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.
Imagine the tumult of grieving the loss of a father, balancing loyalties in a country enduring political turmoil, and welcoming a stranger into your home as she seeks protection within that same political storm? Such is the challenge facing Everard Hume, the newly established eleventh Earl of Wedderburn in Laura Frantz’s The Rose and the Thistle. It is the year 1715 in Scotland. Jacobite and anti-Papist tensions are high, and the nobility is forced to choose sides as forces build to an eventual conflict. As Everard takes on the mantle previously held by his father, many challenges are faced both within and without. Likewise, his “guest” Lady Blythe Hedley has narrowly escaped an anti-papist mob, is worried about the safety of her Jacobite father, and feels less than welcome as a fleeing Catholic in the Protestant Hume household. Much is at stake for both individuals during this factious moment in British history.
The Rose and the Thistle is not only an educational read for those interested in 18th-century Scotland, but it is also an entertaining novel by a talented author. Laura Frantz, a descendant of the Humes of Wedderburn Castle has thoroughly researched her ancestors and culture, mixing healthy amounts of realism and fact with fictionalized narrative. The result is a novel that easily held my attention and captivated my imagination. Each character is fully sketched and unique, and I came to care for the protagonists easily. Likewise, a few antagonists in particular drew me into the story, as they provided conflict which made the plot all the more interesting.
While political intrigue is a strong theme of The Rose and the Thistle, the dominant focus is ultimately a romance between Everard and Blythe. As a Christian author, Laura Frantz keeps the content between her lovers very sweet, without gratuitous details or overly steamy scenes. Passionate moments are clear, but readers are left to read between the lines on many occasions. While Everard and Blythe come from two schools of thought in regard to faith, they share belief in a common Savior and find ways to bridge the gap between their variant traditions. As a Catholic, Blythe does use Rosary beads in her prayer times, but within the pages of The Rose and the Thistle her thoughts are directed more to Christ than in a Papist saint. That said, the novel is not overly evangelistic in tone and could easily be enjoyed by those of varying religious persuasions.
Although I am half German, I am also part Scottish, a descendant of the line of Robert the Bruce. For almost a decade I have also been a strong follower of the works of Diana Gabaldon and her Scottish-based Outlander series. My husband and I also hope to travel to this beautiful country sometime in the near future, and have enjoyed learning more about the culture. The Rose and the Thistle is rife with Scottish vocabulary, social trends and historic moments. Frantz was right to put a glossary at the beginning of the text, as I needed to refer to it often. At times I found some of the dialogue a little hard to follow with the Scottish accent of some of the characters, but that added to the verisimilitude of the story. I very much felt like I had been dropped into 18th century Scotland.
Laura Frantz is a new author for this reader, and I highly enjoyed The Rose and the Thistle. The romance was delicious, the political intrigue exciting, and the spirituality encouraging. For all I have learned about Scotland in recent years, my knowledge took a leap forward after enjoying this title. Frantz has done her ancestors a great service in sharing this chapter of their history, and she has given her readers a fine gift in this captivating novel.