BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Bea Reviews A Wild Heart by Celeste de Blasis

Wild Swan Trilogy #2
Read As A Stand Alone: Yes but not recommended
Publisher: Bookouture
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: December 8th, 2020
Buying Links: Amazon* | Apple Books* | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Books | Kobo
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb from the publisher:

Alexandria Falconer gazes around the honeyed land of Wild Swan, the extraordinary horse farm she built up from nothing in the border state of Maryland. It has been Alex’s sanctuary through years of turmoil, and she has come of age in this land of opportunity. But the storm clouds of civil war are gathering, and Alex knows she has a choice to make to protect her family and maintain the precarious peace at Wild Swan.

When Alex’s son dies tragically, she is shattered. It is only through caring for her adopted daughter, two-year-old Gincie, that Alex starts to overcome her grief and find comfort with her beloved husband Rane once more. But when Rane is called away to aid the Union war effort, she is left bereft.

Alex’s heart is with Rane, but at home she has the sole responsibility of shielding Gincie and the rest of her family from the danger creeping ever closer to their door. When a charming soldier arrives at Wild Swan, Alex reluctantly gives him shelter, but the two form a bond and when news arrives of Gettysburg, she is torn with worry for men on both sides of the battlefield. With Gincie by her side, she undertakes a dangerous journey to fight for her family, her principles, and the man who holds her heart…

Celeste De Blasis’ epic and heart-wrenching Wild Swan trilogy continues, available in eBook for the first time. Perfect for readers who love Poldark, Outlander and Daphne du Maurier.

A Wild Heart was originally published as Swan’s Chance.

My Thoughts:

Oh my. This is such an emotional book. I had forgotten how emotional, but then it had been 30+ years since I read it. I was also pleasantly surprised at how much of the book I remembered though there was still a lot I'd forgotten. But the fact that parts of the book had stayed with me for 30+ years is pretty impressive, I think. 

One thing I had forgotten is how much of a message book it was. By which I mean, the book's focus is on the Civil War and slavery at times to the detriment of the overall story. It felt at times as if de Blasis was flying through decades just so she could get to the war. Slavery was tackled in the first book but really comes to the fore in this one. Alexandria, better known as Alex, is well known for her refusal to own slaves but living in Maryland and being a central member of horse racing and Thoroughbred breeding means she can't escape it. As the family expands and ages, they deal with the Underground Railroad, Black rights, and the growing friction between the North and South ,and the relative peace of the West. Oh! They also have a personal connection to the Cherokee Trail of Tears. There's absolutely white saviorism going on as the Carringtons and the Falconers have, for the most part, greater agency than their non-white characters, and they work to help slaves gain freedom and rights. There's a scene where a local plantation is sold to a family member who "took good care of" the slaves their while they ran it previously, and as soon as they own it, they free the slaves. Then they offer to hire all the former slaves and everyone accepts because this person was so good to them when they were slaves. It felt icky. 

There's a lot happening and it gets crazy at times. This family as its fingers in everything. The books covers a longer stretch of time than book one, about 40 years. There's failed marriages, rape (off page, we only hear about it after the fact), arson, murder, attempted murder, blackmail, and of course, the Civil War. At the heart of it all is Alex, the matriarch and main character. The book ends when she's in her 70s and I don't remember much about what happens in the third and final book. Her romance with Rane is the glue of the story and I loved how solid they were. They made mistakes and hurt each other but always found their way back. Themes from the first book were continued here and into the next two generations. Alex tried desperately to not make the mistakes her parents made but her children and grandchildren led their own lives. Parental neglect and emotional abuse are touched on repeatedly as is the sacrifices you make for the ones you love. My heart broke for her son Nigel when, in order to save his daughter, Alex has to hurt him. He was partly to blame, but even so, it hurt. She loved them both but could only help one. I teared up a lot reading this one; there was a lot of death, and a lot of emotions. There are numerous romances and love stories (it is amazing the number of men who fall in love with Alex. Everyone loves her or wants to be her. SMH) but overall it's not a romance. It's a family saga and it absolutely tugs at your heart. I am ready for book three, especially as I don't seem to remember much, lol. 

My review of book 1, A Wild Hope

About the author ~

Millions of readers have fallen under the spell of the lush, enthralling and bestselling novels by Celeste De Blasis. Tales of adventure and romance set against the sweep of history—all are storytelling at its finest. After graduating from Pomona College, Celeste devoted her life to impeccable research and spellbinding writing. A native Californian, Celeste grew up on the historic Kemper Campbell Ranch in the Mojave Desert, where she lived until her death in 2001.

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