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Monday, May 26, 2014

A Tale of Alchemy & Murder: The Red Lily Crown

My Review: Everyone knows about Cosimo and Lorenzo de Medici, and Florence's place center-stage during the Renaissance, but in The Red Lily Crown, Elizabeth Loupas brings to life the complicated character of Francesco de Medici and a little known facet of Renaissance life: alchemy.

I dearly love reading about the lesser-explored aspects of history and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the life of a female alchemist through the eyes of Chiara Nerini, a bookseller's daughter who is swept into the torrid events of the Medici court. This novel is definitely not your run-of-the-mill historical fiction, but a decadent and dark feast for the imagination.

April, 1574, Florence, Italy. Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici lies dying. The city is paralyzed with dread, for the next man to wear the red lily crown will be Prince Francesco: despotic, dangerous, and obsessed with alchemy.

Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.

Witness to sensuous intrigues and brutal murder plots, Chiara seeks a safe path through the labyrinth of Medici tyranny and deception. Beside her walks the prince’s mysterious English alchemist Ruanno, her friend and teacher, driven by his own dark goals. Can Chiara trust him to keep her secrets, …even to love her… ,or will he prove to be her most treacherous enemy of all?

 About the Author: Elizabeth Loupas lives near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

She hates housework, cold weather, and wearing shoes. She loves animals, gardens, and popcorn. Not surprisingly she lives in a state of happy barefoot chaos with her delightful and faintly bemused husband (the Broadcasting Legend™), her herb garden, her popcorn popper, and two beagles.