Coming into the Her Dangerous Journey Home, I knew the book is the third of four in a series of sapphic novels by Lee Swanson, a medieval historian. Upon reading the description sent by literary publicist Stephanie Barko, I thought I’d likely love the book, despite plunging into the series late.
Within two pages of reading, I already felt as though I knew the history well enough to read the novel without ever needing to look back to previous books. That is, this book is remarkably stand-alone despite being the third in the quartet.
The characters immediately felt fully developed for the new reader, while also hinting at enough literary history to suggest readers should want to go back and read earlier installments of Sir Frederick/Christina’s story.
Yes, the slash is correct. Her Dangerous Journey Home, set in the 14th Century, continues the tale of Christina, a 19-year-old woman who has assumed the identity of her dead brother. As promotion materials note, “In [this period of history], only a male could become a knight and run his family’s business at sea.”
After the loss of her brother, in prior books, Christina has been knighted and stepped into his place in society. Now, she serves King Edward of England (despite being German) and has fully come into society in London.
I’m not sure why, but stories of cross-dressing women like Hua Mulan or the Civil War heroines (often never known to have dressed as men until after death, if ever) have always fascinated me. This may well be part of the draw for me in Christina’s story. But, whether it is or not, the book is excellently written, deeply moving, and vividly full of life.
As a history fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the honest, in-depth historical setting, details, and experiential ways of life depicted in the book. Other history fans, particularly of the medieval period, will enjoy these elements as well. These historical pieces come into vivid clarity through Swanson’s writing in ways that non-historians could never offer.
There are elements of romance, of course, as the sapphic descriptor indicates. But as I read, nothing graphic came across the pages, and so though I wouldn’t classify it as a “wholesome” romance read, it is not overly erotic. I found the balance evocative and respectful of the characters and readers alike.
I rarely give a full five-star review, but Her Dangerous Journey Home absolutely earns it!
Looking for more great fiction? Check out these other reviews from the MockingOwl family.
- The Audrey Hepburn Estate
- Nightfall in the Garden of Deep Time
- The Book Spy
- The Whalebone Theatre
- The Boy in the Rain
Editor-in-Chief of The MockingOwl Roost, Rita Mock-Pike is the granddaughter of aviatrix, Jerrie Mock, first woman to pilot an airplane solo around the world. Rita has found inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theatre, podcasting, novel writing, and cooking up delicious food from around the world. She now writes on food, travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves the very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.