It’s my pleasure to share an extract from the Rose and the Thistle, courtesy of Laurel Nattress.
“How fetching you look in your pale green gown, La Belle Hedley. Akin to a stalk of celery,” Catherine teased, knowing Blythe didn’t give a fig for fashion and lamented her height, exceeding most of the court’s gallants. “And though you may roll your eyes at me for saying so, there’s no doubt you are the best-dressed woman here and have set French society afire.”
’Tis not my fashion sense but my mother’s reputation that has done so. “I would rather spend it all on books than silks and ribbons,” Blythe replied. But her dear father wouldn’t let her. The duke was far more matrimonially minded than she. And given she lacked any outward beauty save her garments, fashion was her one asset.
“You are unquestionably a la mode.” Catherine openly admired Blythe’s flawless coiffure styled into pale coils over one bare shoulder and adorned with beribboned rosettes. “I’ve heard the Duchess d’Orleans covets your hairdresser while Mary of Modena covets your gems.” Her hazel eyes slid to the choker of sapphires around Blythe’s throat and the ones set in silver and pearl adorning her ears. “Not paste gems but true brilliants. I suppose they were your mother’s. Such a blinding, bewitching blue.”
Blythe touched an earring absently. “But how ridiculous I feel in red heels.” She looked down at her new slippers in bemusement before reaching into her pocket. With a practiced snap of her wrist, she unfurled a painted fan encrusted with tiny precious stones, a gift from Catherine’s aunt, lady of the queen’s bedchamber.
Blythe tallied how many days she’d been exiled to—visiting—France. Sixty-three?
She and Catherine strolled on with no apparent aim beneath the strengthening spring sun, their hooped, colorful skirts swaying in the breeze. “We’ve walked these paths for weeks now.” The lament in Catherine’s tone was telling. “And not one glimpse of my kindred, the ousted prince.”
Blythe’s gaze swept the manicured grounds as though James Francis Edward Stuart would materialize before their eyes. Charming and highly polished, the would-be James III of England and James VIII of Scotland was the catch of the continent—if he could only regain his crown.
His Royal Highness remains in Lorraine,” Blythe said quietly. Much could be learned by listening, as gossip and intrigue buzzed. at every turn. “He seeks a royal bride. One who is wealthy and polished and—”
“That would be you.” Catherine cast her a knowing look.
“Alas, I lack the requisite curves and double chin, plain as I am,” Blythe replied with a flutter of her fan. The foremost courtiers were voluptuous, sensuous women with heavily rouged cheeks and lips, sporting beauty patches in myriad places.
“Ha! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is it not?”
“Most men of my acquaintance seem preoccupied with face, form, and fortune, in that order. Yet I long to be loved for myself and nothing else.”
A shadow passed over Catherine’s porcelain-perfect features. “Though you profess to being plain, there is no denying you are the Duke of Northumbria’s daughter.”
Blythe squinted as the sun strengthened. Not just his daughter. His only daughter—and only child. The whole weight of the Northumbrian fortune and future was upon her. If she failed to marry, failed to provide an heir . . .
“Alas, a duke’s daughter of scandalous lineage.”
Catherine raised slender shoulders in a shrug. “’Twas long ago and best forgotten.”
“Then needs be I find a man of dim memory and even greater purse than my beloved father.”
“How few nobles fit, including our impoverished if dashing Stuart prince.” Catherine sighed. “I fear we shall all be branded spinsters if we leave France unaffianced.”
“Marriage is not a right, nor is singleness a curse.” Blythe’s fan fluttered harder. “I’ve been pondering other paths, like becoming a nun and joining a convent in Flanders or Chaillot. Perhaps a contemplative order like the English Augustine nuns at Bruges.”
“Don’t you dare!” Catherine gave a vicious pinch to Blythe’s arm as if to bring her to her senses. “You have too much to offer to shut yourself away so.”
Stung but in no mood to argue, Blythe made no reply.
Chapter 1, pages 11-14 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.
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- “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
3 thoughts on “#Extract ~ the Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz @LFrantzauthor @RevellBooks #HistoricalFiction #Romance #AustenProsePR #BookTwitter”
Nice excerpt. I like the time period too
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Thanks for sharing, Cathy. Frantz is a gifted writer and I hope you enjoy her new novel.
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My pleasure, Laurel.