This sweeping historical novel tells the dramatic tale of that most intriguing of Renaissance women, Lucrezia Borgia.
Incest. Poison. Betrayal. Three wedding presents for the Borgia bride…
Italy 1492 Pope Alexander VI is elected. And so begins the Borgia reign of terror.
Alexander murders, bribes and betrays to establish his dynasty. No one is immune. Rome is a hotbed of accusation and conspiracy. Every day, the River Tiber is full of new bodies.
Sancha de Aragon, daughter of King Alfonso II of Naples, arrives in Rome newly wed to Alexander’s youngest son, Jofre. Their marriage protects Naples against the ambitions of the French King Louis and gains Spanish support for the Borgias. But Rome is very different to her beloved Naples.
The debauchery of the Borgia inner-circle is notorious: every lust is indulged and every indiscretion overlooked. Sancha is no innocent: she possesses an indomitable spirit which allows her to survive in the snake-pit, but her ancestors once rivalled the Borgias in cruelty and Sancha’s greatest fear is that blood will out.
Lucrezia Borgia’s vicious jealously stings Sancha at first, but gradually the two young women develop a cautious friendship. Lucrezia, adored by her father but used ruthlessly as a political tool, seems deceptively innocent and sympathetic, and their bond strengthens when Lucrezia is married to Sancha’s treasured brother, Alfonso. But when Sancha falls in love with Cesare Borgia, her husband’s enigmatic older brother, she has no idea of how bizarre and internecine are the family's true ties. Alexander is rather more than an indulgent father; Lucrezia not the innocent she appears; and Cesare’s ambition burns wildly. The only safe relationship with the Borgias is none at all: as Sancha, her brother and Naples are soon to discover…
'from sexual passion to mortal danger, the dramatic shift of real historical events will keep the reader turning the pages.'
'corset-busting escapism… Perfect for a naughty weekend in Rome.'
The Sunday Times Travel Magazine
About the author
Jeanne Kalogridis was born in Florida in 1954. She earned a BA in Russian and an MA in Linguistics from the University of South Florida and went on to teach English as a Second Language at the American University in Washington, D.C. She now lives with her partner on teh West Coast of the US, sharing a house with two dogs and a bird. Her interests include yoga, Tibatan Buddhism, the occult, languages, art, and reading everything ever published.
Against the backdrop of 15th-century Italian internecine feuds, debauchery and Vatican corruption, Kalogridis's latest historical novel (after The Burning Times) chronicles with compelling sweep the story of the ravishing and iron-willed Sancha de Aragon, princess of Naples. Illegitimate daughter to the coldhearted duke of Calabria (briefly king of Naples), she is used to establish ties to the feared and influential House of Borgia when her father betroths her to the younger scion, Jofre. Much to the dismay of her beloved younger brother Alfonso, Sancha is sent from Naples to rule with Prince Jofre in remote Squillace. War with the French will later briefly return her to Naples, but rumors of her beauty reach her lecherous father-in-law, Pope Alexander VI, who recalls her and Jofre to opulent Rome. There, she avoids the pope's advances and her jealous sister-in-law Lucrezia's animosity but falls into a steamy affair with her brother-in-law, the dashing Cesare, cardinal of Valencia. Cesare becomes furious when she refuses to leave Jofre, and he sets out on a warpath that includes her brother Alfonso, who has also married into the Borgia clan to Lucrezia. Kalogridis spins a dramatic tale from a heady mix of royal power plays and passion.