The Imperial Rebel - Book 8 of The Country Girl Empress Series

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Sisi's health is declining. Her anorexia nervosa has done permanent damage to her body. The Empress seeks help from the most prominent specialists of the time. And Sisi finally realizes she wants to spend the little time she has left on this Earth with her husband. However, he has, over the years, developed his own life. So, when the Empress finally decides to settle down at the Hermesvilla, she quickly discovers that she's no longer needed.    

Meanwhile, a massive scandal is about to rattle the foundation of the Habsburg monarchy. Emperor Franz Joseph and his intimate friend, the actress Kathi Schratt, are rumored to be adulterers. Both parties assure a much-agitated Empress that they are indeed the victims of a horrible rumor. However, Sisi cannot just stand idly by and let things take their course. But would she go so far as to get the famous actress fired from the Burgtheater and drive a wedge between the two long-time friends? 

And if that wasn't enough, the imperial couple is being blackmailed by none other than Sisi's niece, Marie Larisch. She threatens to divulge the secrets of the House of Habsburg, especially the ones regarding the death of her cousin Crown Prince Rudolph unless she is paid handsomely. But what exactly has the imperial family to hide? Moreover, one payment is not enough for the former Countess. Repeatedly, she asks for more money. When, and more importantly, how will this situation be resolved? And who can be trusted to end Marie Larisch's blackmail scheme?  
All the while, the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is still faced with a difficult choice: Letting go of the love of his life, Countess Sophie Chotek, and instead fulfilling his duty to the dynasty by marrying a stranger. He turns to Aunt Sisi for help in this crisis of the heart. She understands her nephew and wants to help him. However, she also loves her husband, with whom she has shared so much happiness and countless heartbreaks. But then, as if by accident, the Emperor meets the young woman, who has utterly captured the heir's heart. 
Sisi doesn't know about the young man in the office of a Royal Italian Army installation as he receives his discharge papers. His name is Luigi Lucheni. He is 24 years old and has just finished three years in the military. For the longest time, the young man, who looks like a muscular, dark-haired farmer, had been the regiment commander, the Prince of Aragon's batman. But even though the two men couldn't have been any different by degree of education or origin, they somehow had become accustomed to each other, and the Prince doesn't want to lose the intelligent young lad.