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Friday, May 2, 2014

5 Star Review: The Lion & the Rose

My Review: I'm not sure how it's possible, but I enjoyed Kate Quinn's The Lion and the Rose even more than the prequel, The Serpent and the Pearl. It's often all too easy to guess the twists and turns of a story: how a novel is going to finish and which characters will saunter off together, but this is not that book! Part of the genius of Quinn's novel is its amazing cast of characters; feisty nun-turned-cook Carmelina (who keeps a mummified saint's hand in her skirt), sarcastic Leonello (the dwarf bodyguard with a pocket full of knives), or the deceptive Bride of Christ Giulia Farnese (who plays the whore, but has a heart of gold and a quick mind hidden under all her blond hair). Just when you think you know each of them, each is plunged into further Borgia drama and left to scrabble on their own to survive. And, as always, Quinn delivers a stunning backdrop to the reader, eliciting the heavenly smells of a Renaissance kitchen all the way to the foul stench of the meanest alleyways in Rome.

This is the Renaissance at its best (and really, the Borgias at their worst), but be warned: The Lion and the Rose will keep you flipping pages long into the night!

Synopsis: From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . .

As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over—and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina.

Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . .

 About the Author: Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written three novels set in ancient Rome: "Mistress of Rome," "Daughters of Rome," and "Empress of the Seven Hills," all of which have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate made the jump from ancient Rome to Renaissance Italy for her fourth and fifth novels, "The Serpent and the Pearl" and "The Lion and the Rose," detailing the early years of the Borgia clan. She also has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with a small black dog named Caesar, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.