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.
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Catherine the Great 1995
I enjoyed Laam’s debut, The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, and this follow up did not disappoint. Straddling the worlds of 18th century and 21st century Russia, the author bravely tackles some complex political and cultural issues that very much resonate with topics that are flooding American headlines today. It was absolutely genius how Laam weaved two narratives, three centuries apart, into a tapestry rich with cinematic appeal. Reading the book was like watching a Mission Impossible/Princess Diaries film in my mind. I loved it.
There were moments in where I was utterly frustrated with the two main romantic interests in both time periods, but a certain degree of romantic tension and indecision in a book only makes it better. The main character, Veronica, who goes to Russia to claim her title as a Romanov heir, is the perfect blend of bravery and intelligence, and incompetency and vulnerability, LOL. My favorite kind of character.
This novel is a heavier read than the first book and one that will make you ponder current affairs. Like the writing and subject matter, the pacing of the story was also cinematic. Laam does a great job of alternating between two worlds steeped in political unrest. This book casts a wide net as far as literary tastes go. Those who love historical novels, Russian history, and contemporary novels will enjoy The Tsarina’s Legacy.
Just For FUN: I loved how the novel name dropped Mozart and some of his most popular works during the chapters that cover the 18th century characters in Russia. It was a great way to set the intellectual and cultural mood for the times, especially in royal courts. It also plays nicely into the broader story line between all the main characters of the novel. Keep scrolling for a Cosi Fan Tutte soundtrack and link to the film Catherine the Great starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Here is the movie of Catherine the Great starring Zeta-Jones FREE TO WATCH on YouTube:
A compelling alternate history of the Romanov family in which a secret fifth daughter—smuggled out of Russia before the revolution—continues the royal lineage to dramatic consequences
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.
A little bird told me something. That Historians secretly love to read alternate histories. I’m here to qualify that secret. We love to read well-written and believable alternate histories. The Secret Daughter of the Tsar almost made me want to change my focus of study as a historian-in-training, and that is saying a lot. These days, I am lucky to finish a book in a week. I finished this one in a few sittings. Reading about the tragedy and intrigue that surrounds the Imperial Romanov family NEVER GETS OLD.
The Romanov Family circa 1916.
If you are a writer, or an aspiring one, you have probably come across the piece of advice that recommends “writing about what you know” at one time or another. The author, a Historian herself, writes The Secret Daughter of the Tsar from the perspective of Veronica, a struggling historian being tossed around the cogs of academia, and two other women who’s stories unfold in different time periods.
Veronica is both vulnerable and bold, my favorite combination. I loved reading from her perspective the most, especially when she enters into a fast and curious romance with a mysterious hunk who has his own special interests in Russian history.
The novel is an exciting and absorbing book that takes the reader on an intellectual adventure and into super cool museums and archives. History buff or not, any reader will absolutely love the variety of experiences, mysterious romance, and clever story line offered in The Secret Daughter of the Tsar.
Setting the Mood:
I love Russian classical music as much as I love Russian history, so here is an AMAZING album to listen to while you read:
And check out these other great novels set in historical Russia: