"Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game." Voltaire
"Tearing out of the night, a silver Bentley whizzes along the curb and stops before the 911 Aurora club on Petrovka Street. Out onto the glistening asphalt steps a woman. Her heeled shoes rhythmically clicking, she walks to the club entrance.
"At the door, a smiling crimson-lipped hostess welcomes her in. She enters the club: the insistent beats of music crescendos slam her body with their feverish vibes. Through the crowd of raving clubbers and dancing strippers, she walks toward a man seated at the table by the stage. Drawing on his cigar, he watches the sultry movements of a dancer wrapping her smooth tanned body around the cold metal of the pole.
"Approaching, she stops, her eyes fastened on the man's profile. Instantaneously sensing her presence, he turns round catching her blue gaze. Her hand extended to him, he grabs it and, parting his lips, impresses them on it, leaving a flaming trail on her skin. She pulls it away.
"He looks up at her. "Are you playing with me?”
“I think you enjoy being played with."
"It depends." "On what?" "On the game."
"She sits down. His eyes on her mouth, the man watches her light up a cigarillo, her slightly trembling rouge lips encircled around its chocolate tip. She draws on it, releasing a blow of smoke toward him. He turns away, motioning at a waitress. Swiftly, a bottle of Krug arrives, placed in between them on the table. He picks the bottle up and pours champagne into their glasses.
"To our agreement."
"As you wish."
"Do you think it really matters what I wish?"
"On your wish." Leaning forward, the man brings his glass to hers. The crystal sides of their glasses meet for a split of a second, releasing a gentle clink. She takes a sip from hers then puts it back onto the table.
"It's late. I have to go."
"Are you tempting me?"
"No, I'm indulging you."
" She stands up. Grabbing her hand, he pulls her toward him. Her body tenses slightly. He tightens his grip, enjoying the sensation it produces then lets her go. "She walks away. He follows her with his eyes until she disappears out of his site, engulfed by the crowd of the club revellers...
"...her silver Bentley softly pulls in before an imposing residential building, its modern grandeur shamelessly overshadowing the traditional facade of the Church of St. George Neokesariyskii, tucked away in a small garden next to it. She steps out. The watchful stare of her driver on her, engulfed in silence of the night, she slowly walks up the brightly lit stairway of the house. Lancing the silence, a gunshot shatters the night. She gasps. Blood quickly soaking the sleeve of her coat drips into the sparkling white snow.
A Tricky Game
Thereafter it was the quick dialogue sentences... For me, I immediately began to formulate a vision of this sophisticated leading lady as her characteristics were formed by her actions. An articulate lady of poise, mystery, and intrigue...
Next I was struck by the lead-ins that kept me following along after this woman--"Shot" was the lead-in for the excerpt above...Then "Visitor"... She had me and I read the book in one sitting, except of course to grab a cup of tea about 11 PM last night...
This was in addition to a quote about games that was displayed on a single page to begin each chapter!
I was enthralled with the writer by that time! In these days writers are trying out many things. This writer, I felt, followed the basic rules to move the story forward with every word. She used the traditional third person, but then she added these few distinctive cues that kept me on my toes! What was going to happen! And it is only very late in the game that you will begin to see it, watch for it...look forward to it!
Jacques Moreaux, Angela's grandfather, gets involved, trying to protect her by calling in some help, but at least one gets a little over-zealous and winds up dead... Because we're dealing with the potential of a lot of money! Kazimir Stankevitch, in addition to "other things" wants Angela to negotiate or otherwise obtain for him 51% of Bioyl Investments which is presently owned by Dmitry Voronov, a well-known billionaire. Angela is an expert in stock market manipulation and is quite capable of making that happen!
The game is on...
But each individual must decide what game is being played! It's dangerous to even be considering such a transaction through some type of manipulation. Is Angela able to play that game and win? Is she willing to enter a transaction with Kazimir, knowing what could happen afterward? Her grandfather obviously is in fear for her life.
But Angela is playing...for keeps...
'Not long ago, in a charming dream,
I saw myself - a king with crown's treasure,
I was in love with you, it seemed,
And heart was beating with a pleasure'.
And Angela receives mysterious gifts, kisses from a masked man...who writes poetry...
Readers will also be provided some historical background on the visited places in Moscow, St. Petersburg and more...
"It's not so important who starts the game but who finishes it." is the quote starting the last chapter. So, how does the game end? It's a fantastic ending in my opinion! Highly recommended!
It's a masquerade, a love parade
So, won't you stay and dance with me?
"Masquerade", Backstreet Boys
"In my opinion, the Konstantinovsky Palace is the best place to have it."
"I wholeheartedly agree with you, Nina Alekseevna." Entering the Blue Hall, they come over to the floor-to-ceiling windows and look out onto the landscaped park ensemble, spreading all way to the shore of the Finnish Gulf.
“Do you know that Peter the Great thought to make the Palace a 'Russian Versailles'?
"Nina Alekseevna, I thought Peterhof Palace was more like it."
"Yes, but that's only because during the construction of the Konstantinovsky Palace it became apparent that it was ill adapted for installation of fountains, so Peter focused his attention on Peterhof Palace instead."
"What were the original designs for the Palace like?"
"The original designs, drawn by the French architect Jean Baptiste Le Blonde, depicted the Palace as a Chateau d'Eau, situated on a round island."
"Yes, but unfortunately, the architect's death prevented him from completing his elaborate project. Instead, in 1718 a temporary wooden palace was constructed, which was mostly used by the Russian royalty as a sort of hunting lodge."
"When was The Palace completed?"
"It was completed only in 1807, when it came into the possession of Romanov family. The Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, the younger brother of Alexander I, devoted a great deal of attention to his residence."
"So, the current look of The Palace is a legacy of The Grand Duke Konstantin?"
"Yes, Konstantin Nikolaevich, though, the son of the Nicolas I. He is the one, who undertook the reconstruction of The Palace and its park ensemble, including the central rooms."
"The Blue and Marble Halls?"
"Yes, the central rooms were redecorated in accordance with a project drawn up by the architect Andrei Stakenschneider and given the current names: The Blue and The Mable Halls.
"Thank you, Nina Alekseevna." "My pleasure, Angela.
Seraphima’s love for travel and exploration brought her to many cities and countries including London, New York, Moscow, Dubai, and Geneva. In Moscow, she had an opportunity to run a cigar magazine, Hecho a Mano, the first glossy publication on tobacco in Russia.
In 2006 her publishing experience led Seraphima to launch her own rich media publication, Avantoure. This innovative, ahead of time project had made a stir in the digital publishing world and was produced in its avant-garde format until late 2009.
Her debut into literary world started in October 2010 in New York, where a certain sequence of events prompted her to begin writing her first novella 'A Tricky Game‘. The first draft of the book was finished by the end of 2011. In 2012 a pilot version of it was released. Based on the feedback of the readers the novella was reworked and the final improved version of it was published in July 2013.
Currently, Seraphima works on her second novella and also helps her husband on the development and launch of an innovative online platform related to books.