The Master Craftsman by Kelli Stuart is a mix between historical fiction and modern romance. The story jumped back and forth between the modern era and the early twentieth century. The author has clearly spent a great deal of time researching her topic. The historical fiction bits often lagged as those sections read more like a research paper than a fiction account. It feels as though the author tried to pack too much detail into the historic parts and the mind starts to wander away from the plot. If one can overlook that, the story itself is an intriguing idea and also informative.
The modern character of Ava Laine didn’t connect for me. She did not really endear herself in any way. She was exceptionally immature and in a book published by a Christian publisher, one would have expected her to either develop or find something to do with God in her life. The most endearing thing about her was that she has a genuinely nice next-door neighbor. No one really explains why he is interested in her, as she always treats him poorly. Although Ava’s story has emotional moments, it is overshadowed by her less than intriguing character. The author attempts to explain some of this, but something just doesn’t feel quite genuine.
The other part of the story that is hard to process is the whole concept of engaging in international thievery. The people in the story were supposed to be professionals, but they were walking in the middle of a busy street talking about their investigation and such. If someone was really following or spying on them, this would be an easy target. There were several instances in which this sort of thing happened.
Even with all of those detractions, it is interesting to learn more about the Fabergé eggs and how they came to be. The history of the eggs is interesting as a non-fiction piece. If one can overlook some of the obvious flaws and just enjoy the journey, the book has some good information. This author gets an outstanding mark for her thorough research.
Review of an Advanced Reader Copy Provided by the Publisher
Profanity/Language: Definition of a harsh, derogatory term.
Violence/Gore: Report of a child killed in a war; a recounting of the murder of the Russian Tsar and his family; a character hears of the murdering of many people during a peaceful protest; characters shoot one another with guns, blood and fatalities are part of the description.
Sex/Nudity: Report of a married man having a mistress; characters indicate they made love.
terminal illness, political unrest
Characters talk about and consume vodka.