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Thoroughly grounded in historical accuracy, this novel was developed from Christina Croft’s earlier biography of Grand Duchess Elizabeth, which was short listed for the UK Biographer’s Club Award. The book contains no named fictional characters but brings alive such diverse personalities as Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Grand Duke Serge and the myriad of fascinating characters who peopled the courts of the late 19th and early 20th century monarchies. It follows Ella through the gossip and intrigues surrounding her marriage and the horrific murder of her husband, through to her remarkable decision to transform her own life and the lives of the poor. Her increasingly strained relationship with her sister, Tsarina Alexandra, and the pressures of war and revolution make for a compelling story, reaching a dramatic conclusion.

On 28th June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his morganatic wife, Sophie Chotek, were shot dead in broad daylight on a crowded street in Sarajevo. The murder of a relatively unknown archduke in a remote Bosnian city might well have been quickly forgotten were it not for the fact that this seemingly minor event ignited a spark that would explode into one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. Within four years, over sixteen million people from one hundred countries would lie dead on the battlefields of the First World War. By 1914, through a series of alliances, Europe was largely divided into two separate camps: the Triple Alliance of the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and the Triple Entente of Russia, Britain and France. The clashing of these empires has often led to the First World War being described as an Imperial War and their emperors have provided a convenient scapegoat on which to pin the blame for the consequent slaughter. In reality, however, not one of these monarchs – who were close friends and cousins – had any desire for war and each of them struggled desperately to maintain peace. “All our cousins,” wrote Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, “were more like brothers and sisters than mere blood relations.” This novel – the first in a trilogy following the royalties of Europe from 1913 to 1918 – tells the story of the year leading up to the outbreak of war and the very human tragedy that befell those cousins and friends; a tragedy which might have been deliberately engineered to lead to the destruction of the Russian, Austrian and German monarchies.

In the summer of 1914 the capitals of Europe erupt in a patriotic frenzy as peoples on all sides, roused by the press, rejoice at the outbreak of the ‘war to end wars’. The rejoicing soon turns to disillusionment as the full horrors of the bloodiest conflict the world has ever seen become apparent. For the Emperors of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia comes the growing awareness that this war, which they sought desperately to avoid, is not being fought for territory or honour, but rather to destroy the old world order and to replace their autocracies with secular ideologies and international economic control. Amid the intrigue and deception, Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas, Emperor Franz Josef, Archduke Karl, and Queen Marie of Roumania not only face the horrific sacrifice of their people, but are also confronted by their own personal and family tragedies.
‘The Sacrifice’ is the second novel in the Shattered Crowns trilogy, following the royalties of Europe from 1913 to the Treaty of Versailles. ‘The Sacrifice’ covers the the period from the outbreak of war to the Russian revolution (1914-1917) and is based on actual events.

BookCoverPreview2 - CopySpring 1917 – the war has been raging for over two and a half years and neither the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey) nor the Entente (Britain, France, Russia and Italy) are any closer to a decisive victory. In Russia, the Revolution and enforced abdication of the Tsar has left the country in the shaky hands of the Provisional Government but as the Bolsheviks begin to seize power it is clear that behind the scenes something rather sinister is occurring. Both Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and Karl, the new Emperor of
Austria-Hungary, are eager to pursue peace but the United States’ entry into the war thwarts their efforts and leaves them convinced that the true aim of the
conflict is the destruction of their monarchies.
Based on actual events, ‘The Betrayal’ is the third book of the ‘Shattered Crowns’ trilogy which follows the tragic story of the royalties who sought peace throughout the bloodiest conflict of the 20th century.

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