The Secret Daughter of the Tsar
In her riveting debut novel, The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, Jennifer Laam seamlessly braids together the stories of three women: Veronica, Lena, and Charlotte. 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. Then as Veronica's passion intensifies, and her search for the true heir to the throne takes a dangerous turn, the reader learns just how these three vastly different women are connected. The Secret Daughter of the Tsar is thrilling from its first intense moments until its final, unexpected conclusion.
Historical fiction fans and Contemporary romance fans will enjoy the Secret Daughter of the Tsar—a wonderful blend of two genres with a great deal of fact and little bit of exciting alternate history, leaving you to ponder, what if?
Within the first few pages, the reader is transported back to the days of the Aristocracy of Imperial Russia and the astounding question of a fifth daughter who may have survived the slaughter of the Romanov line, living on to possibly bear an heir of her own. Just when the reader becomes deeply engrossed in the past, the perspective changes and we’re brought back to the present day story of Veronica Herrera and her budding relationship with the mysterious Michael Karstadt, a man with a direct link to the dark past of the Romanovs. Then the perspective changes again, leading to a further unraveling of the stories of Lena, Charlotte and finally Veronica.
The tale is beautifully told, but for the one aspect that was a disappointment. The much too obvious hint the author left in the chapter quotes ruined the plot twist. Unfortunately, that one detail just really gave it all away and made the storyline much more predictable than it would have been otherwise. I would have preferred to be taken by surprise with this particular plot twist.
Nevertheless, the story of Veronica, The Reluctant Romanov, came to a beautiful and still satisfying end for this first book, leaving me eager to pick up the next book, The Tsarina’s Legacy.
Recommended for an older YA audience with a passion for history.
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