Excerpt from Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Lady Clementine

by Marie Benedict

Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict X
Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict
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    Jan 2020, 336 pages

    Jul 2020, 416 pages


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A spider crawled across the leaf-­strewn temple floor, and I focused on its nonlinear path as a means of calming my nerves. Through my peripheral vision, I noted that Winston's cheeks were flushed again, but I resolved to keep quiet and wait for him to speak first.

Finally, he cleared his throat. "Clementine."

I glanced up from the floor and met his gaze. "Yes," I said with a warm smile and encouraging nod.

"Since I was a young boy, I've had the unerring sense that my future and that of Great Britain were inextricably intertwined. That I'd be called upon to help our country in terrible times." His cheeks turned a deeper red. "You probably think I'm harboring some grandiose delusion and want to run for the hills."

I hastened to reassure him, careful not to reveal my disappointment at what surely couldn't be a prelude to a proposal. "Not at all, Winston. I admire your commitment to our country." I barely allowed myself to think what a thrill it would be, if we ever did marry, to engage in this great endeavor with him. I deeply desired the purposefulness of a traditional, stable marriage to this man, so different from the emptiness of Mother's bohemian life with its constant changes in locale, finances, and attention due to the vagaries of her ever-­varying roster of relationships. Not to mention how meaningful life with Winston would be compared to the other gentlemen to whom I'd been engaged.

The red of his cheeks faded, returning to its usual fairness. "Oh, Clementine, I'm so relieved you understand. I hope you also understand my need to have a strong, noble woman at my side," he said with an expectant gaze at me.

He seemed to be awaiting a response, but I couldn't fathom what to say. I'd guessed that he was building to some sort of proclamation; I'd even dared to hope he might propose. But declaring a need for a "strong, noble woman" was hardly tantamount to asking for one's hand. Still, I didn't want to discourage him should a proposal be hidden in there somewhere, so I gave him another encouraging nod and waited silently.

He cleared his throat again and began speaking. "I have grown very fond of you over these past months. More than that, much more. I daresay I've fallen quite in love with you, Clementine." He paused, then with eyes shimmering, asked, "Might you feel the same way?"

He had finally uttered the words I'd been longing to hear. I examined this man, over a decade my senior and an important, if controversial, member of Parliament, and saw the sensitive person who lay beneath the blunderbuss of his exterior, one who understood and shared my sense of being different. In that moment, I knew with utter certainty that I could make a life with him. It would not be an easy life—­no, it would be one of striving and ambition—­but it could be an important and purposeful one.

"I do, Winston," I answered, sensing my own cheeks blush with a surge of emotion. Throughout my two prior failed engagements, I had never once professed my love for those gentlemen, as I'd never felt a surge of emotion for either one. What I felt for Winston was utterly different and much more powerful.

"Oh, Clementine, you cannot know how happy that makes me." He enveloped my hands in his and took a deep breath. "I know our courtship has been brief, but I wonder if you'd do me the honor of becoming my wife. It will not be an ordinary marriage, but it will be a very great one."

Without breaking his intense gaze, I answered without hesitation. "I will become your wife, Winston Churchill."

Excerpted from Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict. Copyright © 2020 by Marie Benedict. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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