Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Read an #Excerpt from An Indiscreet Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Defiant Daughter by Georgie Blalock

About the Book

An Indiscreet Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Defiant Daughter
by Georgie Blalock

Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 27th 2022 by William Morrow & Company
From the acclaimed author of The Other Windsor Girl and The Last Debutantes comes a brilliant novel about Queen Victoria’s most rebellious and artistically talented daughter, Princess Louise, showcasing her rich life in Georgie Blalock’s signature flair.

Before Princes Margaret, before Duchess Meghan, there was Princess Louise: royal rebel.

As the fourth daughter of the perpetually in-mourning Queen Victoria, Princess Louise’s life is more a gilded prison than a fairy tale. Expected to sit quietly next to her mother with downcast eyes, Louise vows to escape the stultifying royal court. Blessed with beauty, artistic talent, and a common touch, she creates a life outside the walled-in existence of the palace grounds by attending the National Art Training School—where she shockingly learns to sculpt nude models while falling passionately in love with famed sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm.

Although Louise cultivates artist friends, artistic success, and a life outside the palace, she quickly learns that even royal rebels must heed the call of duty. For twenty years, Louise fights to maintain her relationship with Joseph and what freedom she can glean within the strict requirements of Queen Victoria’s court. When a near fatal accident forces her back under Queen Victoria’s iron rule, Louise must choose between surrendering to the all-consuming grief of lost love and dreams that plagued her mother or finding the strength to keep fighting for her unconventional life. 


Chapter Twenty-Two

Dear Lady Ely having been here and acting the part of chaperone to Louise, besides being a dear friend of ours, has been informed of today’s Event in strict confidence. She can bring any message from you which might under present circumstances be difficult for you to convey to me personally.
—Queen Victoria to lord lorne

London, June 1878

ounding on Edgar’s studio door ripped Louise and Edgar from their languid rest in each other’s arms.
“What the devil?” Edgar untangled himself from Louise’s embrace and tugged on his shirt. “Who’s there?”
“Mr. Gilbert,” Edgar’s assistant whispered through the door. “Her Majesty has arrived to view the Carlyle statue.”
“What’s she doing here?” Louise jumped from the couch and pulled on her chemise. “She rarely deigns to visit London or an artist’s studio. She summons them to her.”
“Well, she’s here.” Edgar grabbed his trousers from where he’d tossed them on the floor. He tugged them on as he crossed the room and cracked open the door. “Where is Her Majesty?”
“Downstairs. Shall I show her up?”
“After you escort Lady Macnamara from the sitting room to the back entrance, show Her Majesty up the stairs as slowly as possible. Take her to the sitting room through the hall en- trance and offer her refreshments. Tell her I’m composing my- self and will be with her shortly.”
“Yes, sir.”
Edgar closed the door as Mr. Gilbert hurried to delay Ma- ma’s arrival as much as he could. Thankfully, Louise’s driver always waited in her plain black carriage a few streets away. She never dared to have him park in front of The Avenue and draw attention to her comings and goings.
Louise helped Edgar with his suit, straightening his cravat and shirt and coat. There was no time for her to dress.
“Remain behind the screen. It’s dark in this corner, and if you don’t move, she shouldn’t notice you’re there. I’ll do what I can to keep her from lingering.” He raked his fingers through his hair to straighten the curls as Louise slipped with her clothes behind the screen, the floor cold against her bare feet. From her hiding place, she heard Edgar stroll leisurely to the sitting room door, take a deep breath, and pull it open.
“Your Majesty, you honor me with your visit.”
“Princess Christian told me of the marvelous statue you executed of Mr. Carlyle, did you not, my dear?” Mama’s voice carried in through the open door. Louise barely dared to breathe for fear of being discovered.
“I did. It’s all anyone can speak of,” Lenchen agreed, and Louise wondered who she considered everyone. If it wasn’t Mama’s correspondence or a laudanum bottle, Lenchen rarely noticed it.
Cold fear slid through Louise. Had Lenchen discovered something about her and Edgar and deliberately led Mama here? It didn’t seem possible, yet here she stood, almost na- ked behind a screen in her lover’s studio, with Mama and Lenchen on the other side.
“I have been informed you have a copy of it here. I should like to see it and judge the quality for myself.”
“Of course, Your Majesty. If you’ll follow me into the next room, I’d be happy to show it to you.”
He led them into the holy of holies and the time dragged on as Mama praised the excellent expression on Mr. Car- lyle’s face, marveled at how lifelike and real he appeared, and complimented Edgar on perfectly capturing the eminent historian more accurately than Mr. Whistler’s dreadful por- trait, which had made him appear more like a rumpled pile of clothes than a much-admired luminary.
Louise held her breath from behind the screen, half- dressed in her chemise, clutching her corset and frock to her chest. Her hands, arms, and legs ached from keeping still. She was too afraid to shift a muscle and have Mama or Lenchen notice the sound of fabric rustling and seek out the source. She couldn’t dress without Smack or Edgar’s assistance, and if Mama or Lenchen discovered her, hell would reign down on her.
Finally, when Louise thought she might cry out in agony with her stiff muscles, they returned from the holy of holies.
“Thank you, Mr. Boehm, you have been most gracious in humoring me without prior announcement. We will go now and leave you to your work.”
After an agonizing exchange of pleasantries and good- byes, the door at last clicked closed.
Louise didn’t dare step out from behind the screen, afraid Mama or Lenchen might return on some trumped-up pretext. It wasn’t until Edgar’s voice from the other side of the screen whispered to her that she eased her grip on her clothes.
“They’re gone.”
She stepped out into the room, shivering as much from nerves as the chill.
“Let’s get you dressed.”
With hands far steadier than hers, he helped her into her clothes, tying laces and fastening hooks with practiced fin- gers until she finally appeared as she’d entered two hours be- fore. In the large looking glass over the mantel, she fixed her hair, pinning it back into the simple style she favored, thank- ful for her more bohemian tastes. Anything more elaborate, and she’d appear as bedraggled as Sharp after a bath. She straightened the front of her jacket, noticing at once some- thing wasn’t right. “My butterfly pin is missing.”
“You’re certain you were wearing it?”
“I am. It must’ve fallen off.” They searched the studio, peering under chairs and tables, but there was no sign of it.
“I’ll search for it and instruct Mr. Gilbert and the char- woman to do the same.”
A soft knock at the sitting room door made them both freeze. “Louise, it’s Smack.”
She cautiously opened the door, peering around it to en- sure she hadn’t walked in on anything indecent before hur- rying forward. “If Her Majesty came here, who knows where she might go next? You should return to Kensington Palace at once.”
“I agree.” With one last longing look at Edgar, neither of them needing to say anything to punctuate the gravity of what’d happened, she and Smack left.

From AN INDISCREET PRINCESS by Georgie Blalock. Copyright © 2022 by Georgie Reinstein. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

About the Author

Georgie Blalock is a history and movie buff who loves combining her different passions through historical fiction, and a healthy dose of period piece films. When not writing, she can be found prowling the non-fiction history section of the library or the British film listings on Netflix or in the dojo training for her next karate black belt rank. Georgie also writes historical romance under the name Georgie Lee. 

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