Ann: Welcome Susana, thank you for joining us today. Please tell us about the idea behind the anthology Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles: A Celebration of Waterloo.
Thank you, I am delighted to be here. The anthology was born out of our love of all things Regency, and it is a rare occurrence to be able to celebrate such a landmark event as the Battle of Waterloo. The bicentenary of the seemed like an excellent opportunity to use as a 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. Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles:
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. As part of the celebration we are giving away one Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles mug to one random commenter on this blog
Ann: Wellington is a well-known figure in history. What did you learn about him as you and your fellow authors undertook your research for the Anthology
Wellington is a fascinating subject. Here are a few insights into the man:
- Arthur Wellesley was the third of five surviving sons of the 1st Earl of Mornington and his wife Anne, eldest daughter of 1st Viscount Dungannon. He was born in Dublin and spent most of his early life in Ireland. An earlier form of the surname is Wesley.
- He studied at Eton, but didn’t do well and hated it. His mother was concerned about his idleness and commented, "I don’t know what I shall do with my awkward son Arthur." Lack of funds after his father’s death prompted his mother to move to Brussels. A year later, Arthur enrolled in the French Royal Academy of Equitation, where he apparently found his niche, becoming an excellent horseman and proficient in French, which proved to be very useful in his later life.
- Attracted by the "gaiety and charm" of the young Kitty Pakenham, daughter of the 2nd Baron Longford, he requested her hand in marriage, but as a younger son with no prospects, her brother refused to allow it. Wellesley was infuriated and burned his violins.
- As a young man, Wellesley served in various military positions in Ireland, including aide-de-camp to two successive Lords Lieutenant of Ireland. He was also a Member of Parliament for two years in the House of Commons.
- Prior to the Peninsular War, he served in The Netherlands, India and Denmark.
- Returning from India as a wealthy major-general, Wellesley renewed his offer of marriage to Kitty Pakenham and was accepted. Unfortunately, the marriage was not a success. They had both changed greatly in thirteen years and were not well-suited to each other. It didn’t help that they spent most of their married life and had separate bedchambers even while living together.
- Wellesley was not created a duke until after the Peninsular War. His titles were: Baron Douro of Wellesley, 26 August 1809, Viscount Wellington of Talavera, and of Wellington, 26 August 1809, Earl of Wellington, 28 February 1812, Marquess of Wellington, 28 February 1812, and Duke of Wellington, 18 August 1812.
- His lean figure and meticulous appearance, as well as his military triumphs, made him a popular figure in Britain. Unfortunately, he was not so popular as Prime Minister. In April and October of 1831, his windows at Apsley House were smashed by a mob of demonstrators over his rejection of the Reform Bill. In 1832 he had iron shutters installed to prevent further damage, thus reinforcing the nickname "Iron Duke," which originated from his unwavering political resolve.
- His officers called him "The Beau," referring to his reputation as a fine dresser, and "The Peer" following his elevation to Viscount.
- Spanish troops called him "The Eagle" and the Portuguese troops called him "Douro" after the treacherous river crossing at Oporto in 1809.
- A colonel of the Coldstream Guards called him "Beau Douro," which Wellesley found amusing.
- Napoleon referred to him as "Sepoy General", a disparaging term referring to his service in India.
- He always rose early and disparaged the creature comforts, sleeping in a camp bed for the rest of his life (on display at Walmer Castle).
- While on campaign, he dined on cold meat and bread, although demanded only the best wine, of which he drank prodigiously.
- He did enjoy attending balls and parties and hosted many in Brussels while assembling his troops for the final confrontation with Napoleon.
- He rarely showed emotion and was often condescending to those beneath him in competence or status (which was pretty much everyone). But he cried in the aftermath of the siege of Badajoz at the loss of lives, and grieved privately at the loss of life following Waterloo. After hearing of Napoleon’s abdication following the Battle of Toulouse, Wellington reportedly broke into a flamenco dance, spinning around on his heels and clicking his fingers. After many broke ranks at Vitoria, he called his troops "the scum of the earth," but later he amended that
- As quoted in A History of Warfare (1968) by Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: "Sir Winston Churchill once told me of a reply made by the Duke of Wellington, in his last years, when a friend asked him: "If you had your life over again, is there any way in which you could have done better?" The old Duke replied: "Yes, I should have given more praise."
- In 2002 he was placed as 15th out of 100 Greatest Britons in a BBC poll
Ann: Can you tell us more about the stories in the anthology, please
I would be delighted. These are the titles and authors with a brief description. At the end you will find an excerpt from my story with a link to our web and facebook pages for more information.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 Dyin
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?
Ann, Would you be willing to tell us a bit more about your story, Susana?
Yes indeed.Lost and Found Lady - Susana Ellis
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?Excerpt from Susana Ellis: Lost and Found LadySeptember 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?"
, she is très robuste
. A few waves will not topple her, monsieur."
"Je t’aime, mon amou
r," 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.