First Impression: Romanovs... paranormal elements... together? My toes were tingling with anticipation. While Reading:The Gathering Storm plays beautifully on my love for the Romanov family and Russian history. The setting for our story is about as perfect as it can get. Russia, 1800s. A time when this society was at its peak: glittering balls, nobility coming out of every nook and cranny, a time of decadence. Originally, I thought The Gathering Storm was centered Tsar Nicholas II and his family, but I was off by about a generation. Instead of an older Nicholas II, readers are presented with his father's court and Nicholas II as a teenager. While most of my Russian fascination is centered around Nicholas II when he was Tsar, I was completely entranced by him as a teen. In addition to the royal family, Bridges flexes her historical muscle by including a slew of other nobles. Many of whose names I completely forgot seconds after reading. It is not that some of these characters are not memorable, but rather I got a bit bogged down by all the titles. Loved Bridges authentication, but had a strong aversion to the multitude of characters who: A.) Were constantly just mentioned in passing, yet had nothing real to add to the story. OR B.) Regardless that the character's title was just mentioned in the last paragraph, in the new paragraph, it has been mentioned at least twice more. It was just a little much. Yes, I know that historically, Bridges was spot on. Titles were EVERYTHING to these people, and heaven save you, if you did not address someone correctly. So again, loved that Brides obviously did her research, I just wish that it had not weighed so heavy on the book.Moving on. Besides the setting, Katerina made The Gathering Storm sparkle. In world of simpering misses with nary a thought in their beautiful heads, Katerina stands out for all the right reasons. True, some of her choices were not the greatest, but at the end of the day, she had her head in the right place. Katerina valued education. When most of her female conterparts are only focused on finding a husband, this girl is partitioning to become a doctor. Kudos to you.Verdict:The Gathering Storm is a beautiful multi-layered tale. Historically rich. A MC that defies the sterotypes of what a girl of her standing should be. And a paranormal layer that added a nice twist to the tale. Bridges definitely has a winner with this one.