The Jacobite’s Return

The Jacobite’s Return

The Georgian Rebel Series, Book Three

Their love never died…but now they must fight to get it back.
Before he rode off to the cataclysmic battle of Culloden, rebel Lord Jack Lindsey swore he would return to make Rosie Delacourt his bride. Instead, Rosie’s heart was broken by the news of his death on the field. Her burden of heartbreak only grew as she was blackmailed into marrying Sir Clive and mourned her father’s mysterious death.
By the time Jack emerges from a coma, retrieves his memory and returns home with a royal pardon in hand, it’s two years too late. Rosie belongs to his sworn enemy. Yet her cool, indifferent façade doesn’t fool him. This pale shadow of the woman he knew is suffering, arousing his chivalrous instincts.
When Sir Clive shows his true colors, danger throws Jack and Rosie together, reigniting the passion they once shared—and revealing the devastating secret she has tried so desperately to protect.

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Excerpt
Copyright © 2015 Jane Godman
All rights reserved

“You look remarkably well for a man who has recently returned from the dead.”

Although he smiled at his uncle’s words, Jack Lindsey’s expression quickly resumed its former seriousness. “I cannot believe you made the journey all the way from England merely to compliment me on my good health, sir.”

Sir William Lindsey cast a disparaging glance around the cramped room. “I would never willingly travel to France, and Versailles has always reminded me of an elegant rabbit warren.”

“An apt description. Life at the French court is a taste I have not been able to acquire. I’ve been here only a few weeks, but have already formed the intention of moving on.” Jack took a sip from his glass of claret.

“Might I enquire as to your next destination?” Sir William was a large man, and the furnishings in the courtiers’ quarters within the splendid palace were not built for one of his imposing build. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Then again, Jack decided, it might be his mission that was the cause of his discomfort.

Jack shrugged. “Who knows? Vienna maybe. Or Lisbon. I haven’t visited Venice this year.”

“Can I make an alternative suggestion?” Knowing what was coming, Jack waited without speaking. When Sir William continued, his voice was softened by a note of sympathy. “London awaits you, my boy.”

“Not yet.” The words were not strong enough to be a statement, yet not quite weak enough to constitute a plea. Even though Jack kept his eyes fixed on the window, he saw nothing of the formal gardens laid out beyond his room. Instead, his mind insisted on taking him back to a time he struggled to…not forget, never that. Accept. He supposed that was the word he was looking for.

“It is ten months since the king passed the Act of Indemnity granting a pardon to all those deemed to have committed treason during the Jacobite rebellion. You are a free man.”

Jack turned back to his uncle then, looking directly into the other man’s eyes. “Am I?”

Something in Jack’s expression must have given an indication of his pain, because Sir William flinched. Bravely, the older man ploughed on with his task. “You have been given your life back. There is no longer any reason for you to stay away.” He waited. When Jack made no response, Sir William tried a different approach. “You are not only the head of our family, Jack, you are the last of your line. Do you need me to spell out what that means?”

Jack felt his mouth thin into an uncompromising line. “I must marry and beget me a fine lusty heir who will inherit the St. Anton title and carry on the noble name of Lindsey.” He sighed. “Forgive me, I did not mean to disparage the family honour. Although some might say I have already done a fine job of that over the years.”

“Because you supported Bonnie Prince Charlie? The heads of many of the noblest houses in the land did so. Not all of them publicly. Never be ashamed of following your beliefs.” Sir William seemed to become aware of losing the thread of his conversation. “But in answer to your question… Yes, it is your duty to marry and provide an heir.”

Jack’s lips twisted into something approaching a genuine smile. “And I’m not getting any younger?”

Sir William gave a shout of laughter. “No, but at twenty-eight you are hardly at your last prayers, and you appear to live a charmed life. Escaping death once at Swarkestone Bridge would have been enough for most men. You managed to do it again at Culloden.”

And there it was. That word. Three innocuous little syllables. Put them together and they had changed his life forever. Turned it into a living nightmare. You chose Culloden. No-one forced you to lift your sword that day. He had told himself the same thing countless times over the last two years. It didn’t make it any easier.

Sir William was speaking again, and Jack forced his mind back from the shouts, stench, agony and fury of that stinking battlefield so he could focus on what his uncle was saying. “The king is beginning to ask questions. Such as why did he issue a pardon to a man who is not prepared to make his bow at the English court?”

“King George can go to hell.”

“Yes, that’s the sort of talk we need from a reformed Jacobite. Those are the sentiments that will restore the Lindsey name to its former glory.” Sir William nodded with mock approval.

“Your pardon, sir.” Jack knew his voice was too stiff for apology. “I have no liking for the Hanoverians.”

“I’m not asking you to love the king. I’m asking you to do the right thing by your name.” Sir William paused, taking a sip of his own wine. His eyes were bright as they scanned his nephew’s face. “Who is she?”

Jack flung up a hand. Rising to his feet, he walked to the window and stood looking blankly at the scene below. It was some minutes before, with his back to the room, he spoke again. “How did you know?”

“There is only one reason I can think of for this reluctance to return and enjoy all that is yours by right.”

He owed his uncle something. Could he speak of it? It was time to find out. “I met her after I was injured during the battle at Swarkestone Bridge. She rescued me and nursed me back to health. We fell in love.” There. It had been easier than he thought. “A foolish act, you will no doubt tell me, since I had sworn to fight at the prince’s side.”

“Love is never foolish.” His uncle’s voice remained sympathetic. “Where is she now?”

“Believing me to have been killed at Culloden, she married another man.” Jack turned, and once again saw his expression reflected in the shock on Sir William’s features.

“Now I understand.”

“Begging your pardon, sir. No, you don’t.” Jack heard the raw anguish in his own words and fought to get his emotions under control. “How can I return to England knowing that I risk meeting her?” He could not bring himself to add and him. “Worse than that, what would the impact of my return do to Rosie and her new life?”

“Have you considered that it may do very little?” As Jack winced, his uncle continued relentlessly. The words were cruel, but his eyes were kindly. “It has been two years, Jack. During that time, she has been getting on with her life. It is time for you to follow her lead and do the same. By staying away, you are prolonging the agony, living in a bubble in which you are unable to face reality. The world has moved on, but you have not.” Sir William rose from his seat and, coming over to where Jack stood, placed a firm hand on his nephew’s shoulder. “Come home.”

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