The Gathering Storm (The Jacobite Chronicles Book 3)(2)

By: Julia Brannan

I would strongly recommend that you read the first two books in the series, Mask Of Duplicity and The Mask Revealed before starting this one! However, if you are determined not to, here’s a summary of the first two to help you enjoy Book Three…

The Story So Far

Book One – Mask of Duplicity

Following the death of their father, Elizabeth (Beth) Cunningham and her older half-brother Richard, a dragoon sergeant, are reunited after a thirteen year separation, when he comes home to Manchester to claim his inheritance. He soon discovers that while their father’s will left her a large dowry, the investments which he has inherited will not be sufficient for him to further his military ambitions. He decides therefore to persuade his sister to renew the acquaintance with her aristocratic cousins, in the hope that her looks and dowry will attract a wealthy husband willing to purchase him a commission in the army. Beth refuses, partly because she is happy living an unrestricted lifestyle, and partly because the family rejected her father following his second marriage to her mother, a Scottish seamstress.

Richard, who has few scruples, then embarks on an increasingly vicious campaign to get her to comply with his wishes, threatening her beloved servants and herself. Finally, following a particularly brutal attack, she agrees to comply with his wishes, on the condition that once she is married, he will remove himself from her life entirely.

Her cousin, the pompous Lord Edward and his downtrodden sisters accept Richard and Beth back into the family, where she meets the interesting and gossipy, but very foppish Sir Anthony Peters. After a few weeks of living their monotonous lifestyle, Beth becomes extremely bored and sneaks off to town for a day, where she is followed by a footpad. Taking refuge in a disused room, she inadvertently comes upon a gang of Jacobite plotters, one of whom takes great pains to hide his face, although she notices a scar on his hand. They are impressed by her bravery and instead of killing her, escort her home. A secret Jacobite herself, she doesn’t tell her Hanoverian family what has happened, and soon repairs with them to London for the season.

Once there, she meets many new people and attracts a great number of suitors, but is not interested in any of them until she falls in love with Daniel, the Earl of Highbury’s son. The relationship progresses until she discovers that his main motivation for marrying her is to use her dowry to clear his gambling debts. She rejects him, but becomes increasingly depressed.

In the meantime, the Jacobite gang, the chief members of whom are Alex MacGregor (the scarred man) and his brothers Angus and Duncan, are operating in the London area, smuggling weapons, collecting information, visiting brothels etc.

Sir Anthony, now a regular visitor to the house, becomes a friend of sorts, and introduces her to his wide circle of acquaintance, including the King, the Duke of Cumberland and Edwin Harlow MP and his wife Caroline. Beth does not trust the painted Sir Anthony and thinks him physically repulsive, but finds him amusing. Following an ultimatum from her brother that if she keeps rejecting suitors he will find her a husband himself, she accepts a marriage proposal from Sir Anthony, partly because he seems kind, but chiefly because he has discovered a rosary belonging to her, and she is afraid he will denounce her as a Catholic, which would result in her rejection from society and her brother’s vengeance.

The night before her wedding, Beth is abducted by Daniel, who, in a desperate attempt to avoid being imprisoned for debt, attempts to marry her by force. Beth’s maid, Sarah, alerts the Cunninghams and Sir Anthony to Beth’s plight, and she is rescued by her fiancé. He then gives her the option to call off the wedding, but thinking that being married to him is the best of the limited options she has available to her, she agrees to go ahead as planned.

Book Two – The Mask Revealed

Sir Anthony and Beth marry. The following evening at a function, he has to remove his glove and she sees his hand and its scar for the first time, and remembers where she has seen it before. Having removed his furious wife by force from the company before she can give him away, Sir Anthony admits that he is a Jacobite spy, and that he is really Alex MacGregor. He explains the odd circumstances that led him to follow such a strange double life, and admits that he married her mainly for love, intends to make her dowry over to her and effect a separation, thereby giving her her freedom. She, being of a very adventurous spirit, refuses, stating that she intends to stay with him. He tries to persuade her against this, as his lifestyle is a dangerous one, but eventually he agrees, and they go on honeymoon to Europe together, as Sir Anthony and wife.

He explains that he will be visiting Prince Charles Stuart, son of the exiled King James, as a few weeks ago the Duke of Newcastle, not knowing him to be a Jacobite spy, recruited him on behalf of the Hanoverians, to become acquainted with the prince and report back any useful information.

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