Tea with Vanessa

monday-for-tea

Vanessa’s tea with the duchess
OR
A widowed father must be in want of a wife

vanessa“Welcome, Miss Sedgely! I am so pleased you could take tea with me today.”

The Duchess of Haverford was sitting at the far end of two rows of elegant chairs and settees facing each other, looking regal in her own chair of scarlet and gold as she waved Vanessa to the chair at her right. Vanessa swallowed nervously as she made a small curtsey before complying with her hostess’s wishes.

“On the contrary, Your Grace. It was kind of you to extend me an invitation.”

It was true. The Sedgelys’ tended to socialize on the fringes of the ton, not in its upper circles. Vanessa had met a duchess or two before, but never this particular one, who had a reputation for being both astute and compassionate at the same time. No doubt her purpose in inviting Vanessa to tea was to learn more about her work with the Foundling Hospital in order to determine if it was indeed a worthy charity to promote at her New Year’s ball.

The duchess smiled. “It was gratifying to see so many serious young ladies taking an interest in charitable endeavors at the meeting at Miss Clemens’s Book Palace last week. It’s not the usual thing for unmarried ladies, is it?”

Vanessa took a deep breath before answering what was to her a loaded question.

“I’m sure many would agree with you that unmarried ladies would be better occupied in searching for a husband, Your Grace. However, for ladies who choose not to marry, or who have not yet found a suitable match, I cannot think their concern for the less fortunate should be denied. If I am able to help even a few abandoned children live to be respectable and worthy citizens—”

“Which are you, Miss Sedgley?”

Vanessa stared at her blankly. “I beg your pardon?”

The duchess tilted her head to the side. “A lady who has chosen not to marry or one who has not yet found a suitable match.”

A flush crept across Vanessa’s cheeks. Until recently, she would have easily confessed to the former, but since meeting a certain widowed solicitor, she had begun to believe the married state might be for her after all.
“I-uh…”

At that point the tea trolley was wheeled in, and Her Grace favored Vanessa with a request to pour the tea.

Fortunately, she was able to manage that small task without trembling, and for a short time, there was silence as the two ladies sipped their tea and bit into the delicious lemon biscuits.

“I found it exceedingly interesting that Mr. Durand remained for the entire meeting, although he was the only gentleman to do so.”

Her Grace set her cup down on its saucer on the small table between them.

Vanessa’s face felt impossibly hot.

“Er, yes,” she said, taking another sip of tea.

The duchess’s eyebrows furrowed and released. “I find it commendable that he seems so determined to raise his daughter himself,” she said casually as she reached for another biscuit. “I understand he could have left her indefinitely with his sister.”

teatrolleyVanessa poured herself another cup of tea. Her Grace’s tea service was exquisite, but the cups were tiny and the conversation was making Vanessa’s mouth feel dry.

“Indeed.”

“A girl of that age needs a mother, of course.”

“I’m sure that Mr. Durand will do what is necessary for his daughter,” Vanessa defended. “Now, perhaps we might discuss the needs of the Foundling Hospital?”

Her Grace burst out laughing. “I really must stop teasing you, my dear. It’s rather a dreadful habit of mine. Along with matchmaking, of course. But what happens between you and Mr. Durand is really not my concern.” She shrugged. “Although I do think you could be of great help to that worthy gentleman.”

Vanessa gave her a weak smile, wishing the floor would open up and swallow her.

The duchess rang for the tea trolley to be removed.

“Now,” she said. “Do tell me more about your work with the foundlings. We have an orphanage at our Hollystone Hall estate. I’m sure Miss Grenford will organize a visit for us during the house party.”

Gratified at the turn of conversation, Vanessa took a deep breath to give her time to organize her thoughts. Now this was a topic she could handle. Speculating on her matrimonial prospects with George Durand was quite definitely not.

valuing-vanessa-fb

Vanessa is heroine of Susana Ellis’s Valuing Vanessa, a novella in Holly and Hopeful Hearts. For more about Holly and Hopeful Hearts, including blurbs for all eight stories and preorder links, see the website of the Bluestocking Belles.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss

An interview with Susana Ellis

P13 copyToday, I’m welcoming another Bluestocking Belle to the blog. Susana Ellis writes sweet regency romances. She says she 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. Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter.

Read on to find out about the box set she is launching, with other authors, on 1 April, for a description of her story in that set, and for my interview with Susana. Her contact links are at the bottom of the post.

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles

The stories in Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles are sweet Regency romances with Waterloo themes.

You are all invited to

Amazon buy link

400 x 600About Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles is a celebration of the bicentenary of the showdown between Wellington’s “Infamous Army” and Napoleon’s Grande Armée.

 A collection of nine sweet Regency stories of courage, hope, and the miracle of love surviving in uncertain times, brought to you by nine distinguished historical romance authors.

Jillian Chantal • Téa Cooper • Susana Ellis • Aileen Fish • Victoria Hinshaw • Heather King • Christa Paige • Sophia Strathmore • David Wilkin

 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?

An interview with Susana Ellis

When did you begin to write, and why?

Learning to read was like a lightning bolt to my imagination. I read everything I could get my hands on from that day forward. When I was nine I used to write plays for my friends and me to act out at recess. With all that was going on in my head, it seemed natural to write them out, but in those days the chance of becoming a published author seemed remote, so I became a teacher. I’ve only begun writing seriously for publication in the past three years, since leaving teaching.

Why do you write in your chosen genre or genres?

History and the way people lived in the past has always fascinated me. I want to know how they thought, what they did everyday, what they wore/ate/read, where they traveled, who they married and why, and pretty much everything. I’m especially fascinated by the courtship ritual—how they become acquainted and fall in love and marry first before falling into bed. I find it so much more romantic that way.

Do you base any of your characters on real people?

Not usually, although the characters in my story Lost and Found Lady (in the Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles anthology that releases April 1, 2015), are based loosely on Harry and Juana Smith. Harry was a brigade major in the Peninsular War who met Juana (a descendent of Ponce de León) after the Battle of Badajoz, and married her four days later. Like Harry, my hero is one of Wellington’s Explorer Scouts, and like Juana, my heroine is a Spanish girl. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Rupert and Catalina have their own story to tell.

Who is your favourite character in the book you’re showing us today?

Catalina, because she refuses to accept the bleak life she faces as an illegitimate peasant girl with little hope of a decent marriage. The marriages she observes in her daily life aren’t particularly appealing, and for a while, she envisions finding freedom in a convent.

 What’s your favourite scene and why?

One of my favourites is in the beginning where Catalina mentions to the priest who teaches her that she would like to emulate Sor Juana de la Cruz of 17th century Mexico, who became a nun because she couldn’t otherwise study and write as she wanted. Although 150 years have passed, she reflect sadly that the role of women hasn’t changed all that much. And while many things have changed since 1812, equality has still not been reached, and will not be in my lifetime, I fear.

What was the hardest scene to write and why?

I don’t usually write about battles, but when your hero is in the army at Waterloo, you can’t leave the readers hanging! I agonized over the scene for several days. My mother told me somebody was going to have to die, meaning one of my characters. I told her no happy ending ever had a character die in the end! But they did see the grim side of things, with all the dead and wounded after the battle, and I imagine those images won’t leave their memories any time soon.

What is the most memorable book you’ve read in the last three months, and why has it stayed with you?

I’ve been reading Georgette Heyer’s The Spanish Bride, which is largely an account of the adventures of Brigade-Major Harry Smith and his Spanish bride Juana as they traipse around the Iberian Peninsular with the British army. Believe it or not, I do a lot of my “research” from reading fiction. It’s so helpful to get a glimpse of what it was like to follow an army, which you don’t get from non-fiction sources.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Reading, cooking, traveling, blogging, and, of course, writing.

What was your favourite book when you were a kid?

I used to read Nancy Drew books voraciously, so much so that I used to get punished for reading “too much.” My mother used to tell me one chapter a day was enough, and I always told her it was impossible to do that because the chapter always ended with a hint that something exciting was going to happen in the next one.

If you could give that kid one piece of advice, what would it be?

The sky is the limit—don’t let yourself be intimidated by the impossible.

Where do you want to be in 10 years’ time?

Alive, in good health, and still writing. If you’re asking about my plans for becoming a best-selling author, well, that would be great and I’ll still aim for that, but I won’t consider my writing career a failure if that doesn’t happen.

Meet Susana

WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Susana’s ParlourSusana’s Morning Room

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
rss