The Wild Swans
Lovers of fairy tales will enjoy the fanciful twist Kate Holmes puts on a classic fairy tale in The Wild Swans.
Princess Arianne has problems. As the main caretaker of her 12 younger brothers, she is the one who must come to their rescue when they are turned into swans. She has to knit 12 shirts out of nettles gathered by moonlight in complete silence. And she can’t go home until she finishes. While she works at this task, King Richard of Avalon stumbles across her cottage in the woods. Trying to find a wife, Richard has almost given up because all the women he meets talk too much. Taken with Arianne’s beauty and silence, he takes her back to his castle.
As soon as I read Richard’s full name, I knew this was a farce. King Richard Henry Michael Bledgabred Taillefer, King of Avalon, Darian, Longshore, and the Western Isles, Duke of Lemaire-over-the-Sea, Count of Borghame, Chosen of God and, by His Gracious Might, Anointed among Men. Read that without dying of laughter. This impression was given more weight a few pages later when King Richard uses the words boobs, butt, waist and hips to talk about women. No historical conventions here, and that’s okay.
Princess Arianne is everything a fairy tale princess should be. Beautiful, virginal, innocent, kind, sweet and loving, she is single-minded in her task to free her brothers. Richard affects her in ways she never imagined. She was a little too affected for my taste at times, though, getting swept up in kisses and losing herself.
And then there’s Richard. He’s quite annoying at first. Presumptuous and arrogant are two great words to describe him. Cute is another one as he has to figure out what Arianne wants through her silence and act accordingly. After overcoming his initial lust, he’s much more tolerable.
This is quite a lusty novel. Richard is a horny ol’ king who is obsessed with breasts, for one thing (for two things?). He thinks of them constantly. He also calls the important part of his male anatomy John Paul. Must be impressive to warrant two names.
There’s the obligatory fairy-tale villain here, but he doesn’t overtake the story. He’s the conflict at the end. This is mostly Arianne and Richard’s story.
Overall, this is a cute novel. Expect fun, and you’ll enjoy this one. A little lighter on the lust and a little more starch in the spine for Arianne, and it would have been perfect for me.