Review of THE SECRET SWAN by Shana Abe (see her website)
Bantam Books, 2001
When her husband of days heads off for the war against France, Amiranth resolves to wait for him--she can teach him to love her when he returns. But when he fails to return, year after year, Amiranth comes up with a new plan--she'll take her dead cousin's identity and seek a new life in a convent. Her husband Tristan's return after eight years in a French prison disturbs Amiranth's plans--but she resolves to continue, despite the rekindled love that Tristan creates within her.
Eight years in a French dungeon has changed Tristan. Over those years, he learned to hold onto his few memories of Amiranth and cherish them in ways that he had never done during their week together. He dreams now of returning to what was taken from him--his lands, his wealth, and most especially his wife. When he finds that his wife has died in the plague sweeping England, he knows he must go on--but Amiranth's cousin Lilly is strangely attractive, and strangely familiar to him.
Author Shana Abe takes these two tortured characters through a rebirth--of their lives and their love for one another. But love alone is not enough. Can Amiranth trust Tristan with her heart and her body again, after all that has happened? And can Tristan learn to give up what he most wants? In 1300s England, even survival is not guaranteed, and Amiranth and Tristan must learn to work together to hold onto both love and life.
THE SECRET SWAN was a 2002 RITA Award finalist (see the Romance Writers of America website) and understandably so. Abe's writing is smooth and satisfying and she provides both emotional depth and enough plot twists to keep the reader fascinated.
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