Author: J. Nelle Patrick
Provided Synopsis: Natalya knows a secret.
A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia’s Winter Palace. It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics. A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.
But it’s not in the right hands.
Review: Because I love the movie Anastasia and stories about the Grand Duchess there were plenty of aspects of this story to reach out to me. Russia always makes for a magical setting, and the time period of tension before the break of the Russian Revolution has always been one of fascination. But what this story does to differ from other books set during this period is its refusal to focus on Anastasia; instead it is her brother, Alexei, who is a much beloved person in the life of our main character.
Tsarina dares the reader to imagine a world where Alexei Romanov was able to live long enough to be someone’s boyfriend. He is in love with a young noble woman named Natalya, as she is with him, and it is assumed by all of the Russian court that the two will one day marry and rule together. One night, with this future in mind, Alexei shares with Natalya a family secret — within the walls of the Winter Place is a magical egg charmed by Rasputin to protect the tsar and those he loves. It is this magic that has healed Alexei so he is no longer as plagued by his hemophilia. It is this magic that has held off the tensions between the poor and the nobles for this long to allow the tsarevich and his family to keep power. But there are limits to magic; for example, it cannot spare someone from a gunshot nor is it protected from disruption. And once the egg is disrupted history begins to follow the path we all know.
But since she is aware of the egg’s power and of the danger Alexei is in as a prisoner of the Reds, Natalya sets out to find the stolen egg and keep it safe for the Romanov family. The journey will take her across Russia and force her to join forces with a young member of the rebellious Reds to reach her goal. I’m not sure if the author intended for this to be an epic journey or not, because in my opinion it fell a bit flat. The sense of urgency never connected from the pages of the book to my heart, but that could also be because the reader already knows the fate of the royal family. I definitely liked Natalya as a character because she could be very resourceful and quick on her feet when she needed to be. The problem with her and other characters is due to the believability of a love interest. I never felt much between her and Alexei, nor did I feel anything between her and Leo.
However, as a story that brings magic into the Russian Revolution, this book did hold my interest with where it could go, and is therefore worth a recommendation for those interested in the time period and magic, but not interested in a love connection to fuel the ages.