Rhapsody and Rebellion by Aubrey Wynne
An enduring legacy… A rebellion… A destined love…
Raised in his father’s image—practical and disciplined—there are no gray lines interrupting the Earl of Stanfeld’s black and white world. Until his mother has a dream and begs to return to her Highland home.
Alisabeth was betrothed from the cradle. At seventeen, she marries her best friend and finds happiness if not passion. In less than a year, she’s a widow. Vowing to honor her husband’s memory, she joins his activist group of Glasgow weavers and is soon embroiled in the Radical War of 1820.
Crossing the border into Scotland, Gideon finds his predictable world turned upside down. Folklore, legend, and political unrest intertwine with an unexpected attraction to a feisty Highland beauty. But Lissie doesn’t trust the Englishman or the rising desire between them. When the earl learns of an English plot to stir the Scots into rebellion, he must choose his country or save the clan and the woman that stirs his soul.
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The sound of horseshoes and carriage wheels crunched in the drive. A moment later, the heavy oak door slammed open. Calum Dalais filled the doorway, wild black curls clinging to his neck and strong jaws, a whip in his hand.
“Let’s go, my lovelies. We dinna know how long this uproar may last.” Sapphire blue glittered with urgency. “I’ve rented a hack to get us out of the city limits. The carriage is too tempting for the rabble.”
Maeve picked up her heavy skirts with one hand, grasped her reticule with the other, and hurried for the door. The footman tossed baggage on top of the hansom then returned to assist Maeve. Her heart beat rapidly as she settled on the frayed padded bench. A far cry from the soft velvet of their own carriage. Maeve had been delighted to accompany her parents to Edinburgh. Now she prayed for the safety of her Highland home.
“What if they stop the carriage? I’m frightened, Calum.” Panic added a shrill pitch to her mother’s voice.
“They’re just hungry and tired of not being heard. I willna let anyone harm come to ye.” Her father’s calm tone soothed both the women. “Now up ye go, Peigi, my love. We’ll be out of here in the blink of an eye.”
He sat across from them, rapped his knuckles against the roof, and the vehicle lurched forward. The horses whinnied in protest and sidestepped men running through the streets and debris flying in their path. Someone tried to hitch a ride on the side of the vehicle. Calum swore under his breath, leaned out the window, and punched the man in the face. The trespasser fell on his arse in the mud, holding his nose with one hand and a waving an angry fist in another.
The sun’s bright rays barely penetrated a dark, narrow alley as the driver took a detour to avoid the throng of rioters. Maeve peeked out the window and saw a glimpse of the square at the end of the backstreet, packed with hundreds of people streaming in from all sides. On a shoddily erected platform hung a noose, with a group of workers balancing what looked like a man on their shoulders. They tied the noose around his neck. One of his arms swayed unnaturally by his side, and she sighed with relief when bits of straw fell from the coat sleeve.
The driver cracked his whip, the hack careened around another corner, and they broke free of the crowd. As the noise subsided, Maeve listened to her parents argue about the political situation that had led to the insurrection. She leaned her head against the hard bench, each rut jerking her neck back and forth. It had been such a long day with little sleep the previous night. Her lids grew heavy, and her mind traveled back to the angry mob as she drifted off.
“Mama, you were dreaming.” Gideon’s thumb stroked the top of her hand, his voice soft and soothing. “Look at me, Mama, and you will see.”
Maeve slowly turned her head, tears now spilling down her cheeks. “Oh Gideon, it was ghastly.”
“What did you dream?”
“It was not a dream.” Her voice faltered. “Your cousin, Ian, is dead.”
“What? Did you receive a letter from Scotland?” Gideon had not seen any correspondence from his mother’s family over the last week, and nothing had arrived today.
“I do not need a letter. I saw it. There has been a terrible slaughter in Manchester, and Ian was trampled by a Hussar’s charger…” She lifted her chin and wiped her wet cheeks with determination. “You must take me home to my clan.”
“To the Highlands? You haven’t been there since your wedding.” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “I can’t just run off to Scotland with my aging mother because of a dream.”
“Aging?” Her eyes narrowed, anger shining from beneath her lashes. “I have more stamina than most of those mutton-headed females of the ton.”
He had to agree with her but bit back a smile. “This is folly. A trick of the mind from lack of sleep.” He pressed his lips to her fingers. “Let’s have a glass of sherry, and you’ll feel better after we eat.”
“Don’t patronize me. Your father didn’t believe in…” She took his face in both her hands, strength growing in her touch and her gaze steady and direct. “It doesn’t matter. Listen to me. It was not a dream but a message that we are needed at home.”
“This is our home.” Gideon stood and leaned an arm against the fireplace mantel, worried the past year had also taken a toll on her mind. An uprising in Manchester? There had been rumblings throughout parts of the country but nothing significant.
“This is your home. Mine has always been in Scotland, regardless of how long I’ve been away.” Her eyes pleaded with him.
“What about Marietta’s visit in September?” That would end this foolishness, he was sure.
“It will have to wait until October. You must promise we will leave as soon as you return from London. Or I will go alone.”
He looked up to the ceiling, hoping for some divine intervention. None came. “I give you my word.”
Praise for Aubrey Wynne:
“Well-written historical romance with a bit of everything – a tragedy, a conflicted hero, a strong and fragile heroine, interesting characters, and a happily ever after.” Amazon verified review
“Best Regency Romance I’ve read in a long time and highly recommend!”
N.N. Light Book Heaven Reviews
“I adored this story. I look forward to reading more in this series.”
“A wonderful romance!”
5 Kindles Review
Author Aubrey Wynne
Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of
children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas.
Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards. Dante’s Gift and Paper Love received the 2016 Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.
In addition to her Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will release two more Regency romances in 2018. The Wicked Earls’ Club will release again in 2019. Wynne’s medieval fantasy series launched in 2017 with Rolf’s Quest, winner of the NTRWA Great Expectations.
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