I'm absolutely enamored with this series!
In the first two novels in the Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons, she throws our two protags, Alexander and Tatiana, into peril from the outset- starting with the siege of Leningrad during WWII on through their eventual escape to America in the late 1940's.
When the second book ended, I couldn't see how Simon's could squeeze any more gripping material out of Tatiana and Alexander's lives. But she wonderfully surprised me.
As the blurb for The Summer Garden states, their story was only beginning.
The Summer Garden starts where the story left off before the epilogue of Tatiana and Alexander(Or The Bridge to Holy Cross for any Brits and Ozzies out there!). Though Alexander has joined Tatiana and their son Anthony in the US, part of him is still in the gulag Tatiana rescued him from, unable to move forward and unable to allow himself to live after seeing, and causing, so much death and destruction.
But Tatiana is a fierce one and doesn't give up so easily. They travel all over the US trying to find a place they can call home, and along the way, bring him to a place of healing. I found this one to be much more sexual then the first two- almost erotic really- but that too had it's purpose, a metaphor if you will, for the spiritual melding their marriage so desperately needed after their time apart.
They end up in Arizona, on a parcel of land Tatiana bought with the money Alexander's mother horded away after his father zealously gave up their US citizenship and hauled his family to the Soviet Union during the pre-war years.
You would think that after all they had been through- sieges, starvation and the total destruction of their families and homeland- that all the pain was behind them and that nothing could break them. But you would be wrong. They find that peaceful life can be way may more insidious, with it's ghostly fingers plucking at them until they become something they never thought they would.
This is why I fell for this book in a much deeper way then even the first two. I have found in life that the big things, like death and pain, are far easier to survive then the little things that can eat you away before you even realize it. Like the slow dripping of water that erodes a massive stone, we are often unaware of the things that constantly hit us until all that we thought we were is almost totally gone. Although the big things define us and show us what we can be, it's the little things and how we deal with them, that show us what we are. And so it was for Tatiana and Alexander.
We follow them through the years, through bad decisions and successes, death and birth, through children growing up and themselves growing apart, until the very end when we see them with their family, white haired but still in as much love as the day when Alexander crossed the street to meet a skinny, blond haired girl innocently eating ice cream, waiting for her life to begin.
Alexander is the ultimate Alpha hero. Strong, brooding, flawed and intense. Despite outward appearances, Tatiana has a core of steel and an insight into human nature that matches him pound for pound. The little tidbits of Tatiana's former life that Simons throws into The Summer Garden, only reinforces that fact, and I for one loved that part of the story telling, though I can imagine some people would have found it extraneous.
Tatiana and Alexander's love was so deep, so intense, that it became their greatest strength as well as their greatest weakness and it became the strength of these novels as well.
Although I know these books are not for everyone- their huge, sweeping and daunting at times- but so worth the time invested. My wish is for everyone to find a book that moves them as much as these have with me!