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. 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. 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. 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 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 think this would appeal to readers looking for a subtle romance and not afraid to see their heroes' mistakes, regret and reconciliation.
Because of this, I just couldn't believe that Amiranth and Tristan were truly in love. Eight years later, the plague has swept through the estate, leaving sole survivor Amiranth. First of all, I hate deceptive protagonists, and although I can sort of understand why Amiranth wanted to leave behind her old life, she held on to the deception far too long. We're not really privy to most of either of their emotions until they show them to each other, so it's unclear when Amiranth's resentment softens, and it's equally unclear when Tristan's remorse, lust, and dependency turns into love.
The Secret Swan is a beautiful historical romance about a fifteen year old girl named Lady Amiranth St Clare, who has been hopelessly in love with eighteen year old Earl of Haverlocke, Tristan Geriant since she was just a little girl. The day finally arrives and all her dreams and fantasies come true, she is about to marry the love of her life. Tristan and Amiranth story is filled with so many different emotions. Tristan was an arrogant ass and his fame-seeking was his downfall, but he was so young and the past of a regretful mind has a way of changing a mans spirit and eventually he has come to learn of what is truly important in life. Till the love of her life unexpectedly comes back and with it seduces all her younger emotions, a raging force of a feared hope and resentment. I may still be wary when it come to historical romance but I know now that when ever I'm in the mood for this genre I'll look to Shana Abé's books.
In this story, a knight has come home to reclaim the wife and castle he abandoned 8 years ago when he joined the Crusades.
Her cousin, Lily, pushes her through all the off-stage hardships and conveniently dies before Tristan makes it to the castle to reclaim his wife. (hehe, says Abé, she really is your wife!) We'll have sex now. Abé's and Tristan's casual dismissal of Amiranth and her desires. She's treated like she doesn't know what she really wants. Tristan knows what she wants. But, as Abé says through Tristan, she doesn't know what she's turning down, so he'll just keep pressuring her, and he'll show her. The one time she actually says "No," though she eventually offers him her passive body, Tristan accepts her refusal. Abé and he are certain that Amiranth is wrong for it: "Tristan pulled away from her, away from the bed.
But I'm giving it 3 stars because I just now had to go back and read the summary to remember what this book was about.
Once Tristan found out that Amiranth was still alive, his attitude became rather possessive.
Throughout her childhood, Abé wrote, completing what she calls "The Silliest Romance Novel Ever" during her free time during modeling shoots. For her first attempt at a historical romance, the newlywed Abé chose to tell the story of her own romance with her husband, set in medieval times.