Today, I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Nadine Kampen’s new book, The Brantford Wagers.
From Chapter 3 – Matchmakers
As members of the Vincent family drew near, Lady Melbourne gestured towards several of the pictures, then beckoned Clara. ‘These fellows who are out painting landscapes, do not you think they are just the sort who are entirely devoid of imagination? Look here—all earth and air; and not one maiden, or cherub, or fountain to enliven things.’
‘These particular artists portray nature without embellishment,’ Clara offered. ‘I find it refreshing.’
‘Painters of that ilk are rather like musicians who perform music exactly as written. Have not you noticed it yourself? They play precisely what appears on the score and do not add anything by way of adornment. Advise them to play a trill here and there, and they pretend not to hear you. Recommend a diminuendo and you are completely shunned. Suggest an arpeggio be added to some dull passage and they quit your company entirely. I find these types extremely irksome, the entire set—musicians, artists—all of them.’
Lady Melbourne snapped her fan shut against the palm of her hand. ‘I must say, you are brightly attired this evening, Miss Vincent. It is a timely change. I am so accustomed to seeing you in mourning, I scarcely recognised you. How could you have stood it, these past months, to look so drawn out? Granted, you lost two family members this past winter, but had you been my daughter, I would certainly not have had you wearing bombazine all the time. However, that time is at an end. I see you have done something unusual with your hair this evening.’
‘To charming effect,’ praised Mr Langley, stepping forward. He wanted to speak to Clara once more before they left. With his hand at her elbow, he steered her a short distance away.
‘Since we are both to leave the vicinity soon, Miss Vincent,’ he said, ‘I want to be sure you understand how fortunate I feel that we have finally met and were able to share this time together.’
Clara, wondering if he was about to declare his feelings for her and feeling it was too soon for him to do so, nodded in a friendly manner, observing him.
‘While our time together has ended for now, I can at least look forward to seeing you within a few months.’ He noticed a faint blush coming to Clara’s cheeks, and it pleased him. ‘If I am to find any consolation in this separation,’ he continued, ‘it is in the fact that we are both away at the same time. After I accompany Lady Melbourne to Bath, I am wanted elsewhere on pressing business. I will be tied up with important matters for the near future. My Aunt and I will reunite in late fall, after which I will take her to whatever destinations she wishes. We plan to return to Wells by Christmas.’ Mr Langley felt annoyed at having to mould his affairs to fit the whims and interests of his aunt, but he shook off his irritation.
‘I particularly hope, when I return,’ he said earnestly, picking up her hand and turning it over in his, ‘to have the pleasure of renewing our acquaintance, and discussing the future.’
Clara remained still for a moment, then discreetly removed her hand in a natural manner. She was not inclined to discourage Mr Langley, as she had so many others. She liked him well enough to this point, and was glad they had met, but neither would she encourage him. Cautious by nature, she would not commit beyond what short acquaintance dictated. She nodded, replying that she would, of course, be pleased to see him again in a few months’ time.
‘This would be a fortunate match, Mr Vincent,’ observed Lady Melbourne. She would have been pleased to know how close her thinking on this point matched his. She had long hoped to unite their families, albeit not until recently in this particular fashion. She had not relinquished all thought of remarrying, and she had placed her hopes on Mr Vincent. With regard to this younger pair, having met at last, there appeared to be interest on both sides.
‘I had not realised, Mr Vincent, that your daughter is such an accomplished hostess. I should not have thought to light up the garden as she has done and create such an attractive scene. As for today’s entertainment, I daresay the illuminations in London were grand but so, too, were this evening’s displays. And thank you for putting out the fire on my hat,’ she said, unfurling her fan and brushing it playfully across his shoulder. ‘I must confess, while I can bear a few sparks flying about, I am grateful you did not bombard us with squibs and strike us dead where we stood.’
‘Fine host I should have been then,’ said Mr Vincent solemnly.
Lady Melbourne smiled and came back to her point. ‘You cannot keep her here forever. My home, at least, is not far away.’
‘True,’ he replied.
‘Well, good night, then, Mr Vincent.’
‘Wait, madam, if you please.’ One of the servants brought in a large package for Lady Melbourne. ‘It is a token of appreciation for the hospitality shown my daughter during my travels. My man will load it on the carriage for you.’
‘Why, Mr Vincent,’ she said, her deep voice wavering, ‘thank you so much.’
As the heavy front doors swung shut behind the last of their visitors, the family members made their way to the drawing-room, losing Mariette’s husband to his quarters along the way.
William Vincent relished the opportunity to speak to his daughters alone. There were important matters that he wanted to raise. On entering the room, he perched himself on a broad chair near the fire and surveyed his daughters. The sisters were alike in some respects, but they differed in countless ways. In appearance, Clara, the taller of the two, preferred simple lines to her clothing; Mariette liked frills. Clara saved money; Mariette spent it. Clara planned; Mariette enjoyed spontaneity. Clara enjoyed reading and was often lost in her own thoughts; Mariette was the livelier of the two.
Here’s the blurb:
Is Clara Vincent ready to risk it all for love?
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?
Meet the Author
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.
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