The Tsarina's Legacy: ARC Review

Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Series: None
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Source: Publisher
Then...Grigory "Grisha" Potemkin has had a successful long association with the powerful Empress Catherine of Russia. But Catherine and Grisha are older now and face new threats, both from powers outside of Russia and from those close to them. Haunted by the horrors of his campaign against the Muslim Turks, Grisha hopes to construct a mosque in the heart of the empire. Unfortunately, Catherine's much younger new lover, the ambitious Platon Zubov, stands in his way. Grisha determines that to preserve Catherine's legacy he must save her from Zubov's dangerous influence and win back her heart.

Now...When she learns she is the lost heiress to the Romanov throne, Veronica Herrera's life turns upside down. Dmitry Potemkin, one of Grisha's descendants, invites Veronica to Russia to accept a ceremonial position as Russia's new tsarina. Seeking purpose, Veronica agrees to act as an advocate to free a Russian artist sentenced to prison for displaying paintings critical of the church and government. Veronica is both celebrated and chastised. As her political role comes under fire, Veronica is forced to decide between the glamorous perks of European royalty and staying true to herself.

In Jennifer Laam's The Tsarina's Legacy, unexpected connections between Grisha and Veronica are revealed as they struggle to make peace with the ghosts of their past and help secure a better future for themselves and the country they both love.

Thank you to St. Martin's Griffin for sending me this title in exchange for an honest review. 

As a big fan of historical fiction, I was really looking forward to reading this one. I have read a YA series about Catherine the Great but this one was so much different. We have the past where we are introduced to Potemkim and Catherine, and then we are thrown into the present in a "what if" scenario about an American being related to the Romanovs now being thrust into the Russian spotlight as the new Tsarina. 

Jennifer Laam has a way with her writing that really transports the reader to a time far gone as if we were actually there. I loved reading about the lush opulence that was Catherine's court in the 18th century. The descriptions about dress, architecture, and food were very vivid and detailed. Catherine and Potemkin's romance and lives were very tumultuous, if the book gives us any idea. They loved each other fiercely even though they both had different lovers over the ages. 

The flashes to the present are very real, especially with the issues surrounding the Russian government and church. Veronica is an American who finds herself traveling to Russia to accept the honorary title of Tsarina because of her relation to the Romanov family on her father's side. She travels with an old flame who is honor bound to protect her from any threats she might encounter while in Russia. Once there, she uses her voice on Russian politics to try and save a man from imprisonment. 

Both the past and present were written seamlessly so that when one cut off, it was not hard to follow. I am glad that she included snippets from the past because it really helped me learn who the characters were and what their legacy was. The past is connected to the future in a scene where Veronica finds something from the 18th century while trying to figure out what she is doing in Russia. It all blended together quite nicely. 

My only complaint is that we do not really get a resolution with the characters. It all just sort of ends. What happens to Anton, Dimitry, Reb, Veronica, Laurent, and Michael after the book ends? I feel like an epilogue could have been written to further elaborate on their stories after the events at the end of the book took place. Other than that, I really enjoyed this interesting take on Russian history, and I have been inspired to read more about Catherine the Great. 


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