Look, I expected to like this book. I mean, who wouldn’t? J’nell Ciesielski wrote it! It was bound to be fabulous. Still, I hadn’t read the synopsis before I requested a review copy, and wow…
Not only do we have a Russian princess, we have a Scottish Marquis! Wait, what?
Yeah. It’s a thing. And Wynn? He’s… amazing.
Once again, J’nell has created a Scotsman I can’t help but loving and… he’s nothing like the one in her last book. (HERE’s the one I had with J’nell about him earlier this year)
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Two Wars, Two Perspectives, One Chance at Life and Love
At 25% into the book, I loved the characters (even the ones who annoy the pants off me, and trust me. Svetlana is annoying as all her imperious get out. That’s what the whole character growth thing is all about, right?
The juxtaposition of the Russian revolution during WWI, set in Paris where another revolution occurred almost a hundred-fifty years earlier… fascinating. Doing all that with a cardiologist working near Paris with all the battle wounded and a Russian princess who happens to be a ballet dancer? What’s not to love?
The hot and cold relationship fits so perfectly in the personalities of both the characters and their respective countries.
This book has everything going for it. I always forget the Russian Revolution took place right at the end of WWI. Unlike many revolutions and wars for independence in history (French and American in particular), I’ve never been in support of either side of this one. Ciesielski does a fabulous job of showing the unyielding, arrogant imperiousness of the Russian royals contrasted with the brutal, determination of the bolsheviks to slaughter them all. I find it strange to realize that those same Russians fled to the very country who treated their own nobles in the same way during their revolution–off with their heads, if you will.
Add to that the advances in medicine and technology, and this book has it all.
Along with a lovely romance.
Mostly. I can absolutely see what both of the characters love about the other. The way it takes time for each to lay their hearts on the line for the other to accept or reject–perfect. It makes total sense. Ciesielski even did a fabulous job of making me semi-understand Lana’s mother. Never thought that would happen.
My only quibble is the over-the-top protestations of undying love at the end. I kept telling myself that someone like Lana would, when she finally allowed herself to love and for that love to be known, could tip over from icy to fiery both in word and in deed. But frankly, I rolled my eyes.
Seriously. IT was like a page. Maybe a page and a half of an entirely otherwise perfect book. And I suspect 99% of other readers loved that. So I’m calling this book a five-star, perfect win. In fact, despite requesting a review copy, I purchased it myself. Bravo, Ms. Ciesielski. Bravo!
Book: The Ice Swan
Author: J’Nell Ciesielski
Genre: Historical Romance
Release date: July 6, 2021
Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian court, a Russian princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.
1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory.
Born the second son of a duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. While treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter and underground Russian clubs where drink, culture, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.
Out of money and options, Svetlana is forced into a marriage of convenience with Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn can’t help hoping the marriage will turn into one of true affection. As the Bolsheviks chase them to different corners of the earth, Wynn and Svetlana begin to see they will never be able to outrun the love they have for one another.