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Diane Dario: An Earl’s Christmas Embrace (The Men of Waterloo)

Regency Christmas

Now that the countdown has begun for the Holiday season, it had me wondering how did they celebrate this festive season during the Regency era.

Throughout Europe, England being no exception, the custom of giving a gift on the 6 of December, in commemoration of St. Nicholas, was widespread. Eventually, however, separate customs tended to become condensed. Thus a gift was given for New Year or Twelfth Night.

Traditional decorations included holly and evergreens. The decorations of homes was not just for the gentry: poor families also brought greenery indoors to decorate their homes but not until Christmas Eve. It was considered unlucky to bring greenery into the house before then. By the late 18th century, kissing boughs and balls were popular, usually made from holly, ivy, mistletoe and rosemary. These were often also decorated with spices, apples, oranges, candles or ribbons

Once Twelfth Night was over, all the decorations were taken down and the greenery burned, or the house risked bad luck.

The Christmas holidays lasted for several weeks, due in part to the long, cold journeys undertaken to visit family for the holidays and the guests were reluctant to leave again. This put a strain on the cook and housewife alike, and a varied and full menu had to be prepared for guests, and for the possibility of those same guests being snowbound, and not being able to depart.

Christmas pudding as we now know it first appeared in the reign of King George III. It was said to have been invented especially for him by his chief, because of his inordinate love of English puddings. Before this, the pudding was more of a pottage or porridge, with all the right ingredients we attend to associate with the traditional Christmas pudding but cooked in a large cloth and rather sloppy. Which leads us to Bullet Pudding which was a family name for Christmas Pudding or should I say, the name given to a particular pudding which turned out to be as hard as a bullet.

Imagine putting on a fine ball gown decollété, floaty and clinging, leaving no room for flannel petticoats, your hair dressed in such a way that only the flimsiest scarf can protect your head from the cold night. The coach offers little protection, draughty. What you need when you arrive at the Christmas Ball is a bowl of white soup to put color in your cheeks before greeting the other guests and old acquaintances there, already glowing from their own partaking of the soup, mulled wine and the dancing.

Anyone care for a glass of Wassail?

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Excerpt

Turning toward an alcove he had spotted earlier, he couldn’t stop the tension from leaking into his voice at her teasing about the “Lord of Darkness” nonsense. “Beware, Lady Emma. Do not scoff at my actions. There is darkness in my soul. A good friend and officer died in my arms during the Battle of Hougoumont, leaving behind a widow and child. I hope you never experience the despair I’ve known, that haunts me whether I am asleep or awake. Now allow me.”

Ravenstone changed topics —and directions—abruptly, before she could respond. Touching her elbow lightly, he walked her across the ballroom to an alcove, discretely screened by potted palms. He escorted her to a green velvet chaise longue, and Lady Emma smoothed a hand over her already neatly coiffed hair. He knew her reputation would be in ruins if someone from the ton should stumble upon them in such an intimate situation without benefit of a chaperone. At this moment, though, he only wanted to be with her. His thoughts went to the painting displayed in a place of honor this very night. Of course Emma couldn’t have known it was an image of the very day he had experienced his descent into hell. His thoughts must have shown on his face, for she placed her hand lightly over his.

He abruptly changed the subject, “By the way, where is Lady Lettice? Do you think you could introduce her to me?”

Lettice felt her heart skip a beat before she thought to ask, “Hasn’t my cousin, Lord Foxington, introduced you?”

Ravenstone’s chuckle cut her off abruptly.

“Ah, look what hangs above us,” he said, lifting his eyes towards the ceiling. “I believe it’s mistletoe. You know what this means don’t you? Legend says you must accept a kiss, lest you be doomed not to receive any marriage proposals for a full year, and scorned for the lack. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to invite public disdain by denying my holiday kissing privileges.”

He slowly, slowly, took her hand, turned it over, and kissed her palm. He noticed a blush staining her décolletage. Her breath caught as his eyes fixed on the rosy glow that spread upward, and he asked, “Did you ever hear about the tradition that for every berry in the mistletoe I may give you a separate kiss?”

She slowly moved her head side to side, her eyes locked on his lips. He licked his lips, loving the way her eyes dilated at the teasing motion, then continued. “I kiss you first, then I pluck off a berry. When all the berries are gone, so are the kisses.”

With that, Ravenstone lowered his head, “First kiss.”

He spoke against the softness of her skin, and planted his lips tenderly on her forehead.

Reaching up to pluck one of the white berries, “Kiss number two,” he whispered, then kissed each eyelid in turn, finally pressing his lips on her mouth. His hands wrapped tightly in her hair, holding her head at exactly the right angle for his ministrations. His body pressed her back against the upholstered arm of the chaise, and he welcomed the heat she generated. Her response was creating such amazing sensations that he simply pressed closer.            She swayed, and he swayed with her, wrapping his arms around her, intoxicated. He just wanted to hold her close. To absorb her sweetness. Light burst inside him for the first time since that fateful day in France. He had thought he’d rather face an army of Napoleon’s men than consider marriage. But when he was with Emma, anything seemed possible.

When he was with her, he never wanted to let her out of his sight. He loved how she challenged him. Unlike the other women on the marriage mart, Emma wasn’t frightened of his stern expression. He wasn’t sure when he’d started to think of her in such intimate terms, but it felt right. She didn’t pout or flutter her eyelashes ridiculously in an attempt to make him smile. She had enough joi de vivre for them both. A few curls tumbled loose from her coiffeur. He heard her breath catch, but she remained within his embrace, and her eyes fluttered open.

“What?” Ravenstone asked.

Lettice shook her head, then giggled.

***

Mad? She must be. Lettice felt as though she were losing all sense of reality. His kisses sent her into a state of bliss that she hoped would last forever. She should stop him from taking any more liberties, push him away, but her body wanted more. For once in her life, she wanted to experience what others had. Lettice had read and overheard enough to realize what could transpire between a man and a woman. This—whatever this was—was worth the consequences.

For once in her life, she wanted to break the rules. To be very naughty. Hang the gossip. Ravenstone was so much more than she’d thought. He had depths that were calling to her at some visceral level she’d never felt before. If only…

Lettice felt Ravenstone’s lips on her neck, and her heart skipped a beat when he whispered, “Kiss number two.”

An Earl’s Christmas Embrace will be released on November 23rd.

About The Author

img_0001-copyI have been reading romance novels since my aunt introduced me at the age of fourteen and I have not stopped reading them.

Regency romances are one of my all-time favorite eras (grand ballrooms, dinner parties while sitting next to a grand duke or war hero just returned from fighting against Napoleon and the French. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?).

When I am not reading (or writing the stories I have visions in my head and are now writing), I am enjoying the joyful moments with my growing family, the ballet and romantic movies.

Writing has always been a great passion for me, a long road of many ups and downs (and lots of online writing classes) and the years it took to get the craft right, finally, all my time and efforts paid off and now my dream of becoming a published author is going to become a reality thanks to a great opportunity of winning a first chapter Facebook contest.

It just goes to prove dreams can come true as long as you do not give up on them.

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K.C. Bateman: A Raven’s Heart (Giveaway)

Interview with Kate Bateman

Susana: What inspired you to start writing?

kate-bateman-author-pic-copyKate: I’ve always been an avid reader, especially of historical romance, but I never considered writing a book myself until around five years ago, when my husband and I moved from England to the US (with his work.)

I’d spent twelve years as an antiques appraiser, running with my own auction house in the UK and I also appearing on several British antiques-related TV shows as an on-screen expert, but since there’s not much use for my auctioneering skills in central Illinois, and with three small kids at home, it was a natural sidestep to use my knowledge to write historical romance.

One day I threw a very badly-written historical across the room in frustration and complained to my husband that I could have done a better job of writing it. He bet me a dollar I wouldn’t even finish a manuscript. I bet HIM a dollar I would. I’d studied English at university, so I knew I could put a coherent sentence together, and I figured well, if they can get published, why shouldn’t I have a go. . . ? At least my historical facts will be accurate. So I made the leap from avid reader to writer.

Susana: How long have you been writing?

Kate: Well, my first attempt at a historical romance (about five years ago) was set in the Italian Renaissance, which is—according to most of the publishers I approached—a tough time period to sell. So I received numerous rejections, (ouch!) but took on board the fact that editors liked my writing and kept suggesting that I write a regency romance to appeal to a larger readership. So I wrote a regency – the first book in my ‘Secrets and Spies’ series: To Steal A Heart.

I entered a couple of RWA contests, finalled in several, and from that I got a full MS request from my now-editor at Random House, and was subsequently offered a three- book deal. That was in 2015. My first book, To Steal A Heart, came out in February 2016. Book two in the series – A Raven’s Heart—is out this month, on 18th October, and book three, A Counterfeit Heart will be out in May next year.

Susana: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Write the books you want to read, and don’t try to copy someone else’s style because you think it will sell—it will come across as forced. I love reading about capable, intelligent heroines, so I to write about ‘historical girls with cool skills’. I also like to highlight the fact that Regency-era romances don’t all have to be set in London ballrooms. There’s a whole world of interesting places out there and many of my ideas come from real-life historical people and events.

My heroines are always feisty, witty, and more than a match for the men in their lives. Unofficially, I describe them as ‘bad-asses in bodices’ or ‘kick-asses in corsets’! To Steal A Heart, features a tightrope-walking thief and the French / British double agent who needs her skills for a prison-break heist. A Raven’s Heart has a code-breaking heroine and the cynical spy assigned to keep her safe. Book three, A Counterfeit Heart, (out next year) has a forger heroine with a dubious moral compass and a suitcase full of fake money… You get the idea!

And I’d also say to new writers: you can always improve your writing. The best thing I ever did was join my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) local chapter and attend conferences and writer events. It helped me connect with other authors whose support, encouragement, teaching, and constructive criticism have been invaluable. I’m always looking for new ways to better my craft.

Susana: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Kate: I’m a little bit of both, but my natural inclination is pantser. I hate plotting. As my engineer-husband will tell you, I hate organizing, timetables, and planning, but I know it’s just asking for trouble to start writing a book with no idea of your overall story arc, or major plot points. So every time I come to plot a new book I pretend to myself that I’m just ‘jotting down ideas’. I keep a notebook and write down a couple of key scenes, character traits, or snatches of dialogue. I type them up. I work out the order they have to go in to make sense. I work out what scenes I need to slot in between the big scenes to join them together. And hey-presto! It’s turned into an outline / plot without me noticing! By the time I’ve turned all my scribbled notes into actual, readable sentences, the book’s almost half done.

Susana: Tell us something about your new release that’s not in the blurb:

Kate: OK, here are a few fun facts about A Raven’s Heart:

First, one of the themes I play with in A Raven’s Heart concerns internal and external scars. Heloise has a scar on her face which she believes makes her unattractive. Raven’s scars are all on the inside. He thinks he’s too emotionally damaged to love. In this respect they’re opposites—and perfect for one another; they both see past the damage and find something to love underneath.

In one of my favorite scenes Raven lets slip how much he cares for Heloise by referring to the ancient Japanese art of Kinstukuroi. It’s the use of gold to repair a broken piece of pottery, with the understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken and lovingly repaired. I thought that was such a romantic idea that I had to include it in a book. Ostensibly Raven’s discussing his mother’s favorite piece of porcelain, but we know he’s really talking about Heloise.

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Secondly, A Raven’s Heart is set mainly in Spain and the descriptions of the landscape and architecture all come from personal experience. I love traveling, and I was lucky enough to have spent quite a bit of time in Spain as a child. The descriptions of the taste of carobs and pomegranates come from experience! I hope my affection for the country shines through and gives those who’ve never been there a hint of what it’s like. I make Pinterest boards for all my books, so if readers are interested in seeing where I get my inspiration they can take a look: https://www.pinterest.com/kcbateman1/a-ravens-heart-raven-and-heloise-spanish-peninsula/

In the story Heloise goes to visit some prehistoric cave art in the caves near the Spanish village of Altamira. These really exist and the only artistic license I took with the story is that the caves weren’t ‘officially’ discovered or made public until a few years later than 1816. I like to think that the locals could have been aware of the existence of the caves, and the art, but might have been unaware of the importance of them from an anthropological standpoint. There’s no reason to suppose they wouldn’t have shown interested, if eccentric, foreigners like Heloise their local treasure. . .

Here’s an image of the wonderful prehistoric / Neolithic art that can be found in the Altamira caves:

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And here is a link to the Wikipedia page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_Altamira

Thirdly, lots of events in my stories have a basis in real, historical events. For example, A Raven’s Heart features a proposed prisoner swap between the French and the English. In my research, I found evidence for this surprising – if unusual – wartime practice; In 1813, Soult and Wellington agreed to an exchange of three Frenchmen for one Englishman and two Spaniards, a plan agreed by Napoleon.

Fourthly, the heroine in A Raven’s Heart, Heloise, is a talented codebreaker for the British, and in the book she and Raven get to meet her codebreaking idol, George Scovell. Major Scovell, later General Scovell, was is real historical person, and he played a crucial role in cracking the French codes and ensuring a victory for Wellington and his troops in the Peninsular campaign.

Here he is:

soldier

For those who would like to learn more about this interesting man and his achievements, his Wikipedia entry is fascinating! Sometimes truth is even greater than fiction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Scovell

Susana: What are you currently working on?

Kate: I’m finishing up book three in this Secrets and Spies trilogy, A Counterfeit Heart, which and will be out early next year (May 2017). The heroine, Sabine de la Tour, is also known as ‘Philippe Lacorte,’ the elusive, brilliant French forger. She meets her match in aristocratic spy Richard Hampden—Heloise’s eldest brother.

I’m having a lot of fun with these two. Sabine arrives in England with a suitcase full of counterfeit money. An honest woman would simply destroy the evidence of her crimes. An honest woman would never blackmail her handsome pursuer into paying for her co-operation. But Sabine’s never been all that good at being good…

Sabine can counterfeit anything, but can she tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake when it comes to something as important as her heart?

Susana: What are you reading now?

Kate: I’m re-reading a couple of my favorite authors on my keepers shelf to remind me what good writing looks like – as inspiration! I’ve just finished the delightful As You Desire by Connie Brockway, whose unusual Egyptian setting I love, and the Medieval / Renaissance historical Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale. I’m now currently half way through Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s funny contemporary It had to be You…

Susana: What is your work schedule when writing?

Kate: I write for several hours every day during the week. I have three small kids, so a good day is when I drop them off at school and manage a solid block of writing before pickup. But I also think it’s really important to keep a work-life balance. You can’t stay slumped over a hot computer monitor all day, so I don’t let myself feel guilty for having lunch out with my girlfriends or meeting up for coffee. I don’t watch a lot of TV, so I sometimes get a couple of extra hours of writing done when the kids are all in bed – accompanied by just one small glass of wine…

Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Kate: A lot of people in the UK know me for my antiques-show TV work, as an appraiser, so they’re quite surprised to learn that I also write historical romance. But I have lots of not-so-well-kept secrets. For example, I almost became a ballerina, and took ballet classes for eighteen years, until I decided it was too uncertain a career and went into antiques and writing instead!

Also, I once kissed the policeman on duty outside Number 10 Downing Street after attending a reception with the British Prime Minister. And I can’t touch dry cotton wool. No, really. Even thinking about it puts my teeth on edge, like nails scraping down a blackboard!

Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world for a research project, where would you go and why?

Kate: Definitely Italy. The landscape! The food! The wine! The art! I’d choose to go stay in a massive crumbling Italian castle perched on the edge of a cliff with a view of the Amalfi Coast and a lovely garden scattered with good-looking Italian groundsmen and gardeners, of course! The fact that I don’t speak Italian would only be a minor inconvenience. I’d go and wander round all my favorite Tuscan haunts, like Siena and Florence, looking for antiques, then I’d watch the film A Room with a View, accompanied by a fabulous coffee and a decadent dessert like tiramisu.

Susana: What do you want people to take away from reading your books?

Kate: That not all Regency-era romances are set in London ballrooms and country houses! There’s a whole world out there to explore – even if it’s only within the pages of a book as an armchair traveler – and lots of fascinating chapters of history to discover. My heroines are intelligent, witty, independent women who are more than a match for their men. Hopefully readers will continue to enjoy the worlds and characters I create and want to read more!

Susana: What has been your biggest adventure to date?

Kate: That’s a tough question! Having my three kids has certainly been an adventure – the little monsters definitely keep me on my toes.

I also love traveling and I’ve been lucky enough to have had several amazing adventures in that respect. I’ve watched the stars from a Touareg tent in the middle of the Morroccan desert, I’ve survived white water rafting on the mighty Zambezi river in Zimbabwe, and trekked to huge reclining buddhas in Thailand. I’ve done some epic road trips across America with my family since moving here, including the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, Yosemite, Death Valley, and the Utah national parks.

But I think my biggest adventure has to be leaving behind my first career — as an antiques appraiser and auctioneer in England — and finding another career I love just as much; that of historical romance author. My path to publication has been one huge adventure, sometimes frustrating, disappointing and nerve-wracking, but also fun, fascinating and exhilarating. I’ve met some wonderful people, made some lifelong friends, and learned so much. I hope to keep writing and to stay in the wonderful world of romance for a very long time!

Susana: Who gave you the writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

Kate: I always remember the Nora Roberts quote about the importance of having a central conflict in your stories. She said something like ‘If your hero’s a fire investigator, your heroine had better be an arsonist!’

Also, and I don’t know who said it, but I have a post-it note taped above my computer with the fundamental ABC’s of writing: Apply Butt to Chair!

Susana: What one modern convenience you could not live without?

Kate: A kettle and teabags. Life’s just not worth living without a nice cup of tea!

About A Raven’s Heart

August 1815. The war with France is officially over, Napoleon’s an exile on St Helena, but Europe is still a very dangerous place to be. . .

a-ravens-heart-final-cover-copyKidnapped and held for ransom at nineteen, ducal heir William Ravenwood knows the only person he can rely on is himself. Now part of a spy ring that includes his friends Nicolas and Richard Hampden, he’s the smuggler known as The Raven, a ruthless agent who specializes in rescuing hostages and prisoners of war from captivity. Raven longs to discover the fate of his colleague, Christopher ‘Kit’ Carlisle, who’s been missing, presumed dead, for over two years. He’s also equally determined to stay away from the one thing he knows is dangerous to his health—the bane of his life, his best friends’ infuriating little sister, Heloise.

Heloise is a brilliant code breaker, one of the English government’s most valuable assets. She’s loved Raven for years, but considering that he rejected her at sixteen, before her face was scarred rescuing her brother from an icy river, she’s certain he doesn’t want her now, despite his outrageous flirting.

But when Heloise decodes a message that proves Kit is alive and a prisoner in Spain, Raven realizes she’s in grave danger. With French agents determined to silence her, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe, even if that means taking her to Spain with him as an unwilling hostage.

As they face French deserters and Spanish freedom fighters, Raven and Heloise try to ignore the simmering attraction that’s been building between them for eight long years. Heloise might be scarred outwardly, but Raven’s wounds are all on the inside. He knows he’s not worthy of her love—a shadowed Hades pining for sun-kissed Persephone—but he’s not above showing her passion for the short time they’re together. Protecting her from danger will be a challenge; protecting her from desire will be pure agony…

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

England, June 1816

“I’m a spy, not a bloody nursemaid!”

William de l’Isle, Viscount Ravenwood, glared across the desk at his mentor, Lord Castlereagh.

The older man shook his head, supremely unmoved by his outburst. “Miss Hampden needs immediate protection. Someone’s targeting my code breakers and whoever killed Edward could also have discovered her identity. I can’t afford to lose her, too.”

Raven narrowed his eyes. “Use another agent.”

Castlereagh gave him one of those level, penetrating looks he so excelled at. “Who? Neither of her brothers are here; Nic’s in Paris, and Richard’s following a lead on that French forger he’s been after for months. Who else is left?” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “We’ve lost too many good men. First Tony got himself killed in France, then Kit disappeared. There’s been no news of him for months.”

Raven frowned. He refused to consider the distasteful probability that his friend was dead. Kit was like him, a master of survival. He could be deep undercover. But with every week that went by with no word it became harder and harder to stay positive.

“And now another good man, Edward Lamb, had been murdered,” Castlereagh sighed. “I don’t want Miss Hampden to be next.”

The older man was a master of applying just the right amount of pressure and guilt. He hadn’t made it to head of the Foreign Office without knowing how to manipulate people.

“You think I should entrust her to a less competent operative?” Castlereagh mused softly. “You’re not burdened by false modesty, Ravenwood. You know you’re the best I have. I was hoping you’d use your exceptional talent for survival to keep Miss Hampden alive, too.”

Raven sighed, well aware he was being backed into a corner. If it had been anyone else he wouldn’t have hesitated. But Heloise Hampden was the fly in his ointment. The spoke in his wheel.

A total bloody menace.

Hellcat Hampden had been the subject of his guilty daydreams for years. What had started out as adolescent musings had matured into fevered erotic fantasies that showed absolutely no sign of abating. He’d told himself the attraction was because she was forbidden, tried to lose himself in other, far more available women. Nothing had worked. And while he’d rarely paid much attention to the monotonous sermons preached by the clergy, he was fairly sure there was something in the bible that said “thou shalt not covet thy best friend’s little sister.” Or words to that effect.

He was the last person she should be entrusted to. He’d sworn to stay away from her. Had avoided her quite successfully—give or take a few blessedly brief skirmishes—for the past six years. Hell, he’d traveled to the far corners of war torn Europe to try to forget her.

And now here he was, drawn back to her by some malevolent twist of fate.

As if his life wasn’t cursed enough already.

Over the past few years they’d settled into an uneasy, albeit barbed, truce; it was a sad reflection on his twisted nature that he preferred sparring with her to holding a reasonable conversation with anyone else.

His blood thrummed at the prospect of seeing her again and he smiled in self-directed mockery. Few things increased his heartbeat anymore. In combat he was a master of his emotions, sleek and deadly and efficient. Fighting barely elevated his pulse. He could kill a man without breaking a sweat. But put him ten paces away from that slip of a girl and a furious drummer took up residence in his chest, battering away against his ribs.

He shook his head. Being near her was a torture he both craved and abhorred, but he had a duty to keep her safe. A duty to her family, to Castlereagh, to the whole damn country. Much as he’d like someone else to deal with her, he didn’t trust anyone else. She was his to torment.

Castlereagh, the old devil, smiled, as if he already sensed Raven’s grudging acceptance. “That’s settled, then. She’s safe at home right now. You can go over and get her in the morning.”

He rose and strode to the door of the study, then flashed an amused glance at Raven’s immaculate evening attire and the mask resting on the desk. “I apologize for interrupting your evening, Ravenwood. I’ll leave you to your entertainments.”

Link to longer excerpt from A Raven’s Heart:

http://www.kcbateman.com/books/sneak-peeks/

In A Raven’s Heart, I hint that Raven and Heloise are like the Greek gods Hades and Persephone – Hades kidnaps Persephone and takes her down to the Underworld, but the two end up falling in love and learning to compromise.

My question to readers is: If you could host a dinner party and include any couple—they can be real historical or fictional/mythological, who would you choose? Anthony and Cleopatra? Elizabeth and Darcy? Cathy and Heathcliff? 

Three random commenters will win a free ebook download of To Steal a Heart, Book 1 in my Secrets & Spies series.

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About the Author

Kate Bateman (writing as K. C. Bateman) wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she’d ‘never finish the thing.’ She gleefully proved him wrong with a historical set in the Italian Renaissance. Now writing for Random House Loveswept, her latest Secrets & Spies Regency-era trilogy features her trademark feisty, intelligent heroines, wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to alternately strangle and kiss—all mixed up in the intrigue and turmoil of the Napoleonic wars.

When not traveling to exotic locations ‘for research’, Kate leads a double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children and a husband who has flatly refused to read any of her books ‘unless she hits the NY Times Bestseller list.’ It is—naturally—her fervent desire to force the semi-illiterate, number-loving cynic to do so. He still owes her that dollar.

Kate loves to hear from readers.

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Alicia Quigley: Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy (Giveaway)

A Tale of Two Soldiers: Class in Wellington’s Army

by Alicia Quigley

Social hierarchy was rigid and strict in Regency England, and there were relatively few paths for ambitious sons of the middle classes to work their way in to the gentry. Only three professions offered a nearly certain entrée: the law, the Church, and the military. In the military an ambitious and brave young man could, if he survived and was clever about his career, make a reasonable income, achieve or purchase promotion, and eventually, perhaps even be knighted, or have a title created for him. Some well-known examples from Wellington’s era include General Sir Harry Smith, and General Colin Campbell who was made the 1st Baron Clyde.

George Scovell in SpainHowever, the military was also viewed as a very good career for the younger sons of aristocrats, and they typically received preferential treatment. The stories of George Scovell, and Lord Fitzroy Somerset, who served on Wellington’s staff at the same time during the Peninsular War are good examples. The Duke of Wellington, who was the younger son of an Irish peer, held strong views about the importance of “family, money and influence” in moving up in the military, and surrounded himself with other scions of the aristocracy as his aides-de-camp whom he referred to as “my boys.” He distrusted the emerging new ‘scientific soldiering’ being introduced, which was particularly important in the case of the artillery, (which was rapidly gaining relevance) but also for all other aspects of soldiering.

In this post, let’s compare the careers of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, a younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, who was born in beautiful Badminton Castle, a privileged younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, and Mr. George Scovell, an ambitious young man with little breeding or money, but great intelligence and ambition.

Scovell GeneralGeorge Scovell attended the recently established Royal Military Academy, learning the methods scientific soldiering and in 1798 purchased a commission as a Cornet in the 4th Queens Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment. A young Winston Churchill started his career as a Cornet in the same regiment 97 years later. The cavalry was the glamour side of the military, and Scovell was tremendously proud of this position. But, as a socially insignificant scientific soldier, promotions were hard to get.

As George also had siblings who needed financial help, he had to sell out of the cavalry and join the infantry, a drop in social status that he felt deeply. He moved to the Quartermaster General’s staff, where he excelled due to his education and diligence, although he had to purchase his promotions to captain and major. His accomplishments included, besides helping improve logistics in the Peninsula, standing up a new unit of Scouts with English, Spanish and Portuguese soldiers, and critically, cracking Napoleon’s Paris Chiffre in his spare time, thus making Napoleon’s plans available to the English.

Scovell was given the opportunity in 1813 to raise and command a new regiment, the Staff Corps of Cavalry, also known as the Staff Dragoons or the Corps of Gendarmerie which was the first recognized unit of military police in the British army. He was knighted and received the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and continued his career in the Army, even becoming a colonel in the in the same cavalry regiment he had to sell out of earlier. Later, he was the Lieutenant-Governor and then Governor of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst(1829-1856), where he helped expand scientific soldiering in the British army. He received the Knight Grand Cross in 1860 and retired from the Army as a general. His hard work finally brought him success, but it was a long time in the making.

Fitzroy SomersetLord Fitzroy Somerset also joined the Army in the peninsula as a Cornet, this time in the 4th Light Dragoons, in 1804. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1805, and captain in 1808, presumably by purchase since he transferred to the 43rd Regiment of Foot. He went to Spain in 1808 as one of Wellingtons’s crew of aristocratic aides-de-camp. Somerset’s bravery and gallantry is not in question; he was involved in leading charges in any number major battles in Spain, and was the first over the wall at the bloody storming of Badajoz. He was only twenty-four when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1812.

Somerset fought in numerous other brutal battles, and served at Waterloo, where he lost his right arm. He also received the KCB in 1815. He went into politics, became Military Secretary, and eventually returned to active duty. He was named Baron Raglan, and eventually Field Marshal. He is famous for being the general on whose watch the Charge of the Light Brigade occurred. As a sidebar on the advantages of being a duke’s son in the army, it is worth noting that Lord Fitzroy’s older brother Lord Robert Somerset, also became an army general!

Somerset_Raglan GeneralTwo soldiers of very different backgrounds, with very different paths to military success. What do you think of this?

In my soon-to-be-released Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy, we have a similar juxtaposition: our hero, Sir Tarquin Arlingby, is a titled gentleman involved in finding smugglers who are running guinea boats to France, and are getting letters back and forth for French spies.

Our heroine, Valerie Carlton, is a military widow, whose husband was more the George Scovell-type soldier. She followed the drum and learned first-hand the adventures, dangers and sense of commitment to something greater than herself that came from the experience. The two are thrown together through a series of odd events and find themselves in quite an exciting—and potentially deadly—adventure.

Excerpt

Note: This book will be up for pre-order soon! The author will choose a random commenter to receive of the first two books in the series, A Collector’s Item and The Contraband Courtship.

Sir Tarquin handed her to a seat in front of the fire, and then took a chair across from her, settling into it comfortably and crossing his elegantly booted ankles. “So, Mrs. Carlton, I find that I am almost vulgarly curious about your past. It is evident that you are a gentlewoman, yet I found you penniless and unescorted at the Angel this morning. How did that come to pass?”

Valerie gazed down at her hands, before looking at him. “I am the oldest daughter of Lord Upleadon and his first wife,” she answered, “and married Robert Carlton, an officer in the Light Division.”

“Upleadon?” exclaimed Sir Tarquin. “You are an Upleadon, yet I found you alone, penniless, and ready to board a mail coach?”

LadyLoverSmugglerSpy_Final-FJM_Kindle_1800x2700 copy“My father did not approve of Mr. Carlton, I fear,” Valerie answered economically.

“That stiff rumped old tartar–” Sir Tarquin suddenly recalled that his listener was not only a lady, but also the daughter of the gentleman he was about to malign, and fell silent.

“Quite so,” Valerie responded with a definite hint of laughter in her voice. “In any event, when I insisted on marrying Mr. Carlton my father cut me off entirely. Even when my husband was among the dead at Sabugal he refused to see me.”

“While I’m not well acquainted with the baron, as he is a good deal older than I am and moves in very different circles, I’m sorry to say that I can easily imagine him lacking remorse. You must have been a mere child. How have you managed since then?”

“When I returned to England, several of my friends had married, and were happy to help me get on my feet. I was mourning my husband, and had no wish to remarry or to be a burden on them, however, so I quickly found a position as a governess.”

“But the Battle of Sabugal was three years since. Have you been a governess all this time?” Sir Tarquin asked.

She nodded. “I had only been with the Forneys for in a few months. When I first became a governess I was in charge of a young lady who needed some polishing before she came out, as her parents were not people of fashion. I enjoyed it very much; the daughter was charming and her mother and father were kind and grateful. Unfortunately the two positions that followed it have been much less satisfactory.”

Valerie fell silent, looking down at her hands, and Sir Tarquin, finding himself appreciating the sight of her blonde curls, fine figure, and aura of calm, didn’t need to stretch his imagination far to imagine the son of the Forney household had been unable to resist the temptation of the pretty governess.

“It makes me angry to think of you being preyed upon,” he said abruptly, much to his own surprise.

“It is a common enough problem, and far worse has befallen others. He did not force me and, while Mrs. Forney was unkind, I left of my own volition,” said Valerie uncomfortably. “My friends have helped me before and will help me now. I would rather spend my time with children, but perhaps I will have to seek employment as a companion to an older lady instead.”

“You do not deserve a life as a drudge to children or as the companion of elderly harridan, who will doubtless have a horrid grandson who will treat you as Mr. Forney did,” Sir Tarquin exclaimed. “You are young, and have given far too much.”

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked.

“You sacrificed a husband and a family to your country, did you not?”

“I suppose you could say so, although it has been three long years since then.” A wistful look came over her face. “It seems so long ago. Thinking of it now, Robert and I were both practically children; it is almost as though it happened to someone else, or was a story someone told to me.”

“Yet you are still all but penniless and without protection as a result, are you not? That is not much of an ending to the story.”

She gazed at him thoughtfully. “It was my decision, though I was far too young to understand the possible consequences. In some ways it was worth it all the same; I loved Robert as much as an eighteen-year-old can love anyone, and perhaps even more, I loved following the drum.”

Sir Tarquin looked startled. “Did you really? Surely it was a very hard life for a gently bred and sheltered young lady?”

Valerie laughed. “Indeed it was! I had no notion that such hardships were ahead of me. Yet the sense of purpose, of being needed and useful, and of having a meaning to my life was so powerful, that it overcame them all. I was always rather bookish, and never truly enjoyed the rounds of parties and balls, to my stepmother’s despair.”

“Even in the tail of the Army with all the camp followers, and rabble you felt so?” Sir Tarquin asked curiously.

“Oh, I rode with the column, Sir Tarquin,” she exclaimed proudly. “I had no children to care for and I was handy with horses even before I went on campaign, for my father’s stables are renowned and I spent a great deal of time in them as a child. I soon learned to kill and stew a chicken, and make sure that there was always something to eat at our billet, so it was not long before many of the other officers were to be found at our table.”

“You rode with the column?” her companion echoed in surprise.

“Except when an engagement was imminent, yes. In many respects it was as safe as being in the tail of the Army, for Robert’s friends would watch out for me. I moved rearward when there was any real danger.”

“But it must have been difficult to be so far ahead without any servants to help you.”

“Oh, my husband engaged a woman for me, a large, rather foul mouthed Scotswoman, who was a match for most of the men! She did much of the heaviest work, although I helped, of course.” Sir Tarquin watched as Valerie’s eyes filled with memories that were clearly dear to her. “His batman was also there, and it never seemed as though things were unmanageable. Difficult yes, but even the worst days were just another challenge to rise to…” Valerie’s voice trailed off, and she gazed into the fire, seeing another place and time.

Sir Tarquin watched her in pensive silence, for a moment and then stood, shaking his head to dispel the thoughts that filled it. “My glass is empty. May I pour you some more punch as well, Mrs. Carlton?”

Valerie shook off her memories, and handed him her empty glass. “Thank you, Sir Tarquin. You have a way with a punchbowl, it seems.” She watched as he walked away, enjoying the wide set of his shoulders, and athleticism of his gait. After some moments he returned and offered her the cup, now full of warm, spicy liquid. Her fingers brushed his slightly as she took it. She looked away, taking a sip.

“I so miss feeling part of something bigger than me,” she murmured. “A governess makes herself useful, I suppose, but it is not the same. Being a paid companion would be even duller, I fear.”

Sir Tarquin, who still stood beside her chair, reached out with one long finger and tipped her chin up, gazing into her face intently.

“You most assuredly must not be a companion to a querulous dowager,” he murmured. “It would be an utter waste.”

Valerie stared back at him, at a loss to answer. In the quiet and warmth of the private parlor they seemed removed from the world, and she simply waited for him to act. He gave a tiny sigh, and then lowered his mouth to hers, pressing her lips firmly yet gently as he sought the right pressure. Her mouth trembled a little, and he lifted his, only to press it against hers at a slightly different angle before drawing back, to kiss her cheek, and then one of her eyelids, which had fluttered closed, before releasing her chin and stepping away.

About the Author

AQ Twitter AviAlicia Quigley is a lifelong lover of romance novels, who fell in love with Jane Austen in grade school, and Georgette Heyer in junior high. She made up games with playing cards using the face cards for Heyer characters, and sewed regency gowns (walking dresses, riding habits and bonnets that even Lydia Bennett wouldn’t have touched) for her Barbie. In spite of her terrible science and engineering addiction, she remains a devotee of the romance, and enjoys turning her hand to their production as well as their consumption.

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Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Decades, Part II

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

C.H. Simpson: Master of Ceremonies

C.H. Simpson had held this office since 1797, but it wasn’t until 1826 that the decision was made to promote him as a “character” in the Gardens. “Thackeray described him as ‘the gentle Simpson, that kind smiling idiot.'”

He was renowned for his excessive politeness, servile manner and elaborate bows. With his top hat and silver-mounted cane, trademarks from the beginning his time at Vauxhall, he could easily be seen as a figure of fun. In his later years he came to be regarded as one of the great attractions of the place, greeting all visitors with his special brand obsequious courtesy.

George Cruikshank, with C.H. Simpson in the center raising his hat

George Cruikshank, with C.H. Simpson in the center raising his hat

Simpson’s exaggerated and hyperbolic style is amply demonstrated in the flowery language of his autobiography, The Life and Adventures of C.H. Simpson, Master of Ceremonies at the Royal Gardens, Vauxhall, from his Earliest Youth to the Sixty-fifth Year of his Age (Written by Myself, London, 1835)… He stated that…he was saved from drowning in a bathtub, aged three, by the family’s Newfoundland dog (called William Tell). In 1781 he joined the Royal Navy and took part in a major naval engagement in the Caribbean, the Battles of Saintes. He then enlisted as a second mate on a merchantman and sailed to New Zealand. Another voyage took him to China, but a terrible storm on the return passage determined him not to go to sea again. When he was twenty-one, already working at Vauxhall, he was set to marry a girl called Julia…; on discovering her with another, he broke off the engagement and remained a bachelor all his life.

Since almost every visitor to Vauxhall was met by Simpson there are many descriptions of him.

The appearance of this gentleman was in keeping with the oddity of his character. He was a short man, with a large head, a plain face, pitted with the small-pox, a thin thatch of hair plastered with pomatum and powder. His body and limbs were encased in black cloth of antique cut, and occasionally his head was covered with a hat as heavy as a coal-scuttle, or a life-guardsman’s helmet. This awkwardly constructed piece of felt was more often in his hand than on his head. He was continually bowing to everybody he met […] he was the very climax of obsolete politeness; the most obsequious and painstaking man to oblige everybody and express his gratitude for their condescension in giving trouble, that I ever remember to have met with.

According to another writer: ‘the moment he hears the faintest hum of an uproar, he glides away to the locus in quo, and it is miraculous to see how soon he gets to the core of the commotion. He pierces through the mob like an eel in mud.’

Robert Cruikshank, C.H. Simpson Esq.' M.C.R.G.V., engraving, 1833 (Lambeth Landmark 1301). The Master of Ceremonies is shown welcoming the Duke of Wellington, 19 August 1833, on the occasion of his benefit night. Cruikshank drew this scene in the gardens on the spot; the huge illuminated figure of Simpson was one of the special effects created for the event.

Robert Cruikshank, C.H. Simpson Esq.’ M.C.R.G.V., engraving, 1833 (Lambeth Landmark 1301). The Master of Ceremonies is shown welcoming the Duke of Wellington, 19 August 1833, on the occasion of his benefit night. Cruikshank drew this scene in the gardens on the spot; the huge illuminated figure of Simpson was one of the special effects created for the event.

Simpson’s obsequious manner was also put to use in diffusing difficult situations that arose in the gardens. If he was jostled by drunken diners, or had port splashed over his white gloves and waistcoat, he would ‘bow himself dry again’ and smile upon ‘the boorish Bacchanalian’ as though conferring the highest honour upon him.

The Battle of Waterloo

Although Vauxhall had frequently held military-themed galas and fetes, these were nothing like the stunning re-enactments performed at Astley’s Amphitheatre. Based on a play by Henry Amherst, the battle re-creation had three acts and up to the 90 riders, in addition to a huge cast of soldiers and impressive special effects.

Unsurprisingly, the Vauxhall proprietors figured they could do the same at Vauxhall, with more space and a more realistic setting.

In preparation for the show an area was cleared on either side of the firework tower, with shrubs and ornamental trees removed. The firework gallery itself was enlarged for viewers, and several supper-boxes were removed to give a clearer view from the walks in 1827. The Battle of Waterloo was to be performed by Mr Cooke’s stable of horses and his own troupe of equestrians; Cooke, a rival and imitator of Durrow based at the Royal Amphitheater in Liverpool, claimed that his Vauxhall show would involve more than a thousand performers. Every detail of the action was acted out and the performance concluded with a huge firework display, int he course of which Cooke promised to mount

His celebrated Charger, Bucephalus, and, at full speed, ride up a nearly perpendicular Rock, to the Temple of Fame, at the summit of the Fire-Work Tower, and there deposit the British and French Colours as an Emblem of Amity, in the Temple of Concord, a Feat unequalled in the Annals of Horsemanship.

This indeed took place and all were impressed by the fact that after the fiery ascent Cooke’s mount remained perfectly docile, despite the huge explosions of fireworks all around.

A review from The Times of 19 July 1827:

These Gardens presented the fullest attendance of visitors on Monday evening which we ever remember to have witnessed in that favorite scene of amusement. The leading attraction on this occasion consisted of a grand spectacle representing the Battle of Waterloo. […] We were by no means prepared to anticipate so high a degree of illusion as the exhibition of last Monday occasionally produced in the mind. […] As near a resemblance of the field of action as possible, with the various buildings of the farm-houses of La Belle Alliance, Hogomont &c was effected, aided by the trees, which, without much effort of imagination, where converted into the original wood that covered the rear of the British line. Here several hundred soldiers, horse and foot, personated the French and British troops; and after going through numerous evolutions, which were somewhat tedious, commenced the engagement, by the former attacking the wood and chateau of Hugomont, the walls of which were loopholed by British soldiers. The various features of the great battle of Waterloo were then successively presented, some of which were managed in a way that excited feelings of considerable interest. Others were, as might be expected, rather feeble, but the general effect was certainly striking; particularly when the chateau was in flames and the hostile armies furiously engaged in front of it; while here and there detached objects, such as an ammunition wagon blowing up, various single combats on horseback and on foot, Buonaparte flying from the field in his chariot, together with the roaring of the artillery, the continued discharge of musketry, and the dense clouds of smoke in which the whole scene was occasionally enveloped, imparted to it an appearance of reality, that almost rendered it independent of any effort of fancy for the moment to produce a strong illusion. The spectators seemed very much delighted with the spectacle, and from time to time loudly applauded the performance.

Of course, not everyone was so complimentary. Older folk lamented the days when one could go to Vauxhall for a pleasant evening of music and social discourse. The younger generation tended to think it was fabulous. Twelve-year-old Albert Smith:

The Battle of Waterloo was being represented on the firework ground, and I could not divest myself of the idea that it was a real engagement I was witnessing, as the sharpshooters fired from behind the trees, the artillery wagon blew up, and the struggle and conflagration took place at Hougomont. When I stood years afterwards at the real battle-field, I was disappointed in its effect, I thought it ought to have been a great deal more like Vauxhall.

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever

Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can!

Grand Military Fetes and Displays

The first record of a military fete was on 30 May 1786, the day after the Jubilee, when transparencies of British men-of-war by the marine painter John Thomas Serres (1759-1825) were presented with other decorations, including a representation of the British lion trampling the Spanish flag. The newly formed Duke of York’s Band played military airs and was to perform regularly in the gardens until 1816. This period saw an increasing presence of soldiers and military bands, theoretically in response to the threat of invasion from France, but more directly in an attempt to rival the jingoistic displays to be seen at Astley’s. In 1787 the Cascade, the most famous of Vauxhall attractions in the eighteenth century, included marching soldiers. These military displays gradually expanded and needed more space, so from 1816 the Cascade site was used by Madame Saqui’s rope-dancing troupe.

Eventually, grand military fetes to celebrate actual events involved firework displays.

On 11 June 1810, Mizra Abul Hassan Khan wrote about his visit to the Gardens for the Grand Oriental Fete in honour of the Persian Ambassador:

The avenues were lighted by rows of tall candelabra and by lanterns hung from trees. In one place there were fireworks: when they did not rise high enough, everyone laughed and said ‘Shocking!’ The fireworks ended with the name of the Qibleh of the Universe written in Persian letters! Everyone appreciated this display and clapped their hands together. From there we went to a large covered place, beautifully lighted and decorated, like a theatre in the city. It was built to accommodate 5000 people in case of rain. After the fireworks, some people sat down to eat; later they danced.

American Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code, visiting on 17 September 1811:

A few evenings since I visited the celebrated Vauxhall Gardens, of which you have doubtless often heard. I must say they far exceeded my expectations; I never before had an idea of such splendor. The moment I went in I was almost struck blind with the blaze of light proceeding from thousands of lamps and those of every color. […] All is gayety throughout the gardens; every one is in motion, and care, that bane of human happiness, for a time seems to have lost her dominion over the human heart. Had the Eastern sage, who was in search of the land of happiness, at this moment been introduced into Vauxhall, I think his ost exalted conceptions of happiness would have been surpassed, and he would rest contented in having at last found the object of his wishes. […] The music and this course of dancing continue till about four o’clock in the morning, when the lights are extinguished and the company disperses. On this evening, which was by now means considered as a full night, the company consisted of perhaps three thousand persons.

vauxhall-pleasure-gardens-00364-800

George Cruikshank, Vauxhall Fete, engraving, 1813 (British Museum, London., 1862.1217.309). This satirical print shows many of the leading figures who attended the Grand Festival in honor of the Battle of Vittoria. On the left the Duke of York vomits against a tree; other notables include the Duke of Sussex in Highland uniform, the Duke of Clarence dressed as an Admiral, the Lord Mayor of London and Lord Castlereigh. On the far right a fat lady exclaims ‘They’re all drunk, the Brutes.’

Grand Festival of the Battle of Vittoria

On 20 July 1813, a Grand Festival of the Battle of Vittoria was held in honor of the then Marquess Wellesley, who attended. “The festival was ‘perhaps the most superb and costly entertainment ever given in England’ and such was its popularity that ‘the limited number’ of tickets ‘was exceeded and, in consequence, from ten to fifteen pounds was offered for a ticket’”. Byron noted:

There is to be a thing on Tuesday ycleped a national fete. The Regent and *** are to be there, and everybody else, who has shillings enough for what was once a guinea. Vauxhall is the scene—there are six tickets issued for the modest women, and it is supposed that there will be three to spare. The passports for the lax are beyond my arithmetic.

At a dinner for twelve hundred people in the Rotunda, the VIPs sat at a crescent-shaped, raised table. There was also

a row of crimson steps covered with massive pieces of ornamental gold and silver plate, with the bust of the Lord Wellington on the summit. At the foot, and leaning against a silver vase of exquisite workmanship, was the Marshal’s staff taken in the battle. Two trumpeters in their state liveries and with silver trumpets, stood forward from the pile, and between them a grenadier of the Guards held the standard of the 100th French regiment of the line.

Neither George III nor the Prince of Wales attended (in spite of Byron’s expectation), but otherwise, the list of attendees was quite impressive. Wellesley arrived late for the dinner and found his seat of honor occupied, but presumably that was quickly dealt with. The ladies joined the party at 9 p.m., and at 11 p.m., the Princess of Wales arrived. She

was conducted around the chief promenade several times by his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester and Col St Leger. The Princess was hailed repeatedly with loud greeting, and repaid the attentions of the company in the most courteous manner. She was dressed ina white satin train with a dark vet and ornaments, richly embroidered. On her head-dress she wore a green wreath, with diamonds.

Even later, “many of the nobility came from the Opera House after the conclusion of the ballet.”

In the course of the evening a new air called The plains of Vitoria was performed by the orchestra, while military bands, including those of the Foot and Life Guards, the Duke of Kent’s Regiment, and the 7th Hussars, played and marched up and down the Walks. ‘The appearance of some of these bands in the forest part of the garden was extremely picturesque, and presented some idea, at times, of soldiers in a campaign regaling and reposing themselves under the shade. The fireworks were set off in three sessions, at 11 p.m. and at 1 and 2 a.m. These were devised and directed by ‘Colonel Congreve’, the inventor of the Congreve Rocket, which was much used in the Napoleonic wars.

Other Military Fetes at Vauxhall

More fabulous military fetes were held in the following year, one of 13 June 1814 to celebrate the Treaty of Paris, and in August, a mock sea battle (Grand Mechanical Naumachia). Although there were fireworks on 15 August 1815 following Napoleon’s surrender at Waterloo, there were no specific events to mark the occasion until 18 June 1817. This became an annual celebration, eventually involving a reconstruction of the battle on the southeast side of the old Grand Walk, which became known as the Waterloo Ground.

View of Vauxhall, Lady's magazine

Anon., View of Vauxhall Gardens, engraving (Lambeth Landmark 1260) from the Lady’s Magazine, XXX (1799), supplement. The walks were covered to counter the rains which proverbially started when the Vauxhall season opened; they were extended all round the Grove in 1810.

 

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

A Celebration of Waterloo: The Prince of Orange

The young Prince of Orange

The young Prince of Orange

About the Prince

William Frederick George Louis was the son of William I of the Netherlands and Wilhelmina of Prussia. When his father proclaimed himself king in 1815 (16 March), he became Prince of Orange. After his father’s abdication in 1840, he became King William II of the Netherlands.

Avid readers of Regency historical fiction might recognize him as the rejected suitor of Princess Charlotte. The Prince Regent arranged the match, but his estranged wife opposed it, and when Charlotte finally met him, she did as well. Whether the problem lay with his personal qualities or the necessity of having to live in the Netherlands or both, the young princess eventually had her way, and married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield (later King of Belgium) in 1816.

PRINCE OF ORANGE ON HORSEAt the age of two, William fled with his family from the French to Prussia, where he had a military education and served in the Prussian army. Then he studied at the University of Oxford, where he was quite popular and nicknamed “Slender Billy” by the English public. As a result of his ex-patriot upbringing, there were complaints when he eventually returned to the Netherlands that he seemed more foreign than Dutch.

William joined the British army and became aide-de-camp to Wellington in the Peninsular War in 1811 when he was only nineteen years old. In 1815 he joined the Allied Coalition for the final confrontation with Napoleon at Waterloo, where he commanded the I Allied Corps, which was a conglomeration of armies from Britain, Hanover, the Netherlands, Nassau, and Belgium.

This mishmash included many Belgian soldiers who had formerly fought in Napoleon’s Grand Armée—some of whom wore the same uniforms. A source of confusion? Indeed yes, but what was worse was that some allegiance to France still remained, as well as a very real fear of fighting against their former emperor. Communication between all these nationalities was also a problem. Wellington knew he had a problem there, but with rumors abounding of the swelling numbers of Napoleon’s troops, he couldn’t afford to be too selective as he was hastily assembling his own forces.

The Controversy

At 23, the Prince was considered by many to be too young to have the rank of Major-General and given an entire Corps to command. It was said that he was assigned this position because Wellington desperately needed the 30,000 Dutch-Belgian troops and that his son’s promotion was the price of the Dutch king’s cooperation.

The traditional (i.e., British) view was that 200 of the Dutch-Belgian troops took off in the opposite direction when faced by the French. Non-British sources protest, however, that newly-arrived British infantrymen, confused by the similarity of the French and Dutch uniforms, opened fire on them both, causing the Dutch-Belgians to lose a large number of horses, which caused these unmounted soldiers to fall back and not be available for active duty.

From The Cowards at Waterloo (a Dutch account of the battle: http://www.napolun.com/mirror/napoleonistyka.atspace.com/Waterloo_Cowards.html)

Unfortunately most of the British accounts have tended to magnify out of all proportion the accomplishments of the very modest numbers of British soldiers. These authors are unashamedly biased, their troops are super-human, the Duke practically a deity. Below is a fragment of hugely popular in English speaking countries book “Waterloo” by Cornwell (the adventures of super-soldier Major Sharpe). The readers are fed with some colorful descriptions of Belgian cowardice and ‘Dutch courage’. The Belgians and Dutch flee without fight, their commander Prince Orange is “little Dutch boy” etc. In contrast the British soldiers are all-conquering heroes, and their commanders are either tough as a nail or geniuses (or both).

Where does the truth lie? Probably somewhere in the middle. The Prince of Orange acquitted himself well in the Peninsula as aide-de-camp to Wellington, and he was certainly not the first young man his age to have such a high rank. The language problem throughout the conflict was not limited to his troops, and wasn’t his fault. Prejudice on both sides had to be a factor as well. Just as there are some who say the Prussians under Ziethen did come through in the end and should be given some credit for the victory. It’s hardly surprising that the British accounts give the British the lion’s share, but at the same time it’s advisable to take some conclusions with a grain of salt.

Lost and Found Lady

With that in mind, I had just read Bernard Cornwell’s Waterloo prior to writing this story, so my portrayal of the Prince of Orange and the Dutch-Belgian troops conforms to the traditional views. So keep in mind when you read it that the Prince was likely not a cartoon-character of a man at all, in spite of the way he has been characterized over the years.

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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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Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles: Jillian Chantal and Jeremiah’s Last Charge

Thanks, Susana, for allowing me to come by and share a little about my story for the Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles anthology. When I first started thinking about what I wanted to focus on in my style, I knew I wanted a sassy, feisty heroine because they are always fun to write. Of course, when I chose such a heroine, I knew she would have to get in some kind of trouble and what better scandal than to make a spectacle of herself at Lady Richmond’s ball?

I also wanted a hero who could bring balance to the heroine’s life. Jeremiah is a strong, silent type but I think they go well together. She takes him out of his comfort zone and he reins her in. Well, no, not really. He doesn’t. Ha ha.

One of the things I’ve always found intriguing about the run up to the battle is the fact that Lady Richmond had this gala right on the eve of the engagement and Wellington was encouraging her to go forward. Of course, today, we know he was doing that so people wouldn’t panic and try to evacuate thus clogging the roads and holding up the troops. Jeremiah wonders about the Duke’s motive in allowing the ball to occur in this story. He thinks they should be readying for battle, not flirting and dancing but he’d never question his commanding officer.

About Jeremiah’s Last Charge

A chance encounter during the battle of Quatre Bras changes Captain Jeremiah Denby’s life forever. A member of Wellington’s staff, he fulfills his duties to king and country through the surrender of Boney at Waterloo but then must decide how to reconcile his new life with his old.

Emmaline Rothesay has a battle of her own to fight. To her lady mother’s dismay, Emmaline has had her eye on Captain Denby as a potential suitor. Now that his changed circumstances after Waterloo could cause a scandal, Lady Rothesay is even more set against any relationship her daughter desires with the man. Emmaline finds herself at war with her mother and maybe even the captain himself.

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Excerpt

“Napoleon is on the march. He’s outside the city. The Prince of Orange has already left—before supper even—and the rest of the men will be reporting to their units soon.”

Emmaline gasped. “Outside the city?” Her gut clenched. This was way too close. Being this near to a battle site was horrifying. Her eyes darted around the room until they found Captain Denby. She turned her gaze to the others standing beside her. “I’ll be right back.”

She strode off with Lydia behind her asking, “Where are you going?”

Not responding to her friend, Emmaline made a beeline toward where Jeremiah stood with two other officers in the same regimental uniform as he. Once she reached him, she touched the sleeve of his coat. “May I speak to you for a moment?”

“I’m sorry, Miss Rothesay, I’m on my way out.”

“It’ll just take a second.”

He turned to his companions. “Excuse me.”

Leaving Lydia behind, Emmaline pulled Jeremiah to one side and once they stood close to the wall she pulled her lace-edged hanky from her where she’d tucked it in the end of her sleeve and tried to hand it to him.

“What’s this?” He stared at it as it hung in the air between them held up by her index finger and thumb.

“Back in the middle ages and in the time of Henry VIII, a knight asked a lady for her colors to wear into the joust. For good luck, you know. I’d like you to wear mine in the battle ahead.”

“Do you think it proper? We hardly know one another.”

“Proper or not, I’m offering this to you as a token of good will and my hope that you will survive the next days. Surely you won’t turn me down?” Tears welled in her eyes, blurring her vision. Had she misunderstood the way he’d looked at her? Did he hold her in no regard at all?

Jeremiah’s face turned red. Emmaline couldn’t tell if it was from embarrassment or anger. A little intimidated, she took a half step back and almost collided with one of Lady Richmond’s friends.

AuthorPicAbout the Author

Jillian Chantal is multi-published in the romance genre. She’s a lawyer by day and writer, amateur photographer and history buff by night. Jillian lives on the beautiful gulf coast of Florida and loves her little slice of paradise. But not too much to enjoy world-wide travel every chance she gets. After all, a writer and photographer needs new and exciting places to go and capture in order to stay fresh, right? And there’s nothing quite like seeing historical places in person, is there?

Jillian loves to hear from readers.

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Her books are available at

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Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles:

A Celebration of Waterloo

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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 we knew it, we had nine authors eager to join in, and on April 1, 2015 our Waterloo-themed anthology was released to the world.

You are all invited to

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?

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