The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki (4 out of 5)

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This book is out via Howard Books…which is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. I’m pretty sure that the lovely Wendy sent me this, per request. I honestly can’t keep up with what I’ve asked for and what I am sent to just read and review. Anyway, historical fiction is my first literary love affair. The grounds for this obsession with world history were staked early on in childhood, when I used to check out 6 books at a time and have 5 read by the end of the week. Not bragging, just the way it was. I think “Gone With The Wind” may have started my obsession with history, although also likelier that it was something long and torturous like “The Winds of War” (Herman Wouk. Shudder). However, sadly, it appears that there is only so much historical fiction that can be written from what’s in the history books. The genre, when I started bookselling 15 years ago, was a top selling genre. 15 years later, it’s not quite the force it was. I don’t see many out there in the market anymore, so I’m guessing when I saw the write-up for this, I wanted to give it a shot. I was not disappointed.

I’m not real familiar with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its history. I almost want to go back and read up some more on it, so fascinating was this book to me. This is the story of Elisabeth (or as she’s known through much of the novel- “Sisi”), a 15 year old Duchess traveling to the Hapsburg court with her older sister, who is betrothed to Emperor Franz Joseph, ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Except, as oft happens in love and war, things don’t go quite as planned. The Empire is full of political deceptions, family deceit, and forbidden desire. Sisi finds that one out firsthand by falling head over heels for her sister’s intended, and she finds out that her love is NOT unrequited. Things get real very quickly, and Franz Joseph declares he will be marrying Sisi instead of her sister, and does just that. The court that Sisi is now part of is full of backstabbing, duplicitous people and passions that often burn away entire families. She has to fight like hell to keep the love of her man, her people, and still manage to stay true to her true nature, and not be sucked into all of the temptations in her line of sight. She leaves no stone-or persons-unturned in her quest to keep her family and empire intact.

One thing I can say with certainty- I had no idea whom Elisabeth was, so thank you to the author for bringing her into my peripheral. And thank you for imbuing her with the feisty, innocent spirit that you have written her with. This young girl takes no shit and takes no prisoner to protect those who were dearest to her. The Austro-Hungarian Empire of 1853 is quite the little palace of intrigue and sin. Yes, sin. These folks were not the faint of heart. I really enjoyed Sisi’s character and her strength. I also enjoyed Franz Joseph’s character; from his determination to let true love reign over royal duty, to his handling of the many different power struggles going on in the empire at that time. There’s a lot of truth here, and a lot of love, which is always a nice surprise to read about in any historical fiction where you expect a good deal of bloodshed. Overall, this was a pleasant surprise, because I really didn’t know what to expect. Allison Pataki has done a fabulous job of bringing this little-known Empress into the masses. Do yourself a favor and give it a spin.

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~ by generationgbooks on March 18, 2015.

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