Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Page Length: 280 Pages
Publication Date: July 14th, 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Source: eARC via author (thanks Sherry!)
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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 are finally looking up. As a new day dawns, she 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 trying to depose the Empress Elizabeth and put the young Prince Ivan on her throne, Sophie soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing between her beloved Prussia, and her new empire. But even as she navigates 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, she glimpses a future of happiness, only to see it lost in a moment 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, Sophie will have to 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.
In book two of The Stolen Empire series, Catherine adjusts to her new life as a duchess, heir to the Russian throne. She's managed to find some semblance of happiness in her dreary, tragedy-riddled life. She's at peace with her husband until something horrible spins everything out of control. Something that forces Catherine to take drastic measures that will change her forever.
I love Ficklin's writing style. It's as elegant and graceful as the setting and time period. Her writing is both succinct and descriptive all at once. Theres no pacing problems, the light and dark scenes well-matched.The dialogue was authentic to the time period as well (that's one of my bookish peeves). So many unexpected things happened in this novel, we're left reeling after each and every revelation.
I truly admire how wonderful the characterization of this series is. It's fascinating seeing Catherine grow from the doe-eyed innocent to the strategic, shrewd woman we know her as now. In this book we see her deal with problem after problem and watch her change a bit each and every time. We meet a few new characters and lots of interesting things arise. Peter is such a complex character, and we learn more and more about him as the story progresses.
The court politics is easily one of my favorite parts of the novel. The gossip and the decorum and the parties, I love it all! If you enjoyed the first book, you'll enjoy this stunning sequel that raises the stakes even higher.
About The Author:
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.