Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game.
Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers?
The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?
Before reading The Golden Braid, I thought I might read this book in the series – you know, in case there are crossover characters. Supposedly a Swan Lake-Robin Hood mash-up, this retelling features Odette, a young gorgeous woman living in the 14th century. She is the typical white swan – pure-hearted maiden who wants to help out the poor. She is the Robin Hood of the story, as she is poaching on the margrave’s land to feed the poor. She keeps her nightly exploits a secret, but one day she leaves behind some evidence, which Jorgen, the forester comes across.
But once these two meet, the plot goes out the window of the castle tower. After that it is 80% them meeting each other, admiring each other’s physical beauty endlessly and sometimes bonding over the fact that they were both orphans who have had a rough life in childhood. What really irked me about was the number of times Odette was mentioned to be beautiful – honestly, it was like every 4 pages. The antagonist of the story, Mathis – god, such a bore. His only job was to repeatedly come and sing praises of her beauty. Even our hero wasn’t exempt – every five sentences he would remark over how beautiful she was. We get it, man – she is the beautiful fricking swan. Can we go ahead with the plot? But no, that doesn’t arrive till midway in the second half, by which time my snarky side had taken permanent residence in my head; I may have rolled my eyes at almost every paragraph in this story. Another thing – all that religion being shoved down my throat. I now realized I should have checked the genre tags (Christian fiction) before – it was all God this, God that. Odette walks into a brothel to save a girl, with no plan, and is praying when she is inevitably locked up, and Jorgen naturally has to save her. That’s how stupid the plot was – like she was given only one brief moment of heroism.
I get that it is a romance, but this heroine was so boring and passive, I was hoping one of those stags she was killing stabbed her in the gut. And take those two other ridiculous guys too, since the three of them were only hung up on marriage. For goodness’ sake, people are going hungry and she was like – my husband should be able to feed ALL the poor. The ending saved the story, but barely. By that time, I had just about given hope and was skimming through the sentences. It was not like the writing was all that interesting, with choppy scenes and bland dialogue. What I feel worse about this is that it has sort of ruined my mood for The Golden Braid, which I was so eager to read. 2.5 stars.