From the critics
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the city had survived, as it had always done: endured the changes of its name and government, stood fast through war and siege and revolution, and through all of that had managed still to shelter and encourage art and dance and life and beauty.
It was what my mother always told my brother and myself that she missed most of all about St. Petersburg – the beauty that lay everywhere, in unexpected places, if you only had the eyes to see it.
“Never let him fool you into thinking that he’s calm, it’s all an act. . . . it isnae in his nature to sit still, he’s only taught himself the trick of it.”
It surprised me that I hadn’t noticed him earlier. I usually didn’t miss noticing good-looking men. And on top of it all, he’d been reading a book, and a man doing that didn’t often escape my attention.
Men, so Anna had observed, replied to threats in one of two ways, much like bears. They either dropped and turned and scuttled off, or else they stood their ground and bellowed back and tried to make themselves look larger.
If we cannae be what we were born to be, the whole of it, we die a little on the inside, every day we live the lie.
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Are you looking for an excuse to curl up somewhere with a mug of hot chocolate and do nothing for a few hours? Of course you are! It’s awful weather. Plus, snuggling in with a good book beats getting bodychecked by someone else who desperately needs Santa to bring a Tickle-Me-Cabbage-Bratz-Kid or whatever. Hey, your friendly librarian is here to help.
At least, I’m here to help if a long, charming ramble through Scotland and Russia with a smoldering Scotsman sounds appealing. If not, you can probably get off this boat here.
Still here? Grand! Grab your cocoa.
By day, Nicola Marter works in an arts museum in London, England. By night, however, Nicola struggles with a rare gift that lets her divine the provenance of the rare items she curates simply by touching them. Her grandfather had been viciously prosecuted in Russia for his gifts, so Nicola faces strong family pressure to suppress her second sight and live a more normal life.
However, a chance encounter with a destitute woman forces Nicola to reconsider her gifts and their role in her life. Before Nicola really thinks about it, she goes to Scotland in search of Rob, whose own keen gifts could help her find the proof she needs that this woman’s family holds a rare artefact, given to them by Empress Catherine of Russia. Rob, naturally, would be our smoldering Scotsman – one with whom Nicola had an intense connection in university, and with whom she has unfinished business.
The two depart on a whirlwind tour of the Scottish coast and St Petersburg, hot on the trail of the firebird artefact. As with any Susanna Kearsley novel, there’s plenty of steamy tension rendered so carefully that you can share this book with your mother without blushing. I’ve recommended other Kearsley books in this space as readalikes for fans of Diana Gabaldon’s *Outlander* series - the sexual tension, historical research, and time travel elements make Kearsley’s books a perfect match for any Sassenachs looking for a great next read. *The Firebird* is no exception. This book is highly recommended as a shopping procrastination tool, or as an excuse to get out of anything else you’d like to avoid this holiday season.
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