(4.5 stars) One woman in love with two men and an 80’s saga that survives the test of time
Wild Swan begins in 1813 as thirteen year old Alexandria (Alex) Thaine’s grandmother sends her to live with distant relatives on the west coast of England to get her away from her hateful mother. In Devon she thrives with the Falconer family and especially forming a lifelong bond with the younger son Rane. Rane decides to wait until Alex is old enough before he asks for her, but in the meantime Alex’s sister dies and her mother calls her back to help raise her two infant twins. The twin’s parent St. John (pronounced sinjon) returns badly wounded from the Napoleonic wars, Alex nurses him back to health and a bond is formed between them and the children that leads to a marriage (albeit not sanctioned by the Church of England), unbeknownst to Rane who waits until Alex is 16 and arrives too late to propose marriage to the already “wed” Alex. Wah!
Alex eventually makes a good marriage with St. John and to get away from family influences they make their way to Maryland to strike their fortune at horseraising/racing. Alex faces quite a surprise when she finds herself face to face again with Rane who also left England to find a new life away from memories of his love for Alex. At this point the story takes up with Alex and St. John’s efforts to purchase land (named Wild Swan) and start raising thoroughbred horses and life on the racing circuit, that eventually leads to the aquisition of a mad horse that has dreadful consquences on St. John, Alex and their children. More than that, I’m not telling.
All in all a highly enjoyable read and I had a hard time putting it down and lost more than an hour or two of sleep (always a good sign??). Despite being typed as a romance, this novel was packed with plenty of historical details to place it a step or two above the norm, especially as the author dealt quite nicely with the slavery issue and the St. John’s opposition to same. My only minor quibbles are that unless you are a “horsey” person (which I’m not) there are some spots that become a bit slow (but you can skip them) and the sex scenes, while not gratuitous, were a bit…well…ahem….just a tad too detailed for my tastes (especially one scene – you’ll know when you get there). If it had been a “true” bodice ripper than I wouldn’t have minded, but eventually enough is enough. Outside of that, it was a pretty darned good read and there are two books that complete the story, Swan’s Chance and A Season of Swans.