The one real thread that ties these two books together is that each story has a girl from a lower class society, who gets to live among Russian royalty. In the first novel, Barbara is a servant girl who is taken in to become a close friend of Cathrine the Great, while also being her spy. In the second book, Masha is the daughter of the famous Rasputin who gets adopted by the Tsars after her father is murdered. Masha forms a relationship with the Tsar’s son, Aloysha (who has hemophilia) and she is believed to have healing capabilities just as her late father before her. Although there is a difference of about a couple hundred years between the time periods, both tales deal with worrisome moments in Russia where rulers are neither liked nor trusted and conspiracies or rumors are formed. Barbara and Masha must tread carefully to avoid stepping into a snare because of their ties to the people in power. By association, they are considered enemies of the public and risk being involved in the dirty reality of politics. From the beginning, their fates have been decided by other people and they must do their best to remain loyal to their royal friends, while staying out of trouble. Other than that, these books are quite different from one another. Stachniak’s work revolves around spies and the very beginning of Catherine the Great’s rule over Russia. Harrison’s tale gives some insight about Rasputin’s life and also focuses on the influence of storytelling. If you like Russian historical novels which are based on real people, these two stories are enjoyable indeed.