From the publisher:
New York Times bestselling author Charles Belfoure takes readers on a breathless journey from the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Russia to the grim violence of the pogroms, in his latest thrilling historical adventure.
St Petersburg, 1903. Prince Dimitri Markhov counts himself lucky to be a close friend of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra. Cocooned by the glittering wealth of the Imperial court, the talented architect lives a life of luxury and comfort, by the side of his beautiful but spiteful wife, Princess Lara. But when Dimitri is confronted by the death and destruction wrought by a pogrom, he is taken aback. What did these people do to deserve such brutality? The tsar tells him the Jews themselves were to blame, but Dimitri can’t forget what he’s seen.
Educated and passionate, Doctor Katya Golitsyn is determined to help end Russian oppression. When she meets Dimitri at a royal ball, she immediately recognizes a kindred spirit, and an unlikely affair begins between them. As their relationship develops, Katya exposes Dimitri to the horrors of the Tsar’s regime and the persecution of the Jewish people, and he grows determined to make a stand . . . whatever the cost.
A novel set in the Russia of late 19th and early 20th century, a period leading up to both World War I and the Russian revolution. Dimitri Markhov is a Prince of the realm and consequently a member of a privileged class living a life of unbelievable luxury and completely insulated against the circumstances of most of the population. He has studied to become an architect and unlike most members of his social class works at the profession. He enjoys a friendship with Nicolas Romanov, the current Tsar of the country. He is in a loveless but sort of pleasant marriage with Lara who spends all her time in a life dedicated to maintaining her station using Dimitri’s money to do so.
Dimitri is suddenly confronted with a pogrom against a Jewish community and is forced to revise his opinion of Russia’s realities. His friend the Tsar is certain that the Jews are instigating the violence against themselves and openly condones a continued policy of pogroms.
Dr. Katya Golitsyn is a medical doctor and a member of a group opposed to the continuance of the status quo in Russia. She and Dimitri meet at a royal ball. They strike up a conversation finding a strange attraction stemming from the easy flow of the talk and understanding between them. Slowly but surely Katya draws Dimitri into a recognition of the realities of the real world and the horrors of life beyond the gay unfeeling existence of Dimitri’s peer group all the while finding a love between them.
The Russo-Japanese war of 1905 shows the depth of the poor leadership in Russia showcasing an easy win of the war by Japan coupled with the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Russian men. It also pushes the Tsar into fostering more actions against the Jews as a means of setting them up as scapegoats to blame the war’s loss on.
Belfoure has done an excellent job researching the period he writes about and makes it easy for the reader to enter into that world. I felt, though that his ending was too sudden and did not properly set up the characters in a situation that they would mostly have fallen into. Perhaps the author is planning a continuation of the book and is leaving the story open to more readily move into that. If he does so, I want to get that novel as well as others he will write also making that my suggestion for the reader.
4/2021 Paul Lane
THE FABERGE SECRET by Charles Belfoure. Severn House Publishers; Main edition (January 5, 2021). ISBN: 978-0727890863. 256 pages.