I have read three of J’nell Ciesielski’s novels and each one has been absolutely fantastic! I love how well she writes romance as well as historical fiction and I always seem to breeze through her books because I am so captivated. When I saw this one was coming out, I knew it was going to be an easy ‘yes’ for me. I mean—take one look at that cover and tell me you would pass? No. The author as well as this cover are truly sunning!
This one is set in Russia which I thought brought some variance to the historical fiction genre. The last novel I read by Ciesielski was set in Scotland, and I was eager to see how she would describe the opulence of the Russian court as well as the streets of Paris. And you all know how much I love WWI so having this book set during a very uncertain and tumultuous time in Russian history.
So yes, I was chomping at the bit to read this one and with good reason—-this one was excellent! Ciesielski writing just keeps getting better and better. This book has been seen on a number of ‘most anticipated books’ this summer and with good reason! While it might have a cold setting, it’s the perfect book to cool off with this summer!
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 hoping 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, 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 (summary from Goodreads)
I think what surprised me about this book was it was actually not set in Russia really. After reading the summary I just somehow had it in my mind that it would be set in Russia as well as Paris. I assumed that a book featuring a Russian Princess, Svetlana Dalsky would actually be set in Russia beyond the opening chapters but ultimately it worked so well to have it set in Paris and I became completely lost in the story and setting. I did manage to learn more about Russian history beyond just the Romanov family. For instance I didn’t know that many Russian aristocrats fled to Paris amidst war and conflict in Russia. Nor did I realize how this lead to the rise of the Russian mob in Paris. So that was interesting for me and I would recommend this novel based on that alone—–however it isn’t just the history that is on point and outstanding in this one. There was interesting culture, lovely characters and a great romance.
I love the marriage of convenience troupe (not as much as I love enemies to lovers but close!) and this one did not disappoint on that front. I loved watching Svetlana and Wynn get to know one another and have their affection for one another turn into true love was so satisfying. Wynn is my new favorite book boyfriend. I loved his charm and wit. I mean how could Svetlana not be swooning over him?! They were so great together. It has suspense and chemistry and I think readers will find themselves cheering for their romance throughout the book. This book has mystery and suspense not just in the romance part but in the larger narrative which I think makes this one read super fast and will keep readers engaged and interested in the story.
While I loved the romance and the mystery of the book, ultimately what kept me interested and rapidly turning pages was the history. Ciesielski has a gold mine of interesting things to cover in this book. I loved exploring the Russian culture and history, and Ciesielski has a knack for bringing the WWI era to life. I can tell she truly loves the period as much as I do and that alone would have brought 5 stars for this book, but once you throw in the romance and chemistry between Svetlana and Wynn—-well there was really no reason to give it anything less than 5 stars. I loved it and I cannot wait for Ciesielski’s next book. If you only read on historical fiction novel this year, let it be this one!
Book Info and Rating
Format 400 pages, Paperback
Expected publicationJuly 6, 2021 by Thomas Nelson
ISBN9780785248422 (ISBN10: 0785248420)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Thomas Nelson in partnership with HFVBT in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction
WHERE TO BUY (AFFILIATE LINKS)
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
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