– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Brantford Wagers’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About 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.
Book Title: The Brantford Wagers
Series: The Brantford Series, Book 1
Author: Nadine Kampen
Publication Date: 20th January 2022
Publisher: Birdsgate Publishing
Page Length: 358 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Regency Romance
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?
A Memorable Composition
If Clara anticipated anything at all of Andrew Hill’s music, it was heaviness and fury. She fully expected him, in fact, to bang his hands down onto the ivories. What she heard instead completely startled her. The first sounds were full, sweet notes in the upper octaves. The music began in lightness and rapid motion, the melody beginning in the higher tones and echoed in an enchanting counter-movement in the bass.
‘How beautiful!’ she said quietly, tingling with excitement. Brantford smiled and nodded.
On the man played to his company, phrase after phrase taking shape under his capable hands. Clara watched his wrists and saw how his hands hovered, moving with such speed, caressing the keys. He came at length to a variation on his opening melody but played now with authority and power. The melody held more weight this time, more maturity, almost. The passage was mournful rather than sweet, resolving in a manner that was utterly satisfying and complete.
They remained still at the end of it, shocked by what they had heard. It was as though he had placed a spell on them. What an extraordinary composition. Lifting her daughter from her lap, Jenny Hill moved silently to her husband’s side. Mr Brantford and Clara looked to one another. Mr Hill rested, absolutely still. His wife lifted one of her husband’s massive hands to her tear-stained face, kissed the tips of his fingers, and pressed his hand to her cheek.
The husband had played for his wife alone. Clara understood that and looked away. Brantford, watching her, pressed his handkerchief into her hand, and she took it gratefully.
Mr Hill stood up and bowed, smiling at no one in particular. He knew the value of his work and he knew he had played brilliantly. When he did finally look towards his guests, it was in triumph and pride.
Brantford rose to his feet. ‘It is outstanding. All England shall thank you for it.’
‘What a privilege it is to hear your music. I was deeply moved. Thank you for inviting me to stay.’ Clara would have said more, but he had heard enough of praise. Mr Hill fixed his attention upon his daughter.
‘What say you, daughter? Do you like it?’
‘Yes, Papa, except the middle is noisy. The ending is splendid; that is the best part.’
‘I see. You were glad when it was over.’
The child pursed her lips and blinked back tears, hurt at being misinterpreted.
‘It has a happy ending,’ she explained.
He hugged Angelina and gave his wife a tender smile that lit up his tired features.
Clara looked away once more. This was all so private, these emotions and hidden feelings. She yearned to leave, and expressing her appreciation once more, bid the couple farewell. Mr Brantford, saying he would follow her in a moment, asked her to wait for him. Outside, she felt a wave of emotion sweeping over her. She could name the feeling, had anyone asked her: it was loneliness, and it seemed to fill her lungs, leaving her breathless. Hearing of Jenny’s estrangement and listening to the husband’s music made her heart hurt, and it brought a flood of memories, of the loss of her loved ones and her own isolation as an outsider. Even gaining the affection of the wrong man—she realised that now—brought a sense of emptiness, and she felt overwhelmed. Happiness had some future date written upon it; it was not to be claimed any time soon. Every note of that song had resounded inside her chest, and her heart was pounding.
Mr Brantford soon joined her, and they sat beside one another on a low stone wall.
‘His music is so very memorable. My father commissioned this piece and has secured a buyer in London, which will help considerably. The timing could not be better.’
‘Truly? I am glad to hear it.’
‘Miss Vincent, you mentioned at our last meeting that your brother-in-law enquired after my stables. I confess, it caught me by surprise, but I would be pleased to show you some of our horses. They are not all here at Middlegate, but you are welcome to see them. Feel free to come by when it suits you.’
‘I should like that immensely. Perhaps I could return at the end of October, then, since the day of your picnic will be rather busy for you,’ she suggested, pleased by his offer.
Brantford nodded and smiled happily. ‘You need only name the date.’
Clara, confused by his attention and friendly demeanour, felt exhausted from trying to rein in her natural warmth. The effort must have shown on her expressive features.
‘Are you tired? Let me see you home. I am ashamed I let you walk home from the river that day, when you so badly needed rest. I shall not be guilty a second time. Wait here while I collect my grandmother, and I will take you home.’
‘Your grandmother is here with you?’
‘Yes, on a rendez-vous with some acquaintances, enjoying tea. I shan’t be long.’ True to his word, he returned promptly with Mrs Brantford already settled in the carriage, and they journeyed the few miles to Stancrofts’ in comfort and ease.
On arrival, Mr Brantford declined Mrs Stancroft’s invitation to stay for refreshments. Clara was grateful he was leaving. She wanted and needed time to be alone. The music she had heard was still playing through her mind, and her enjoyment of Mr Brantford’s company on the ride home had given her much to think about. She escaped to her own room, lay down on her bed, and closed her eyes. Stretched out on her back, arms under her head, she replayed the sounds and scenes over and over to her heart’s content while tears trickled down her cheeks.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds