Saturday, May 19, 2012

The White Swan Affair by Elyse Mady

The White Swan Affair
London, 1810
After the tragic death of her beloved, Hester Aspinall vowed never to be ruled by her passions again. Still, she is drawn to her landlord, handsome adventurer Thomas Ramsay—but she doesn't fool herself that a man of his station would look twice at a poor tailor's sister.

With the sea for a mistress, Thomas has no intention of entering into matrimony. And yet, he can't get the plain-spoken and desirable Hester out of his mind, even though she's never tried to secure his attentions as other women do.

Everything changes the night Hester's brother is arrested during a raid on a gay brothel, the infamous White Swan. With no one else to turn to, and terrified Robert will hang for his crime, Hester accepts Thomas's offer to bear the cost of the defense. A true gentleman, Thomas expects nothing in return—but Hester can no longer deny her own desires...
She may offer her body eagerly, but can she protect her heart?

I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't. 
The story goes that Hester's brother, Robert, is arrested in a gay brothel. She goes to Thomas for help and, while they are trying to save Robert, they fall in love.

Okay, the summary and the cover make it seem like the romance is the center of the story...but it's not. The center is Robert's fight for freedom. While that's all well and good and I could have adjusted my expectations, the story itself was dull for the most part. I kept skimming, events felt like they were being stretched out.

Another thing that bothered me was how the characters talked about homosexuality. Though this is ultimately a novel that accepts it, there are A LOT of derogatory comments made by various characters about gay men...even by Robert himself. While this is part of the mindset of people at that time, some of the comments were graphic and might be offensive to some people. I admire the realistic portrayal, though it made me angry with those narrow-minded jerks, but others might be offended by the vulgar comments. So if you think you might be one of those people, I would caution you away from this book.

I mentioned the case of the disappearing romance, so let me actually address what the plot was actually about. The story is Robert accepting himself and Hester and Thomas attempting to free him. This should have been good, but things were too stretched out and repetitive and it got really boring and I ended up skimming. 

The ending was surprisingly satisfying. We find out Robert's sentence and Robert accepts the way he is. Hester and Thomas live happily ever after. And Robert gets his happy ending-though I'll let you find out how. The ending was really the redeeming part of the novel, the only reason The White Swan Affair isn't getting a 1/5. 

So with all that under consideration: 2/5

Thanks to Netgalley for a copy!

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