Guest post from Susanna Fraser: Team Wellington vs. Team Napoleon

Susanna Fraser is a new author of historical romance learning the publishing world while juggling a day job and a family. Her first novel, The Sergeant’s Lady, was released August 23rd from Carina Press. She’s my critique partner, and I can tell you firsthand that her book is fantastic. Plus, look at this sweet cover:

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog! Today I decided to skip the usual discussion of how I became a writer, what inspired The Sergeant’s Lady in particular, and so on, and talk about an unexpected side effect of historical research.

You get crushes on dead guys.

Or, I do, at least. It’s sort of like actor/character crushes, only instead of Team Edward and Team Jacob, you get, say, Team Napoleon and Team Wellington. And I’m on Team Wellington. In a big way. He isn’t the only man of the era I admire–I wouldn’t kick Michel Ney out of bed for eating crackers, f’rex–but Wellington is on top of my time travel Free Pass List.

When I started researching the British Army of the Napoleonic Era, I was predisposed to dislike Wellington. I’d picked up a vague impression that he was a cold, heartless elitist. But when I actually met the man on the pages of history, I discovered that he was a level-headed, reserved man in a world that favored the expansive and emotional, that he worried more about seeing that his soldiers’ needs were met than making himself loved…and that he was totally an elitist. I could never agree with his politics, and I can’t even wrap my common American brain around his views on class.

But still. Six months or so into my research, I read some anecdote where Wellington was waxing snarky on some underling–I think it was the one where a commissary officer complained that one of the divisional generals had threatened to have him hanged if he was late with the rations again, and Wellington coolly responded something to the effect of, “Then I should be on time tomorrow if I were you. Picton is a man of his word.” I thought, “Dang, but I like that elitist Tory sumbitch.”

And the next time I encountered his portrait–it may have been this one–I thought, “And he was kinda hot, too. Actually, not even kinda. Just hot.” Something about the long nose, intense eyes, and general air of confidence and competence is hella sexy to me even when it’s an oil painting of a man of my great-great-great-great-grandfather’s generation. He wasn’t unusually tall, but he was long and lean in a way that the men’s clothes of the era totally flattered. And he’s on a horse. The Old Spice Guy is totally right about the hotness of that.

Would Wellington have liked me, though? Well, he seemed to like his women friends, platonic and otherwise, to be intelligent and politically savvy, and I like to think I’m both. On the other hand, no amount of admiring his hotness, snark, and brilliance as a general could ever make me agree with his politics–I mean, come on! He opposed the Reform Act of 1832! Talk about being on the wrong side of history!–and I don’t get the sense being disagreed with was one of his turn-ons. So even if the TARDIS shows up on my doorstep tomorrow and the Doctor offers me a trip to 1812 or so, I doubt my husband needs to worry about my fidelity too much. (Unless it’s the Ninth Doctor, yum…just kidding, dear!)

Tell me your favorite historical crush, or how crazy you find the concept of having the hots for a dead guy. One commenter wins a free download of The Sergeant’s Lady, a book I’m sure Wellington would’ve disapproved of for its cross-class love story…though he did read the romance novels of his day. On a voyage back to England from India in 1805, his reading list included novels with the suggestive titles Illicit Love, Lessons for Lovers, Fashionable Involvements, Filial Indiscretion or the Female Chevalier, and Love at First Sight. There’s a mental image for you…the future victor of Waterloo lounging in his cabin with a love story.

I have to admit, Susanna’s Wellington crush has totally rubbed off on me. Yeah, I’d hit that. Of course, I’ve always been a sucker for a big nose. I have to disagree with her about the Doctor though–it’s Eleven all the way for me.

You can buy The Sergeant’s Lady here. Plus, Susanna will be giving away a free download of the book to one commenter on this post!

So comment away: tell us about your top historical crush, whether you’re on Team Wellington or Team Napoleon, or who your favorite Time Lord is!

13 thoughts on “Guest post from Susanna Fraser: Team Wellington vs. Team Napoleon”

  1. Um, does Sharpe count? I totally love Sean Bean in that role. Henry the VIII looked okay during his younger days before he started putting on weight and marrying everyone.
    Congrats on your release, Susanna. 🙂

  2. I have a friend who crushes madly on many of the Founding Fathers–and honestly, I can agree with her about Jefferson. Especially the 1776 version. Yum.
    Although your Wellington crush is contagious here, too.
    My favorite Doctor so far is Ten–I’m just starting S4–although the promo pictures of Eleven look mighty tsaty as well.

  3. Good morning, everyone! I’ll be in later today to respond to comments properly, but I came into the office to discover an email to the effect of, “You know that one big item on the list of five things we need before X and Y are out of the office next week? Well, we actually need that by noon today for a meeting.” And naturally it’s the one of the five I hadn’t even STARTED yet…so I have to tackle that before I can think about disporting myself in the blogosphere.

  4. Shelley, with Henry VIII I just have too much trouble getting past the famous Holbein painting. I know he didn’t always look like that, but I can’t erase that mental image.
    Isabel, the closest thing I have to a Founding Father crush is Benjamin Franklin. It’s not that I think he was hot, but looking at his portraits I totally understand his reputation as a ladies’ man. And I get the impression he had the best sense of humor of the lot.

  5. Susanna, I am definitely on The Iron Duke’s team. I think the big thing for me was the trust his men put in him and my dad, who was a British army officer who love history, also thought highly of him too.

  6. Now that you mention it, Hannibal was hot. He was still a young man when he took command of his father’s army in Spain and started harassing the Romans. And he must have been in his prime when he led his men on that death-defying trip over the Alps to kick the Romans’ ass again and again.
    And what about our founding fathers? Open your wallet, take out a ten. Isn’t Hamilton hot? Too bad he had to die so young in that duel with Aaron Burr

    1. Tia, I totally have a crush on Hamilton too! Not only is he a FFILF, but he shaped the economy of a young nation with the power of his mind! Mmm.

    1. I’ve read that he was also quite the womanizer? And what writer couldn’t love someone who wrote this: If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do things worth the writing.

  7. I love that you’re not trying to gloss over the man’s political views. In every age, people saw their world through different filters. It’s ridiculous to expect them to fit into ours.
    I think a sense of honor is very sexy and something we rarely see outside military men today.

    1. Yeah, I find Wellington a useful reminder that A) someone I disagree with in many areas can still be someone of integrity who genuinely serves his country and wants the best for it, and B) no matter how smart you are, you still can’t entirely escape the blind spots caused by your background and place in the world…and that’s as true for me as anyone else!

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