Picking up on the Picnics & Promises highlight segment, today's guest is Marion Ueckerman, with her novella, A Courtship for Clover. Welcome to Chirp 'N Chatter, Marion!
PICNICS & PROMISES: SIX DELICIOUS
About A COURTSHIP FOR CLOVER:
Top London chef Clover Blume has one chance to become better acquainted with Jonathan Spalding away from the mayhem of her busy restaurant where he frequently dines—usually with a gorgeous woman at his side. When the groomsman who is supposed to escort her at her sister’s New Year’s Eve wedding is delayed because of business, Clover begins to wonder whether she really wants to waste time with a player whose main focus in life is making money rather than keeping promises.
Jonathan lives the good life. There’s one thing, however, the London Investment Banker’s money hasn’t managed to buy: a woman to love—one worthy of his mother’s approval. Is it possible though, that the auburn-haired beauty who is to partner with him at his best friend’s wedding—a wedding he stands to miss thanks to a glitch in a deal worth millions—is finding a way into his heart?
But what will it cost Jonathan to realize it profits him nothing to gain the world, yet lose his soul?
And the girl.
Excerpt from A COURTSHIP FOR CLOVER:
No croquembouche had ever made Clover’s toes tingle as they did right now, dressed in the gorgeous green Rose Blume masterpiece. Not that she looked anything like the French dessert with its triangulated choux pastry balls bound with caramel threads. She smoothed a hand over the soft skirt. These colored chiffon creations must make Rose’s heart swell with the same sense of pride as hers always did whenever a perfect profiterole stack was carried out of her kitchen on a silver platter.
Clover could only imagine what Maggie’s dress was like, for she felt simply…beautiful. Perfection and detail from head to toe, thanks to the hair stylist, makeup artist, and manicurist who had all been anxiously waiting for her to make it back to her room. And then had to wait some more while she took a bath. Thankfully Heather had already dressed and was over in Maggie’s room helping. As were all her sisters, no doubt. She wished she could have been part of the clamor that would be going on in the bride’s suite, but she’d had her own duties to perform today.
Clover was grateful for the undivided attention of the three ladies who went to work the minute she stepped out of the bathroom.
With only an hour to spare, they’d moved speedily—Brooke standing behind Clover blow-drying her washed hair then sweeping it into a perfect messy side-bun, if one could call a messy bun perfect; Zoe sitting in front of her applying her make-up; and Jemma on the side painting works of art on her nails. She would’ve needed a month of Sundays to look this good if she had to groom herself.
But sixty minutes later, looking like a Vogue centerspread according to Zoe, all Clover had to do was to slip into her bridesmaid’s outfit. Even in that, she had help. Finally, a few sprays of perfume—the last touch before stepping out of the room. Thankfully Maggie hadn’t insisted she wear a clover scent. She was rather partial to her favorite Calvin Klein fragrance, Reveal.
Speaking of revealing, what will tonight divulge about the handsome Jonathan Spalding? Was he as gorgeous as he looked with a personality to match and she’d fall madly in love with him? Or was he a total jerk and she’d count the hours until the wedding reception ended?
Clover set the perfume bottle down on the dresser.
“You look amazing.” Brooke grabbed the hairspray can. A few spritzes ensured any stray hairs would remain in place. “Green really is your color.”
“Thank you.” Clover smiled at the hairstylist. Brooke certainly had the right name for she’d babbled like one the entire time she’d worked on Clover’s hair. But one probably needed that kind of personality to enjoy the job. Not that Clover had minded her chatter. Her stories of styling high-profile clients’ hair at occasions such as this were interesting to say the least. And they kept her mind from wandering too often to a certain groomsman that was guaranteed to blend in perfectly at her side.
Clover glanced at her feet as she navigated the white high-heeled ankle boots with their lace overlay. The emerald chiffon skirt swirled as she walked. At her bosom, tiny ribbon-embroidered clovers peeked over the top of the white faux fur stole covering her bare shoulders and arms. She couldn’t wait to discard this particular item of clothing and show off that strapless sweetheart bodice with its satin trefoil decorating the top left of the bodice.
Brooke hurried in front of Clover and opened the bedroom door. Her sisters’ laughter spilled from the passageway connecting all the rooms.
Clover hastened over the threshold, anxious to see how the other bridesmaids looked.
One word… Stunning. Each of them “Spring in Winter.”
Holly hobbled toward her.
“Lift that dress a bit higher so I can see.” Clover couldn’t wait to get a peek at what Rose had created to disguise the CAM boot Holly’s foot was wrapped in. If she’d only torn those ligaments two weeks earlier, she could’ve been out of that orthopedic boot for the wedding. But accidents weren’t scheduled according to one’s calendars. At least Holly wasn’t still on crutches, and this wasn’t her wedding.
Holly hitched up the dark Christmas-green chiffon skirt and extended her booted foot. “Ta-da.” Lace matching the bridesmaids’ boots covered the entire CAM boot, from the tips of her toes to where it ended close to her knee.
“Nice.” A grin spread across Clover’s face. “Good thing our heels are almost the same height as that boot.” She pointed toward Holly’s injured foot.
Clover shook her head and gave Holly a reassuring smile.
“Good.” She leaned closer and whispered in Clover’s ear. “Because Myles has offered to carry me if it’s too difficult to walk, and I really don’t want him to think I’m struggling in any way. I mean…what would Christopher think?” She released a sigh. “I wish he could’ve been here tonight.”
“So do I. I want to meet this priest of yours.”
“Reverend,” Holly corrected. “I’m anxious for you to meet him, too. He’s gorgeous—inside and out.”
Clover started as Jonathan stepped beside her and extended his left arm, linking it in hers. Where had he been hiding?
“Sorry to interrupt, but I believe this vision from heaven is with me.”
Holly giggled. “Speaking of gorgeous… Who. Is. This?”
Holly! Couldn’t the ground open up and swallow her whole?
Jonathan held out his free hand. He pressed Holly’s fingers in his then, raising her wrist, planted a soft kiss on the back of her hand. “Jonathan Spalding.”
Holly’s eyes brightened. “Ah, the MIA best friend. You made it.”
A low chuckle rumbled from his chest. “Only just.”
“Well, looking at you, one would never know,” Holly said.
“He cleaned up well.” Clover was at a complete loss for anything more intelligent to say whilst trying her best not to stare.
Stupid. He didn’t have anything to clean up. He’d looked perfect in his casual clothes, too. But, wow, no denying he was even dreamier in that tux.
“So did you, Clover. Way beyond what I had dreamed or imagined.” Jonathan offered her a bold smile that released the butterflies in her stomach.
He’d been thinking about her?
Like a teenager, heat rose to her cheeks at his words. Or was it because of the appreciative glint in his eyes?
She breathed in a long, slow breath, closing her eyes for a moment to savor the woodsy fragrance assailing her senses, every inch of her body set on high alert. Oh man, I shouldn’t have done that.
“You must be Holly. What happened to your foot?”
Jonathan’s voice drew Clover from her heady experience, and her eyes flew open.
Holly laughed. “I am. And the foot…it’s a long story.”
“Short version?” he asked.
“You could say I fell for my man. Literally.”
“Myles is one lucky feller.”
Holly burst into laughter. She shook her head. “Heavens, no. Not Myles. I’m talking about Christopher Stewart.”
Jonathan’s eyes narrowed. “I’m confused. Why are you partnered with Myles, then?”
“Because Reverend Stewart has only recently started working at St. Stephens,” Clover explained. “And he has to do the watchnight service in Robin Hood’s Bay tonight. Plus, his elderly father only had hip surgery a week ago, so he’s still on the mend.”
“Hip surgery, huh?” Jonathan’s gaze flicked to Holly’s feet. “Are the two incidences related?
Holly chuckled. “No.”
“Too bad he couldn’t make it.” He turned to look at Clover, his gaze lasering hers. “I’m glad my partner is here tonight.”
Oh, sizzle. I think I might enjoy getting to know you after all, Mr. Best-Friend-Come-Lately.
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About Marion Ueckermann:
USA Today bestselling author, MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest’s no longer so empty.