Cover Image: The Last Tiara

The Last Tiara

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This book takes place in two time periods, during the Romanov period in Russia, and post World War II, Sophia Moon was given a tiara by the tsar’s daughter when she knew they were going to have to go into exile. The first part of the book tells of Sophia’s experiences in Russia with the tsar’s daughters, volunteering at a hospital, and meeting a amnesia patient that she falls in love with.  He is arrested and sent to prison. Sophia has become pregnant with his child and is helped by her father to escape to America..

The second part is about Sophia’s daughter Isobelle who is now living alone in NYC after her mother passes away. Her mother, however seems to have left many secrets behind as she never spoke to her daughter about her past life or about Isobelle’s father. Isobelle stumbles upon the tiara and realizes her mother had secrets. She sets about to discover where this tiara she found came from as well as her own background. Both are very much tied together. 

I was not in awe of the book. I felt there was an awful lot of description that was not all that necessary. I also felt there to be an extraordinary obsession on Isobelle’s part with her mother. Perhaps this is normal when you do not know your history, but I felt it was a little much. The book was entertaining but I can’t say I couldn’t put it down. I thank Netgalley  for the opportunity to read this pre-release.
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I really enjoyed this novel. I loved reading her story and her mother’s story simultaneously. It was written well and was very interesting. The mystery was intriguing and drew you in.
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THE LAST TIARA
BY M.J. ROSE

This historical fiction story read more like a romance novel which disappointed me to a large extent. It alternates chapters between Isobelle Moon in New York City and Sofiya in Russia. Sofiya is Isobelle's mother who met her father while working as a volunteer nurse in the Winter Palace of the Tsar Nicholas Romanov whose daughter Olga worked there also. Sofiya and Olga are close friend's and Olga gives Sofiya a tiara of diamonds and saphires which originally was gifted to the Duchess Olga by her father. She wants to make sure that her dear friend has something she can sell because they both know the revolution is happening and Russia is not safe. The Tsar Nicholas Romanov has abdicated the throne. Sofiya has met a wounded soldier who had two toes amputated from frostbite while he is recuperating in the palace makeshift hospital. She reads to him and he falls in love with her also and he is slowly recovering his memory. She takes him to the House of Faberge and he is recognized by some of the worker's. He also discovers he is married. He doesn't have any feelings for his wife and Sofiya and him have a short lived romance before she emigrates to America.

Isobelle is Sofiya's daughter who is one of the few women architect's in NYC. She worked on the Manhattan project formerly but she didn't know that until after the bombs were dropped on "Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She is a junior architect in the firm she works at. She decides to remodel her mother's apartment after she dies and she finds the tiara inside a leather box in the wall. It is missing the gems stones and there is also an envelope with the name of the shop where Sofiya sold them to buy their apartment. Isobelle visits the shop and meets the grandson of the man who gave Sofiya the money for the diamonds and sapphires. And from there the narrative turns into the mystery of the tiara.

I liked Sofiya's chapters better than her daughter Isobelle. I found this to be heavily themed about romance which I wasn't expecting. Isobelle's search for the provenance of the tiara just wasn't that compelling to me. This is the first M.J. Rose historical novel that I have read. I would read this author's other work. I liked this but I didn't love it. This may appeal more to women's romance genre fans. It was a fascinating premise so I am sure it is me that had higher expectations and I found myself bored at times. It could be the timing and the pandemic that distracted me from caring about the mystery about the tiara. I definitely didn't like the ending which is also why I rated this three stars.

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

Thank you to Net Galley, M.J. Rose and Blue Box Press for providing me with my ARC in exchange fir a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#TheLastTiara #MJRose #BlueBoxPress #NetGalley
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You can find this review and all of my others over at www.readbookrepeat.wordpress.com

Actual rating of 4.5

Sophia Moon has always kept her life in Russia to herself, no matter how much her daughter Isobelle asked her about it. She didn't want to remember, she wanted to embrace her American life, and her American name, and felt that there was no point in looking back on the past, only forward. Until, one wintery evening, she dies unexpectedly, Isobelle is distraught that all her secrets died with her. Especially once Isobelle uncovers a secret hiding spot in her mother's bedroom wall, in which she finds a box that holds the skeleton of what was sure to be a one beautiful tiara. With only the receipts for the sales of the precious gems that the skeleton once held, Isobelle feels compelled to follow the barely there trail in order to uncover not only the story of the tiara, but her mother's story as well. Many twists and turns await her, and who knows what she will uncover.

I'm not much for historical fiction, I've read it on a few different occasions but just felt like it wasn't really for me. Most of the time the pacing fell short for me and I had trouble really enjoying what I was reading, so I have NO idea really what possessed me to request an ARC of this book, but man am I glad that I did. I never thought that I'd be rating a historical fiction novel this highly, ever.

The story is told through alternating points of view for each chapter between Isobelle in 1948 and her mother Sofiya Petrovitch beginning in 1915 moving through to around 1922. The story opens when Isobelle's mother has already been gone around a year, she still lives in the apartment they shared, above the workshop that Sophia and Lana shared in their restoration business. Isobelle is a guarded woman, she's been hurt before and struggles to trust many people. She's also battling against the odds of the era and forging a career as one of few female architects in New York City. Her mother would never answer any of her questions about Russia and her mother's life before moving to America to start anew, and while it irks Isobelle that she doesn't really know anything, it doesn't really effect her until she finds the hidden tiara skeleton and is left with even more questions than she had before. The tiara takes her on a journey, not only to solve the mystery of the tiara itself and how it came to be in her mother's possession and who her mother had been in her younger years, but also one of self discovery and learning to trust even when you think you shouldn't. I felt like this story turned into a dual historical romance about two loves told in alternating time lines that really tugged on the heart strings. One fraught with heartache and the other full of hopefulness of what might be.

Sofiya/Sophia was such a secretive character. Not wanting the past to make it's way into her present and future, she denied her daughter the chance to learn of her heritage, which I found quite sad. In a time when some weren't proud of where they'd come from and what fires had forged them, it makes me think how awful it would have been, not wanting to be yourself or being too afraid of your own past so you ignore it completely even though it helped turn you into the person you became. Learning about Sofiya in her story was bittersweet as you have an idea on certain things that will happen as it's in the past, but it also showed how much of a caring and strong woman she had been. I found the supporting characters good, especially Arthur as he was the one who got the most screen time in Isobelle's story, and of course Carpathian in Sofiya's story as well. This story isn't so much character driven though, it's very plot driven which I actually enjoyed. The characters probably could have been fleshed out more, but I feel like I really got the feel of who they were meant to be which I enjoyed.

As said above, I would put this more in the historical romance genre, but it's heavy on the mystery as well. The mystery and the romance really are the driving points for this novel and it worked so well. The pacing was absolutely fantastic and not at any point did I feel bored or as though the story itself was dragging, which tends to happen with historical fiction for me 90% of the time. The mystery behind Sofiya herself was intriguing and it was fantastic learning about her life before Isobelle, and the mystery of the tiara and then the mystery of the strange man that Isobelle keeps seeing every where. Ugh, so much mystery, and I was here for it. I must admit, the twist that was there I didn't see coming, I felt like the paranoia of one of the characters was just in overdrive so when the reveal happened I realised just before it was said what was actually going on and it was brilliant! There's also another mystery surrounding the tiara which we aren't aware of until close to the end, and I felt that it was an absolutely fantastic addition, but the reason for me not giving a full five stars to this novel lies here, the ending felt so rushed. The reveal of this secondary tiara mystery and the resolve of it all and the revelation it all happened in like the last 10% of the book. I felt like there was such a big build up happening through the novel and then it was all over so quickly. Also the addition of the very opening of the story and the very beginning, I'm not sure what these two chapters were meant to lend to the story but feel like they could have been done without. For me it didn't feel as though it offered really any extra closure, and I would have much preferred to see a little bit about what happened with Isobelle after everything was said and done.

Overall, this was an absolutely delightful story that really shows the tenacity of women in the early to mid 1900s and how hard they had to push to be seen as even close to equal that of a man. I love the inclusion of the Romanovs, even though it was more of a plot thickener, it was one of the things that drew me into requesting the novel in the first place. If you like historical fiction with a hint of romance and whirlwind of a mystery, definitely get onto this one. I can't believe how much I enjoyed it.
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I devoured The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose. This was the first novel that I’ve read by Rose and I’m definitely adding her other novels to my to-read list! Fans of historical fiction, romance, and mystery will enjoy this adventure which spans decades and crosses continents.

The story unfolds in New York City just after World War II and follows Isobelle as she navigates life after her mother’s (Sophia) death. As Isobelle renovates her mother’s apartment, she uncovers a link to her mother’s mysterious past in Russia. The engaging story is alternates from Sophia’s life in Russia during the first World War and Isobelle’s life in America during and after World War II. The are some parallel struggles and successes in the lives of this mother and daughter pair.  I really enjoyed the storytelling in this novel, the well researched details completely immersed me in the story.

I had an opportunity to read and review The Last Tiara by M.J. Rose through NetGalley.
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The Last Tiara is a work of historical fiction set in 1948 New York City with flash backs to St. Petersburg in the years prior to the fall of the Romanov Empire.  This book has a bit of history,suspense, mystery and romance.  Sure to please readers of all genres.
Isobelle Moon is redoing her dead mother’s bedroom when she removes a section of wallpaper and discovers a hidden niche containing a tiara.  She knows little of her mother’s previous life not even her family name.
Sophia left Russia with a broken heart and has not shared those memories with her daughter.
With the help of a handsome jeweler, Isobelle peels back the layers of time to reveal Sophia’s story and that of the mysterious tiara.
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This book has mystery, intrigue, and romance all rolled into one. It is well written and keeps you guessing throughout, even after you think you have it all figured out. The main character, Isabelle, is a female architect in a male dominated career who has come home after her mother died. She discovers that there is a lot her mother has kept hidden from her. I liked this book- it is well written and has a few unexpected twists including a slight foray into the supernatural.

#amazon #thelasttiara #blueboxpress
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This is a fun read.  The ending has several twists which make the read interesting.  While I enjoyed the book as a "light" read, I also feel that some of the story is unrealistic.  The writing is not what I consider to be epic or beautiful.
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This was a first book for me from this author. I really enjoyed. You could tell the author did her research. It was extremely well written and very rich and descriptive in historical detail. It flips back and forth in time which I loved and keeps the reader interested until the very end. Very good historical fiction novel, highly recommend!!!
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Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Can I just say how much I loved this story? It’s full of Art, history mystery and romance. What an enjoyable read. 

The story is told of two time lines: Sofiya as a teenager in 1915 Petrograd Russia, before and during the the fall of the Russian empire. Sofiya’s mother was a teacher to the czar’s young daughters and she grew to be close friends with them. When the Winter palace is made into a hospital, Sofiya and the young duchesses volunteer to tend to the men returning from the Crimea war. While there,  Sofya falls in love with a wounded soldier who has lost his memory. Having no knowledge of his name, she calls him Carpathian after the area he was found. As he heals and his memory begins to return they learn that prior to the war he was a jeweler for the famous house of Faberge. As their love blossoms Sofiya leaves the hospital work to continue her studies with one of the great masters of the Hermitage learning the painstaking process of Art restoration. 
The Russian political climate continues to deteriorate and the young duchess realizes she will need to go into exile and leave her friend Sofiya soon. She gifts Sofiya with a bejeweled tiara as a token of their friendship and perhaps a way for Sofiya to buy her safety if the situation turns dire..

Alternately is the story of Sofiya’s 24 year old daughter Isobel in 1948 New York. Isobel has channeled her parents artistic streak into a career as an architect. Of course being a woman in that field in the 1940s had it’s own challenges which lent the story  a “yup, cant believe we are still dealing with this crap” feeling. 
Her mother emegrated to NY while pregnant, and built a successful art and furniture restoration business. When she emigrated she left her old life behind and refused to talk about anything from the old world, leaving Isobel with more questions than answers. 
At the start of the story we learn that Sofiya has died in a tragic accident. After mourning the loss of her mother, Isobel decide to renovate her mother’s room and finds the tiara, of which she knows nothing about. Such begins the mystery of uncovering what it means and perhaps finding her own true love. 

I really found the time periods of the story really interesting. This is a well researched book and I was constantly looking up information in Wikipedia. The book cover the creation of Faberge eggs, the fall of the Russian Empire , the Manhattan project’ OakRidge development,  and the ghost Army of WW2. 

This is a story full of passion, love, hope and separation. All the ingredients for a great romance. Highly recommend
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MJ Rose is amazing!!!!  I absolutely fell in love with her last book, Cartier's Hope, and found myself just as entranced with The Last Tiara. The historical details are incredibly compelling and it's impossible not to root for her richly drawn characters.
I wanted to savor the story, but I was so driven to find out all the secrets that I couldn't stop turning the pages!!!  Highly recommend!!
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I am not a fan of M.J. Rose, I have tried others of her books and her writing is not really my cup of tea, but I really think that this novel is her best job so far. Well developed character and an an interesting original theme. Also the setting was very appealing to me.
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The Last Tiara alternates its plot line between two time periods: the last days of the Tsar in Russia and the 1940's in New York. The novel as a whole was readable and I enjoyed it, however the two narratives were somewhat uneven in their success. On the Russian side, we had an exciting historical novel that followed Sofiya, a young art restorer as she navigated the difficult times, first as a friend of the Tsar's daughters through nursing, a romance and ultimately an emigration to the US. On the 1940's piece, we have her daughter Isobel, a female architect, who discovers a hidden tiara and strives to unlock the mystery surrounding it and her mother. Isobel's side of the narrative is more problematic than Sofiya's. She struggles with self-worth and the incident that caused it fails to have any real impact. Her career though is an interesting choice in that time period. For me the real success of that part of the narrative, was the jeweler who helps her in her search, Jules and I look forward to seeing more of him in subsequent novels. What this novel didn't need however, was the vaguely mystical overlay involving Isobel's mother's ghost. Thank you Netgalley for providing this book free to me for my review.
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I found The Last Tiara to be a very plot driven book, there is not much character development until towards the end of the book. I did question Isobelle’s lack of self confidence yet career in architecture in the 1940s. This did not distract from the story for me but just had me thinking it seemed contradictory.

I enjoyed this book and the dual timeline. I liked that the dual timelines was that of mother and daughter, living two very different lives.

I think, unfortunately this story skipped over the deaths of the Romanov family. Sofiya was best friends with Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna and yes, Sofiya worries about the Romanovs when they are taken from their home in the palace. The story mentioned that the people of Russia were not sure of the fates of the Romanovs for a while and did not want to face the truth of their fate. I expected Sofiya to think on Olgas death or disappearance a little more, the whole saga of the demise of the Romanovs is mentioned a few times in passing in the book and it seemed downplayed to me.

I enjoyed this book overall and it entertained me. I like the bit of information included in the book about the tiara that was photographed with the Romanovs jewel collection but then went missing.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or stories about Russia during the revolution.
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I received a free copy of this book by the publisher via  Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions are my own.

I really enjoyed this book!

Isobelle Moon finds a jewelless tiara hidden in the walls of a room she is renovating. Her search for the history behind it, the reason it is there and its mysterious journey to how it traversed across oceans will lead her on an adventure that brings healing to her in more ways than one as she discovers her parent's past and her future along the way. I flew through the book and loved the back and forth between different characters and timelines. My only reason for 3 stars instead of 4 is i wish there for a few more chapters as the ending left us with a few more unanswered questions but otherwise it is excellent and I would read it again
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In this book we jump between two time periods. In 1915 We watch Sofiya Petrovitch and the Romanov sisters as they become nurses for those injured in the First World War.  We see a budding relationship with a soldier who has lost his memory from a concussion. As that begins to sort out, life gets more complicated. 

In 1948 Isobelle Moon is a woman architect who is trying to make her way in a male-heavy profession. She is the daughter of a now-Russian immigrant who escaped her war-torn country.  Her mother, Sofiya Petrovitch was determined to start over as Sophia Moon and give her daughter the best life possible. A close friend of Olga Romanov, she was gifted a jeweled tiara that became her way of financial security.  

Sofiya was never good at disclosing her past- she only wanted to look forward. Isobelle never knew her father who was sent to Siberia before she was born.  As the book unfolds we learn more about this past and the secrets the tiara has in store. 

I don’t mind books that take place in two time periods. I usually really enjoy watching the story flesh out. While this one was good, I had a hard time really investing in the characters. It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I finally cared to know how it would end up. There are a lot of side stories that are touched on, but not fully expressed, so while I understood some of the emotional trauma and frustration of the main characters, I didn’t actually FEEL it with them.  I enjoyed a different look at the Romanovs and Russia during both wars, but for me it was just okay. 

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I enjoyed reading this book, the characters were great and I really enjoyed going through his story,
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It is striking from the very beginning that there is so much telling. The telling is so overwhelming. And due to lack of character development, I struggled from the beginning to connect with both characters, mother and daughter.

When it comes to the plot, I was interested in the history of the tiara. Once the daughter finds the tiara after the death of her mother, she tries to unravel its story. In the process we learn about the world of jewelers and that’s the part I enjoyed. However, at the end it turns out to be a very small part of this story.

The story alternates between daughter and mother and between two timelines. Mother, as a young woman, is a nurse at a hospital where she meets a wounded soldier, who has amnesia. And later turns out to be involved with jewelry and there is more to his story. For those who like mystery, then this part might be one of those hooks in the story.

There is also an issue of unnecessary descriptions, which don’t necessarily enforce the plot. I appreciate stories rich in historical details, but this story seems to be out of balance. It seems as tiny bits of information are thrown here and there just for the sake of history and not the plot.
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A fantastic journey into life in Russia just as the revolution was beginning.  This was a story of friendship, love, and heartbreak. Isobelle is sent on a quest of discovery after losing her mother Sophia. Discovery of just who she is and who her mother truly was since she refused to ever talk about her life in Russia. This is a cannot put down, page-turner of a book. MJ Rose is absolutely one of the best when it comes to historical novels.
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Is a tiara without its jewels still a treasure?  One of many questions left for young architect, Sophia Moon after her mother’s sudden death.  This was a fascinating mystery told alternately between mother and daughter, in post revolution Russia and post WWII New York City.  Although the main story is a little light, there are many fascinating historical details to be gained, and not just about jewelry.  This was the first book I had read from this author, but it won’t be the last. Recommended.
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