by Richard Hoyt

February 2005
ISBN: 0-765-30615-8
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During the time of the Tsars, Russia was a place filled with overwhelming riches and heart wrenching poverty. The rule of the Romanovs was tyrannical and deadly. Richard Hoyt takes us on a journey across Russia with a man and a woman trying to escape death in his latest book Sonja’s Run.

Sonja Sankova is a half-Chinese, half-Russian poet whose poems loan the serfs of Russia a voice. On Christmas in 1852, she goes to a ball given by Tsar Nicolas I. During this ball she encounters Colonel Peter Koslov, the notorious commander of the Tsar’s Wolfpack. Koslov is known by the chilling title “Colonel Cut” and wears a necklace of ears he has cut from the serfs and Jews he is sent to punish. With one right hook, Sonja lands a blow and shows that Koslov isn’t indestructible.

While at the same time in London, an American by the name of Jack Sandt convinces Karl Marx to help him gain access to the interior of Russia. Jack is a dag man-a man who takes daguerreotype pictures. He wants to document the life of Russians and also to make his way into China. He learns about Sonja and secretly hopes he gets a chance to meet her when he gets to Russia.

By the time Jack gets to Moscow, Sonja and her father are on the run from Koslov. Her father is dying and wishes to be buried in the Ural Mountains. Sonja honors his wishes, but must find a way to keep herself alive to do it. Along the way, she crosses paths with Jack and an instant attraction burns between them.

After her father’s death, Sonja and Peter continue to escape from Koslov and find time to get married along the way. Then several obstacles test their resolve and their love before they get the chance to confront Koslov and try to earn the right to live free.

While we are treated to some exotic ethnic groups living inside of Russia, there isn’t much romance in this book. Sonja and Jack fall in love in a way that seems impossibly fast and unrealistic. Then just as their marriage gets a chance to blossom, she’s taken by a madman. A word of warning to readers, there are several rape scenes in the book. The pacing at times is slow, but it fits in with their journey and the difficult terrain they had to travel. All of the characters are interesting, but they could have been fleshed out more.

If you enjoy general historical stories, then Sonja’s Run would be an interesting one to get a glimpse into Russia before the Revolution. If you’re looking for a historical romance, you might want to try something else.

Reviewed in February 2005 by Jenni.

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