The Concubine’s Secret by Kate Furnival

This story follows on from The Russian Concubine, although it could probably be read as a stand alone.  We pick up with Lydia who is travelling across Russia accompanied by her brother Alexei and her friend/guardian angel Liev Popov (the Cossack).  I like Liev in both these novels.  Lydia and Alexei are searching for their father who was previously thought to have died when Lydia’s family were originally escaping from Russia.  They now both know that their father did not die but was held as a prisoner and they are making the long journey across Russia to find him.

I like the setting of this novel and I also like the period.  The Russian Concubine was similarly set during a very interesting period and place and this (with both books) was what kept my attention.  I didn’t dislike this book but equally I didn’t love it.   Perhaps if it was described differently I would have had different expectations but it is written about as being a love story and for me the love story element is not convincing at all.  In fact I would go so far as to say that Lydia and Chang an Lo’s relationship is a bit dull.  I prefer Alexei’s character and I think Liev is definitely more lovable.  Lydia and Chang also seem to have their own doubts and don’t seem totally convinced of their relationship.  It’s puzzling.

The other thing that really rings false is the way Lydia behaves.  The whole of Russia is gripped with fear.  Everybody afraid to talk to everybody else – nobody speaking their opinions for fear of reprisals and yet Lydia (who is certainly not a ‘blend in’ type of character) seems to experience no such fear and rushes around the place in a constant whirlwind of activity and loveliness (that everyone is envious of), money, secret identities, apartments and friends seem easy to come by and none of the scared, grey, nondescript people who share the same building seem to pay her any attention.  She comes and goes at what ever time she pleases, is bolshy with ‘unsavoury types’ and has clandestine meetings with a member of a Chinese delegation – which would be highly frowned upon – and yet no reprisals are forthcoming.  Alright, I get that she is gorgeous but is that really all it takes? I don’t know, everything else is described as so flat, and grey and Lydia is the only shining light.

Also, and this is a slight spoiler alert – but I really don’t think anybody would forgive Elena!  I certainly wouldn’t – now maybe that makes me a very unforgiving sort of person but I struggle to believe that, in the day and age they were living and the conditions, Lydia would forgive Elena for what she does – frankly I think she would have been despised by most people for what she did and yet at the end of the novel she’s in a relationship with Liev – which just seems wrong.  I don’t doubt that Liev deserves somebody who loves him and will care for him but I wished it had been a more likable character.  What she did was wrong but there are no come backs and more to the point Liev doesn’t know who or what he is getting involved with.

This all probably sounds very critical and I don’t intend it to be so.  On the whole I enjoyed both these books (although I preferred the first) and I will definitely read the third book when it comes along.  I thought this was a good story and well told with action and adventure – definitely picking up at the end and setting everything up for the next novel.

Also, I didn’t guess the Concubine’s Secret!

Rating -B

The Concubine's Secret

The Concubine's Secret

 

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