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A Woman in a Man's World - an Editorial Review of "Her Dangerous Journey Home"

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Book Blurb: Coming Soon

Author Bio:

Lee Swanson is a retired soldier and teacher who is the author of the No Man is Her Master historical fiction series, including the titles "No Man’s Chattel," "Her Perilous Game," and the soon-to-be- released "A Dangerous Journey Home."

Lee has enjoyed a lifetime interest in medieval history. Living in both Germany and England for extended periods of his life, he has traveled extensively throughout Europe, seeking out-of-the-way places with little-known stories to tell. Among these are the Scottish Marches that figure prominently in "Her Perilous Game."

Holding a Master’s Degree in European History from the University of North Florida, Lee’s thesis centered on the Hansa, a confederation of merchants from primarily northern German cities in the 12th through seventeenth centuries. Many of the colorful characters who populate his novels are drawn from the lives of these resolute wayfarers who traveled the waterways of Europe in search of profit and prestige.

Lee, his wife Karine, and their dog, Banjo now split their time between coastal Maine and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. A return visit to Europe is hoped for in the near future.

Lee's website is at

Editorial Review:

I know I am reading a love story when the book opens with the characters in the

bedroom, tender to each other but worried about their future. It is fourteen century

London, and I just discovered who the lovers are and the obstacles they must overcome.

Now, my curiosity peaked. I want to know how they got there and if they would make it

out alive.

Reaching the end of the book, I was not disappointed. In Her Dangerous Journey Home,

Lee Swanson delivers a great story set in Medieval Europe, a time when the continent

had just come out of the Dark Ages, and commerce once again was flourishing, but

dangers were lurking on land and at sea.

The main character, Christina, can be anything she wants. She is already a warrior, lover,

merchant, and master of her manor. But there is one thing she cannot be: a woman. Not

anymore. She had lost that privilege when misfortune stroke her family, and she had to

fight for her life and for those she loved. During this time, with the help of a few good

friends, she had become someone else. But at what cost? And would she ever have the

chance to show her real self?

“Could it really have been only a year ago that I was a simple girl, playing games with

my friends and trying my best to avoid chores around the house? She marveled. How

much my life has changed since then. But is not really my own life I lead now, is it?

Not since the pirates attacked us at sea and Frederick was lost; that was when

Christina ceased to be. Now, I exist as Frederick, and this house, my fortune, even my

knighthood, all really belong to him. So very little I claim for myself.”

Christina Kohl is a young girl from the German lands of Lubeck, the daughter of a

Hanseatic family of merchants. While traveling overseas to London, pirates attack the

ship and kill her father and brother. At the same time, Christina, guarded by an old family

friend, survives the attack, escaping slavery. But where most girls in her situation would

have surrendered to their fate, going into marriage or servitude, Christina is determined to

twist her fortune to accommodate new realities. Assuming her brother's identity, Herr

Frederick, she had exchanged the woman's gown for a man's tunic and tights, complete

with a sword and the symbol of the knighthood. Only now our heroine realizes how

different she is and what that means.

Christina can be many things as a man: she can engage in trade, command ships, and slay

pirates. As a man, she can keep an estate with servants and apprentices and decide their

fate. As a man, she can express her love for a woman. But none of those would have been

possible if Christina had remained what she was meant to be: a woman. The medieval

world was a harsh environment for a girl who was supposed to be a good Christian,

subservient to her husband and father, with the sole responsibility of reproduction and

housekeeping. If society had, on occasion, tolerated a woman interfering in her husband's

business, the attitude would have turned violent when homosexual interest was involved.

And Christina is gay in love with a married woman, Lady Cecily, who must return to her

husband after being a guest in Frederick's home.

“Cecily's voice brought a sweet pain in Christina's bosom that threatened to tear her

chest asunder. It took all of her resolve to not spring forward, take her into her arms, and

kiss her enticing lips. Instead, Christina stood transfixed, gazing softly at Cecily."

Now, one can only imagine the complications such settings can create. The author

navigates the troubled waters of Christina's voyage (pun intended) with excellent skills.

None of the twists and turns of the plot are disappointing, and the heights are pretty

dramatic, with an occasional cliffhanger, so you must go on reading. Christina must

demonstrate her wisdom and fighting skills on dry land or at sea without hesitation or

apparent effort. Only so she can keep the life she'd built and hope to see the woman she

loves. But first, she must stay alive, surviving the pirates' attack once more.

"Christina bolted forward, her earlier admonition to herself now forgotten. Her sword

sang through the air in a broad slash against her adversary's side, slicing into liver,

kidney, and stomach as easily if she were butchering a beast for the entrails of a hearty

pie. The dark blood oozing towards her hand down the blade's fuller guaranteed this Mn

would trouble them no further.”

The voice equally matches the moods and mannerisms of 14 th -century society, with just

the right mix of old and new words and manner of speech so the reader can feel the

atmosphere. Although accurate, the author is somehow stingy with the historical details;

there are no more than the necessary ones for painting life in the middle ages. But the

book left me wondering about some strict feminine problems that our heroine must have

overcome, such as her periods or the lack of facial hair.

One thing that stood out was the ease of characterization, which came from such

techniques as dialog and details, building up robust portraits of credible medieval people

with whom the reader can sympathize and even relate. I grew attached to some of the

characters, and when Herr Ziesolf, Christina's mentor, decided to stay behind, thus

disappearing from the story, I missed his interaction. Toward the end of the book, I was

really hoping the author would leave room for a continuation, perhaps on a sequel, but

the way the things were resolved was also to my satisfaction.

It doesn't seem to be many writers venturing into 14 th -century Europe to bring to life a

story, true or imagined. It takes skills, patience, and a lot of research to put together a

good plot. But whether you are into medieval novels or not, Lee Swanson’s book is worth

reading for the boldness of the subject and the crafting of the story.


“Her Dangerous Journey Home” by Lee Swanson receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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