The Empress by Gigi Griffis: Book Review

The Empress by Gigi Griffis is a new romance book for historical romance and royal romance fans alike.

Check out my book review of The Empress before you tune into the Netflix TV series to see if this is a book worth reading!

*Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Empress is one of the new romance books releasing in October 2022. See the entire list of new romance book releases on She Reads Romance Books.

The Empress
by Gigi Griffis

Category: Historical Romance
Tags: Reimagining, Royal
Published September 2022
Amazon Goodreads
Rating: ★★★
Boyfriend Rating: 💍💍💍

The year is 1853, and Princess Elisabeth “Sisi” of Bavaria has been very clear: She will wait for the head-over-heels love the poets speak of, or she will have no love at all.

Just because her older sister, Helene, is eagerly heeding their mother’s advice and preparing to marry Emperor Franz of Austria does not mean Sisi must also subject herself to such a dutiful existence.

Meanwhile, in Austria, the emperor is recovering from an attempt on his life that left him wounded and scared.

In a bid to keep the peace, Franz has recommitted himself to his imperial duties—and promised to romance the pliant Helene of Bavaria at his upcoming birthday celebration.

But when Sisi and Franz meet unexpectedly in the palace gardens, their connection cannot be denied.

And as their illicit conversations turn into something more, they must soon choose between the expectations of their families and standing up for what they truly believe in.

A reimagining of the courtship between one of history’s most iconic couples: Sisi and Franz of Austria? Yes please!

Griffis created a wonderful piece of historical fiction with a beautiful romance. And I only want more!

I admit that I initially wanted to dive into this romance because I knew that it was going to become a TV series on Netflix and I always like to read books before they make it to the big or small screen.

If you too like romance books made into TV shows, I highly recommend reading this before tuning into the 6-part TV series!

Do you believe in love at first sight? Well, Sisi does and she won’t settle for anything less than a satiating love when it comes to marriage.

After turning down suitor after suitor, she finds herself on a trip to meet the Emperor of Austria who plans to propose to her older sister. But after a few clandestine, private run-ins, it’s Sisi who captures the Emperor’s heart and earns a marriage proposal.

This book totally hooked me and didn’t let go! I love a feisty heroine in my romance books, especially historical romances, and Sisi did not disappoint.

She was a young woman who spoke her mind, stood up for her convictions and didn’t bow down to societal expectations of marriage.

Franz was equally enticing, a man struggling with the ramifications of an attempt on his life that left him with some severe PTSD while struggling to secure his own political power from under his mother’s control.

Yes, theirs is an instalove love story but it worked and I totally bought into it. I only wish that we got MORE of their love story!

I was captivated by the first half of the book, setting up the backstory of both Sisi and Franz, leading up to their meeting and connection. It was beautiful.

Unfortunately, the last half of the book felt rushed and only gave part of their story.

After their epic proposal, you’re left with the angst of their siblings acting like complete tools and the distance between Sisi and Franz who won’t see each other again until the day before their wedding.

Even their reunion was a bit disappointing as it was overshadowed by a really uncomfortable moment where Sisi’s “purity” was assessed and Franz’ brother once again shows his true colors.

All of that was to reaffirm Sisi’s devotion to Franz and yet it left a sour note for the end of the book which was quite abrupt after the wedding nuptials.

After such a great build-up to their love story, you’re left wanting so much more in terms of their relationship, Franz’ plans, his brother’s play and even Helene’s fate.

But maybe that is a sign of great writing – leaving you wanting more – and perhaps we will get a continuation of the story if Netflix wants another season.

We can only hope!

Thank you to Netgalley for the advanced reader copy. All opinions are my own.

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Tune into She Reads Romance Books' book review of The Empress by Gigi Griffis to see if this is a historical romance novel worth reading before checking out the Netflix TV series.

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Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

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Leslie is the founder, writer, and producer of She Reads Romance Books (and the She Reads Romance Books Podcast), an online book community focused on romance books and the readers who love them because life is better with a love story.

Leslie reads 150 romance books a year and has been called a "book expert" by CNN. Reading romance is her passion and she cultivates her book lists with the best books worth reading in the genre. Leslie graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College where she honed her writing skills and also holds two Master's degrees. Join her community in the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge.

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