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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
The Tsar's Locket is written by Ken Czech. In 16th century-London, disgraced sea captain Julian Blunt is coming to terms with losing his young wife when he is called upon by Queen Elizabeth to undertake a dangerous mission. Her request that he delivers a betrothal locket to Tsar Ivan (Ivan The Terrible) comes as a complete surprise since he was stripped of his command for converting to Catholicism. However, for the sake of forging good trading relations with Russia, he agrees. He is joined by Jessandra Calcross, a strong and fearless member of the queen's court on the hazardous journey across the Baltic Sea. The journey is fraught with dangers as they realize someone on board is determined to sabotage their mission. As they enter Russia, they face a series of life-threatening events as they try to flee the war zone between Poland and Russia, whilst evading the forces trying to stop Ivan's impending marriage. As Julian enters Moscow he faces further perils and realizes that delivering the locket is not as important as he once thought.
The Tsar's Locket by Ken Czech is a gripping novel that has everything I look for in historical fiction. It is detailed and thoroughly researched with strong unique characters that jump from the page and keep your attention until the end. Tsar Ivan (Ivan the Terrible) was depicted so well and his behavior was truly chilling. I loved the developing relationship between Julian and Jess; it was innocent but with simmering chemistry. The conflicts throughout the novel were perfectly placed and made the entire story completely engaging. The main storyline was supported really well with the sub-plot of Julian coming to terms with his feelings of grief and guilt. The descriptive narrative was superb. I literally felt transported into the 16th century. There were twists and turns throughout but the climactic twist at the end really caught me off guard. If you love a really good story with action, suspense and romance then I recommend this novel.