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.
Reviewed by Melanie Newton
Peter is shooting arrows and inuring his own guards.
Several internal thoughts mentioned about killing Elizavetta in a variety of ways.
Elizavetta slaps Peter which results in her being thrown to the floor.
Various assassination plots talked about and discovered.
Catherine (Sophie) is pushed down the stairs which causes her to lose the baby she is carrying.
Peter attacks and rapes Catherine (Sophie). It is not graphically described but there is enough detail to allow readers to comprehend exactly what happened. This violent, abusive behavior continues for a couple of months including a comment that he preferred it when she fought back.
Other: This is historical tale and many of today’s standards would not have applied to things (such as the drinking). Some of the scenes may be disturbing for younger readers as they deal with rape and abuse.