2023 has only just begun, and already there are some incredible new books out that deserve to be read! One novel I’m particularly looking forward to is The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz. It takes place in Scotland in 1715, and it follows a fugitive heiress as she hides out in a Scottish laird’s home, awaiting news of who will be crowned the next king of England. In addition to a tentative romance between these two, the novel also explores shifting political alliances, grief over losing a parent, and tensions between differing faiths.
There’s something about Scotland that always piques my interest, and I love learning about the past through fiction. The Rose and the Thistle looks like a book that strikes a perfect balance between fascinating history (including the Jacobite rising of 1715) and heartfelt romance between an unlikely couple. An obvious fictional comparison may be Outlander (though I’ve only seen the show and have not read any of the books), and I’m excited to see a fresh historical novel about such a rich time period and culture.
Below, please enjoy an excerpt from The Rose and the Thistle. You can also find out more about the book in Austenprose’s illuminating interview with Laura Frantz here.
Following the excerpt, you can find out more about the novel – including where to get it – below. Do let me know if you’re planning to pick up The Rose and the Thistle, and if you’ve already read it, let me know how you liked it in the comments! I’m hoping to read it soon, so stay tuned for my review.
Exclusive Excerpt From The Rose and the Thistle
[Everard’s] gaze swept the crowd, alighting on what looked to be a valet standing behind a seated gentleman, both looking straight at him. Northumbria? Everard hadn’t seen Musgrave Hedley in years.
To Everard’s surprise, the duke pulled himself to his feet, dwarfing his manservant. There was no reason to rise, but mayhap that was part of the ruse, as was the duke’s humble appearance. He was kitted out in the hodden grey of commoners, his thinning flaxen hair disguised by a simple, unpowdered periwig, his silver-buckled shoes his only vanity.
Everard came to a stop before the bare table. Though he was a head higher, the duke still cut an imposing figure. “Your Grace.”
So, the duke had not forgotten him. Still . . .
“I was expecting your father.” Northumbria sat down again and gestured to the seat opposite.
Everard slid onto a bench, grateful ale was promptly served. “My faither is unweel, so I have come in his stead.” Reluctantly, even unwillingly. And at considerable trouble. The fifty or so miles from Wedderburn Castle had been in rough weather, the spring rains heavy, the muck up to their ankles. Away from home at such a time was chancy if the auld laird took another ill turn.
“I am sorry to hear it.” Northumbria’s stern features softened briefly before turning to stone again. “I am seldom in Scotland. Nor do I venture near London lately.”
Was he referring to the recent rioting there? The unrest following Queen Anne’s death and a Hanoverian ruler in her stead? Nae doubt.
The duke’s eyes roamed the room even as his voice dropped. “You’ll convey to your father all that I tell you here with the utmost secrecy? The utmost urgency?”
Everard swallowed a sip of ale. “Depend on it.”
“Very well. The matter involves my daughter.”
Their eyes locked, and Everard read a steely resolve most men only carried into battle.
“As you may know, there are plans in place for the House of Stuart to rise again, starting with a possible landing on the Northumbrian coast. I am under suspicion by the new government. Diverse threats have been made against me by unknown persons.”
Everard gave a curt nod. “You are concerned for your daughter’s safety.”
“I am more than concerned. I fear for her life.”
Everard paused. What the deuce was his daughter’s name? Did it even matter? “Is her ladyship at Bellbroke Castle?”
“Nay. She has been in France with the Stuarts of Traquair House since Candlemas but will soon be on her way home.”
Everard nearly groaned aloud. The Stuarts of Traquair were no safer. Courtiers and kin to the exiled Stuarts, they were arguably the most unsafe Scots in the country, at least on British soil. In France where Catholicism ruled the day and the French king was a cousin, ’twas somewhat less dangerous.
“While she is safer there, she is pining for England,” the duke said. “In truth, she despises France and feels besmirched by the excess and endless frivolity. And I, in truth, am missing her company. Lately, she has been threatening to join a religious order. That I cannot conscience. She is all I have, understand.” He leaned in, his long, narrow fingers curled around his tankard. “However, once she returns, if matters continue dangerous, I would send her to a remote location far from any upheaval. Wedderburn Castle should suit.”
Everard arched a brow as the fiddler switched to a rousing jig, though he hardly heard the hubbub around them. The tension between him and the duke was palpable, ratcheting higher with every word. What would his father say to this surprising proposal?
Northumbria motioned for more ale. “Your parents—God rest your dear mother’s soul—are my daughter’s godparents.”
Everard swallowed, reaching into the past when the Hedleys and Humes were tightly knit. Once upon a time there had been a Catholic christening, a shadowy affair long forgotten. Something scandalous, if memory served. “My parents have long since left the Catholic faith.”
“Nevertheless, as godparents they are charged with my daughter’s well-being. Such a commitment has no end, at least till her death or she weds and is in the safekeeping of a husband.”
Her death—or my faither’s? Everard focused on his replenishedale. He knew little of christenings and less of godparents. It seemedhe and the duke had crossed swords. Their politics were at odds, aswas their faith, the Humes being Protestant Scots and Whigs, the Hedleys Romish Tories. What had they in common other than the lass now in question?
“A husband . . .” Everard echoed.
For a moment, the duke looked aggravated. “Unfortunately, she has no matrimonial prospects.”
Wheest. A damning indictment for an heiress. The flicker of sympathy Everard had felt changed to vexation. “What would you have me do, Your Grace?”
“Convey to your father my fears. Send word to me his answer. If his is a mortal illness or injury, I leave the matter with you, his heir.”
The eleventh Earl of Wedderburn.
Everard made no reply. There was no arguing with a doting father, even if a lass was not in danger.
Chapter 2, pages 18-20
From The Rose and the Thistle © 2023, Laura Frantz, published by Revell
In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley’s father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Lady Blythe awaits who will ultimately be crowned king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.
No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with the clothes on her back and her mistress in tow. He has his own problems–a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction in the wake of losing his father. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.
Drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue, shifting alliances, and ambitions, Lady Blythe must be careful whom she trusts. Her fortune, her future, and her very life are at stake. Those who appear to be adversaries may turn out to be allies–and those who pretend friendship may be enemies.
Advance Praise for The Rose and the Thistle
- “A masterful achievement of historical complexity and scintillating romance sure to thrill readers with its saga of love under siege.”— Booklist, starred review
- “A deeply atmospheric story of faith, love, and sacrifice that is as captivating as it is enthralling.”— Sarah E. Ladd, bestselling author of The Cornwall Novels
- “Marked by majestic Scottish scenery and a memorable trip to Edinburg, The Rose and the Thistle is a delightful historical romance set during a tumultuous time.”— Forward Reviews
Get the Book
You can learn more about and buy The Rose and the Thistle at the links below. It’s available as a hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook.
|The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz|
|Genre||Historical Romance; Historical Fiction|
|Number of Pages||416|
|Original Publication Date||January 3, 2023|
About the Author
Christy Award-winning author, Laura Frantz, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Proud of her heritage, she is also a Daughter of the American Revolution. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State.
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