Hang on to your babushka--those madcap Romanovs are on the loose again. In this latest improbable escapade and revision of history, the Japanese, American, British, German, and Bolshevik governments--all of them for reasons unclear--conspire in 1917 to fake the famous massacre while smuggling the real imperials to a mysterious refuge. A trail of hair's-breadth escapes might please, but Hoe prefers to record endless, dubious conversations among the Romanov principals, who address each other with the artless intimacy of a biographical dictionary: ""The rivers of Russia are truly magnificent. . . ."" ""Yes. They seem to dominate the landscape in all seasons and impart a special flavour to the life all along their banks."" The Tsar and family do little but express pious inanities and rehash the past--and they have all apparently read Nicholas and Alexandra, for most of the anecdotes from that book are quoted in the dialogue all but verbatim. The Tsar is saintly but anti-Semitic, the Tsarina is bitchy, the four sisters far less appealing than Louisa May Alcott's, and Hoe's conception of politics and motivation simplistic. ""'I tried so hard during the war to solve the food problem, didn't I, Nicky?' intervened Alexandra. 'I simply did not understand the questions of supply and demand.'"" Neither does novelist Hoe, if she thinks there's a demand for yet one more--and the dullest ever--visit with those incorrigible Romanovs.