Fiction Review: The Rose and the Thistle, by Laura Frantz

OVERVIEW

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, Blythe quietly awaits the crowning of a new 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 her maid 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. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

In this whirlwind of intrigue, ambitions, and shifting alliances, Blythe yearns for someone she can trust. But the same forces that draw her and Everard together also threaten to tear them apart.

MY REVIEW

Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

Let’s start with my personal disclaimer: I am the daughter of a Scotland born woman, and the granddaughter of another. I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland during my university years, and would’ve done my best to stay there had I not met my American husband and moved to the USA. I’ve also recently discovered my ancestral clan supported the Jacobite cause, central to the new novel by Laura Frantz.

None of the above, however, are particular reasons for me choosing to read The Rose and the Thistle. I’ve enjoyed reading Frantz’s novels for over a decade, and she’s someone whose books I will gravitate towards. I came to this book knowing two outcomes: first, the Rebellion of 1715 failed and second, our main characters would be together by the end. These are not spoilers; one is historical fact, and the other is a presumed standard for this genre of fiction. What I also got, however, was a top-notch romance that I actually felt, and spot on historical detail. “Gardez-loo!” anyone?

The paperback includes a map of Scotland, with the four castles and the country’s capital featured on it. There’s also a three-page Glossary of Scots-language words (Scots being different from Gaelic), some of which I recognize from my childhood. The only thing more I might’ve liked is a list of the major players, and which side of the fight they were on.

Did you know Scottish and English soldiers supported both sides of the Rebellion? Although the Jacobites supported the House of Stuart king, this was a fight more about religion than nationality. While it’s often presumed that all Scots were for the Rebellion and all English against it, here we have an English Catholic family supporting the Jacobites while Everard supports the Hanoverian monarch. Blythe’s Catholicism is often brought up during the story; early on she considers becoming a nun. For this reason, I loved the ambiguity of the title. Roses are usually connected with England, but the white rose was also associated with the Jacobite would-be king.

Laura Frantz is a Hume descendent. Her sixth great-grandfather was apparently a Jacobite commander in 1715, and this novel is a combination of family history and fiction. Since I now know my Maclean ancestors were involved with the Rebellion, I’d love to trace them back to the early 1700s and see what else they did. (The clan chief was apparently killed at the Battle of Culloden, and there’s a clan memorial marker on the battlefield.) This novel has fired up my interest, and I can’t wait to get back to Scotland and investigate further!

RATING

Rating: 5 out of 5.

BOOK INFORMATION

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 January 2023

Book Information

Excerpt

LAURA FRANTZ

author photo

Award-winning, bestselling 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. Proud of her heritage, she is also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Laura Frantz’s website: https://laurafrantz.net/

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