April 18, 2017

#FirstPage: Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by @MelissadelaCruz


Are you a Hamilton fan? Well, you can now scream with glee! Becuase the magic doesn't have to stop with you watching the play over and over or even listen to the soundtrack a million times.  You can now read Melissa De La Cruz's newest title Alex and Eliza which is a story about the young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. It was out back on the 11th and you really should grab it if you haven't. 





 
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Witches of East End and The Descendants comes the love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history. 

In the pages of Alex and Eliza, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.





Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street JournalLos Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly internationally bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels, including The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel and the Summer on East End series. Her Blue Bloods series has sold over three million copies, and the Witches of East End series became an hour-long television drama on the Lifetime network.
PROLOGUE 
Mansion on the Hill 
Albany, New York November 1777 

Like a latter-day Greek temple, the Schuyler family mansion sat atop a softly rounded hill outside Albany. Just over a decade old, the magnificent estate, called the Pastures, was already known as one of the finest houses of the New York state capital by dint of its exquisite furnishings and trimmings. The pièce de résistance was The Ruins of Rome, a set of hand-painted grisaille wallpapers decorating the home’s second-floor ballroom, which Philip Schuyler had brought back from a year-long trip to England in 1762. 

The local gentry was impressed by the mansion’s square footage and elegant appointments, but they were more taken with the general’s and Mrs. Schuyler’s impressive pedigrees: Philip was descended from the Schuylers and the Van Cortlandts, two of the oldest and most prestigious families in New York, while his wife, Catherine, was a Van Rensselaer, the single most prominent family in the northern half of the state, whose tenure stretched all the way back to the Dutch days of the early 1600s. Rensselaerwyck, as their estate was known, encompassed more than half a million acres, an unimaginably vast parcel, rivaled only by that of the Livingston family, who controlled what Catherine derisively referred to as “the bottom half” of the state. As a married woman, Catherine wasn’t entitled to any claim on the Van Rensselaer properties (or, for that matter, her husband’s), but rumor had it that her sizable dowry had paid for construction of their Albany mansion, as well as the Schuylers’ country estate outside Saratoga. 

Just shy of his forty-fourth birthday, General Philip Schuyler was a handsome man, tall and fit, with a military bearing and a full head of hair that, like George Washington, he wore powdered and softly curled, rarely resorting to the elegant (but rather itchy) affectation of a periwig. As a commander in Washington’s Continental army, Schuyler had organized a brilliant campaign against the British forces at Québec in 1775, only to be forced to resign his commission in June of this year, after Fort Ticonderoga fell while under his command. The defeat had been a double tragedy for Philip. Not only had the British taken the fort, they’d also seized his aforementioned Saratoga estate. Though not as grand as the Albany property, the Schuylers’ second home was still sumptuous enough that John Burgoyne, commander of the British forces, chose it for his personal residence. But the coup de grâce came when the Continental army retook Saratoga in October, and a spiteful Burgoyne set fire to the house and fields during his retreat. General Schuyler had all but depleted his wife’s inheritance building the house and bringing the land under tillage, which was expected to provide much of the family’s income. The loss put a serious dent in the family’s finances and cast an ominous shadow over their future. 

Not that an observer would know it. Unused to idleness, General Schuyler had spent the past four months striding about the Pastures, laying out new beds in the formal gardens, regimenting the orchard harvest with military precision, supervising the construction of gazebos and guest houses and servant cottages, and generally getting in everyone’s way, servant and family member alike. In a magnanimous gesture that indicated just how chivalrous he was—and how bored— Schuyler had even offered to put up the captured John Burgoyne before the British general was shipped back to England. Thus, did Schuyler’s one-time rival and his entourage, some twenty strong, “occupy” the Albany mansion for a full month, and even if they didn’t burn it down when they left, they still managed to eat a good-size hole into the family’s provisions, comestible and otherwise. 

Catherine Schuyler, one year younger than her husband, had been known as a “handsome woman” in her youth, but thirteen pregnancies in twenty years had taken their toll on her waistline. Practical, strong-willed, and stoic, she had buried no fewer than six of her children, including a set of triplets who hadn’t lived long enough to be baptized. If the pregnancies had stolen her figure, the deaths had taken her smile, and watching her husband fritter away her financial assets had done little to improve her spirits. 

Mrs. Schuyler’s love for the seven children who remained to her was evident in the care she took of them, from the wet nurses and nannies she handpicked to raise them, to the tutors she hired to educate them, to the cooks she employed to keep them well fed. And somehow in the midst of the numbing cycle of births and deaths, declarations and proclamations, sieges and seasons, the Schuylers’ three eldest girls had all reached marrying age. 

Angelica, the oldest, was a whip-smart, mischievous brunette, with glittering eyes, her pretty lips set in a perpetual smirk. Peggy, the youngest, was a waifish beauty, with a waist so tiny that she rarely bothered with a corset, and alabaster skin set off by a mass of lustrous dark hair that was simply too gorgeous to powder or bury under a wig (no matter what Marie Antoinette was covering her head with at Versailles). 

Eliza, the middle daughter, was as clever as Angelica and as beautiful as Peggy. She was also the most sensible, more interested in books than fashion, and, much to her mother’s consternation, more devoted to the revolutionary cause and the mantle of abolition than to marrying one of its well-off colonels. 

Her mother really didn’t know what she was going to do with her. 

Three daughters, each a prize in her own way (though Eliza would need a strong man to match her spirit). Under normal circumstances, marrying them off would be a feat of sustained diplomacy in which the first families of New York bound their blood and fortunes together like European aristocracy. But New York’s respectable families were few in number, and word traveled quickly. It would be only a matter of time before people found out just how much the Schuylers had lost at Saratoga, at which point the girls would become damaged goods. It was imperative, then—both to their futures and the family’s—that they married well. 

But it was even more important that they married fast. 

And so, Mrs. Schuyler resorted to a strategy that had served her own mother well in times of need. 

She was throwing a ball.





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