The Ice Swan
by J’nell Ciesielski
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
eBook & Paperback; 400 pages
Genre: Historical Romance
Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarchy, a 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. Svetlana and her family are forced into hiding in Paris’s underbelly, with little to their name but the jewels they sewed into their corsets before their terrifying escape.
Born the second son of a Scottish 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. After treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter. Intrigued by this mysterious, cold, and beautiful woman, Wynn follows Svetlana to an underground Russian club where drink, dance, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.
Out of money and options, Svetlana agrees to a marriage of convenience with the handsome and brilliant Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her family’s debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn cannot help but hope the marriage will turn into one of true affection. When Wynn’s life takes an unexpected turn, so does Svetlana’s—and soon Paris becomes as dangerous as Petrograd. And as the Bolsheviks chase them to Scotland and beyond, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.
“The Ice Swan is a ray of light in the middle of a Europe that was sinking into darkness. Ciesielski’s talent for storytelling from the heart is a feast for the readers’ eyes.” —Mario Escobar, international bestselling author of Remember Me and Children of the Stars
Disclaimer: Although I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this book from the publisher for a Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (HFVBT) blog tour, the opinions below are my own.
J’Nell Ciesieslki is a new to me author, but I doubt this will be the last time I read one of her novels. I was captured by The Ice Swan from the opening pages, when Svetlana must hurriedly escape her Petrograd home in Russia with her mother and sister. Here starts their lives as refugees, a situation to which the daughters adjust to easier than their mother. Her Serenity the Princess Ana Andreevna Dalsky clings to the unwritten rules of nobility but her insistence and naivety could land the entire family in trouble. Those who cannot adapt to their change in status find themselves at the mercy of those who can.
Ciesielski has created a superb novel that takes readers from the salons of Russian emigres in Paris to church basements filled with refugees, and from crowded hospitals to roomy Scottish castles. The tension increases with each passing chapter, whether it’s about Wynn’s career or Svetlana’s attempts to avoid the Bolsheviks who would have her executed. The Happily Ever After is surely a foregone conclusion, but how can they get there?
As the plot built to its thrilling climax, I imagined it taking place in black and white. The scenes at the railway station reminded me of Brief Encounter, although I suspect that has more to do with the setting rather than the plot itself. It’s in these chapters that the story changes enough to call it an historic romance thriller rather than a simple historical romance. Although there’s a touching final scene, I could easily see movie credits roll after a stunning turn of events at the station leaving an audience sitting in silent shock.
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, July 6
Review at Rachelle Loves Books
Friday, July 9
Review at Two Bookish Babes
Wednesday, July 14
Review at Novels Alive
Thursday, July 15
Review at The Green Mockingbird
Sunday, July 18
Review at Reader_ceygo
Enter to win a paperback copy of The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski! We have 5 copies up for grabs!
The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on July 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.