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THE ICE SWAN by J'Nell Ciesielski - Interview - "Beautiful"

We are excited to welcome J'Nell Ciesielski to Books & Benches! We're going to get to know J'nell a bit, plus learn more about her stunning book, The Ice Swan. It's always better to hear directly from the author, so without further ado . . .

THE POISON KEEPER by Deborah Swift

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In the author's words . . .

Q&A with J'nell Ciesielski

What makes The Ice Swan special or unique to you? Can you give us a little story behind the story?

I wanted to write something different, a story about the Great War era that we haven’t read yet and I found it while watching a Russian miniseries called Road to Calvary. It’s about two Russian aristocratic sisters and how they manage through the war, the Revolution, the Bolshevik takeover, and love.

The tragic story of the Romanovs is well known, but I’d wager a guess that few of us can untangle the convoluted mess of the Great War and the Russian Revolution.

Pair that with all the advancements happening out of necessity in the medical field and I knew I had to dive in. I hope it’s a piece of history topped off with a love story that intrigues readers.

What story are you working on next, and what inspired it?

I was watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and began to wonder what would it be like if the Winter Soldier fell in love. What would that look like? Viola! New story idea filled with secret agencies, occults, and assassins set during the Great War that’s due out next year.

Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

That’s a tough call! Both Wynn and Svetlana had their difficulties and just when I thought I’d got the measure of one, the other would start to act up. It was hard keeping Wynn’s easy-going confidence from spilling into outright arrogance. With Svetlana, she was aloof from the start, but she needed to find the balance of being cold (for a good reason!) without being snobbish.

Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite?

Any of the scenes at the White Bear are my favorite! I got the idea to include a nightclub after seeing the stage version of Anastasia when the Russians are reminiscing about the olden days in their country. I loved stepping into the seedy underworld of disillusioned countesses and larger than life crime bosses all bathed in the red glow memory of tsarist Russia.

What is your favorite quote?

Write fearless. I don’t know who said it, but it’s become so powerful that I have it hanging on my office wall. It’s given me a freedom to write the story how it needs to be told without strings, without opinions to hold it back.

Books & Benches: Love the quote, J'nell! It's great advice for every author. Thank you for giving our readers a closer look at your writing life and book.

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The Ice Swan

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 but hope 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 and beyond, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.


The Author

Author J'nell Ciesielski

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. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at


Genre: Historical Romance

Type: Novel

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publication Date: July 6, 2021

Content Rating: 3 Hearts

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Go to: Top of Post | Interview | About the Book | Meet the Author

Tour Giveaway

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski! There are 5 copies up for grabs!

The giveaway is open the U.S. only and ends on July 20, 2021. You must be 18 or older to enter. Void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is sponsored by the author and hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.


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