A Celebration of Waterloo: Apsley House, Number One London – By Susana Ellis

I’m thrilled to have the wonderful Susana Ellis visiting my blog today! She is sharing a little information about the Duke of Wellington’s home and her fabulous story Lost and Found Lady found in Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles, an anthology of Waterloo-themed stories.

Thank you so much, Susana, for sharing this wonderful post and beautiful excerpt from your story.

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Wellington’s London townhouse, located on the corner of Hyde Park, is open to the public as a museum and art gallery.

Number One London. The origin of the name came from the fact that this is the first house visitors from the countryside would pass upon entering through the toll gates at Knightsbridge.

Apsley House. The name comes from the first owner, Lord Apsley, the Lord Chancellor, who contracted Robert Adam to build it between 1771 and 1778. In 1807, it was purchased by Richard Wellesley, the 1st Marquess Wellesley, who in 1817 sold it to his younger brother, the Duke of Wellington.  Some of Adam’s interiors still survive: the circular staircase, the drawing room with its semi-circular end, and the Portico Room.

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In 1819 Wellington added a three-story extension, housing a State Dining Room, bedrooms, and dressing rooms. In 1828 when his political career blossomed, included a new staircase and the Waterloo Gallery. The original red brick exterior was covered in Bath stone and a pedimented portico added.

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Over the years, the house has been essentially maintained in the original style and décor of the 1st Duke of Wellington.

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The Duke of Wellington received many gifts from the grateful heads of state of Europe following the Allied victory over Napoleon:

  • A pair of large candelabra of Siberian porphyry, ormolu & Malachite centre and two side tables, presented by Nicholas I of Russia
  • A pair of Swedish porphyry urns, from King Charles XIV John of Sweden
  • A dinner service of Berlin porcelain, from Frederick William III of Prussia.
  • The Egyptian revival decorative arts dinner service of Sèvres porcelain, from Louis XVIII of France
  • The silver and silver-gilt Portuguese service of over a thousand pieces, from the Portuguese Council of Regency
  • The Saxon Service of Meissen porcelain, from Frederick Augustus I of Saxony.
  • Seven marshal’s batons from various European continental rulers (and another three from the British). Nine of them are on display at Apsley House (the Russian baton was stolen in the 1960s)

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Included in the collection of 200 paintings are 83 paintings that were part of a collection of 300 that were discovered in Joseph Bonaparte’s baggage in the aftermath of the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. The duke decided to return the paintings after the war, and a grateful King Ferdinand VII returned 83 of them. These include four paintings by Diego Velásquez, one by Francisco Goya, three by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and three by Jusepe de Ribera.

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2014 Post on Susana’s Parlour (before I knew I would be writing my own Waterloo-themed romance): https://susanaellisauthor.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/apsley-house-celebrates-the-199th-anniversary-of-the-victory-of-waterloo/

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles

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A Celebration of Waterloo

June 18, 1815 was the day Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée was definitively routed by the ragtag band of soldiers from the Duke of Wellington’s Allied Army in a little Belgian town called Waterloo. The cost in men’s lives was high—22,000 dead or wounded for the Allied Army and 24,000 for the French. But the war with Napoleon that had dragged on for a dozen years was over for good, and the British people once more felt secure on their island shores.

The bicentenary of the famous battle seemed like an excellent opportunity to use that setting for a story, and before I knew it, I had eight other authors eager to join me, and to make a long story short, on April 1, 2015 our Waterloo-themed anthology was released to the world. 

You are all invited to

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Our Stories

 

Jillian Chantal: Jeremiah’s Charge

Emmaline Rothesay has her eye on Jeremiah Denby as a potential suitor. When Captain Denby experiences a life-altering incident during the course of events surrounding the Battle of Waterloo, it throws a damper on Emmaline’s plans.

Téa Cooper: The Caper Merchant

The moon in Gemini is a fertile field of dreams, ideas and adventure and Pandora Wellingham is more than ready to spread her wings. When Monsieur Cagneaux, caper merchant to the rich and famous, introduces her to the handsome dragoon she believes her stars have aligned.

Susana Ellis: Lost and Found Lady

Catalina and Rupert fell in love in Spain in the aftermath of a battle, only to be separated by circumstances. Years later, they find each other again, just as another battle is brewing, but is it too late?

Aileen Fish: Captain Lumley’s Angel

Charged with the duty of keeping his friend’s widow safe, Captain Sam Lumley watches over Ellen Staverton as she recovers from her loss, growing fonder of her as each month passes. When Ellen takes a position as a companion, Sam must confront his feelings before she’s completely gone from his life.

Victoria Hinshaw: Folie Bleue

On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.

Heather King: Copenhagen’s Last Charge

When Meg Lacy finds herself riding through the streets of Brussels only hours after the Battle of Waterloo, romance is the last thing on her mind, especially with surly Lieutenant James Cooper. However, their bickering uncovers a strange empathy – until, that is, the lieutenant makes a grave error of judgment that jeopardizes their budding friendship…

Christa Paige: One Last Kiss

The moment Colin held Beatrice in his arms he wanted one last kiss to take with him into battle and an uncertain future. Despite the threat of a soldier’s death, he must survive, for he promises to return to her because one kiss from Beatrice would never be enough.

Sophia Strathmore: A Soldier Lay Dying

Amelia and Anne Evans find themselves orphaned when their father, General Evans, dies. With no other options available, Amelia accepts the deathbed proposal of Oliver Brighton, Earl of Montford, a long time family friend. When Lord Montford recovers from his battle wounds, can the two find lasting love?

David W. Wilkin: Not a Close Run Thing at All

Years, a decade. And now, Robert had come back into her life. Shortly before battle was to bring together more than three hundred thousand soldiers. They had but moments after all those years, and now, would they have any more after?

About Lost and Found Lady

On April 24, 1794, a girl child was born to an unknown Frenchwoman in a convent in Salamanca, Spain. Alas, her mother died in childbirth, and the little girl—Catalina—was given to a childless couple to raise.

Eighteen years later…the Peninsular War between the British and the French wages on, now perilously near Catalina’s home. After an afternoon yearning for adventure in her life, Catalina comes across a wounded British soldier in need of rescue. Voilà! An adventure! The sparks between them ignite, and before he returns to his post, Rupert promises to return for her.

But will he? Catalina’s grandmother warns her that some men make promises easily, but fail to carry them out. Catalina doesn’t believe Rupert is that sort, but what does she know? All she can do is wait…and pray.

But Fate has a few surprises in store for both Catalina and Rupert. When they meet again, it will be in another place where another battle is brewing, and their circumstances have been considerably altered. Will their love stand the test of time? And how will their lives be affected by the outcome of the conflict between the Iron Duke and the Emperor of the French?

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Excerpt

September 14, 1793

A beach near Dieppe, France

“I don’t like the look of those clouds, monsieur,” Tobias McIntosh said in fluent French to the gray-bearded old man in a sailor hat waiting impatiently near the rowboat that was beginning to bob more sharply with each swell of the waves. “Are you sure your vessel can make it safely all the way to Newhaven in these choppy seas?”

The old man waved a hand over the horizon. “La tempête, it is not a threat, if we leave immédiatement. Plus tard…” He shrugged. “Je ne sais pas.”

“Please, mon amour,” pleaded the small woman wrapped in a hooded gray cloak standing at his side. “Allow me to stay with you. I don’t want to go to England. I promise I will be prudent.”

A strong gust of wind caught her hood and forced it down, revealing her mop of shiny dark locks. Tobias felt like seizing her hand and pulling her away from the ominous waves to a place of safety where she and their unborn child could stay until the senseless Terreur was over.

“Justine, ma chère, we have discussed this endlessly. There is no place in France safe enough for you if your identity as the daughter of the Comte d’Audet is discovered.” He shivered. “I could not bear it if you were to suffer the same fate at the hands of the revolutionaries as your parents did when I failed to save them.

She threw her arms around him, the top of her head barely reaching his chin. “Non, mon amour, it was not your fault. You could not have saved them. It was miraculeux that you saved me. I should have died with them.”

She looked up to catch his gaze, her face ashen. “Instead, we met and have had three merveilleux months together. If it is my time to die, I wish to die at your side.”

Tobias felt like his heart was going to break. His very soul demanded that the two of them remain together and yet… there was a price on both their heads, and the family of the Vicomte Lefebre was waiting for him in Amiens, the revolutionaries expected to reach them before midday. It was a dangerous work he was involved in—rescuing imperiled French nobility from bloodthirsty, vengeful mobs—but he had pledged himself to the cause and honor demanded that he carry on. And besides, there was now someone else to consider.

“The child,” he said with more firmness than he felt. “We have our child to consider, now, Justine ma chère. The next Earl of Dumfries. He must live to grow up and make his way in the world.”

Not to mention the fact that Tobias was human enough to wish to leave a child to mark his legacy in the world—his and Justine’s. He felt a heaviness in his heart that he might not live long enough to know this child he and Justine had created together. He could not allow his personal wishes to undermine his conviction. Justine and the child must survive.

Justine’s blue eyes filled with tears. “But I cannot! I will die without you, mon cher mari. You cannot ask it of me!”

“Justine,” he said, pushing away from her to clasp her shoulders and look her directly in the eye. “You are a brave woman, the strongest I have ever known. You have survived many hardships and you can survive this. Take this letter to my brother in London, and he will see to your safety until the time comes that I can join you. My comrades in Newhaven will see that you are properly escorted.”

He handed over a letter and a bag of coins. “This should be enough to get you to London.”

After she had reluctantly accepted and pocketed the items beneath her cloak, he squeezed her hands.

“Be sure to eat well, ma chère. You are so thin and my son must be born healthy.”

She gave him a feigned smile. “Our daughter is the one responsible for my sickness in the mornings… I do not believe she wishes me to even look at food.”

She looked apprehensively at the increasingly angry waves as they tossed the small boat moored rather loosely to a rock on the shore and her hands impulsively went to her stomach.

“Make haste, monsieur,” the old sailor called as he peered anxiously at the darkening clouds. “We must depart now if we are to escape the storm. Bid your chère-amie adieu maintenant or wait for another day. I must return to the bateau.”

“Tobias,” she said, her voice shaking.

He wondered if he would ever again hear her say his name with that adorable French inflection that had drawn him from their first meeting.

“Go, Justine. Go to my family and keep our child safe. I promise I will join you soon.”

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her toward the dinghy, trying to ignore her tears. The old sailor held the boat as still as he could while Tobias placed her on the seat and kissed her hard before striding back to the shore, each footstep heavier than the last.

He studied the darkening sky as the sailor climbed in the boat. “You are sure it is safe?”

“La Chasseresse, she is très robuste. A few waves will not topple her, monsieur.”

“Je t’aime, mon amour,” she said to him plaintively, her chin trembling.

“Au revoir, ma chère,” he said, trying to smile, although his vision was blurring from tears.

Will I ever see her again?

He stood watching as the dinghy made its way slowly through the choppy sea to the larger ship anchored in the distance, grief-stricken and unable to concentrate on anything but his pain. When the ship finally sailed off into the horizon, he fell to his knees and prayed as he had never done before for the safety of his beloved. He remained in that position until drops of rain on his face reminded him of the Lefebre family waiting for him in Amiens.

With a deep breath, he rose and made his way to the nearby forest, where his horse waited, tied to a tree.

“Come, my friend. We have a long, wet journey ahead of us.”

Setting foot in the stirrup, he swung his leg over the saddle and urged the horse to a gallop, feeling his heart rip into pieces with every step away from his beloved.

About the Author

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.

A teacher in her former life, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.

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Susana’s ParlourSusana’s Morning Room

 

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Wicked, My Love Release Day!

To celebrate the release of Wicked, My Love, I decided to play in Photoshop. Enjoy!

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Now available from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Powell’s, Books A Million, Target, The Book Depository, or Indigo

 

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Working Out With Baby In 1900

Last night, in that state of sleepy but too tired to get up and put on PJs, I got swallowed into a  Pinterest  wormhole which led me through many archives until finally dumping me out at Google Books. I didn’t find what I was looking for but came across these fun images in Woman’s Physical Development of a mother working out with her baby in 1900.

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Wicked, My Love – World Tour

Dear wonderful readers,

It’s that time! The Wicked, My Love book release world tour.  Yay!

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We are playing a wicked little game for this release called Kiss, Marry or Kill.  Bloggers give me the names of fictional characters or celebrities, and I decide if I will kiss, marry, or 86 them.  I’ll be posting each blog stop here and on my Facebook page and Twitter.  There will be many chances to win a copy of Wicked, My Love. So have some fun and play the game along with me!

But that’s not all! I’m touring with the Enemies to Lovers Tour, which features the amazingly talented Bec McMaster, Kristen Callihan, and Sara Humphreys.  We’re hopping around the web, talking about what makes the Enemies to Lovers trope so fun to write and read.

If you need a little break (and laugh) in your day, check out the prologue to Wicked, My Love posted below.

Thanks  for stopping by and I look forward to chatting at one of the tour spots.

Sincerely,

Susanna Ives

———- Wicked, My Love excerpt ———–

Prologue

1827

Nine-year-old Viscount Randall gazed toward Lyme’s coast but didn’t see where the glistening water met the vast sky. He was too lost in a vivid daydream of being all grown-up, wearing the black robes of the British prime minister, and delivering a blistering piece of oratorical brilliance to Parliament about why perfectly reasonable boys shouldn’t be forced to spend their summer holidays with jingle-brained girls.

“You know when your dog rubs against me it’s because he wants to make babies,” said Isabella St. Vincent, the most jingled-brained girl of them all, interrupting his musings.

The two children picnicked on a large rock as their fathers roamed about the cliffs, searching for ancient sea creatures. Their papas were new and fast friends, but the offspring were not so bonded, as evidenced by the line of seaweed dividing Randall’s side of the rock from hers.

“All male species have the barbaric need to rub against females,” she continued as she spread strawberry preserves on her biscuit.

She was always blurting out odd things. For instance, yesterday, when he had been concentrating hard on cheating in a game of whist in hopes of finally beating her, she had piped up, “Do you know the interest of the Bank of England rose by a half a percentage?” Or last night, when she caught him in the corridor as he was trying to sneak a hedgehog into her room in revenge for losing every card game to her, including the ones he cheated at. “I’m going to purchase canal stocks instead of consuls with my pin money because at my young age, I can afford greater investment risks,” she’d said, shockingly oblivious to the squirming, prickly rodent under his coat.

Despite being exactly one week younger than he was, she towered over him by a good six inches. Her legs were too long for her flat torso. An enormous head bobbled atop her neck. Her pale skin contrasted with her thick, wiry black hair, which shot out in all directions. And if that wasn’t peculiar enough, she gazed at the world through lenses so thick that astronomers could spot new planets with them, but she needed them just to see her own hands. Hence, he took great glee in hiding them from her.

“You’re so stupid.” He licked fluffy orange cream icing from a slice of cake. “Everyone knows babies come when a woman marries a man, and she lies in bed at night, thinking about yellow daffodils and pink lilies. Then God puts a baby in her belly.” He used an exaggerated patronizing tone befitting a brilliant, powerful viscount destined for prime ministership—even if “viscount” was only a courtesy title. Meanwhile, Isabella was merely a scary, retired merchant’s daughter whom no one would ever want to marry. And, after all, a female’s sole purpose in life was to get married and have children.

“No, you cabbage-headed dolt,” she retorted. “Cousin Judith told me! She said girls shouldn’t be ignorant about the matters of life.” Isabella’s Irish mother had died, so Cousin Judith was her companion. Randall’s mama claimed that Judith was one of those “unnatural sorts” who supported something terrible called “rights of women.” He didn’t understand the specifics, except that it would destroy the very fabric of civilized society. He would certainly abolish it when he was prime minister.

“Judith said that for a woman to produce children, she, unfortunately, requires a man.” Isabella’s gray eyes grew into huge round circles behind her spectacles. “That he, being of simple, base nature and mind, becomes excited at the mere glimpse of a woman’s naked body.”

He was about to interject that she was wrong again—girls were never right—but stopped, intrigued by the naked part. Nudity, passing gas, and burping were his favorite subjects.

“Anyway, a man has a penis,” she said. “It’s a puny, silly-looking thing that dangles between his limbs.”

He gazed down at the tiny bulge in his trousers. He had never considered his little friend silly.

“When a man sees the bare flesh of a woman, it becomes engorged,” she said. “And he behaves like a primitive ape and wants to insert it into the woman’s sacred vagina. My cousin said that was the passage between a woman’s legs that leads to the holy chamber of her womb.”

“The what?” Where was this holy chamber? He was suddenly overcome with wild curiosity to see one of these sacred vaginas.

“Judith said the man then moves back and forth in an excited, animalistic fashion for approximately ten seconds, until he reaches an excited state called orgasm. Then he ejaculates his seed into the woman’s bodily temple, thus making a baby.”

His dreams of future political power, the shimmering ocean, fluffy vanilla-orange icing, and a prank on Isabella involving a dead, stinking fish all seemed unimportant. He gazed at his crotch and then her lap—the most brilliant idea he ever conceived lighting up his brain. “I’ll show you my penis if you show me your vagina.” He flashed his best why-aren’t-you-just-an-adorable-little-thing smile, which, when coupled with his blond hair and angelic, bright blue eyes, charmed his nannies into giving him anything he wanted. However, his cherubic looks and charm didn’t work on arctic-hearted Isabella.

“You idiot!” She flicked a spoonful of preserves at his face.

“You abnormal, cracked, freakish girl!” he cried. “I only play with you because my father makes me.” He smeared her spectacles with icing. In retaliation, she grabbed her jar of lemonade and doused him.

When their fathers and nurses found them, she was atop the young viscount, now slathered in jam, icing, mustard, and sticky lemonade, pummeling him with her little fists.

Mr. St. Vincent yanked his daughter up.

“She just hit me for no reason,” Randall wailed, adopting his poor-innocent-me sad eyes. “I didn’t do anything to her.”

“Young lady, you do not hit boys,” her father admonished. “Especially fine young viscounts. You’ve embarrassed me again.”

“I’m sorry, Papa,” Isabella cried, bereft under her father’s hard gaze. Humiliation wafted from her ungainly body and Randall felt a pang of sympathy, but it didn’t diminish the joy of knowing she had gotten in trouble and he hadn’t.

The Earl of Hazelwood placed a large hand on the back of Randall’s neck and gave his son a shake. “Son, we didn’t find any old sea creatures, but Mr. St. Vincent has come up with a brilliant idea to help our tenants and provide a dependable monthly income.” He turned to his friend. “We are starting the Bank of Lord Hazelwood. Mr. St. Vincent and I will be the major shareholders and we will add another board member from the village.”

Even as a small child, Randall had an uneasy, gnawing feeling in his gut about this business venture that none of Mr. St. Vincent’s strange terms, such as financial stabilization, wealth building, or reliable means for tenant borrowing and lending, could dissuade. He was never going to get rid of that rotten Isabella.

***

Through the years, he and she remained like two hostile countries in an uneasy truce; a lemonade-throwing, cake-splatting war could break out at any moment. Randall would indeed follow his path to political fame, winning a seat in Parliament after receiving a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s College, Cambridge. He basked in the adoration of London society as the Tory golden boy. To support Randall’s London lifestyle, the Earl of Hazelwood signed over a large amount of the bank’s now quite profitable shares to his son.

He came home from Parliament when he was twenty-three to witness Isabella standing stoic and haunted with no black veil to hide her pale face from the frigid January air as they lowered her father into the frozen earth. Having no husband, she inherited her father’s share in the bank and began to help run it. The two enemies’ lives would be hopelessly entwined through the institution born that fateful day in Lyme, when Randall learned how babies were made.

For the next five years, bank matters rolled along smoothly. Then the board secretary passed away unexpectedly, leaving his portion to his young bachelor nephew, Mr. Anthony Powers.

That’s when all manner of hell broke loose.

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Taking a Sentimental Journey – Images of Rakes and Radishes

I was updating my website with excerpts from my books when I came across some graphics from an old version of my website from over seven years ago. These were images drawn for Rakes and Radishes when I was learning how to illustrate in Flash. Granted, I’m not a very good digital artist, but these images brought back happy memories.  Thank you for letting me share them with you.


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