THE ROMANOV EMPRESS C.W. Gortner
A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna
A Perfect 10

Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-42528-616-6
ISBN eBook: 978-0-42528-617-3
July 2018
Historical Fiction

Russia/Europe 1862 to 1918

Danish Princess Dagmar (known to family members as Minnie) grows up in a close-knit royal family. Although not a wealthy or prominent country, Minnie's older sister is sent to England to wed the Prince of Wales, and Minnie is suddenly destined to wed the Russian heir apparent. She falls in love with Nicholas, but before they can marry, he dies. Suddenly the second son, Alexander, is the soon-to-be Tsar, and while he is, at first, not happy with the union, he and Minnie become a team as she learns the ins and outs of being a Russian royal.

Minnie, known in her new country as Maria now, wants to understand her fascinating home and she also wants to be an active partner in her marriage. Sasha, his family name, is at odds with his father over how Russia should head into the future. The present Tsar would like to have a constitution and parliament, but Sasha is vehemently opposed. He feels a strong royal presence is what Russia needs. Maria is on her father-in-law's side, but is unable to convince her husband. Instead, Maria sets out to find her own niche, and takes on a rehabilitation of the Red Cross. She finances and supports various other charities and the Russian people embrace her.

When the Tsar dies and Sasha is crowned, Maria knows that her life will change dramatically. She has given birth to a son, Nicholas, and is pregnant again, so the royal line is secure, for now. Supporting her bull-headed husband is her toughest job, though. While the Romanov family is secure, wildly rich, and healthy, the working class is far from satisfied. As her family grows, Maria knows that she has an even bigger responsibility to head them all in the right direction. But when Sasha dies and eldest son Nicholas becomes Tsar, Maria learns that this son is not going to listen to reason. He marries German princess Alexandra, a woman who is, to Maria, totally unsuitable, and he defiantly stands by her, even though it becomes clear that Alexandra dislikes her role, and the Russian people dislike her.

Maria narrates her amazing life story. Her observations are clear and logical as she wends her way through the early years of her marriage, into the pre-Revolution era when it becomes horrifyingly clear that Nicholas and Alexandra, parents of a hemophiliac, have turned away from logic and embraced the mystical Rasputin. Maria treads carefully, but she is no shrinking violet!

THE ROMANOV EMPRESS is yet another of C.W. Gortner's fabulous historical novels. Meticulously researched, this beautifully written book is truly not easy to put down. While most of us know the outcome of the Romanov dynasty, it was fascinating to learn the history leading up to that horrible event. Maria was an amazing woman, and readers get insights into other members of the royals throughout Europe. Don't miss this Perfect 10 book!

Jani Brooks