The Imperial Wife

Two women’s lives collide when a priceless Russian artifact comes to light.

Tanya Kagan, a rising specialist in Russian art at a top New York auction house, is trying to entice Russia’s wealthy oligarchs to bid on the biggest sale of her career, The Order of Saint Catherine, while making sense of the sudden and unexplained departure of her husband.

As questions arise over the provenance of the Order and auction fever kicks in, Reyn takes us into the world of Catherine the Great, the infamous 18th-century empress who may have owned the priceless artifact, and who it turns out faced many of the same issues Tanya wrestles with in her own life.

I’m pretty sure when I requested this, I did so based on the cover and the title–and the fact that it was recommended to me as Historical Fiction. I probably skimmed the blurb, but I don’t tend to read them in depth, just grab the key idea to see if I’m interested, request, and move on. I mean, I read most anything, and historical fiction is just my bag.

This is not historical fiction. I mean…there is a tiny big of historical fiction IN the book…but it’s not a historical fiction novel. I’d relate this more to An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (which is amusing, because he makes a cameo at one of the events). The story flashes back to the 18th century every few chapters, but just enough for you to be disappointed to find yourself in the present again. It’s like someone is waving bites of cake in front of you, but just as it reaches your lips, they pull it away and you only get a crumb.

Truth be told, I didn’t make it to the halfway marker on this. I want the cake. I’d much rather read the story about Catherine the Great (or at least find out who the heck Sophie is), instead of another mediocre book on marital troubles. Can I have the story that goes with the cover, please?

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NetGalley and Thomas Dunne Books provided this ARC for an unbiased review.

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