“Rhys ap Tudor braced himself against the ship’s bow, his eyes trained on the coastline ahead. The sky was blue, but a gusty wind filled the cog’s wide sail and whipped whitecaps onto the tips of the already choppy waves.”

Opening lines of The Heart of the Rebellion by Sian Ann Bessey

Sian Ann Bessey’s The Heart of the Rebellion is set 1400 Wales under the rule of King Henry IV. Our leads are Rhys ap Tudor (yes, that Tudor!) and Lady Catrin Buckley. Wales is suffering under English rule and, upon Rhys’ return from fighting for the English, he realizes how extreme the poverty is. He has been back only a short while before he finds himself in the midst of a Welsh uprising against King Henry IV. Catrin is considered English, a daughter of a an English nobleman, but her mother was Welsh and she lives in a castle in Wales.

A chance meeting with Rhys leads out of her sheltered world and allows her to connect with the people around it. Her beautiful horse is her closest friend and refuge and galloping across the countryside is a favourite for her and Rhys. Swiftly a friendship develops. Catrin’s world is turned upside down when she is set to marry and English lord who is offensive and belittling. She finds herself wanting to help those in need and escape her engagement.

My family has Welsh roots, my grandmother was Welsh, so I enjoyed spending time understanding this slice of history. I had no idea that the British royal Tudors originated from Wales. Whilst the context is true, the details are fictional so I felt the need to go off and further explore this fascinating part of history.

“A good horse is the best listener there is. No matter how heavy the troubles, their shoulders are bigger than ours.”

The Heart of the Rebellion by Sian Ann Bessey

As a horse lover, I spent a considerable amount of the book worrying about the horses’ welfare in the exciting happenings of war and adventure. For those like me, the horses are all fine!

The story is full of unexpected twists and turns, it’s a page-turner! The characters are wonderfully developed and the writing is beautiful. It’s a four out of five en-JOY-ment scale and recommended!

From the back cover:

September 1400 

King Richard II of England is dead. And after three years in His Majesty’s service, Rhys ap Tudor and his brother Gwilym are finally free to return to their ancestral home in North Wales. Their long- anticipated homecoming is overshadowed, however, by the harsh changes they encounter in their once peaceful land. The new king, Henry IV, rules with an iron fist, and the country is ripe for rebellion. Instantly thrust into the forefront of the conflict, the proud Tudor brothers enter the fight for their freedom.

Lady Catrin Buckley is alert to the unrest swirling around her. As the daughter of an English father and a Welsh mother, she knows too well the trouble her lineage poses. Her own battle, however, is one of the heart: she is to be married to a man she neither knows nor loves. Then an unexpected encounter with the enigmatic Rhys ap Tudor changes everything. Soon, Catrin finds herself swept into a rebellion that could not only change history but also rewrite her own future.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Covenant Communications. through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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