The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 832
Release Date: July 17, 2000

The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler’s armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.


Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander’s impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

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I’m not sure what everyone sees in The Bronze Horseman to justify it being rated so favourably on Goodreads (4.30 stars) because I found it to be a very slow and mundane romance that had the potential to be great. 

For large sections of the novel, nothing happens. Readers follow Tatiana’s life during the war as she fights her feelings for Alexander while also trying to make money to buy food for her ungrateful family. These sections are a drag on the novel. It was difficult to stay interested because absolutely nothing was going on.

Tatiana and Alexander’s romance is supposed to carry this novel. Their romance is forbidden since Alexander is dating Tatiana’s sister, Dasha. Before Tatiana even meets Alexander, Alexander is already seeing Dasha. There were only a handful of moments where I felt a genuine connection between Tatiana and Alexander. In order to justify their relationship, Simons barely develops Dasha as a character. So, what little development Dasha received painted her as a bitch. Thereby making it okay for readers to root for Tatiana and Alexander.

As for the romance itself… It’s uncomfortable. Tatiana is clearly much younger than Alexander. Age gaps don’t usually bother me, but when a character’s maturity level is so below that of the other it makes the romance awkward. I won’t get into the details as there are countless other reviews that have, but the first few times Tatiana and Alexander have sex, she said no multiple times. It’s one of those ambiguous  scenes where a character says no but it’s ignored.

The reason I rated the novel two stars instead of one is because the setting was well written. Simons’ portrayal of the Soviet Union during WWII was well researched and the only worthwhile thing in the novel. 

Overall, The Bronze Horseman is one of the worse romance novels I’ve ever read because it’s barely a romance. Instead, readers a subjected to chapter after chapter of the struggles of living through WWII with hints of a poorly written romance sprinkled throughout.

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Have you read The Bronze Horseman? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “The Bronze Horseman – Paullina Simons

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