The Swan Maiden
by Susan King, historical (2001)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-20213-9
With a title like The Swan Maiden, how can I resist? The back cover promises a story that seems like romance in its most melodramatic: Gawain, or Gabhan McDuff when he wants to be patriotically Scottish, is a loyal nobleman to English crown. King Edward is pretty irked by one Scots rebel, Juliana Lindsay, whom Gawain falls for after they save each other's lives. By the way, she's called the Swan Maiden after a rather unusual but rather romantic circumstance. As Scotland-England head towards more political instability, Juliana and Gawain/Gabhan will find that there are more than tartans to keep them apart. Oh, what are star-crossed lovers like they to do?
Well, after reading TSM, my third Susan King romance, I think it's definitely me and this author's style not being a match made in heaven. The romance and longings that I expected are strangely absent, and all I get instead is a rather dull story of political machinations and intrigue. This author leans a bit towards Roberta Gellis than, say, Samantha James, and I, for one, find it difficult to stay interested when the main characters display little sexual tension.
Oh, the political aspect of the story is well-done, and the finale, as Scotland rallies under the Swan Maiden's defiant warcry, is the stuff romantic war epics are made. But what's between the quaint first meeting of Gawain and Juliana and the triumphant finale I find rather dry. Not my cup of tea, this one.
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