Review: Swann's Revenge by Shira Anthony

Can a swan make peace with his ugly duckling past?

Chubby geek Jimmy Zebulon’s heart broke the day his high school crush, Danny Parker, looked on as his teammates tormented Jimmy. Fifteen years later, Jimmy is long gone, and from his ashes has risen Graham Swann, a movie-star-handsome law firm owner. Graham thinks Jimmy and his past are long forgotten—until attorney Dan Parker shows up for his first day of work.

Getting injured playing college ball was the best thing that ever happened to Dan. It turned his future in a better direction and allowed him to emerge from the closet that trapped him.

Graham wants to believe his childhood dream can come true, but he can’t bring himself to tell Dan who he really is—and their pasts might ruin any chance for a happily ever after….

I love reading. I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember and adored romance novels as my go to genre steadily since the 6th grade. But there are times in my adult life when reading and I don’t mesh and I hate it. Books have always been there when I needed them and this book, it was exactly what I needed. Where I’ve been struggling to get into every book I’ve picked up over the last month… I finished this in a day sneak reading at my desk.

The opening of this book broke my heart and engraved itself onto my memory. It’s important to remember the details of it all because they matter to the story.

“Happiness doesn’t find you. You let yourself be happy.”

Jimmy Zebulon wasn’t a cool kid his freshman year in high school. He was in the band and did all the traditional “band geek” things but Jimmy had a crush on a boy; a popular football player, the quarterback named Danny Parker. Jimmy idolized Danny for all that he was and all the new feelings he made Jimmy feel but while Danny was kind to others, the one time it mattered he wasn’t kind to Jimmy. With his heart laid out on lined paper, Jimmy’s crush is shattered and when they opportunity arises for the skinny kid who was bullied to be left behind, Jimmy doesn’t look back.

I loved that we got the opening scene with Jimmy and Danny and I so hoped that that note Jimmy lost was mentioned for a reason. It hurt to read how bad Jimmy felt but then we turn the page to a grown Jimmy, now going by the name Graham Swann as he is finishing a triathlon and admiring one of his fellow competitors. This man who begins to pace Graham and who stops to aid a fellow athlete who has tripped and injured herself. Graham couldn’t help but admire that someone would be selfless to stop and help an injured athlete while sacrificing their own faster time. In the end, Graham gets to meet this selfless man, Dan, when they’re solo at a bar near the race but just as things get heated between them, Dan bails.

The next morning though, we get Dan as he is running late for his first day at a new law firm and guess who his boss is? Yup, it’s Graham and they don’t exactly have a sexy reunion. I loved this second meet cute kinda deal because it’s always entertainingly awkward watching two people who had their mouths on the other try to play it cool and act like they’ve never met.

I liked that we got both POV’s in this and I am always a fan of the dual perspective. When Graham connects the dots that Dan Parker is the Danny who stood by while he was bullied 15 years ago all while Graham had a crush on him, I needed to be inside both men's brains.

The chemistry between Graham and Danny is fantastic. You know from the brief encounter after the triathlon that these two have the attraction you can feel off the page but as they begin to work closer together on cases and as Graham lets his guard down slowly, you want nothing more for them to have a future. They just have to get over a few things first.

I always love it when the title of the book plays into the story. With Jimmy/Graham we have the traditional tale of the ugly duckling growing in to the swan and in this we also have it as Graham's last name. The revenge part, well that gets a bit twisted but all things twisted can be ironed out with a bit of humble honesty. Right?

Why does it matter? High school was a different world. They were different people now.

I adored Graham so damn much and I got him. I remember what it was like in high school to be picked on and have a crush on the quarterback who had jerk friends who liked to pick on outsiders. In my case, years later I ended up marrying that quarterback who confessed he never liked how his friends acted but didn’t know how to not play the role he was supposed to play and make them stop. Being young is hard and people make mistakes but that moment 15 years ago has festered in the young heart of J. Graham Swann and has bubbled to the surface with his new developing feelings for Dan.

Oh, Dan. Your story is just as heartbreaking as we learn about your struggles being in the closet and trying to be the perfect everything in high school. The relationship with Benn gave you a new life in so many ways even when your world shattered. You see, Dan is a widower and comes with baggage in the form of his daughter Lacey who is adorable and awkward so it’s no surprise she quickly attaches herself to Graham. Lacey allows Graham to be a bit more of himself, a bit more honest with his feelings for both the young girl and her father. I loved seeing them interact and I fell in love with both of them as Dan watched his daughter fall for Graham.

Dan and Graham have a slow burn to their relationship with a bit of angst as Graham carries around the knowledge he knows who Dan is. I wanted him to tell Dan so many times and really Graham does try but with his growth as a handsome and powerful attorney with his own firm, there is still that uncertainty of the young Jimmy Zebulon underneath who is afraid of rejection.

Let me wrap this up and say this was so romantic. All of it hugged my hopeless romantic heart and it was so damn swoony. Yes things happen and yes people get hurt and angry. I wasn’t prepared for the situation at the end but while not glad it happened, I am glad it got things resolved. That epilogue made me tear up and I just loved this so much.

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