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Character Sketch and Background

A Most Unconventional Match


With the release of a A MOST UNCONVENTIONAL MATCH, readers will finally get Hal Waterman’s story.  Of all the secondary characters I’ve written in my on-again, off-again Wellingford series, Hal is the one about whom I’ve had the most inquiries.  So what makes Hal so special?

First is his manner of speaking.  Having suffered from a stutter as a child, something his good friend Nicky (Nicholas Stanhope, Marquess of Englemere, hero of THE WEDDING GAMBLE) helped him overcome when they were both schoolboys at Eton, he now uses words very economically.  In fact, he often speaks in sentence fragments.  For this reason, he’s avoided the company of ladies, who appreciate the sort of flowery compliments delivered in a polished manner which he just can’t manage.

What else can I tell you about Hal?  He’s a man’s man, most comfortable in the company of gentlemen who appreciate his prowess at all the manly skills of riding, shooting, hunting and boxing.  He’s possessed of a keen, calculating mind that loves mathematical puzzles and mechanical gadgets.  Following that interest, he uses his vast wealth to investigate the newest inventions and invest in those he thinks have merit—like canals, fire extinguishers and the newest of the new, railroad engines.

An occupation which, because of its vulgar association with trade and commerce, his socially prominent mother deplores.  In fact, Hal’s mama frequently disapproves of her “disappointing” son and never hesitates to tell him so, under the excuse of trying to “improve” him.  Not surprisingly, of all ladies, he’s most eager to avoid the company of beautiful, fashionable ton beauties like his mother.

Despite her disdain for her son, Mrs. Waterman has decided it’s time for Hal to marry.  Her current occupation is to find him a suitable wife, and as one might expect, her idea of “suitable” and his don’t agree at all!

While trying to avoid his mother’s matrimonial schemes, he encounters another problem.  Loyalty to his friends being one of his strongest traits, when he learns that Nicky’s sister-in-law has just lost her husband while Nicky and all her family are abroad enjoying a Grand Tour of Europe, he knows he should call on the widow and offer assistance in Nicky’s place.  Unfortunately, the lady in question, Elizabeth Wellingford Lowery (sister of heroine Sarah Wellingford from THE WEDDING GAMBLE) is just the sort of Beauty he normally avoids.  In fact, he’s avoided her for years, since he met her at Nicky and Sarah’s wedding and had an instantaneous, powerful and absolutely unwanted attraction to her.

He forces himself to make the call anyway, and as he’s waiting to be received, encounters her small son in the hallway, carrying a broken toy—one, the boy confides, his Papa could have fixed in a moment.  Instantly transported back to when he, too, was a small boy grieving for his deceased father, Hal is hooked.  He simply cannot turn away from helping this lost little boy.

And so the dance of attraction and avoidance begins.  For the years have turned Elizabeth into an even lovelier and more complex woman than the dazzling girl Hal remembers.  How can he help Elizabeth untangle the financial mess in which her late husband left his estate and befriend her lonely son without losing his heart to a woman he believes would never appreciate a gruff, simple man like him?


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