#BookReview by @LRWLee of Queen of Always

Queen of Always Queen of Always is the third book in the Stolen Empire series by Sherry Ficklin. It is an YA historical fiction based on the life of young Catherine the Great, one of the most dynamic women in history.

SUMMARY (from back): If her time at court has taught Catherine anything, it’s that there is no room for weakness in Imperial Russia. With the Empress’ health failing and rumors of a change in the line of succession, her place in the royal line is once more in jeopardy.

Tormented by her sadistic husband and his venomous mistress, Catherine must once more walk the fine line between pleasure and politics—between scandal and survival.
When her young son becomes the target of those rebelling against Peter’s reign, Catherine will have to rise up to protect herself, her child, and her nation from his unstable and potentially catastrophic rule. This means putting herself at odds with the most dangerous man she’s ever known, trusting those who once proved to be her enemies, and turning a nation against its sovereign. In the ultimate battle for the crown, new alliances will be forged, loyalties will be tested, and blood will be shed.

WHAT I THOUGHT: If you follow my reviews, you’ll remember I discussed the brilliance of the first two books in the Stolen Empire series by Sherry Ficklin.

In this third and final installment, Catherine approaches the world realistically, no longer the naive pawn Peter would hope her to be. In this book, I found Catherine stronger than most women, forced to be that way because of her situation as the despised wife of the most powerful man in Russia who openly flaunts his mistress before the royal court. But Catherine does not allow the pity that so many must have viewed her with to undermine her confidence.

Never! For she understands how precarious her position is. She has no preconceived notions that if she is dismissed, not only will her life be in jeopardy, but so too will her son’s life. But with Peter behaving so erradically and meniacally, he threatens to turn the Russian court against himself and his family.

The only bright spots in her life seemed to have been her children and her lovers. I can get how the pressure of her position would cause her to seek out comfort from men, but I have to say the menage-et-trois was a bit shocking. Reading this caused me to do a small amount of research and what I found more than surprised me: Catherine, by one count, had over 300 lovers! So Ficklin’s narrative, while shocking, actually painted the picture in a much less scandelous light than history would suggest. Amazing…

I can’t imagine myself having to endure all she did. I question whether I could have sucked it up or whether I would have become a weeping mess, pitying myself. I grant that facing the death of your child probably had her view her situation in a very different and very clear light, something no one today faces. Ficklin did a brillaint job of helping the reader idenity with Catherine the Great despite how removed in time and culture she is from us today. Well done!

MY RATING: 5 of 5 stars!

Get Queen of Always (at Amazon)

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.

#BookReview by @LRWLee of Queen of Tomorrow

Queen of TomorrowThis series is a fantastical telling of the life of Catherine the Great of Russia. Queen of Tomorrow by Sherry Ficklin is book two in the Stolen Empire series.

SUMMARY (from back): Sophie—now Catherine, Grand Duchess of Russia—had a tough first year at Imperial Court. Married at sixteen to Grand Duke Peter, heir to the throne, and settled in their own palace, things start to look up. As a new day dawns, Catherine thinks only of securing her future, and the future of their country, during one of the greatest political upheavals of her time. Fighting desperately against forces that try to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Catherine soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia and her new empire. While navigating the fragile political landscape, she quickly realizes that she has only begun to discover the tangled web of deceit and infidelity woven over the lavish court of Oranienbaum Palace.

When a strange and delicate alliance forms between the young couple, Catherine glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it vanish at the hands of those who still seek to end her life—and prevent her reign. Out of favor with the empress and running out of options, Catherine must sacrifice her own innocence on the altar of Russia if she is to save the nation and herself. To survive, she will have to do the unthinkable, betray those closest to her and become something greater and more dangerous than she ever imagined she could be… a queen.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Conspiracy, deceit and intrigue… Life in the Russian court was anything but dull. While I understand Ficklin took literary license with many of the specifics, I think the overall story arc was probably close to reality. Certainly one place I would not want to be. I will definitely be reading the next installment in this gripping saga. And again, the author added lots of interactive videos throughout the book which gave historical perspective on the time and served to ground the author’s speculations of what really happened upon which she built this tale.

Get Queen of Tomorrow (Amazon)

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.