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The Empress (A Review)

From a bestselling author in Mexico comes her English-language debut–an enthralling historical novel about the tragic reign of Empress Carlota of Mexico.

It’s 1863. Napoleon III has installed a foreign monarch in Mexico to squash the current regime. Maximilian von Habsburg of Austria accepts the emperor’s crown. But it is his wife, the brilliant and ambitious Princess Charlotte, who throws herself passionately into the role. Known to the people as Empress Carlota, she rules deftly from behind the scenes while her husband contents himself with philandering and decorating the palace.

But Carlota bears a guilty secret. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she’s thrown herself into a reckless affair. Desire has blinded Carlota to its consequences, for it has left her vulnerable to her sole trusted confidante. Carlota’s devious lady-in-waiting has political beliefs of her own–and they are strong enough to cause her to betray the empress and join a plot to depose her from the throne. As Carlota grows increasingly, maddeningly defenseless, both her own fate and that of the empire are at stake.

A sweeping historical novel of forbidden love, dangerous secrets, courtly intrigue, and treachery, The Empress passionately reimagines the tragic romance and ill-fated reign of the most unforgettable royal couple of nineteenth-century Europe during the last throes of the Second Empire.

This is the first review I’m writing in ages and I admit, I feel like a novice. But I shall endeavor to do my best as I tell you why I did not enjoy this and why I eventually gave up. It caught my interest because I admit, the cover is intriguing. But this was proof that one should never judge a book by its cover. If you have Amazon Prime, they allow you to pick a new release every month through a program called First Reads. You get said book about a month ahead of release. It’s a fantastic program. I don’t always pick something, but if they have something eye-catching, I go for it.

I had never heard of Empress Carlotta, which was a delight for me. I love discovering new figures to read about and I love reading about things I’m unfamiliar with. As we begin in 1863, I thought it would be interesting to see other world events since we were in the midst of our own Civil War. (We tend to forget that the world has other goings on.)

Let’s just say the first scene was…peculiar. I’m not opposed to sex in books. I’m really not. If it’s tasteful and appropriate, I am entirely fine with it being there. But when it’s the first thing and the lady bits are compared to a ripe, juicy mango…(I kid you not.) We are not off to a good start. (I don’t know about you, but that was a touch strange and offputting to me. But I kept calm and carried on. Haha.)

After that, ah, eye-opening intro, we get introduced to Charlotte, who is known in Mexico as Carlotta. The daughter of Emperor Leopold I of Belgium. She was an idealistic young bride…who surprise, surprise, ends up in a marriage that isn’t very happy. Her husband…is forgettable, as are every other character mentioned. I do recall that her sister in law, the famed Sissi, and she did not get along.

I’m not one to give up on books. But I had to in this case. Every single character is a cliche and they’re each so stuff and one dimensional that cardboard seems to be more lively. I was hoping to get pulled in, but I never did, which was extremely disappointing to me. I know little about Mexico’s rich history and I still know little.

Also…the choppiness was atrocious. This book hopped around more than a jackrabbit that a hunter keeps shooting at. It wasn’t linear, which, if it was interesting wouldn’t have been so bad, but this just added to the confusion. Whilst I realize that this was a translation, and perhaps it would have been better in its original language (Spanish), I was disappointed. It’s definitely good that this was free, else I would request a refund.

If you’re interested in learning more, I daresay that Wikipedia might provide more beneficial information to you.

It was a 1 of 5 for me…and the one is because the cover was pretty.

4 thoughts on “The Empress (A Review)”

  1. Ouch! By the way, I have never written reviews of books I don’t finish, but then I realized – why not? Just because I hated it, doesn’t mean someone else might not love it, right? So I’m going to do a series of posts called #DNF Friday! I’ll post them when I don’t have a regular book review for that week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I seldom do either and I was torn about it. But I want to get back into reviewing and this happened. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy this book. But it wasn’t my cup of tea. I got about 85% in before I gave up. It just…I was so disappointed because the reviews were awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really tried! But I honestly can tell you, I don’t remember a whole lot. The characters were so stiff…and even the scenery seemed bleh. I was hoping for a moment where I’d forget that I disliked some…but sadly, it never came. Onwards to new things!

        Liked by 1 person

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