The Romanov Empress Blog Tour and Review

The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Ballantine Books
Hardcover; 448 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction



Even from behind the throne, a woman can rule.

Narrated by the mother of Russia’s last tsar, this vivid, historically authentic novel brings to life the courageous story of Maria Feodorovna, one of Imperial Russia’s most compelling women, who witnessed the splendor and tragic downfall of the Romanovs as she fought to save her dynasty in the final years of its long reign.

Barely nineteen, Minnie knows that her station in life as a Danish princess is to leave her family and enter into a royal marriage—as her older sister Alix has done, moving to England to wed Queen Victoria’s eldest son. The winds of fortune bring Minnie to Russia, where she marries the Romanov heir and becomes empress once he ascends the throne. When resistance to her husband’s reign strikes at the heart of her family and the tsar sets out to crush all who oppose him, Minnie—now called Maria—must tread a perilous path of compromise in a country she has come to love.

Her husband’s death leaves their son Nicholas II as the inexperienced ruler of a deeply divided and crumbling empire. Determined to guide him to reforms that will bring Russia into the modern age, Maria faces implacable opposition from Nicholas’s strong-willed wife, Alexandra, whose fervor has lead her into a disturbing relationship with a mystic named Rasputin. As the unstoppable wave of revolution rises anew to engulf Russia, Maria will face her most dangerous challenge and her greatest heartache.

From the opulent palaces of St. Petersburg and the intrigue-laced salons of the aristocracy to the World War I battlefields and the bloodied countryside occupied by the Bolsheviks, C. W. Gortner sweeps us into the anarchic fall of an empire and the complex, bold heart of the woman who tried to save it.

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Praise for The Romanov Empress

"Gortner’s mesmerizing historical novel (following The Vatican Princess) depicts the remarkable life of the mother of the last Russian tsar. This insightful first-person account of the downfall of the Romanov rule will appeal to history buffs; at its core, it’s the powerful story of a mother trying to save her family and an aristocrat fighting to maintain rule in a country of rebellion, giving it an even broader appeal." —Publishers Weekly

“A sweeping saga that takes us from the opulence and glamor of Tsarist Russia to the violent, tragic last days of the Romanovs. C. W. Gortner breaks new ground here, skillfully painting an intimate, compelling portrait of this fascinating empress and her family.” —Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

“The Romanov Empress has all the glitter and mystery of a Faberge egg, the outer decadence and beauty of Imperial Russia unfolding to reveal the mysteries and horrors within. The waning days of a doomed dynasty are recounted by the vivacious but tough Danish princess who would become one of Russia's most revered tsarinas, only to see her line end in war and revolution. Gortner pens a beautiful tribute to a lost world, weaving a tale sumptuous as a Russian sable.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

“A vivid, engaging tale of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, the mother of Russia's last Tsar, her loves and her heartbreaks, bringing the troubled final decades of the Russian Empire to life.” —Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace

My Take:

Because I have read and loved several of C.W. Gortner's historical fiction novels, my policy has pretty much been to jump at the chance to read and review any of his books offered to me. He is a great writer of historical fiction with a talent for making each of the main female characters jump from the page and engage the reader in her story. 

I am very appreciative of the fact that instead of telling the story of Nicholass II's wife, Alexandra, he instead tells the fascinating story of Nicholas's mother. Minnie, as she is known to family and friends, is a strong, intelligent woman with a canny ability to see the big picture and take action when needed.

Minnie was born Marie Sophie Frederikke Dagmar of Glucksburg, Denmark; her father was from an impoverished princely cadet line who suddenly became the heir-presumptive to the throne of Denmark. The story of how she went from a poor princess to the Empress of Russia is a fascinating one that rivals many fairy tales. Her story then turns into a love story, then a political drama and finally a tragedy.But through it all Minnie is a strong and capable woman - she is a survivor. Despite all the sadness of life, she maintains that what else can one do but live? I found her story to be very inspirational and I found Minnie to be an admirable woman. She always tried to do what she felt to the right. 

I loved all the historical information that Gortner includes in the novel -- I love history and I appreciate that he makes sure to frame the events of the story within the larger historical context. The familiar story of Russia during WWI and the aftermath from Minnie's point of view was unique and I learned so much about what happened to some of the family members during this chaotic and dangerous time period. The novel includes England and Minnie's family members as well as the family of Nicholas II. 

I want to read more about Minnie and her life as a result of reading The Romanov Empress. This always seems to be the case after reading one of Gorner's novels -- I rush out and read a bunch of non-fiction about the main character because the novel peaked so much interest. To be quite honest, Minnie seems to have been a much more interesting, intelligent and capable woman that Alexandra was. 

As always with a Gortner novel, I can happily and heartily recommend The Romanov Empress to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, history, Russian history, the Romanov family, or fiction in general. 

About the Author

C. W. Gortner holds an MFA in writing, with an emphasis on historical studies, from the New College of California. He is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel, The Queen’s Vow, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Last Queen, The Vatican Princess, and Marlene, among other books. He divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.

To learn more about his work and to schedule a book group chat with him, please visit his website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 10
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads it All
Feature at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 11
Review at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, July 12
Review at A Bookish Affair

Friday, July 13
Feature at Bookfever

Monday, July 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, July 17
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, July 18
Review at Creating Herstory
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, July 19
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, July 20
Review at Bri's Book Nook

Monday, July 23
Review at Books and Glamour

Tuesday, July 24
Review at Dressed to Read

Wednesday, July 25
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, July 26
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, July 27
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, July 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, July 31
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, August 1
Feature at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 2
Review at Curling Up By the Fire

Friday, August 3
Review at Broken Teepee

Monday, August 6
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, August 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Thursday, August 9
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Friday, August 10
Review at Two Gals and a Book

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of The Romanov Empress to one lucky reader! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Romanov Empress


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