1914: Tensions are rising; war is in the air. It is during this uncertain time in history that Lost Roses, written by Martha Hall Kelly, begins. Despite the simmering unrest swirling through Europe, Eliza Ferriday, a New York socialite, travels to St. Petersburg, Russia to visit with her friends, Sofya and Luna Streshnayva, cousins of Tsar Nicholas II. All seems to be going well until, more than 1,500 miles away, something horrible happens, sending shock waves throughout Europe.
On 28 June 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Archduke Franz Ferdinand—heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire—and his wife Sophie are assassinated by a Serbian nationalist desperate to end Austro-Hungarian rule of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Austria-Hungary is incensed and wants to strike back. However, because Russia is an ally of Serbia, Austria-Hungary appeals to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who on 5 July 1914, pledges Germany’s support. After securing this agreement, Austria-Hungary issues an ultimatum to Serbia. In response, Serbia mobilizes its army and asks Russia for assistance. Then, on 28 July 1914, exactly one month after the Archduke’s murder, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe’s countries collapses. Within a week, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Russia, and Serbia are pitted against Austria-Hungary and Germany. World War I has begun.