Red Mistress by Elizabeth Blackwell
Publication Date: 21st July 2020
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genres: Historical fiction, Women’s fiction
Source: eARC from Netgalley
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars
In the wake of the Russian Revolution, a determined young woman breaks with her past to become a spy in 1920s Paris, where shadowy intrigues and a dangerous romance put her loyalty to the test.
In the spring of 1914, Nadia Shulkina, the daughter of Russian aristocrats, looks toward a bright future. She has no premonitions of war, let alone the revolution that is about to destroy her comfortable world.
Her once-noble family is stripped of every possession, and more terrible losses soon follow. To save what’s left of her family and future, Nadia marries a zealous Bolshevik in an act of calculated reinvention.
It won’t be her last.
When she agrees to work undercover for the Soviets in 1920s Paris, Nadia is drawn into a beautiful yet treacherous world of secrets and deceit. Beset by conflicting loyalties and tested by a forbidden love affair, she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that ends with a shocking murder. What chances will she take to determine her own fate?
“I received a free review copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in return for an honest review.”
Okay, I really enjoyed this book. I really did. But I think the main problem was I had expected way too much after reading the synopsis. Red Mistress was actually one of my 5 star predictions, so guys, you get the height of my expectations! Anyway, I will delve deeper into what caused me to rate the book low, but first I would like to talk about what I loved in this book.
What I loved:
1) I really enjoy books that talk about how people were effected by war/revolution, both during it and in it’s aftermath. And this Elizabeth Blackwell did really well. In Red Mistress we follow Nadia, daughter of Russian aristocrat, through her eyes we see how the Russian revolution affected her and her family and also other people. I really enjoyed these parts. It was like I was in Russia during this time experiencing every thing first hand.
2) Even though I saw quite a few twists coming, but there were some twists that quite surprised me. If you know me, you know how much I love surprising twists. So this was another thing I loved about Red Mistress.
3) If you had asked me to give you one reason why I really enjoyed this book, I would have said because I was able to follow Nadia’s journey through different stages of her life. The war, the Russian Revolution, her marriage, the love affair, her working as spy. I really enjoyed this, because it was written in first POV, so we get to experience everything that she experienced, her emotions, her thoughts, her thoughts about other people she met during this process, everything. This is something I really look for in books, especially historical fics and women’s fics, following along a person’s journey.
4) Finally the last reason why I loved this book. I loved the love story. I am not going to elaborate on this point, because I am sure, I will give massive spoilers, so I will leave it at that, I loved the love story.
So, what went wrong?
1) Okay, as I had mentioned before this was one of my 5 star predictions. So I had expected a lot, a lot from it. When I read the synopsis, I thought Red Mistress is going to be a spy thriller, with a lot of suspense, action and thrill. But it didn’t turn out like that. Red Mistress read like a women’s fiction that has historical aspect. It did have some twists and turns and also suspense, but in no universe can I categorize this book as a spy thriller. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean this was a bad book, it just means it didn’t live up to what I expected from the synopsis. If I hadn’t had those expectations, this book would have been a much better read.
2) I agree that some of the twists were quite surprising, but the main twist, I saw that one coming from miles away. Okay, let me be honest, if this twist had not been the way it had been in this book, I would have been devastated, because I wanted it to happen this way with all my heart, but I would have given this book atleast 4 stars if it hadn’t happened this way. This was another issue I had with this book.
I really enjoyed Red Mistress and I highly recommend it even if it didn’t quite live upto my expectations. If you are someone who loves women fiction set during the war/revolution time, then I think you will really enjoy this book.