Thursday, January 4, 2018

Guest Post with Jennifer Laam

Photo Credit: Prescious Depictions Photography

Jennifer Laam is the author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, The Tsarina’s Legacy, and the forthcoming The Lost Season of Love and Snow, all from St. Martin’s Griffin. She is represented by Erin Harris at Folio Literary Management. Jennifer has lived in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Detroit, and currently resides in California’s Central Valley. When she is not busy writing or reading, Jennifer spends her time obsessing over cosplay, trying new vegetarian recipes, line dancing, and spoiling cats. She works for her alma mater, University of the Pacific.


Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin, died after a duel in which he fought to defend the honor of his beautiful young wife – Natalya Gonchorava. Now it’s time to hear Natalya’s side of the story.

Alexander and Natalya were attractive, charismatic people and deeply in love. Their passionate romance is the heart of The Lost Season of Love and Snow.

Before and after her husband’s duel, Natalya was the target of vicious rumors. She was even blamed for Alexander’s death. I want to help restore Natalya’s historical reputation.

Alexander and Natalya were active in the imperial court of Tsar Nicholas I, a fascinating and sometimes dangerous place. I hope readers love experiencing that world as much as I loved to research and write about it.

I particularly enjoyed researching costume and masquerade balls. Natalya shares my passion for taking on another identity, even if it’s just for a night.

I believe Natalya was a victim of what we would call sexual harassment. As we see today, powerful men can feel entitled to romantic favors. Telling women’s stories is a potent tool to stop this abuse of power.

From the start of the novel, Natalya and her sister, Ekaterina, have a testy relationship and it only goes downhill from there. I based the relationship on my research into their lives and also took inspiration from feuding fictional sisters, such as Edith and Mary on Downton Abbey and even Marcia and Jan on The Brady Bunch.

In 1825, a group of idealistic young officers attempted to overthrow Tsar Nicholas I and replace him with his more liberal brother. The impact of Alexander Pushkin’s poetry on the Decembrists, and the harsh reprisals for their actions, deeply affect the characters in my book.

Although he’s not widely known to English language readers, Alexander Pushkin’s poem, stories, and translation of fairy tales are a joy. My personal favorites are The Bronze Horseman, Evgeny Onegin, and Mozart and Salieri (the basis for the play and film Amadeus). I hope my novel encourages people to read Alexander Pushkin’s work.

For my last novel, I researched and wrote about Catherine and was thrilled to find a connection between the empress and Natalya’s family that worked its way into The Lost Season of Love and Snow.


A man says he will die for you. A woman is taught to lower her gaze and blush before hiding once more behind a silken fan. Men are given to self-aggrandizement, while women flatter egos and keep men tied to this earth. Such is the way of the world, or so I was taught in the days before I gained a reputation as the villain of St. Petersburg.

I know better now.

When a man declares he will die for you, sometimes a woman must take him at his word. For to allow one’s husband to perish on the field of honor is a shameful affair, worse even, than murdering him by your own hand.

The solemn men who gather at our flat fall silent as my husband draws his final breath. A prickly chill, like the first wave of a fever, washes over me as I realize my husband is gone. The sorrow tightens my chest and clamps down, squeezing until I think my body will snap in two. I sway on my feet and believe I will faint. Only the invisible force of my will keeps me upright. Dark blood still seeps from his abdomen and a sharp metallic scent clings to the air.

For two days my husband had been one of the waking dead, suffering a cruel and lingering death. Though I was not present at the duel where he fought to defend my honor, the image of Alexander collapsing, his blood staining the snow crimson, haunts my every thought. I have slid into despair, veering between hysteria and hopelessness, while Alexander’s wound festered and his once vibrant face distorted with agony.

His friends stand in a semicircle around his body, backs erect, mouths set in stern lines, and expressions stoic even as their eyes dampen with tears.

“What a waste,” I hear one of them mutter. “A genius lost over a woman.”

The words echo in my head. I was the wife of a distinguished man of letters, the greatest in our land, and I let his life slip through my fingers. These men suppose I care only for material comforts and romantic diversions and don’t believe I possess the wits about me to appreciate my husband’s talent. Rumormongers have convinced them I love the empty-headed Georges d’Anth├Ęs or have fallen prey to the advances of our iron-jawed tsar. They consider my behavior traitorous, as terrible in its own way as if I had joined the ranks of the Napoleonic soldiers who once threatened our very heartland.

I will confess to basking too long in the attention of Georges and even the tsar himself, yet I am no Jezebel, merely human, as vulnerable to flattery as any other creature. Much as I may wish to do so, I cannot change the past. The damage is done. A fresh wave of tears threatens and subsides, as though nothing remains inside me to expel. I wonder how long I will live with the torment of my guilt and the censure of those who claim to love my husband.

From The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam. Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.

At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects. It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin.

Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible.

What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death.

With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court.


"An evocative story of love and power, Jennifer Laam draws the reader deep into the heart of a resilient woman’s struggle to hold her own in Imperial Russian society. Natalya Pushkina, a woman once adored, ridiculed, and since forgotten, is brought to life in this vibrant, skillfully woven tale." Serena Burdick, author of Girl in the Afternoon

"A captivating tale in which Natalya Pushkin is vividly imagined. The dramatic complexities of her personality, and of Imperial Russian society, are cleverly portrayed in this sensitive and skillfully written novel. Sure to enchant those who are already fans of Jennifer Laam, and fans of historical fiction." Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home

"This hauntingly elegant tale of love and tragedy in Imperial Russia, as seen through the eyes of Pushkin's much-reviled wife, sweeps us up into the fatal glamour and deceptions of an era, the peril of choices, and one woman's resilient struggle to discover herself." C.W. Gortner, author of The Vatican Princess

"The Lost Season of Love and Snow deftly weaves historical facts with rich, deep emotion, taking us inside the unforgettable love story between young beauty Natalya Goncharova and famed poet Alexander Pushkin. Jennifer Laam delivers a compelling portrait of a woman unfairly condemned not just for her own desires, but for the adoration of powerful men she could neither reject nor control. Laam makes love itself both the hero and the villain of this powerful story, delicately exploring its joys, delights and tensions as well as its tragic consequences." Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician's Lie and Girl in Disguise

You can purchase The Lost Season of Love and Snow at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JENNIFER LAAM for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Lost Season of Love and Snow: A Novel by Jennifer Laam.


  1. "Which was an incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?" I don't know--I'm totally blase!

  2. I liked the excerpt. The cover is lovely.

  3. I cannot think of any incident that changed the way I think today.

  4. Something that changed the way that I think today would be when my friend almost died in a car accident.

  5. I don't believe there has been one event that has changed the way think.

  6. An incident in my life that totally changed the way that I think today is when I realized our languages were at the point of extinction.