Miss Riki’s Review:
Set against the backdrop of the brutal Russian Revolution, Alexei Romanaov tells his beloved Natalya a secret. She must never tell anyone about the magical Faberge egg that glows within the walls of Russia’s Winter Palace, promising health and stability to the Romanov family. Natalya wholeheartedly believes the mystic fortune-teller who sees her future in tea leaves, showing that she and Alexei will be bound together forever. With the egg in the Romanov’s possession, her future is secure. But the mystic also portends a disturbance. It is one that will put the egg in the wrong hands and place Natalya and Alexei’s future in great danger. When her fortune begins to come true, Natalya must fight to make things right in order to save her way of life.
The Russian Revolution doesn’t really need much in the way of fictionalization to be fascinating, yet Tsarina was a beautiful depiction of wartime Russia. The setting is opulent and the characters are compelling. Some of them are ripped right from the history books, like the ill-fated Romanov family. The others are masterfully woven into a story that tests the limits of historical fiction with a magical fantasy element.
I found this book to be first and foremost a love story. Alexei and Natalya are deeply in love, with dreams of a bright future ahead of them. Their separation and the ultimate conclusion was heartbreaking, but not nearly as emotional as the realization that Natalya has grown feelings for a man that she by all accounts should hate. Leo was a wonderfully complex love interest that not only showed great growth himself throughout the novel, but also brought out great growth in Natalya. Emotions are not easy to compartmentalize, and this romance grows from those complicated feelings of attraction.
Besides a beautiful love story, this novel also has a strong friendship element in the relationship between Natalya and Emilia. There’s a tender understanding between these two women, as they stand side-by-side in fighting for what they believe in.
There’s no doubt that the author bends history a bit to tell this story, but she does a wonderful job of explaining the ways in which she altered historical events at the end of the book. The strong fantasy element in the story has taken a novel rich in historical fact to a whole new level. It is a fascinating and beautifully written novel.