Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Ice Swan

Rate this book
Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarchy, a princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.

1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory. Svetlana and her family are forced into hiding in Paris’s underbelly, with little to their name but the jewels they sewed into their corsets before their terrifying escape.

Born the second son of a Scottish duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. After treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter. Intrigued by this mysterious, cold, and beautiful woman, Wynn follows Svetlana to an underground Russian club where drink, dance, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.

Out of money and options, Svetlana agrees to a marriage of convenience with the handsome and brilliant Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her family’s debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn cannot help hoping the marriage will turn into one of true affection. When Wynn’s life takes an unexpected turn, so does Svetlana’s—and soon Paris becomes as dangerous as Petrograd. And as the Bolsheviks chase them to Scotland, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.

400 pages, Paperback

First published July 6, 2021

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

J'nell Ciesielski

9 books706 followers
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Bestselling author of The Socialite, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
459 (31%)
4 stars
560 (38%)
3 stars
349 (23%)
2 stars
67 (4%)
1 star
20 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 369 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa Tagg.
Author 32 books1,440 followers
March 2, 2021
The Ice Swan is basically every single thing I love in a good book: Intriguing history—check. Fantastic writing voice—check check. Swoony romance—check check CHECK. 😍😍😍 So so so good. And bonus points because I've long been fascinated by Russian history (fourth-grade Melissa got particularly obsessed, going way overboard with a school project about Russia in true goody-two-shoes fashion) and so everything about the Svetlana's plight was captivating to me. And the fact that it takes us from Russia to Paris to SCOTLAND (swoooooooon) made me insanely happy. And we get a teensy cameo from Beauty from Ruins, the author's last book, too. Loved that! J'nell Ciesielski has quickly become a must-read author for me!
Profile Image for Annette.
741 reviews321 followers
March 29, 2021
Russia, October 1917. As Petrograd is raging with Revolution, nobles are fleeing the city, among them Princess Svetlana Dalsky with her family.

France, 1918. Edwynn MacCallan is a medical officer at English hospital in Paris. He is a second son of Duke of Kilbride. Since his brother will inherit the estate, he finds a profession where he can feel useful. Fascinated with the groundbreaking research and techniques being developed in Germany, he seeks the best treatments for his patients. And that means if a patient is in his hands and he has seconds to make a decision, he may apply the newest advances in medicine without having time to consult with his superior. And that may put him under questioning and jeopardize his career.

In Paris, Svetlana as a Russian emigre has to be careful who she can trust. When her cut leg needs tending, Dr. MacCallan pays attention not only to her wound, but also to her beauty and mannerism which suggest she comes from aristocracy.

She doesn’t find anything treasonous in his eyes; only kindness and understanding. But can she trust him? It is safer to trust no one as her family is hunted simply for being nobility. Stripped away from all their privileges, they live in the same hard conditions as all emigres do. It’s not only food that is scarce, but also shelter. They have to make themselves as discrete as possible until the revolutionaries are defeated in Russia.

But the doctor cannot forget a young woman with pale blue eyes.

There is another complication. White Bear serves as relaxation place for Russian nobles in Paris. Svetlana’s mother sits at a gaming table. She gambles without having money to cover now her debt. And debt needs to be paid. Svetlana becomes a pawn. Once ballerina in Russia, now she needs to put her dancing skills and herself on display at the White Bear to pay the debt.

Her story brings interesting aspect of White emigres – nobles of the imperial court of Tsar Nicholas who escape the Russian Revolution. Stripped of their privileges, they try to find some way of normalcy in a new place. And one of those places is White Bear, where privileges are upheld, but debts are made creating new problems. His story brings interesting groundbreaking medical procedures of the time. Together, creating a fascinating story with absorbing characters.

It is written with beautiful prose and an engaging dialogue, combined with atmosphere of suspense created by underlying mystery and intrigue. The deftly plotted story with lush descriptions takes time with revealing the plot.

(4 stars: Interesting story, beautifully written, but has a slow pace).

Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

Review originally posted at mysteryandsuspense.com
Profile Image for Karren  Sandercock .
733 reviews141 followers
July 7, 2021
Petrograd, 1917. Princess Svetlana Dalsky has a small bag packed, she’s worried about the dangerous Bolsheviks attacking and she’s prepared to leave quickly. One night she hears the sound of an angry mop approaching, she wakes her sister Marina and her mother Ana. They leave just in time, eventually they arrive in Paris, it’s during WW I, the city is full of refugees, soldiers, wounded and accommodation is scarce.

Ana, Svetlana and Marina are forced to take refuge in the basement of a church, Ana isn’t coping with her change in life style and their only funds are jewels sewn into their corsets. The Bolsheviks want to get rid of every Russian aristocrat, even ones hiding in Paris and Svetlana doesn’t feel safe. She witnesses a shooting, Leonid Sheremetev survives and his father owns the notorious White Bear Club. A meeting place for Russians, Ana Dalsky is easily drawn into the drinking and gambling at the club.

Wynn MacCallan is a gifted surgeon, he’s in Paris due to the war, and he treats Svetlana for a minor injury, and he’s concerned about the Dalsky women’s situation. Svetlana is beautiful, not very friendly and Wynn finds her intriguing. Wynn treated Leonid when he was wounded, he also visits the White Bear Club, where Svetlana’s dancing and it’s not a safe place for her to be. When he discovers how dire Svetlana’s predicament is, he marries her and pays off her mother’s debts. He sends his new bride, Ana and Marina to stay his Scottish estate and surely they will be safe from the Bolsheviks there? The one person who Svetlana thought she could always trust, a friend, finds them in Scotland and has he changed sides?

I had no idea Russian aristocrats fled to Paris during the uprising, or about the cities nasty Russian underground and how ruthless the Bolsheviks were. I really enjoyed reading about Wynn’s experiences as a surgeon during WW I, his medical career, how his relationship with Svetlana changed and she adapted to living in Scotland.
I received a copy of The Ice Swan in exchange for an honest review, a fascinating story and five stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,060 reviews610 followers
July 5, 2021
As someone who has always been fascinated by the Russian Revolution, this book was one I was really looking forward to reading. But right from the beginning something didn't sit well with me. I couldn't help notice the striking similarities between the prologue of this book and the opening scene of the animated movie Anastasia. I think it bothered me to the point of me already giving up on this book before it had even really started. In any case, I didn't connect with this book at all. The story moved really slowly. The characters didn't really appeal to me. And I just kept skimming because I didn't really care.

Actual rating: 2.5 ⭐
Profile Image for Grace Johnson.
Author 12 books295 followers
October 6, 2021
I know not my thoughts concerning this novel. To be honest...it was so...hollow. Without the depth of spirituality I've come to know and love from Christian fiction, every choice the characters made and every emotion they felt seemed sadly unfounded. Thomas Nelson's books just aren't doing it for me anymore, guys. *sobs*

Anyway, full review to come that will - hopefully - make more sense!
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
1,983 reviews304 followers
July 9, 2021
I had always been such a huge fan of J'nell Ciesielski, having enjoyed both THE SOCIALITE an BEAUTY AMONG RUINS this past two years, so when I heard about this upcoming novel about a Russian princess I was all over this book.

First of all, the gorgeous book cover said it all in this thrilling historical fiction story about the Bolsheviks' annihilation of the Russian monarchy which forced Princess Svetlana into hiding in Paris, and where a chance meeting with a handsome and brilliant Scotsman, who was also a surgeon and a son of a duke may help Svetlana, who was once part of the Russian aristocracy.

This may be by far my most favorite storyline and historical fiction read from author J'nell Ciesielski - from the heart wrenching life Svetlana had to endure, the characters, and that incredible back story of wealth and power to now going through extreme poverty.

There was just so much to the story that you find yourself rooting for these characters as they show their strength and resilience in overcoming adversities, adn maybe thier happy ever after too.

It was also a story about a family of privilege now losing everything, and going through the hardships and escaping persecution that just keeps your heart at bay as you see the extremes in the transition in their lives. I loved the back story and learning in depth about the Russian monarchy was incredible.

I found the pacing of the story incredibly thrilling that kept my attention and me fully entertained. There were a lot going on in the story and I loved every minute of it.

Historical fiction fans - do not miss this incredible book!
Profile Image for Literary Redhead.
1,587 reviews483 followers
March 22, 2021
Another fine hist fic novel by the talented J'nell Ciesielski! It’s 1917 and we’re swept from Russian during the Bolshevik Revolution to Paris devastated by the Great War, where injured Russian Princess Svetlana Dalsky is treated by Scottish surgeon Wynn MacCallan.

Such a precarious time! War swirls around them as do bloodthirsty Bolsheviks out to kill every Russian Royal. An enticing tale with a swoon-worthy romance, making Ciesielski a must-read author for hist fic lovers!

5 of 5 Stars

Pub Date 06 Jul 2021
#TheIceSwan #NetGalley

Thanks to the author, Thomas Nelson - Fiction, and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Christine.
102 reviews37 followers
May 18, 2021
I am so glad I had the opportunity to read another J'nell Ciesielski book. I think The Ice Swan is her best one yet. It is a book with depth. A slow burn romance that does not bore. This one was on the longer side (my preference) and it is well worth every page. The plot was so well planned out. Readers go from Russia to Paris and beyond. There is a lot of character development in this book. I glanced at several reviews before I began reading and noticed some readers struggled with Svetlana. How can one like a main character that is so aloof? Be patient my fellow readers, you will love her by the end. I think this book will be a favorite of 2021 for me. I am repeating myself, but this was a really well thought out book.
I have one complaint though, and it's the back cover of the book. It spoils about half the novel and stole much of the anticipation I would have had otherwise. If you haven't read it already, don't. Just know this is an excellent historical fiction/romance novel about a Russian princess who is forced to flee during the Russian Revolution. While in Paris, Wynn (a medical doctor) helps save this damsel in distress. That's really all you need to know. Enjoy!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Sophia.
116 reviews21 followers
August 8, 2021
WELL. Have you read the author's other book, The Socialite? The Ice Swan carried a very similar vibe. Both deal with escape and high stakes, which kept the tension high and those pages turning. 😋

So, I need to start this with SVETLANA.
All right, she isn't the easiest person to connect or even relate to, and I'm not saying that I fully connected to her or had my bookish deep feelings for her character. BUT I really like her!

Svetlana felt so authentic; she carried so much princess-zest in her, including all that pride and severeness and whatnot. XD And while she was stubborn -- like, the type where she demands to go walking alone at night while mad people are lurking out there (aka the type that can get on your nerves) -- it didn't feel like she was trying to be a stubborn character, but more that was who she was. And AH, I simply liked her because she was her own person, so full of personality and character. She changed and developed throughout the book, and by the end of it, I was thinking, "this is a whoooole new girl!!" (I proud of Svetlana.)

Wynn, on the other hand... Nah, I liked him enough! XD There were certain things where he surprised me by handling a situation better than I thought he would have. :D And can I just say he and Svetlana make the perfect match, their personalities, flaws, and strengths balancing them and bringing out the best from them!

Oh, and I need special attention to go to the HUMOR in this book!!!!! #1 Some of the dialogue was pure hilarious, and #2 Leonid was THE BEST. (PLEASE, HE'S SO FUNNY.)

(yes, I need to show you the funnyness of Leonid with a quote. Cus I love quotes.)

Wynn reached for her hand. “Svetlana, wait. What you’ve done . . . How can I ever tell you—”
“Say you love like she love you, Mac.” Leonid apparently thought it wise to insert himself into the narrative once more.

(this might not be as hilarious as I thought since this seems pretty out-of-context for those who haven't read the book.. Oh well.)

I'd say, though, that this is more historical fiction than Christian fiction. There wasn't any mention of Jesus or of the characters having a relationship with Him, so that aspect was non-existent. Despite that, there were some good morals and Christian principles implemented further into the book. It dealt with pride and the mistake of setting a too-high expectation on others and also purpose and trust in a relationship. Althoouuughhh, there was something in the end that one of the characters said got me to raise an eyebrow and go "excuuuuuseeeee me".

That was more of the reason why I deducted a star.

All those aside, I had a good time reading this book. [random acknowledgment] I'd say it's more of an entertaining read than a heavily "inspiring" one [close random acknowledgment]. The pacing was well done, with plenty of intrigue to make me flip the pages. The description and uses of Russian terms and traditions made the scenery and characters come alive and feel so authentic. And the characters -- mainly just Svetlana (and Leonid :p) -- made me love them (except Princess Ana, oh, how I disliked her...) and enjoy their company. Definitely a recommendation to any historical lover. :)

“Fear make walls. Only strongest flower bloom over tallest wall. No stop climbing. Look at Reds. Build wall of fear and hate. Hate never win.”
Profile Image for Renee.
791 reviews
June 15, 2021
Was anyone else obsessed with the Anastasia animated movie as a kid or was that just me? Of course, you were! I think it was an obligatory fave of millennials. I was thrilled to find this book by new-to-me author J’nell Ciesielski, because the description gave me serious Anastasia vibes plus it included my favorite romance trope, the ever interesting marriage of convenience. I’m happy to inform, The Ice Swan did not disappoint. In the epilogue there’s even an Anastasia introduced and I choose to believe the author probably was into the movie too. Ha ha!

Anyway, the first half of the book was definitely intense. There’s a lot of uncertainty and violence as Svetlana and her family fled Russia for France in 1917 whilst leaving behind her father and brother. To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure if the romantic aspect was going to work as there was little interaction between Svetlana and Wynn that showed chemistry of any kind, but the romance took center stage for the latter half of the book and the sparks blazed and hearts thawed.

I’m very interested to see what happens to a few characters in this book, mainly one dude whose name I can’t give due to spoilers. Hopefully, the story continues!!! I definitely recommend this book to romance fans and readers who love historicals but are sick to death of European novels taking place in Regency England!
Profile Image for Issabelle Perry.
Author 4 books122 followers
January 4, 2023
*3.5 stars*

The best part of this book is the historical backdrop and Russian characters. And Leonid, we can't forget about his awesomeness!!! (And as a random side note, I also liked Wynn being a physician because I don't read too many books with characters like that, so I enjoyed the change. :) And that ending... *happy tears* Actually, the whole last eighty pages or so was the best part of the entire book. The ending was beautiful and the setting was well-researched and AMAZING!
Profile Image for Morgan Giesbrecht.
Author 1 book44 followers
February 2, 2023
4.75 ⭐️

A Russian princess in hiding, a WW1 army surgeon, & a marriage of convenience? Sign me up!

I bought this book partly because of the GORGEOUS cover & partly because the blurb promised several of my favourite things—it didn’t disappoint!

Svetlana is wonderful. Yes, she has her issues & is most definitely an ice princess (very Elsa-like). But in her, I saw myself—the good & bad parts. Stoicism is a survival tactic & she has that nailed down to a T. She’s doing her best to take care of her family. She has a heart hidden deep down but constantly feels unlovable. My heart… I felt that.

Wynn is lovely. His British humour is hilarious, he deeply cares about his patients, he takes risks but not for ego, and he brings out the soft side of Svetlana. Their conversations are intelligent & refreshing, and I loved watching them grow closer.

The side characters rounded out the cast beautifully. Gerard, Leonid, Wynn’s mum, and Mrs. Varjensky were my favourites, but don’t get me started on much Svetlana’s mother irked me.

The World War One & medical angle made me so happy (surprise, surprise 😂). I did guess the plot twist, but it was still well done though I felt it all happened rather fast there at the end.

I would call this more of a clean historical romance than Christian fiction per se. And my only content warning—mostly for younger readers—would be that there are some veiled hints of women serving as prostitutes in a club along with a scene the morning after it’s hinted that a married couple had physical relations. Nothing graphic or descriptive, just mentions of the woman waking up with a sheet around her bare shoulders and getting dressed.

The themes of grief, love, trust, and forgiveness hit hard, and I loved this line especially:

“Reeling from the shock is to be expected, but you cannot stay that way forever. At some point you need to pick the pieces back up and move on, otherwise it is a life half lived.” 💛😭
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,812 reviews98 followers
October 6, 2021
4.5 stars
"There was something about her that called to a lost part of him. She possessed a strength of character that bolstered his own. . . . . . She inspired him."

The ice swan . . . beautiful in an intoxicating kind of way and yet controlled . . . to the point of dismissing any emotion that would threaten the frozen state of her heart; a defense mechanism at best and stubborn at worst. Her official title was Her Serenity the Princess Svetlana Dmitrievna Dalsky and army surgeon Doctor Wynn MacCallan was instantly besotted.

Their chance meeting altered the course of their lives; Svetlana, along with her mother and sister, had been forced to flee Russia, along with many other aristocrats trying to escape execution during the Bolshevik Revolution. Living like beggars, Svetlana was introduced to a powerful Russian businessman operating in Paris, whose attentions turned dangerous enough that Svetlana felt a tremulous relief when Wynn made his generous offer of protection; marriage. Whisked off to her husband's native Scotland, Svetlana's life began all over again. Would she and Wynn, who was becoming a recognized leader in the emerging field of cardiology, ever have the opportunity to explore their bruised and buried feelings or would they forever be waiting along the walls of the ballroom, never to share the dance?

"Loving you isn't an entanglement. It's a privilege."

Whisk yourself away into the pages of this lovely story which showcases this author's ability to dig deeper and soar higher than ever before.
Profile Image for Lucinda.
Author 22 books1,306 followers
March 24, 2021
2 1/2, elevated to 3. It was okay.

I found the historic parts very interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't connect much to the characters, and I found the dialogue a bit stilted.
The different cities and geography are well done and do a good job of cementing the historic setting, as the characters from from Russia to Paris and to Scotland.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for teach_book.
288 reviews620 followers
December 18, 2022
3,5 ⭐️

Piękna historia, ale momentami tak rozwleczona, że odbierało radość z czytania...
Profile Image for Christy.
244 reviews67 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
July 27, 2021
I have always considered myself to be a fan of all historical Christian fiction, no matter the setting or the time period. After spending time with The Ice Swan, I may have to amend that last statement.

I managed to read a quarter of the story before I realized I couldn’t go another page. I was never able to identify with the two main characters, nor make myself believe their unlikely introduction and subsequent meetings. Wynn was the most likable of the two with his sense of humor, but I couldn’t find much more beyond that to hold my interest.

The one thing that I truly loved was the book cover. That alone was what initially drew me in, along with Svetlana’s ballet training. The latter was barely mentioned in the first quarter of the book which was another disappointment.

As of right now, I regretfully have to put this one in my DNF stack. I may come back to it at a future date as I’ve read several other reviews which state that the story eventually moves away from France into Scotland, and Wynn and Svetlana’s relationship progresses into something more. Somehow though, I don’t know if that will be enough to redeem it for this reader.
Profile Image for Mara.
1,064 reviews62 followers
March 4, 2022
This is my first book by J'nell Ciesielski and I enjoyed this story that takes place during the Russian Revolution and WWI. Princess Svetlana Dalsky flees with her mother and sister to Paris where they hope to find safety. They leave with only a few of their possessions and some jewelry tucked away for when they run out of money. In Paris they find themselves with a lot of other refugees in the basement of a church which offers little to no privacy.

Svetlana is not only a princess but a ballet dancer. She tries her best to hold her family together, which isn't easy because of her mothers words and actions. Her mother drove me crazy and I seriously wanted to reach through my Kindle to slap some sense into the woman while reminding her that she was now a refugee living in a church basement depending on the kindness of strangers, not back in her grand home in Russia. Her decisions depleted her families meager funds and put Svetlana in a position no mother should ever have put her daughter in.

I really liked the character Wynn MacCallan, a doctor doing what he can to help his patients. He's also a Duke's son, which he doesn't tell people. I enjoyed the scenes of Wynn and Svetlana and how their friendship develops. What I loved most in the story was the dancing! I've always loved ballet so those scenes describing Svetlana's dancing were some of my favorites.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Thomas Nelson -- Fiction, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.
Profile Image for Molly.
149 reviews36 followers
May 20, 2021

Ice Swan is a really nice relaxing fantasy escape. A Russian princess exiled during the Russian revolution, and a Scottish Marquis using his skills as a surgeon meet in Paris during WWI.

Her Serenity the Princess Swetlana Dmitrievna Dalsky and her mother Ana and sister Marina have escaped to Paris during the Russian Revolution. With nothing left but their jewelry to survive on, they fall in with Sheremetev, a leader in the Russian criminal element. As the owner of the White Bear Club, a gambling house for Russian immigrants, Sheremetev employs Swetlana as a dancer to help pay off her mother’s gambling debts.

While hiding from Bolsheviks, Swetlana injures her leg and is treated by WWI army surgeon, Wynn MacCallen, in a hotel that has been converted into a hospital to treat wounded soldiers. He is also a Scottish Marquise.

With the background settings of Paris during WWI, the Russian Revolution, and ultimately Thornhill Castle in Glasgow Scotland, Ice Swan is both relaxing and exciting in its presentation. A light bit of history helps to make it feel grounded, while the romance has a believable and likable YA fairytale quality to it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I would like to thank NetGalley, J’Nell Ciesielski, and Thomas Nelson Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Julie Carpenter.
1,362 reviews151 followers
December 9, 2021

I truly enjoyed this latest offering from author J'nell Ciesielski. The previous book I had read of hers was good but it was a little slower for me. Or maybe I read it when life was just so busy that I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I normally would have. Regardless of that, I was completely pulled into the story of Princess Svetlana Dalsky and the Russians' revolution and the Great War.

There were so many wonderful scenes. There were several scenes that were hard to read due to me thinking about what the circumstances were like for so many people who were displaced from their homes and lives during this time period, and during our current time. But I thought the author did a great job portraying that and evoking emotion from the reader.

I had a character that I really struggled with. And I know she was written that way. And as much as I struggled with her, there was a lot of truth written into Svetlana's mother's character. You'll understand if you've read it or are going to read it. I had many moments when I just wanted to reach into the pages of my book and slap her. (I promise, I'm not a violent person. I just struggled with so many of this woman's choices. Ugh!!!!) So just be warned that if you read it you're going to probably feel the same way about her.

Wynn MacCallan was a character I really liked in the book. I liked his tenacity and his desire to help and do good for his patients and for those people he meets in connection with Svetlana. The love story was sweet. It definitely had its ups and downs and back and forths and going round in circles. But I enjoyed it. These two characters were so good for each other, even if sometimes they didn't realize it.

This book is a mix of historical and historical romance. Probably more so historical romance, so if you're going into reading this for all the historical aspects only then be ware that that's not the main focus of the book. But that being said, there are definitely a lot of historical aspects.

One aspect I just adored was the dancing. Wow! It swept me away.

Content: Clean. There is moments of mild peril, this is set during a war time and refugees and a doctor working to save patients and perform surgery. It doesn't get overly graphic. There are some kissing scenes but nothing further and a couple mild innuendos.

I received a copy from the publisher, Thomas Nelson -- Fiction, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.

Happy Reading!!!
Profile Image for Loraine.
2,908 reviews
July 15, 2021
Russian princess, Svetlana Dalsky along with her mother and sister have escaped to Paris, France from the Russian Revolution into the midst of World War I with nothing but a little money and some jewelry that had managed to smuggle out with them. Living in the basement of their church with nothing but a few clothes and what little food they could buy each day, life is not the grand style they had lived previously. When Svetlana is out on the street trying to find a better place for them to live, a woman throws a bottle at her which breaks and leaves a large piece of glass in her shin. At that moment, Dr. Wynn MacCallan comes along and rescues Svetlana, takes her to the church, and treats her leg. Thus begins a relationship that will have its highs and lows and find both of them facing dire problems as well as wonderful moments.

J'nell Ciesielski's books are always something I look forward to, and this one is perhaps my favorite. Her historical research into both World War I in Paris as well as the Russian Revolution is obvious throughout the detail in the story. The characters of both Svetlana and Wynn were so well developed and realistic. The secondary characters were wonderful additions. Svetlana's mother was such a stereotype of upper class snobbery, and her sister was a sweet young thing who had yet to mature into wiser ways but tried to be helpful and understanding. Also the trials that emigres would run into as they escaped from a revolution were so true to life. This book would make a wonderful movie with one of the Bolshoi prima ballerinas playing the role of Svetlana.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
Profile Image for Kelly • Kell of a Read.
397 reviews77 followers
March 16, 2022
5⭐️ I’ve never been a historical romance reader (then again, I wasn’t actually any kind of romance reader until pretty recently) but I like historical fiction and I’m fascinated by Russian history. I picked this book up in an ongoing attempt to broaden my literary horizons and I’m so glad that I did. The writing was fantastic, the plot was enticing, and the romance was charming. My only regret is beginning my historical romance journey with such a talented author because J’nell Ciesielski has set the bar very, very high.

Okay, actually I do have one other minor regret: I wish I had skipped the blurb. I rarely, if ever, read them and just skimmed this one, but it’s pretty detailed and I found myself wishing I didn’t know so much about the story ahead of time.
Profile Image for Faye.
1,683 reviews
August 4, 2021
Svetlana and her family have come to Paris seeking a refuge from the Russia Revolution that has upended their life. Wynn is the second son of a Duke, toiling as a surgeon, his protective nature prevents him from walking away from the displaced princess and her family in need.

An engaging story set in Paris during the heat of the Great War, the sparking chemistry between Wynn and Svetlana brings this book to life as their regard for each other grows. Though Svetlana is a princess, she is determined to make the best of their current situation, I admired her for courageously facing her family's new reality head on. Wynn is a compassionate and daring surgeon, with an unflagging humor, I loved how he is there for Svetlana when she needs him and draws her out of her shell of propriety.

Overall, a well written story with engaging characters who have an endearing chemistry and charming dialogue between them. The author does a great job of bringing the bleak landscape to life, along with the plight of those displaced by the conflict. Definitely recommend this gem of a read!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Stephanie Landsem.
Author 9 books429 followers
August 23, 2022
An immersive historical romance with unforgettable characters. The unique perspective of a Russian princess forced to flee her country in the midst of WWI grabbed me from the start and didn't let go until the satisfying conclusion. Great character development and impeccable historical detail.
Profile Image for Srivalli Rekha.
Author 18 books226 followers
July 7, 2021
The Great War has wreaked havoc in Russia as the Bolsheviks swore to get rid of the aristocrats from the land. Svetlana escapes to Paris with her younger sister and mother in an attempt to stay alive. Life is tough for the princess as she has to come to terms with the lack of food and proper accommodations. Her mother’s aristocratic extravagance seems to be causing more harm.

Wynn MacCallan is a Marquis, the second son of a Scotland Duke, and a surgeon working long hours treating the war patients and making giant leaps in the medical world.

Wynn and Svetlana don’t have a smooth start. The situation is grim, and the ice princess needs no one to help. But life doesn’t work according to her wishes. Svetlana gets into a marriage of convenience with Wynn when he offers a way out of the mounting troubles.

The Great War appears to have ended but is the threat really gone, or are the Bolsheviks still crossing borders to hunt Svetlana and her family? Can the couple find love for each other and save their marriage and lives?

The Ice Swan is an apt title for the book. We see Svetlana as the ice princess who is not easily charmed by anyone. Even as she feels a connection with Wynn, she keeps him at a distance.

The book is 400 pages long and takes quite some time to finish. The beginning is a bit slow (expected, though), but it picks up a moderate pace afterward.

The first half of the book takes place in Paris, where Wynn meets Svetlana, her family, and Leonard’s powerful father. The second half moves to Scotland as the princess tries to adapt to her new life and takes more interest in social causes.

From being a bored princess to become a responsible and capable duchess, Svetlana’s progress seems steady enough. Her relationship with Wynn is another matter, though. The second half focuses on their marriage, and things do get a little predictable from here.

We know things will happen, and the couple will have to go apart before they can confess their love and unite again. Luckily, the pace picks up at this stage, and the author doesn’t throw in too many twists. Wynn is a steadfast character and remains so for most of the book.

The epilogue neatly ties up all knots and eases the wrinkles to give us a happy ever after. As other reviewers have mentioned, I’d love to see two side characters from the book have their own books and (love interests). They are rather cute and heartwarming people with good intentions. Not revealing the names, but will say that they are both males.

Overall, The Ice Swan is a good book with elements of war, history, and romance. The elements have been balanced well, so the book makes a good read.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Thomas Nelson and am voluntarily leaving a review.
#TheIceSwan #NetGalley
1,520 reviews16 followers
August 4, 2021

First of all I love the cover of The Ice Swan and its the main reason I wanted to read this book, though I have read others by this author and they were amazing. And I found The Ice Swan to be another amazing read by author J’Nell Ciesielsk. The story is written during World War I, and for me, it started out very slow. But never fear, after a while it spikes and you will not want to put the book down.

The characters were so well crafted and their development throughout the story was phenomenal. The plot flows so well, I love Svetlana Dalsky and Wynn MacCallan’s story. It flows so well, from the time Svetlana leaves Russia on until the end. Historical Paris and Scotland was fun reading about, and Russia history was interesting as well. I’ve only read a few book with the setting in or around WWI so there is a lot of intriguing history for me here. So if you love historical fiction set in this era, I highly recommend this book to you. There are lots of twists and turns, much tension, but the author does a fantastic job of weaving everything together and coming up with a great ending

A special thanks to the author/publisher for a copy of this book. I am not required to write a positive review, the opinions here are mine alone. I am disclosing this with my review in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Profile Image for Tamara.
633 reviews12 followers
December 29, 2021
I am always up for anything to do with Russian and/or Ukrainian culture, so that was a big draw for me, but also a well-written story of survival, love, family, etc... I really liked the characters except for Svetlana's mother, Ana but she was also well drawn from the culture that she was born and bred in. Enjoyed this one very much!
Profile Image for Chautona Havig.
Author 247 books1,496 followers
August 9, 2021
Two Wars, Two Perspectives, One Chance at Life and Love

At 25% into the book, I loved the characters (even the ones who annoy the pants off me, and trust me. Svetlana is annoying as all her imperious get out. That's what the whole character growth thing is all about, right?

The juxtaposition of the Russian revolution during WWI, set in Paris where another revolution occurred almost a hundred-fifty years earlier... fascinating.  Doing all that with a cardiologist working near Paris with all the battle wounded and a Russian princess who happens to be a ballet dancer? What's not to love?

The hot and cold relationship fits so perfectly in the personalities of both the characters and their respective countries.


This book has everything going for it. I always forget the Russian Revolution took place right at the end of WWI.  Unlike many revolutions and wars for independence in history (French and American in particular), I've never been in support of either side of this one.  Ciesielski does a fabulous job of showing the unyielding, arrogant imperiousness of the Russian royals contrasted with the brutal, determination of the bolsheviks to slaughter them all. I find it strange to realize that those same Russians fled to the very country who treated their own nobles in the same way during their revolution--off with their heads, if you will.

Add to that the advances in medicine and technology, and this book has it all.

Along with a lovely romance.

Mostly. I can absolutely see what both of the characters love about the other.  The way it takes time for each to lay their hearts on the line for the other to accept or reject--perfect.  It makes total sense. Ciesielski even did a fabulous job of making me semi-understand Lana's mother. Never thought that would happen.

My only quibble is the over-the-top protestations of undying love at the end. I kept telling myself that someone like Lana would, when she finally allowed herself to love and for that love to be known, could tip over from icy to fiery both in word and in deed.  But frankly, I rolled my eyes.

Seriously.  IT was like a page.  Maybe a page and a half of an entirely otherwise perfect book.  And I suspect 99% of other readers loved that.  So I'm calling this book a five-star, perfect win. In fact, despite requesting a review copy, I purchased it myself. Bravo, Ms. Ciesielski.  Bravo!
Profile Image for Courtney Clark.
557 reviews99 followers
July 14, 2021
The Ice Swan is a complex story with hints of intrigue and risk set during a tumultuous time in history with a beautiful romance at its core. Author J’Nell Ciesielski sets the bar high for excellence in the genre!

Every aspect of this novel is well paced and meticulously imparted, from the culture and heritage of Svetlana, the secrets and intrigue of the Russian underground, the challenge of an Army hospital and techniques at wartime, the brilliantly depicted settings, to the bright themes of trust, grace, and belonging. The secondary characters are sometimes endearing, funny, annoying, or weasel-y as appropriate, making the contrasting worlds of Wynn and Svetlana come to life with a bit of humor and reality.

The romance between Wynn and Svetlana is one for the reader to fall headlong into. Theirs is a melding of cultures with a slow burn marriage of convenience, allll things I love in a historical romance. J’Nell’s skillful wordsmithing depicts the comforting touches and embraces just as satisfyingly for this romance reader’s heart as the moments of spark and attraction. The magnetism between Wynn and Svetlana is unmistakable from their first meeting, and the way they compliment one another in intelligence and encourage each other (even through a bit of pride and stubbornness on both parts!) is my favorite part of their dynamic.

Fans of Rachel McMillan, Kate Breslin, and Amanda Dykes will appreciate Ciesielski’s romantic prose and thought-provoking storytelling. I have a greater understanding of Russian history in the early 20th century and a new respect for the beginnings of cardiology thanks to the detailed research and history included in this story! Not mention a new fondness for the name Wynn :). This is the second novel I’ve read by J’Nell Ciesielski and I’m eager to read more soon.

Thank you the the publisher and HFVBT tours for the review copy. This is my honest review.
Profile Image for Meagan.
1,506 reviews57 followers
June 16, 2021
One of my earliest forays into Christian fiction involved a 7-book series partially cowritten by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella, “The Russians” (book 1 being The Crown and the Crucible). I’ve read the entire series countless times; it spurred a lifelong interest with Russia–to the point I wrote both high-school and university-level papers on the Romanovs, majored in European Studies after taking a Modern Russia class, and chose my Russian name for a language class from the series. To borrow from “National Treasure,” I’m “one step short of obsessed–passionate.”

So when J’nell Ciesielski’s The Ice Queen came up as available for review on NetGalley, I jumped. “Russia? Russian history in my particularly favorite era? Yes, please. Where do I sign?”

And the read did not disappoint! It lived up to every expectation I didn’t even know I had. (I realized about 2/3 in that I was subconsciously comparing it to “The Russians,” and I might have envisioned it as the offshoot epic novel that picked up where book 7, Passage into Light, left off.) It follows the struggles Russian emigres faced during and after the fateful 1917 revolution–something I’d only casually explored to date.

At 400 pages, it’s dense, full of history, impeccably researched, and long enough to flesh out both history and fiction in a seamless blend. Loose ends that could have understandably been left hanging were wonderfully resolved by the end.

If I could have added just a smidge to the book’s already admirable (truly! In the best way!) length, I would have enjoyed having faith woven in more. Svetlana’s Russian Orthodoxy and Wynn’s Protestantism were certainly discussed; I just wished for more dialogue and attribution of God’s working in their lives. They certainly lived through incredible struggles! (I also find Orthodoxy fascinating … stems out of that ongoing love of the country and its history, not to mention that it has some beautiful artwork, liturgy, and history itself.)

There were also a couple comments near the climax that–while I certainly understood and appreciated the motives!–gave me slight pause. But I can’t say how I would have responded myself in such a situation, so. :)

All in all, a stunning read. I heartily applaud Ciesielski for this masterpiece of a novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 369 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.