and walking, playing tunes on her 1905 Bell piano, and gardening.
Life on Molly is a travel and lifestyle blog. I am a normal girl with many passions. I am an explorer of new places, a learner of new languages, creator of my ambitions, blogger, and a good pal. This blog is my little corner of the world where I am able to share my adventures with you and inspire you to live a life full of purpose.