Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publishing Date: October 22, 2013
Genre: historical fiction
Veronica is an aspiring historian living in present-day Los Angeles when she meets a mysterious man who may be heir to the Russian throne. As she sets about investigating the legitimacy of his claim through a winding path of romance and deception, the ghosts of her own past begin to haunt her. Lena, a servant in the imperial Russian court of 1902, is approached by the desperate Empress Alexandra. After conceiving four daughters, the Empress is determined to sire a son and believes Lena can help her. Once elevated to the Romanov’s treacherous inner circle, Lena finds herself under the watchful eye of the meddling Dowager Empress Marie. Charlotte, a former ballerina living in World War II occupied Paris, receives a surprise visit from a German officer. Determined to protect her son from the Nazis, Charlotte escapes the city, but not before learning that the officer’s interest in her stems from his longstanding obsession with the fate of the Russian monarchy.
Lena, a servant in the royal household and favorite of Empress Alexandra, is asked to help Alexandra conceive a boy after giving birth to four daughters. But in 1920, when Alexandra is delirious from the medication given during labor, Dowager Empress Marie threatens Lena and strikes a bargain to help save the Russian monarchy. Fast forward to WWII occupied Paris as Charlotte flees with her ex-husband and son Laurent to Spain to escape the Germans. Fast forward to the present day, where Veronica is working on her book for tenure and failing miserably. But suddenly a Russian man named Michael seems to be the key to her future with the Romanov family.
I was a little skeptical about reading a book with three POVs, as they can sometimes be confusing, sloppy, and muddle. Laam, however, was very consistent with her chapters, clearly marked the years and locations, and each piece of the puzzle started to fit together perfectly. This book was in no way confusing with the multiple perspectives.
The story was enjoyable and kept my attention. It was like a journey across Europe and time, an adventure across the generations. About halfway through the novel, though, when Veronica is visiting New York and meets another claimant to the Russian throne, the circumstances seemed elevated to ludicrous proportions. The other portions of the book, with Lena and Charlotte, maintained reality at least. But after Veronica’s visit to New York, the link between the three women was obvious. I raced to the end just to see how exactly they each reacted to their situations.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book for review.