Book Review – The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

by Maryse on March 19, 2012 · 23 comments

in Historical Romance

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman Trilogy)
I don’t have much experience with historical romance novels. In fact, I tend to bypass them, and in all honestly, I don’t even know WHY I usually choose to skip them for something contemporary. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed those that I’ve already read. As I think back to them, I’ve loved them all. Books about Highlanders, some from the Victorian era, and then some, errrr… okay. Mostly Highlanders. ;) LOL! Each and every one of them has captured my attention and I’ve found myself completely absorbed and dreaming of a different time. A different way of living. A different way of loving. Some occasional scenes depicting appalling male tendencies and customs, to be sure, but these romance authors sure have a magic touch in making some of them hero-worthy. I don’t think I’d want to test my luck in a real-life “time travel” experiment, but in the land of fiction, these guys seem just as wonderful and exciting as our contemporary bad-boys.

But here’s the thing. This is what I suspect… with me, historical romance books tend to require a commitment from me. To buckle down and let go of what I’m used to. Release my normal expectations. Completely change my frame of mind so that I can connect with a time and reality that I have no actual experience with. Contemporary romances are easy for me. I recognize the “guy-behavior” and can see him perfectly in my head. It’s so easy to match up the tattooed bad-boy with some hot-guy image in my head. Where they are, how they act, the things they do… all stuff I’ve done, been and seen, also. Easy. Sure… contemporaries can be deep and dark and gritty too, but they don’t require me to adjust my mental images. I’m already there. And I think that is mostly why I shy away from historicals. Sometimes, I’m just not ready for the change.

Which brings me to this trilogy. Recommended over and over again by those insisting if I loved “Diana Galbaldon’s Outlander series” (which I did), then I would surely love this one. I read the premise. War. ICK!!! (BTW it is WWII in Leningrad). Hitler. ICCCCCKKKK!!! Soldiers… errrr… ok, not ick. *blush* Tee hee!!! That was actually the magic word. A soldier that falls for a civilian during wartime, and devastating and impossible events unfold in life, and for them. Okay. I was curious!

So I waited until I was in the right frame of mine, and dug myself in. Heard there’d be a slight “intro-hump” to get over, and then I’d be in love with it. Wanna know what? I didn’t even notice the hump. I don’t know if it was me that was simply ready for something this BIG… this profound. If it was the warning and then the promise of excellence. Or if the writer is just that magical that I barely even noticed she wasn’t writing about me. I became one with the story almost immediately. Book #1 stole my heart. But it wasn’t just romance with a bad backdrop. I was terrified, elated, desperate, traumatized, angry, and then in love over and over again. My friend Jackie asked:

Jackie: I’m downloading those for my holiday. Let me know what they are like. Also if they are suitable for my daughter (age 15).

Maryse: Book #1 rocked my world. I am beside myself right now and in mourning needing so badly to read# 2. It is tame for the first half of the book, but it is not YA. It’s not overtly descriptive, but there are plenty of steamy intimate scenes at some point. Soooooooo soooooo good. One of my favorites without a doubt. I don’t know whether to cry right now ’cause of everything it put me through, or giggle with glee knowing that I still have two more books. *sigh*

‘Tis true. It was a wreck of a book, moments of terrible and utter despair and yet… titillating like no other. Teasing. There is love and life within and beyond war, and while the struggles and turmoil of war dominate their way of life, there are incredible moments of light, in this tale. And the light shines so bright. Blinding. My heart was glowing.

Already that the Soviet way of life was… difficult (communal living… and so much more). These folks still managed to be happy, loving, and hopeful. Had customs, had celebrations, had vacations. Had happy children. Devastating life circumstances occurred, of course. Things were about to get so much worse.

But I, the reader, saw a carefree spirit in the eyes of our heroine (Tatiana).War? War was not here, yet. What was the rush? Why was everyone racing to the banks? To the grocery stores? She looked beautiful today, in her flirty summer dress, and red high heels. Tomorrow was her seventeenth birthday. Her sister was in love. She wanted ice cream. And she had it. Along with the gorgeous, intense stare of the devastatingly handsome, (and young) soldier (Alexander) that crossed the street just to be near her.

…staring at her with an expression Tatiana had never seen before. She stopped eating her ice cream.

Her side of the street was already in the shade, but the side where he stood swam in the northern afternoon light. Tatiana stared back at him for just a moment, and in the moment of looking into his face, something moved inside her; moved she would have liked to say imperceptibly , but that wasn’t quite the case. It was was if her heart started pumping blood through all four chambers at once, pouring it into her lungs and flooding it through her body. She blinked and felt her breath become shorter.

It starts just like that! Hump? What hump? I was already completely hooked when he followed her onto her bus… and it was so obvious, the intense connection between the two could not be severed.

Until she came home later that evening, with the help of that very handsome soldier (carrying her wooden crates of groceries her), and watched as her sister (Dasha) jumped into his arms, surprised and ecstatic that her very new “boyfriend” showed up at her family’s home. To his surprise, too. He, ummm… wasn’t quite expecting that his new friend was her sister. Eeeeek!! 

“Alexander! What are you doing here?” Dasha didn’t even glance at Tatiana, who, perplexed, looked at Alexander and said, “You know Dasha…?” but then broke off in the middle of the question, seeing realization and conscience and unhappiness strike his mute, comprehending face.

Tatiana looked at Dasha, then back to Alexander. She felt herself paling from the inside out. Oh no, she wanted to say. Oh, no, how can this be?

Yep. Oh oh. It doesn’t relent. And it’s so much more than just a simple love triangle. This soldier has quite a secret that he harbors. I can’t say more. Fate? Destiny? Or tragedy? The whole experience from light to dark to light to dark again… and then?

She was entrenched. She had dug a trench all around herself called Alexander, and she couldn’t leave.

Addicted. That’s what I am. I’ve gotta get to book #2 ASAP before I gnaw my fingernails off. I am literally moping!! I need more. SO MUCH more.

I just received this comment from fellow reader, Aestas. I think this says it all:

“Omgomgomg I’m so glad you are reading this!! I just finished the trilogy last week and it has just completey taken over my life!!!! I got about 3 hours of sleep a night for the week it took me to read all 3 books and since finishing them, I’ve been thrown into a book funk where absolutely nothing seems remotely comparable to how wonderful these books were or to the depth of the love that Tatiana and Alexander shared. It’s just so epic and heart wrenching and beautiful!!!!!! I know I will be rereading them over and over and over again. I honestly haven’t been able to even think about anything else since I started them.”

I’ve only completed book #1 and already feel this way. I am SO in for it…

BTW – 5 stars from me!

The reading order guide —> Paullina Simons – The Bronze Horseman Trilogy (The Timeless Saga)

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca Espinoza March 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM

So happy you gave it 5 stars because I thought it was awesome too! I love the way they speak in this book, I remember thinking in their accent for a long time after reading and wanting to find other Russian books because I was so fascinated with their lives! Hope you like the second one, it’s great too!!

Robyn B. March 19, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Great review! I am so happy you enjoyed this book! I can’t wait till you read book 2 & 3.

Amy March 19, 2012 at 9:59 PM

I’m soooo glad you finally read it! I just KNEW you would love it! I’m not gonna say it, but I’m totally thinking we told you so, we told you so right now lol ;)

Stephanie March 20, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Thank goodness you’re reading this trilogy, Maryse! You are my favorite book blogger and I usually try a new book, based on your recommendations. I heard about The Bronze Horseman by word of mouth and began reading it immediately! I was so sucked into the story that I neglected to even research whether or not it was part of a series…and God forbid me even put my iPad down for a few minutes to look up Paullina Simons website!! Anyway, when I finished the first book I was sick at my stomach because I thought it was the end…then, I woke up in the middle of the night and had an, “Epiphany” moment! I jumped out of bed, googled the author, and then all was well…I read it was a trilogy. I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t wait for Maryse to read this book, she’ll be blown away!”. In between being a single mom, being a full time graduate student and reading, I usually don’t have the time to reply to your blogs, but, I knew I had to for this one. I can’t wait to read your reviews on the remaining two books in the trilogy. Have a great week! Cheers

Stephanie March 20, 2012 at 8:50 AM

By the way, I have some of Paullina Simons other books in paperback. I had them shipped from the UK because they’re really hard to find in the US. You may have better sources than me and can get easier access to them. But, if you don’t, you’re more them welcome to mine. I have, “Tully” and “The Girl in Times Square”. Both are fantastic books and I will send them to you, if you decide you want to read them.

Janet March 20, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Maryse, after reading your review I couldn’t resist so I immediately downloaded it (even though I already had 4 books in queue to read) I’m at 12% now and just loving it. I had to stop just to tell you how much I love it and am so excited there are 2 more to read after this. Yippee!!

Maryse March 21, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Rebecca… I swear I barely moved off of my couch all weekend. Had back cramps and everything by the end from sitting in the same position for so long!

Robyn: Halfway through book #2 (since I started it during work week, I can only read in the evenings.) I’m enjoying the look back to how all of this started…

Amy: haha!! You can say you told me so. I love when you guys send me awesome recommendations! It just makes my reading that much better!

Stephanie: What a relief to find out there was more, huh? Nothing better to know you can continue “living” in the world you’ve been so absorbed in, after a book #1. It doesn’t always have to end right away. Oh and thank you so much for your kind offer!! *hug*

Janet: let me know what you think when you’re done. Or… if you need moral support, email me as you read it. ;)

Aestas March 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

I can’t wai till you read book 2 :) I found it tone even more intense than book 1 (thought at the time of reading book 1, I really didn’t think that was possible). I literally cried or sobbed every 10 pages or so. It just takes the ‘intense love/longing’ things to a whole new level!! :) )))

Yvette March 22, 2012 at 7:16 AM

I just started reading this last night. I couldn’t wait for the end of the work day to get started. After reading your review, I thought Titiana was calling me, taunting me in her Russian accent. (“Yvette, you know you want to read about me and Alexander….”) At 20% in, I am totally enjoying it already. I really, really like it so far. Thanks for the recommendation, as always, Maryse.

Janie March 22, 2012 at 10:49 PM

Have you started the second book yet Maryse? I am about 300 pages into this one and am loving it! It’s so hard to put down.

bookster March 23, 2012 at 7:03 AM

oh my gosh I’m so exZited to start this book by the way everybody is reacting to it!!! can’t wait to lose some sleep :)

Rena March 26, 2012 at 3:11 AM

Yay Maryse! So glad you loved it! You had me going there for a moment when you didn’t open your review with boundless and uncontained squeals of adoration. I was thinking, “Oh no! She hates it!” =P
Great review! I definitely had no “hump” to get over either.

P.S. Hi Aestas! Good to see you from GR!

Yvette March 27, 2012 at 8:39 AM

I am now early in the last book in this series. What in the world am I gonna do when its over? This series is so great, I’ve already told my mother about it. Thanks again for this wonderful recommendation.

Michelle October 25, 2012 at 7:48 PM

I loved this book, too!

Beth November 12, 2012 at 11:35 PM

OMG I did the same thing as Stephanie, could NOT believe book one was was the end of their story, could NOT, I was stunned by this book, this ending. But then I read the prologue and the author spoke of how the story is a tragedy after all, bad things happen in tragedies and you need to know that going in, tragedies don’t end all wrapped up nicely with a bow and happily ever after. I STILL could not believe it, absolutely lost sleep over this book. But knew I had to have it, my mother in law had lent it to me. And in looking up the book online I had the wonderful discovery that it DIDN’T have to end! Not one but TWO more books! Cannot tell you my relief and joy and how quickly I went to the library to see if they had them (to my horror they didn’t-I live in a small town). But the next time I went to my in-laws (in another state) before I could even tell her how much I loved it she told me she HAD the other two! She skipped 2 and went straight to 3 (how could she-why would she?!) and I have those in my possession now. Almost started 2 over again before I read 3! SOOOOO good! Want to read them again right now! Did you know they are in production on a movie!?!??! (check out youTube) SOOO excited! Now who to play Alexander??…Henry Cavill definitely looks the part (except for blue eyes, but they can put contacts in) tho I am not familiar with his work, but a new guy appeared in a Xmas movie I just saw on tv, he may a bit too old (35 I think?) for the 21 yr old Alexander in the beginning (but with the magic of hollywood makeup…?), but he’s absolutely got the looks, the eyes, the lips, the smile (just buzz cut his thick Italian hair) and I can’t stop picturing him as Alexander! He’s got the creme brule’ eyes with the most amazing lashes! Sorry to be so long winded but it’s so fun to know there are others out there just as smitten as me! Trilogy is definitely #1 on my Xmas list this year!

Keighley December 12, 2012 at 7:46 AM

Ive had my eye on this book for a while, as its on so many peoples all time favorite lists, was so happy when it went on sale at price I could justify (tis the season of giving, not buying more books for yourself!). Its an epic book and deserves my full concentration so going to wait until the christmas holidays and fully immerse myself.

Ive never read any historical romance except my mums Danielle Steele books when I was a teenager *blushes*, and the ones set in Russia were always my favorite so Cant wait!

Bootsie December 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM

This triology is the best i have ever read!!! I haven’t found anything that compares.It touches you and stays with you for years!!!!

Kelli February 10, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Okay, just finished the first book, and almost had a heart attack at the ending, until, breathe Kelli, breathe, I just found out it is a trilogy.! Good lord! I thought that was the end…
Loved this book, however, jees is it long! I swear, two weeks read! I am used to 3 day reads with quick resolution. I want to hear the rest of their story, but am I ready to sink into another two week read? Holy crow! loved this looooong book!

bookster April 17, 2013 at 10:59 AM

I’m barely reading now! A whole year later after Maryse recommended it! very long read, I don’t know I’m more than half way done. They just got married they are super happy, sex left and right and as soon as he leaves BAMMMMMM- drama and she is unhappy again. I think…shhhhhhh(i know you guys will hate me for not being floored) but their relationship is beginning to get on my nerves. sorry sorry sorry. I will finish it because I am that type of girl :) Hopefully I will love it at the end.

Keighley May 31, 2013 at 6:22 AM

Ive finally finished the third book and WOW!!! Book 1 has to be one of my top ten favorite books of ALL TIME! I know you aren’t a big historical romance fan – but have you considered compiling a What to Read After… list for this book? I am desperately hunting for something similar to put on my TBR, contemporary romances all seem a little shallow without the peril of war as back drop. This series has ruined me for all other books! (well at least for a week, I’m sure I’ll get over it)

Jennifer July 13, 2013 at 3:12 AM

This has become one of my top FAVORITE books to read over and over. I’ve read it about 5x now from when I started this series late 2012. Do you have any recommendations on what to read after this series? I see you’ve listed some for Twilight, Fifty Shades etc. and would like to hear your recommendations for after this trilogy.

marina July 21, 2013 at 12:48 AM

I would also like to know if you could put together a list of what to read after this trilogy. I finished all three months ago and just keep going back to them. Nothing compares to how perfect these books are!

carrie October 8, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Love love and love. I felt in love. I felt hungry. I felt cold. I felt anger, horrible sorrow and heartache like no other. I am glad I stuck through it. It took me a bit to get in it but once in I could not leave them. Especially alone. Thank you for this one. Really thank you. :)

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