Susana Ellis interviews Vanessa Sedately from Valuing Vanessa

cover-of-holly-and-hopeful-hearts-copyAuthor Susana Ellis interviews Vanessa Sedgely, the heroine of her story, Valuing Vanessa, which is included in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2016 holiday anthology, Holly and Hopeful Hearts. Valuing Vanessa is also Book 2 of the Hertfordshire Hoydens series, which started with Treasuring Theresa.

 Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

The last thing widower George Durand thinks he wants is another wife, but his difficult daughter is proving difficult to handle. In any case, the admirable Miss Sedgely is far too young for him.

A love match is not even a remote consideration for these two. Or is it?

 S.E.: Where and when were you born?

V.S.: I was born in London on 3rd June 1788, at my parents’ home on Hill Street, in Mayfair. My father’s great-grandfather was one of the original investors in the East India Company, but since he was a silk merchant, our family has never reached the upper echelons of society. My mother was the daughter of an impoverished gentleman.

S.E.: What influence did your birth family have on you, your choices, and your life?

V.S.: As the firstborn, I wanted nothing more than to please my parents, but when my brother Alexander was born a year later, all their attention was focused on him. When I was three, we both caught a fever. He died and I lived, and my parents—especially my mother—always seemed to resent me for that. No matter how hard I tried, I always seemed to fall short of their expectations. When my sister Eugenia was born, Mother almost died and was told she could not bear any more children. Genie was such a delightful child that our parents couldn’t help doting on her. As I do, of course.

S.E.: You didn’t resent her at all?

V.S.: No, I couldn’t. She was like a living, breathing doll. It wasn’t her fault our parents preferred her to me.

S.E.: Still, that must have been difficult for you, growing up in the shadow of a younger sister.

V.S. [sighing]: Perhaps in some ways. I tried very hard to please them, but it seemed an impossible task. I thought perhaps when I became betrothed to the son of a baron at eighteen, I might have achieved it, since my mother was aux anges at the prospect of having a daughter with a title. [flushing]. But that ended so disastrously that Mother could hardly hold her head up in public, so I’ve given up trying to please her since.

S.E.: Good heavens! What happened?

V.S. [taking a deep breath]: My fiancé eloped to Gretna Green with a dairy maid.

S.E.: Oh my! That must have been quite—disappointing!

V.S.: Humiliating, you mean. Indeed it was, and not just for my mother. I was the laughingstock of the ton for the Season. People laughed behind their handkerchiefs when they saw me and eligible young men did not dare approach me, so eventually, I began avoiding them.

S.E.: But surely it was your former fiancé who should be blamed, not you!

V.S. [rolling her eyes]: You must be joking. Being jilted is far more damaging to the woman’s reputation than the man’s. There must be something seriously wrong with me for my betrothed to prefer a milkmaid over me.

S.E.: People can be so cruel! But surely it would have blown over in time.

V.S.: Quite possibly, but at the time, I only wanted to crawl into a corner and lick my wounds. I would have avoided society altogether had it not been for Genie. My sister, Eugenia, came out at seventeen and needed my moral support. Our mother—well, I couldn’t very well leave her solely in Mama’s care. [biting her lip] Mama has good intentions, but unfortunately, she has a tendency to be rather overpowering.

S.E.: I see. And your sister had a successful Season?

V.S. [smiling]: Yes indeed! She met Reese Bromfield at her first ball, and they were wed months later. She is now the mama of a beautiful son and living in Hertfordshire.

S.E.: How lovely! And you remain with your parents in London, still unwed, at the age of twenty-four?

V.S. [swallowing]: Unfortunately, yes.

S.E.: So you would prefer to be married?

V.S.: No. Yes. Perhaps. [shrugging] It is true that I do not find it pleasant to live under my mother’s roof. Two years ago I became involved in a charity—the Foundling Hospital, you know—and I find it enormously fulfilling to help the children there—but of late I have begun to chafe at Mother’s constant nagging. Marriage is the only way to escape it, but that could be exchanging a known tyrant for an unknown one.

S.E.: You have given up on a love match, then?

V.S. [narrowing her eyes]: You know, before Genie and Reese’s betrothal, I would have scoffed at such a thing. I can’t imagine Mama and Papa ever having been in love—and if they were, it has certainly cooled. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a true love match. I hope my sister and Reese’s happiness will last a lifetime, but I have no such hopes for one for myself. Imagine how devastating it would be to fall in love and then discover the object of your affection to be a monster!

S.E.: Love does involve risk.

V.S.: Indeed it does. And that’s why I—if I marry—will seek a sensible, even-tempered gentleman who will not burden me with violent emotions, nor interfere in my activities with the Foundling Hospital.

S.E.: I see. And what would be the benefit for him in marrying you?

V.S. [eyes widening] Er—I suppose I would manage his household.

S.E.: A housekeeper can do that.

V.S. [fidgeting]: Give him children. A man needs a wife for that.

S.E.: What if you find you cannot? It’s not like he can trade you in for a new model.

V.S. [shaking her head]: You’re right. I shall have to study further on this matter.

S.E. Life can be so complicated! But for now, how about a nice cup of tea? I hear my cook has baked some of her famous lemon biscuits.

V.S. [brightening] The very thing! I should love to try them!

Heat rating: G-PG13


  When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?

Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?

The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.

Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.

An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?

Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…


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PAGE COUNT: 578 pages on Kindle


The Bluestocking Belles, the “BellesInBlue”, are seven very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood. Come visit us at and kick up your bluestockinged heels!


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suana-ellisAbout Susana Ellis

Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.

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