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The Secret Swan by Shana Abé
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The Secret Swan

by Shana Abé

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I thought instead of raving about this on every which page of GoodReads, I should just review the book and give the poor masses a break. At least part of the reason that I was taken with The Secret Swan may be because I had somewhat low expectations. This is not my first Shana Abé. I loved her cunning dragon earls in her Drákon novels-- but I just don't like medieval romance. The heroes always come off as stupid brutes trying to learn Middle English. Swan was a pleasant surprise. There's no Middle English. No "Zounds!" or "thee" or "Come here, wench!" I don't care if you're Shakespeare reincarnated. Middle English will never be sexy. Abé uses something closer to modern English in dialogue and the same elegant language and succinct exposition -no bloating- we've come to expect from her, rife with imagery:"He was dressed as the rest of the young men around him were, in fine tunics and colorful hose, each wearing the heraldry of the lord they served. He blended in well with them. Were it not for just one stray beam of sunlight sliding along the floor, she might not have noticed him at all.But the sunlight was there, slanting down from a window high above, and at just the moment when she glanced his way he took a half-step into the light, jostled by a friend, the two of them laughing softly together.She felt as if she had stepped, unsuspecting, into a vat of honeyed nectar, thick and sweet, filling her, suspending her even as she died within it. A blissful death—or an excruciating life—to gaze upon him, to bear witness to this beauty disguised as an ordinary squire. Amiranth had never before seen such dark splendor, such grace in a boy."As she gets older, Amiranth still waxes poetic about her knight, but she starts to notice his man's figure and dangerous eyes, after Tristan has returned from war a changed man. Needless to say, Abé's carefully manipulated and emphasized details leave the reader breathless throughout the novel.I particularly liked the realism in the story. Amiranth grows up besotted with Tristan Geraint, sneaking glances at him whenever she can, carefully dropping hints to her guardians that she wouldn't mind a marriage to a certain knight-- but Tristan is like any other young man, in fact, perhaps more shallow, and their arranged marriage is like many, distant and barely tolerated. Though he is polite, Tristan is far more interested in war than his young, mousy bride, who has never been as pretty as her cousin, and leaves her at the earliest opportunity.Then he comes back. Dun, dun, DUHHHHHN. There are no soap opera reunions, however. No shrieking or shouting matches. The the melancholy tone (hence, my comparison to Private Arrangements), tension and angst between Amiranth and Tristan is subtle and stretches throughout the novel. Amiranth holds herself apart from the husband she no longer trusts to love and care for her, and Tristan must win her back in small strides and demonstrations, gradually. These two were developed very well, especially Tristan who is a complex amalgam of the knight he was and the man stranded in a war prison for eight years, by turns haunted and gallant. I thought Abé's characterization of him was much more in-depth and realistic than many romances. He is scary at times, just as a man at odds with the world might be.Amiranth herself is quite clever for a romance heroine (save for the fact she keeps Tristan at a distance for so long; no one's perfect). I was grateful that she wasn't another romance heroine wearing trousers. Her strength was her resourcefulness, e.g. she is a convincing actress where it benefits the hero, hides incriminating evidence, etc., at a time when her survival was not always guaranteed.I think this would appeal to readers looking for a subtle romance and not afraid to see their heroes' mistakes, regret and reconciliation. Oh, and fans of dark heroes. >:D Hehehe. ( )
  new_user | Jun 17, 2011 |
a little darker than i really wanted!.... didnt finish it... i shoud try it again later when imnot in a funny book mood
  Megan.Arney | Mar 7, 2011 |
I think the secret in this book went on just a smidge too long. Tristan and Amiranth marry when she is only fifteen. She has secretly been in love with him for years while he is not too thrilled with the marriage. He dumps her at a secluded estate and leaves her to go off to war in France where he gets himself immediately captured and imprisoned for the next 8 years. When he finally escapes from prison he goes back for her and discovers the plague has decimated the population and Amiranth is one of its victims. Her cousin, Lily, is living completely alone at the estate and of course she looks EXACTLY like Amiranth. It won't take much brain power to figure out her secret. Despite this I actually enjoyed Abé's smoothly flowing prose.

I really liked Tristan and how he slowly falls in love with 'Lily' and when he finally tells her I actually believe it. Amiranth took a long time to tell him of her love and seemed to hang onto her anger and resentment but it was understandable and realistic. The secret of Amiranth's identity was revealed at three-fourths of the way through the book, a bit later than I like. The rest of the characters were sort of flat and seemed like wallpaper to me. (Grade: C+) ( )
2 vote reneebooks | Sep 7, 2009 |
This isn't a sweet love story to make you sigh on a quiet afternoon. Like much of Abe's other work, this story is angsty and conflicted. Love is there, however, so don't despair if you're looking for a little romance. Abe creates likable characters and stirs them together with some believable chemistry. ( )
  TheBooknerd | Mar 9, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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For Darren, who works very hard and still agrees to take in the occasional stray bunny. Everlasting appreciation also to Ruth Kagle and Wendy McCurdy, who offered splendid counsel; and ofcourse to Dad and Mom and the rest of the family, just because.
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The latch to the gate came off in his hand.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553582003, Mass Market Paperback)

Setting: England 1349

Sensuality: 7

With one look, 9-year-old Lady Amiranth St. Clare fell hopelessly in love with Tristan Geraint, while Tristan never gave the girl a second glance, that is until her family agreed to an arranged marriage. At 15, Amiranth thinks her dreams are coming true until she overhears Tristan tell a friend that he is marrying her only for her impeccable bloodlines. His words cut her to the bone, and when he leaves her a week after the wedding to fight for his king in France, she feels betrayed and abandoned. Neither of them know that Tristan will be wounded, imprisoned, and absent from England for eight long years--years that teach Amiranth bitter lessons about men, life, and trust.

The memory of his young wife has kept Tristan sane during torture and isolation. He returns to find a beautiful, hauntingly familiar woman who claims to be Amiranth's cousin, Lily, and she tells him that his young wife has died in the plague that has decimated England.

Both Tristan and Amiranth (posing as Lily to escape her former life) have deep secrets they refuse to share, and both are drawn inexorably to each other. Now Tristan must not only accompany Amiranth to safety, but he must find a way to retake his position as Earl of Haverlocke, a title now claimed by his younger brother. He needs Amiranth's help to do so, and the two strike a bargain, working together in a castle filled with intrigue and treachery. They can't trust the nobles that surround them, but can they trust each other when eight years apart have taught them to rely on no one but themselves?

The Secret Swan is a tale of two people wedded as youthful strangers, separated, and brought together again as adults who have been tested by time and heartache. This deeply emotional and intense story not only has superb characterization, but also features a terrific plot, a complex villain, and a wonderful setting. Author Shana Abé just keeps getting better and better with each new novel, so if you love fine historical romance, don't miss The Secret Swan. --Lois Faye Dyer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:47 -0400)

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