About the Book
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.
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. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’nell
When we think of the Great War we often only think about events happening right on the battlefield of France, Belgium, and Germany. It was a time of great upheaval for so many people and countries, none more so than Russia. It was during the Great War that the Bolsheviks rose up against the monarchy, assassinated the tsar and his family, and plunged Russia into civil war. The country was in such chaos that they pulled out of the war to deal with their own revolution. The Russian Revolution was the result of centuries of oppression and imperialism that finally boiled over. As the Bolsheviks seized power, nobles and anyone associated or favorable to the monarchy were stripped of their privileges and homes, many killed, and still thousands of others fled in fear of their lives where they became the great wave of White emigres.
The stories of the ill-fated Anastasia and the evil Rasputin are legendary, but it wasn’t until recently when I watched a Russian miniseries called Road to Calvary that I became fascinated with the nobles and their struggle and from all that an idea sparked that would become my upcoming release, The Ice Swan. It’s about a Russian princess fleeing the Revolution to Paris in 1917 where she meets a handsome surgeon who is breaking new grounds in cardiology. We see the plight of the White emigres who have taken refuge in Paris and founded their own little Russia in the heart of the city, the exhausted City of Light after four years of war, the overflowing hospitals, and highly controversial advancements in surgery. Plus, a romance to prove that true love can overcome any difference and who doesn’t need a little more love these days?
The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski is an intense story — one that keeps the reader turning pages well into the night. This is an overwhelming story in that SO much happens (this is not a bad thing). A reader going into this 400-page story will need to have their wits about them or they might miss key details. In this story, Ciesielski does an impeccable job of capturing the horrors of war and the evils of Communism. As Svetlana and her mother and sister are forced to flee their beloved Russia in the middle of the night or else die at the tortuous, evil hands of the Bolsheviks, the reader is right there with them. I could feel the fear and tension coursing through Svetlana and her family members. I was terrified imaging all that they had to escape. And, just because they made it to France in one piece didn’t mean they could let their guard down. Nope, it was a constant looking over their shoulders because Bolsheviks came to France purposely searching for Russians who had escaped their wrath. There was never a minute to breathe! In fact, I was so tense reading this story I had to remind myself to breathe from time to time. The historical detail in this novel is AMAZING — I was transported to 1917-1919 Russia, France, and Scotland and I thoroughly loved every terrifying minute.
Because this novel is so intense and in-depth, no review will ever be able to do it justice. The Ice Swan is a book that simply needs to be read. But, there is one idea discussed in this book that I really love. I’m not going to lie, Svetlana kind of drove me crazy. She is a BIG snob. I actually was offended for Wynn throughout a large portion of this novel … OK, like through most of the story. I get Svetlana’s need to put up a wall of protection around her heart. I get that she is a princess and grew up a very particular way. And, I get that war is scary and trusting others can be tricky. But when someone risks his own neck and saves your life and the lives of your family members time and time again, you do what you got to do to show respect and gratitude. It’s not that Svetlana doesn’t say, “Thank you.” She does. It’s that her actions don’t really say, “Thank you.” Some of her words to Wynn are downright mean and she is continually cutting him out of her life. The hardest quality though is her inability to show grace. Everyone has to be perfect and make the right choice, or Svetlana sees you as the villain. Who can live like that? Wynn does something in the story, he thinks out of love, but Svetlana blows it WAY out of proportion and almost destroys their relationship. I kept thinking to myself, “Man, Svetlana, you have got to learn grace or you are going to be one lonely gal.” But this leads to the message I LOVE. There is a lovely older Russian emigre who sets Svetlana to rights: “One time he let down, you cut him out … You have mistake. He have mistake. All us make mistake. Holding on to mistake is pride. Pride enemy to love.” It takes a moment for these wise words to sink in, but once they do, Svetlana sees the error of her ways. What a wise reminder. We are all human and we all make mistakes. As Paul writes in Romans 3:10, “none of us are righteous, no not one.” Because of this we must lend grace and forgiveness to others, not demand perfection. Life will be really disappointing if all we ever do is expect other humans to be perfect in all their interactions with us.
As I stated above, no review can do The Ice Swan justice. The story is just too big to be bound by one blog post. This is a novel I highly recommend devoting some serious quality time to. It’s a historical fiction tour de force you will not want to miss!
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, J’nell Ciesielski, via Celebrate Lit through NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of The Ice Swan.
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!
Click the link below to enter.
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