From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
If you are as big a fan of historical novels set in Scotland as I am, take heed. Bestselling author Laura Frantz’s forthcoming, The Rose and the Thistle, is briming with heather, history, and romance during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Releasing next month, Laura graciously agreed to talk with me in advance of publication sharing insights into the storyline, characters, historical context, and her writing career. Grab a cup of tea and some shortbread and settle in.
Welcome, Laura. The Rose and the Thistle is set in Northern England and Scotland during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Can you share your inspiration for selecting this time in British history for your new novel?
So happy to be your guest, Laurel, thank you. Your site is lovely! I’ve always been fascinated with the intertwined history of England and Scotland, especially when the Stuart dynasty ended and the Hanoverians came to the throne. The Jacobites are also fascinating to me personally since my Scottish ancestors, the Humes, were Jacobites who got into more than a wee bit of trouble for their allegiances, forfeiting all that they had in 1715. Those Humes, also known as Home, inspired this novel so a great deal of my family history and heritage are woven in.
What is your heroine Lady Blythe Hedley’s biggest challenge? Why is she a misfit heiress?
Her ladyship’s biggest challenge is her pride. She’s a proud, pedigreed woman though one could argue she has the right to be with her ducal lineage. Her thorn, however, is the unchangeable fact her mother, a duchess, was a courtesan in Charles II’s notorious court. Though many seem to have forgotten it in the year 1715, Lady Blythe can’t seem to let it go. Despite being one of the most marriageable heiresses in the kingdom, she defies the standards of beauty at that time by being entirely too tall and thin. She’s also a linguist and devoted to her books, another strike against her, not to mention her religious affiliation and her father’s politics.
Lord Everard Hume has a lot on his plate as the heir of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland. As your hero, how does he deal with his new responsibilities, and his unexpected houseguest Lady Hedley’s political situation?
Not very well, at first. He takes an instant dislike to Lady Hedley and sees her as another complication on his too large to-do list. Harboring her could land him in hot water with the Crown when he’s trying to maintain a low profile and learn how to be laird. But his priorities soon shift as the pages turn. I had fun softening him and having him fall in love unexpectedly as well as come into his own as the new Lord Wedderburn.
While many readers may know of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, few may know that it started in 1715. Can you explain the political friction between England and Scotland during this time, in 50 words or less?
It’s hopelessly dry on paper, sadly, but quite explosive in person! Here goes…
In 1707, the two kingdoms of Scotland and England were united, much to the ire of those who supported the Jacobite cause. The Jacobites were supporters of the deposed James II and his descendants in the long-reigning Stuart dynasty. (Jacobus was derived from the Latin form of James.) His son, James Francis Edward Stuart, attempted to reclaim the throne his father had lost. This resulted in the Rising, or rebellion, in the year 1715, when George I was the reigning monarch of Great Britain.
Would you classify The Rose and the Thistle as historical fiction or historical romance?
There’s as much history as romance so it could be classified as either. My publisher, Revell, has styled me a historical romance novelist ever since my debut novel released in 2009 so that’s probably my true genre.
How do you get inside the head of your characters? Can you share any of their endearing or foibled characteristics that make their relationships interesting?
I always begin with character names, something period appropriate yet somewhat unique. The characters themselves bloom from there. In the case of Blythe, she’s something of a wallflower who is used to being rejected, especially by a man of Everard’s stature, literally and figuratively. But Everard is unlike most men. His years of soldiering have taught him that while appearances are pretty, what lies beneath is far more telling and valuable. They are a perfect complement to each other, each having what the other needs yet lacks.
What was the research process like for this novel? Did you discover anything surprising?
I’m forever learning as I research and write and am always in awe of how much I don’t know. One of my favorite quotes is from L.P. Hartley, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
This novel was a challenge given that I’m not a Scot, just have Scots roots, and the story revolves around a very complex political situation in that country. This is the most intensive research I’ve done for any novel and though I’ve done my best, I’m sure it’s a flawed work given my American lens. Over the course of almost two years, I reached back into history to the first Stuart king and immersed myself in their line till the death of Queen Anne when the Hanoverians came to power. What surprised me is that there were several Jacobite rebellions, not just the famous or infamous ’45 like you mention.
I also found British heirs coming into their own, like the laird of Wedderburn, especially fascinating. When those big houses or estates changed hands there was often a lot of historical fireworks! Everard is the template for those who took their titles and responsibilities seriously, not frittering them away in gambling dens, etc.
What’s up next in your writing career?
I’ve just finished a novel about the Acadian expulsion in Nova Scotia in the year 1755, releasing January 2024. It’s the first time I’ve combined a frontier setting with genteel Colonial Williamsburg. After that, expect another Scottish novel, this one set amongst those gorgeous Georgian Glaswegians. I’m researching that now and will soon start writing with the release date of January 2025 in mind. Which might necessitate a return to Scotland for research!
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.
- “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
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.
- The Rose and the Thistle: A Novel, by Laura Frantz
- Fleming H. Revell Co (January 3, 2023)
- Hardcover, trade paperback, eBook, (416) pages
- ISBN: 978-0800742669
- Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction
Cover image, book description, and author bio courtesy of Revell Publishing © 2023; text Laurel Ann Nattress & Laura Frantz © 2022, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate.