|Posted on December 7, 2017 at 4:20 AM|
About the Book
Title: Kindred Spirits
Author: Whitney Dineen
Genre: Chicklit / Romance
Dashing and successful, Richard Bingham has been voted one of the top ten bachelors in New York City. After unwittingly offending a reporter from Manhattan Life magazine, he finds himself on the receiving end of an article that makes his quest of finding the perfect mate nearly impossible.
After one dating disaster too many, Richard decides it’s time to seek professional help, so he signs up for the matchmaking services of the East Side Yenta.
Philippa Fielding is single and searching for love in London, but her accidental profession of “Message Deliverer from the Great Beyond” puts most men right off.
Will Pip’s new "Spirit Helper," Bertram, be able to set her on the course for true love with a message for Richard?
Matchmaking, misunderstandings, and mayhem abound in this fast-paced romantic comedy about love, life, and the afterlife!
Whitney Dineen is a multi-award-winning author of romantic comedies, non-fiction humor and middle reader fiction. When she’s not spinning stories, Whitney’s raising her young daughters, wrangling chicken, or eating french fries, not necessarily in that order.
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You did what?” Spencer Hollis demanded.
Richard replied, “I told you, Spence, I made an appointment with the East Side Yenta.”
“Richard, you are one of, if not the most eligible bachelors in New York City. Why in the world do you need the help of some old Jewish matchmaker? You’re not even Jewish!” he added.
“For God’s sake, Spencer, you don’t have to be Jewish to use a matchmaker. I’m using her because ever since the article in Manhattan Life magazine came out, I’ve managed to attract every freak-show gold-digger east of the Mississippi. Seriously, the one I went out with last week has an aversion to sex!” Shaking his head in exasperation, he added, “Clearly, I’ve reached the point where I need professional help.”
Richard’s college friend responded, “You just need to start hanging out in those clubs downtown where all the models go. You’ll have the perfect little misses lined up in no time.”
“Says the man who’s already married and divorced three of those models. No thanks, buddy. I’m looking for my soulmate; I want someone to spend the rest of my life with, not someone to pay alimony to for the rest of her life.”
Spencer snorted, “Happily-ever-after isn’t real, my friend. You need to set your sights on happy-for-right-now and live in the moment, man.”
“I’ve already had one marriage go south, Spence. Luckily, Amelia and I split amicably, but I don’t want any more exes. I want a future. And I’m a firm believer in happily-ever-after even if you aren’t.”
“I’m going with you then,” Spencer declared. “I’m not letting you put your future happiness in the hands of some toothless old-world hag with hairy knuckles and a limp without some input from the master.”
Richard shook his head, “Toothless hag with hairy knuckles and a limp? Spencer, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Rachel Feinman is the exact opposite of what you’re imagining. In fact, I think you should come with me. I also think you should sign up for her services for yourself. It’s past time that you associate with a better class of women.”
His friend scoffed, “Oh, I’m coming with you all right, but not going to sign up. I’m coming to make sure the old hag knows exactly the kind of gal you need.” He made an exaggerated hourglass gesture with his hands.
Pip picked up her pace as she was ten minutes behind schedule and Malcom was nervously looking around as though he thought she might be a no-show. As she neared him, a rather rough looking man started to jog along next to her. Pip stopped to let him pass, but he halted with her.
“Pardon me,” Pip inquired, “are you following me?”
The man answered, “’Course I am. Why wouldn’t I be following you? You’re gorgeous, love.”
She appreciated the flattery even if it came from an apparent lunatic. At five feet ten with shiny, thick, dark hair, Pip knew she made a good first impression. Her clothing was always top of the line, if a bit conservative, and she made sure to stay out of the sun so as not to wrinkle prematurely. She hoped her date found her as attractive as the odd fellow next to her.
As she shared pleasantries with the stranger, Pip pondered a fortuitous outcome to her blind date. She didn’t fully realize she’d reached Malcom until he offered his hand and inquired, “Philippa Fielding?”
Pip looked up and nearly fell into the most piercing blue eyes she’d ever seen. She answered, “Yes. You must be Malcom.”
Nodding his head in response, he asked, “Who were you chatting with just now?”
“I don’t know, exactly.” She continued, “Just some man who started to walk with me.”
Malcom looked around and inquired, “What man?”
Pip looked over her blind date’s shoulder and spotted the chap who’d been shadowing her. She pointed at him and replied, “That one over there, the one with dirty blond hair and a goatee.” She further clarified, “His two front teeth are chipped.”
Malcom turned and looked, but saw no one. At his confusion, Pip added, “He’s in his forties, wearing worn blue jeans and a grungy t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up.” She gestured further to clarify who she was talking about. “The one who looks like he’s just been in a pub brawl.”
He still had no idea who she was talking about, so he answered, “I don’t see him.”
Pip made eye contact and called out, “Excuse me sir, would you come over here, please?”
The bedraggled looking stranger gestured to himself, as if to ask, “Me?” Pip nodded and he readily approached. “Hello,” she greeted, “I’m sorry I didn’t get your name just now. I’m Philippa.”
His hand shot out and he smiled, showing off two broken front teeth, “Bertram, love. I’m proper chuffed to meet you.”
Pip dropped her hand, gasped, and let out an uncharacteristic expletive. “You’re Bertram? Bloody hell.”
Malcom watched his cousin’s friend warily. Obviously, he didn’t see anyone who looked like he’d recently taken a couple knocks to the face, as Pip was the only person in the vicinity who could see ghosts.
At that instant Philippa knew her date was over. She decided to just come clean with Malcom, explain her odd life, and walk away. If she was lucky, she could still join her friends at the cinema to watch the romantic comedy they were all keen to see.
Malcom realized Philippa might not be as odd as he first thought and said, “The way I see it, you’re either completely bonkers or you’re speaking to a dead person. Which is it?”
Pip found it refreshing that Sephra’s cousin didn’t immediately assume she was destined for Bedlam. She replied, “The latter, I’m afraid.” She further clarified, “It’s the result of a nasty fever I had as a child.”
After another thirty minutes of banter, Shelly turned off her recorder and announced, “I think I have all I need to write a great piece.” After a beat, she added, “Magazine rules don’t allow me to ask until our professional relationship is over, but maybe once I’ve written my article, we could go out to dinner sometime?”
Richard was shocked and answered, “That would be lovely, but isn’t that an engagement ring on your finger?”
“Maybe,” she replied coyly, “but an engagement ring isn’t a wedding ring, is it?”
“Perhaps not, but it does indicate a prior commitment.”
There was no way Shelly could misconstrue the judgment in his voice. She immediately knew she didn’t have a chance with Richard Bingham, so she responded, “I guess it does.”
Uncomfortably, Richard met her direct gaze and said, “I don’t mean to be rude, but once I ask a woman to marry me, I would hope she’d stop shopping around for someone better.”
“Mr. Bingham,” the reporter icily replied, “I’m sure in your case, she will. But not everyone is lucky to be engaged to a paragon like yourself. Sometimes people reach an age and place in their lives where they compromise their ideals a bit and settle for something instead of continuing on with nothing.”
“That’s a sad commentary on single life. No one should settle for anyone less than they truly desire.”
“Unfortunately,” she retorted, “only a handful of singles are considered as desirable as you. I’m afraid life is a bit different for those of us who live in the real world.”
Richard realized he’d gone too far and tried to amend his earlier statement by adding, “I think you sell yourself short, Ms. Milton. As far as I’m concerned the only reason I won’t have dinner with you is that you’re promised to another.”
Shelly responded, “That’s very noble of you.” Gathering her things together, she stood up and declared, “I wish you luck in your great love search, Mr. Bingham. I’m sure you’ll have a better selection of potential mates than the rest of us mortals.”
There was a gleam in her eye that Richard found disconcerting. For a moment he wished he’d merely accepted her offer and reneged at a later date. Shelly Milton looked mad, determined, and offended. Not exactly the trifecta of emotions you want to leave a reporter with right before she writes an article about you in a well-respected and well-circulated magazine.
Honey called the bachelors onto the stage one at a time. They were greeted with very unladylike wolf-whistles and catcalls. The duchess calmed the audience down long enough to share pertinent information about the men, like, “Number eight is Sir Thomas Hawtrey, eighth Viscount Farnsworthy. Viscount Hawtrey is thirty-nine, he likes to hunt, golf, and work on his family’s vineyard. Let’s start the bidding at five hundred pounds!”
The women went wild. A night with Sir Thomas eventually sold for twenty-two hundred pounds. At this rate, Richard realized, the Childhood Lupus Foundation was in for quite a hefty donation.
Not every bachelor started at five hundred pounds. Most started at two hundred, but the bounty increased along with title and prestige. Richard wondered what he’d be worth in the end. He didn’t have to wait long to find out.
Honey announced, “And now a very special bachelor all the way from New York City. I’d like you to meet bachelor number fourteen, Richard Bingham!”
Richard wasn’t sure if the volume had increased because the ladies were really that interested in him or because they’d had nearly an hour to consume more cocktails and get worked up by the proceedings. Either way, it was a bit invigorating to be on the receiving end of such adoration.
The dowager duchess continued, “Quiet down, ladies, so I can tell you about this gorgeous specimen.” They hushed immediately, as they clearly wanted to know more. “According to Manhattan Life magazine, Mr. Bingham is one of the top ten eligible bachelors in New York, but according to us, he’s number one!” The applause drew out for several moments. Eventually she added, “Richard owns one of the largest advertising agencies in the city. When he’s not working, he likes to spend time on his boat, visit his mother, and drive upstate to buy pies.” The cheering nearly brought the house down.
Honey added, “Because Mr. Bingham is a rather exotic addition to our event, we’re going to start the bidding at eight hundred pounds!”
Hands flew into the air at an alarming rate and before too many minutes had passed, the bidding had reached three thousand pounds. Pip watched excitedly as more and more women jumped into the fray. By the time his price hit six thousand pounds, only a couple of women were left. Philippa had yet to raise her hand.
When the bidding hit seven thousands pounds Richard turned and caught her eye. Her knees nearly gave out from under her as the air between them crackled with electricity. Pip slowly walked toward him. The whole room grew quiet when she reached his side and announced, “I’ll take him for ten thousand, Honey.” Then looking at the crowd she added, “Unless there’s another bid?” There wasn’t.
The nicest thing Philippa could say about Declan was that he wasn’t horrid. And truth be told, that was a nice thing considering how many unpleasant first encounters she’d had in the last fifteen years.
Sephra and Pip met at the Cock and Wing at six o’clock so they could get settled at a table and order a drink before the men arrived. They wanted to make sure they’d claimed first dominion so as to make their little drama of an “accidental meeting” appear more plausible. Of course, since Liam and Sephra were married, any chance of the get-together appearing completely unplanned was pretty slim, but Pip hoped at least not to appear complicit. As it turns out, it didn’t matter.
Liam and Declan strolled through the front door at five after seven, and by then Sephra was so mad she was seeing red. They were supposed to be there no later than ten past six and she’d been working herself into a lather ever since.
Pip was in the loo when the men walked in, so she missed most of the scene that followed. Sephra leapt to her feet in front of her husband and snapped, “You’re late!”
Liam, who tried to keep up the charade for Declan’s sake, responded, “Hello, pet, did we have plans tonight? I was just going to grab a drink with my mate, Declan, here.”
Trying to regain her composure, his wife replied, “No, no, we didn’t have plans, I just wanted to surprise you, that’s all.” Then she indicated the free chairs at their table and added, “Why don’t you join us?”
Declan piped in with, “Us? Who’re you here with?”
“Oh, just my friend, Philippa, she’s in the ladies’.”
Declan put his brief case down next to his chair and spoke directly to his co-worker, “Right, then, so is this some kind of fix up?”
“No, no, no, nothing like that, mate,” Liam responded. “Wh . . . wh . . . why in the world would you think we were setting you up?” If his friend was somehow dim enough to believe the obvious farce, the stuttering was a surefire indicator that boldface lying was afoot.
Declan hailed a passing waiter and ordered a pint before asking, “Is she pretty, at least?”
That’s when Pip walked up. There was no way she could miss the strange tension in the air. In fact, it was so thick she could have cut it with a chop stick. Sephra was rocking in her chair, side-to-side like she was having some kind of psychotic break and Liam was overacting to the point of melodrama as he tried to appear both shocked and delighted by her arrival.
Declan was the only seemingly sane one at the table. As he got to his feet to pull Pip’s chair out, he asked, “So are you in on the setup, poppet, or are you as much of a victim as I am?”
Categories: Book Excerpt