Today we're excited to spotlight Love and War by Melissa de la Cruz! Read on for more about Melissa and her book, plus an excerpt & giveaway!
Meet Melissa de la Cruz!
Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publishers Weekly and #1 IndieBound bestselling author of novels for readers of all ages, including The Isle of the Lost and Return to the Isle of the Lost. Her books have topped the USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and have been published in more than twenty countries. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
The thrilling romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler continues in the sizzling sequel to the New York Times bestselling Alex & Eliza: A Love Story
1780 Albany, New York
As the war for American Independence carries on, two newlyweds are settling into their new adventure: marriage. But the honeymoon's over, and Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler are learning firsthand just how tricky wedded life can be. Alex is still General George Washington's right-hand man and his attention these days is nothing if not
divided--much like the colonies' interests as the end of the Revolution draws near. Alex & Eliza's relationship is tested further by lingering jealousies and family drama.
Cousins and Confidences
The Schuyler Mansion Albany, New York April 1781
After supervising the cleaning of the kitchen and making sure everything was set for the party later that evening, Eliza traipsed up the stairs to her parents’ bedroom, where she knocked on the door lightly. “Mama,” she called through the closed portal. “It’s Eliza. I’ve brought you a bit to eat.”
A pause, and then her mother’s strong voice came to her. “Enter.”
Eliza eased the door open. The chamber on the far side was dimly lit, with muslin-backed silk curtains pulled entirely across all four windows. “Oh, Mama, were you sleeping? I’m so sorry, I’ll come back later.”
“No, no,” Catherine Schuyler said, the bedsheets rustling as she sat up. “I was only drowsing out of boredom. This forced indolence is far more taxing than my condition. Please, please, let a little light into my dreary cave.”
Mrs. Schuyler’s “condition” was revealed as soon as Eliza pulled open the curtains. Though her mother was covered by heavy cotton sheets with handmade lace borders and a light woolen blanket, not to mention her rather shapeless dowager’s nightgown, it was still obvious that she was very, very pregnant.
“How are you feeling?” Eliza asked, carrying the tray of food to her mother’s bedside.
“As I told Dr. Van Vrouten, I am absolutely fine. This is my twelfth time with child. I should
think I’d have it rather figured out by now.”
“Oh, Mama!” Eliza laughed. “Papa says that, despite your patrician pedigree, you are as hearty as a farm lass.”
“Your father is a wise man. I only wish he were not in cahoots with that fool of a doctor.”
Eliza smiled. The truth was that this pregnancy had been hard on her mother. Her ankles had swollen alarmingly with retained water, and her breath grew short when she walked up even a single flight of stairs—signs, according to Dr. Van Vrouten, that the large size of the baby was putting pressure on Mrs. Schuyler’s internal organs, and inhibiting their full function. Two weeks ago, she had stood up from a settee, wavered a moment, then fallen back onto it in a faint. That was all General Schuyler needed to see: Since then he had insisted, following the doctor’s instruction, that Mrs. Schuyler keep to her bed until she had been delivered of her final child.
“Now, Mama,” Eliza said as she cut an ample slice of blueberry pie and drizzled a bit of clotted cream over it. “You are indeed a strong woman, but you are six and for—”
“Ah-ah, my child,” Catherine cut off her daughter. “I may be old enough to require bed rest, but I am not so ancient that I will tolerate having my age said aloud, even in the privacy of my own bedroom.”
Eliza laughed again and handed her mother the dish of pie. “You are as handsome now as you were when I was a girl.”
Though Mrs. Schuyler was generally rather reserved, she couldn’t quite keep a smile off her face. A stout woman, the plumpness of her cheeks had staved off the wrinkles that marred the visages of others her age, and she did indeed look much younger than her unmentionable years.
“But not as handsome as my three grown girls,” she said as she took a bite of the pie. “The berries cannot still be in season?” She laughed. “How I look forward to apples and pears.”
“The grounds are almost picked clean. It was a bumper crop this year. We’ll have preserves all through the winter, and won’t run out in the middle of February like we did this year,” said Eliza with a smile.
“I think that had less to do with the size of the crop than the number of people eating the harvest. I must say, we are an exceptionally full house these days.” She took another bite before speaking. “Have you and Colonel Hamilton given any thought as to where you will settle down?”
Eliza sighed wistfully, half at the notion of leaving her childhood home once and for all, half in impatience at being fully ensconced in her own home with her own husband, beginning her own life.
“I was just discussing the matter with Angelica and Peggy. Colonel Hamilton wants to be officially relieved of his commission and witness the end of the war before he decides. There are those who are pressuring him to join the government when the war ends, but since we don’t even know where the capital will be, we have no idea where we would have to live for him to do that. His own preference is for New York City, where he says a young man such as himself can most easily make a fortune. I prefer New York as well. It is too far from the Pastures for my liking, but not nearly so inaccessible as Philadelphia or something farther south.”
Her mother nodded. “Schuylers and Van Rensselaers have lived in upper New York since Dutch times. I never imagined I would have a daughter live on the coast, but if there is one of us with the equanimity to survive the hustle and bustle of that teeming metropolis, it is you.”
“Do you think?” Eliza said nervously. She looked out the window at the rolling green fields covered in ordered rows of fruit trees and grazing cows and sheep, sheltered over by a sky of liquid blue. “I do feel like such a country girl sometimes. The idea of living in one of those, what do they call them, town houses? With all those stairs, and the rooms stacked one on top of each other? It sounds so . . . uncomfortable.”
“All those stairs will be very good for the legs, my dear,” Mrs. Schuyler said with a wry smile. “And New York is growing increasingly elegant. I hear they have even paved some of the streets now.”
“And I hear the pigs run wild up and down them, rather than confining themselves to well-fenced sties like proper farm animals. But it doesn’t matter!” she added brightly. “I’ll be with Colonel Hamilton, and wherever we are will be home!”
She tried to picture it—the carpet, the wallpaper, the chandelier or sconces—but all she could see was Alex’s face. The decorations don’t matter, she said to herself. Home is wherever we are together.
“That’s the spirit,” Mrs. Schuyler said. “Speaking of domestic matters, I need to ask a favor from you.”
“Of course, Mama, what is it?”
“I need you to serve as hostess at tonight’s party.”
Eliza understood immediately. Even if Dr. Van Vrouten had not ordered her mother confined to her bed, Mrs. Schuyler was far too advanced in her term to be seen socially. Even so, she was surprised by her mother’s request.
“Me?” she said incredulously. “But Angelica is the eldest Schuyler lady. She should play substitute for you in your indisposition.”
“Angelica is a Schuyler no more,” her mother said quietly.
“But neither am I!” Eliza said, laughing.
“It is not the surname that matters,” Mrs. Schuyler replied, “as much as the man who carries it.”
Eliza sat back slightly. “I am afraid I don’t understand, Mama,” she said formally, though with a slight inkling that perhaps she did.
Her mother sighed and put her plate on the table beside her bed. “I will admit that I have softened toward Mr. Church in the years since he began courting your elder sister. He is a bit too British for my taste, but that cannot be helped. And while it seems the scandals that hounded him when he first showed up on our shores were base rumors and have been laid to rest, there persists an air of mystery about the man, and mystery translates to disrepute in our circle. It was a blow to our family’s reputation when Angelica eloped with a nameless, fortuneless Brit who, though not a loyalist, remains a subject of Mad King George. But it would be an even bigger blow if your father and I appeared to countenance it by inviting his wife to play hostess to one of our events. Even if she does so happen to be our daughter.”
Eliza sensed there was more to the story than her mother was letting on. “What do you mean, ‘a blow to our reputation’?”
Her mother looked at her frankly. “You must promise me not to repeat a word of this to any of your sisters.”
Eliza bit back a gasp. Her mother had never taken her into her confidence like this before. “Of course not, Mama.”
“Stephen’s mother has let it be known, and not so subtly I might add, that she disapproves of Angelica’s choice of husband.”
Now it all became clear. “You mean, that’s why Stephen hasn’t proposed to Peggy. Not because of our financial situation. But because of the whiff of scandal around Mr. Church?”
“The Schuylers are a proud family, and a wealthy one,” her mother asserted, “but the Rensselaers are prouder and richer still. I should know. I am one.” She laughed ruefully. “Stephen will be Patroon one day. It is largely a symbolic title, yet it still means much to my family. I believe their attitude will soften in time, especially if Angelica and Mr. Church move to England once the war is over. But until Peggy and Stephen are well and truly wed, I do not want to do anything that would spoil their chances. Peggy’s happiness depends on it, not to mention the assured financial health of all the Schuyler and Rensselaer progeny for the foreseeable future.”
Eliza was shocked, both by her mother’s news and by her having to play hostess in a mere few hours to the elite of upper New York. She looked down at her hands, which were still faintly stained with blueberry juices. Then her mother’s hand appeared in hers, clasping her fingers tightly.
“Don’t fret, my daughter. You have reserves of strength that you yourself are not aware of.” She smiled tenderly. “Think of it as a trial run for all those New York City parties you’ll be throwing in just a few years.”
“New York City!” Eliza said dreamily. “It’s hard to believe it will ever happen!”
“It will,” her mother said firmly, “and you will be the queen of Manhattan. By the way,” she added lightly, as she helped herself to a second slice of pie. “We had a note from the governor’s mansion this morning. Governor Clinton will be joining us this evening.” If Eliza didn’t know her mother better, she could have sworn she saw her smile turn wicked. “Try not to let him eat all the berries before he leaves.”
Love and War
By: Melissa de la Cruz
Release Date: April 17, 2018
One winner will receive a copy of Love and War (US only).