The second installment in a trilogy (after Anna, 1991) featuring the grown descendants of Count Nikolai Sergeyevitch Kirov as they move into the middle of the 19th century. At 24, Fleur Hamilton is spirited, intelligent, and a complete innocent when it comes to men. So she is ripe for falling head- over-heels in love with Count Sergei Kirov--a soulful, mysterious Russian visiting London during the Great Exhibition of 1851. Count Kirov woos her with tenderness and skill, and when he abruptly withdraws, Fleur's heart is broken. Fast forward two years: Fleur, her father, and her brother are now en route to Russia, where by chance she later meets the Count's younger brother Peter. In St. Petersburg, she also becomes reacquainted with Sergei, only to watch him make a marriage of convenience to Fleur's wealthy young friend Lyudmilla, and then neglect her. Meanwhile, political turmoil is brewing, and England and Russia are soon embroiled in the bitter Crimean War. Against a backdrop of violence and suffering, Fleur comes to understand her own character--and that of her brooding, would-be lover, Sergei. Skillful in its re-creation of historical events and foreign milieus, but an only moderately satisfying romance that lacks real emotional suspense and drama.