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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: