Win a signed copy of The Gathering Storm! Details at the end of this post.


 Fall 1888, Saint Petersburg, Russia

An afternoon spent solving quadratic equations would have been infinitely more pleasant. I smelled like a salad. Cucumber slices for soothing puffy eyes. Blackberry vinegar for brightening dull skin. Goat’s milk and honey for softening rough hands. I politely declined when my cousin offered a pinch of her goose lard and pomegranate facial cream.

It was Friday afternoon and our lessons had been cancelled at the Smolny Institute so everyone could prepare for the ball. Because dressing up like a doll was much more important than studying literature or learning arithmetic.

Matrimony. That was the true mission of the Smolny Institute for Young Noble Maidens. It was nothing more than a meat market for Russia’s nobility, where princes from all across Europe sent their daughters, intending them to marry off well. So there I sat, Katerina Alexandra Maria von Holstein-Gottorp, Duchess of Oldenburg. Great-great-granddaughter of Empress Josephine on my mother’s side, great-great-great-granddaughter of Katerina the Great on my father’s side. Princess of the Royal Blood. Royal meat for sale. I would have rather been dead.

Once I told Maman I wanted to attend medical school and work at one of Papa’s hospitals in Saint Petersburg or Moscow. I always accompanied her to the Oldenburg Children’s Hospital when she made her charity visits at Christmas and Easter. I thought it would be wonderful to take care of sick children and discover cures for diseases. But Maman was horrified at the idea.

“What man would marry a doctor?” she asked, not bothering to wait for an answer. “What a foolish notion!”

Excerpt copyright © 2011 Robin Bridges

About the book:

A royal court steeped in magic.

A dark prince with a hideous plan.

A young girl with a forbidden power.

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888

As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

What people are saying:

“Bridges could become a worthy successor to Libba Bray with this historical fantasy. Her lush settings, secret rituals, and paranormal creatures make for an atmospheric political adventure… Katiya is a strong female hero whose further adventures are worth following.”–Voya

“An atmospheric and complicated vampire tale that’s worth the effort of reading it.”–Kirkus

“An imaginative, complex blend of history and magic.”–Publishers Weekly

 Released: January 10, 2012

About the author:

By day, Robin is a mild-mannered writer of fantasy and paranormal fiction for young adults. By night, she is a pediatric nurse. Robin lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband, one soon-to-be teenager, and two slobbery mastiffs. She likes playing video games and watching Jane Austen movies. THE GATHERING STORM is her first novel. You can visit her at


Robin has been kind enough to contribute a signed copy of The Gathering Storm!

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The contest is open in the US and Canada, and ends on January 26th at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!