Jeanne Kalogridis

praise for The Borgia Bride

Full-bodied tales of Italy
Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY
Despite its multitude of comforts and technological toys, modern life can seem a bit sterile compared with the more robust flavors of long-ago Italy. USA TODAY reviews two compelling histories and one novel with sex scenes that might make even today's steamiest romance novelists blush.

The Borgia Bride
By Jeanne Kalogridis
St. Martin's
509 pp., $14.95

Incest, murder, adulterous sex, treachery and, naturally, poison. All are highlighted in the paperback original The Borgia Bride.

Lucrezia Borgia was portrayed far more sympathetically in Sarah Bradford's 2004 biography. This novel brings forward the rumors that have swirled round the blond, illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Among those rumors: Lucrezia had sex with both her father and with her iron-willed brother, Cesare, the Cardinal of Valencia.

The writer depicts Cesare as a major-league alpha male: handsome, ambitious and amoral, a man for whom murder was as natural and necessary as breathing.

The heroine of this spicy tale is Lucrezia's sister-in-law, Sancha of Aragon, a beautiful, spirited, headstrong princess from Naples who is married off to Jofre Borgia, a simple-hearted weakling who is clearly not a Borgia by blood. (His mother was one of the pope's multitude of mistresses.)

We see our tempestuous heroine reared in a palace where her gloating grandfather keeps his dead enemies embalmed, dressed and posed in a secret museum - a tidbit that, according to the author's afterword, is historically accurate.

But Naples is pastoral compared with the den of iniquity that Rome and the Vatican turn out to be. This novel is entertaining and full of historical facts, but the sex scenes are positively purple.
source: USA Today

"From sexual passion to mortal danger, the dramatic shift of real historical events will keep the reader turning the pages."
- Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl

Seventeen-year-old Princess Sancha de Aragon, the illegitimate daughter of Naples King Alfonso II, is forced to marry into the powerful Borgia family to Jofre, a man younger than her. As such, she leaves her home to live in the Vatican where Jofre's father is Pope Alexander VI. However, she is shocked to observe the depravity of the papal court including her new spouse who beds women, including several at the same time with an insatiable lust yet ignores his new bride.

Stunned and disillusioned, Sancha befriends first Jofre's sister Lucrezia and then his older brother, the seemingly caring Cesare. Not knowing yet how Lucrezia eliminates anyone interested in her brother Cesare, they have an affair until she concludes he is as debauched as his father and two siblings. With nothing to lose as life is worthless in the Borgia pit, Sancha vows to destroy her spouse and in-laws before they obliterate her loved ones back in Naples.

This Borgia-era historical fiction is an insightful look at late fifteenth century politics mostly in Rome and the Vatican, but somewhat in Naples, that makes the Congressional ethics questions of Congress seem like an elementary school spitball fight. The storyline brings to life real persona in which the depraved Borgia brood were violent predators. Fans of Roberta Gellis, especially her work LUCREZIA BORGIA AND THE MOTHER OF POISONS, will appreciate this powerful, historically detailed novel.
- Harriet Klausner, Amazon.com's #1 Reviewer

What readers on Amazon.com are saying:
5 out of 5 stars rating for THE BORGIA BRIDE

"A really gripping book,especially as I was reading it at the time when our own Pope had just died. It made me want to know more about what had actually gone on in the Vatican in times past.Some historical novels are just that-stories, but this has made me want to go on to research further the life and time of the Borgias .I would recommend it to anyone who has a passion for history…"

"I started this book first thing one morning and before I knew it it was 4pm and I was nearing the end!!!! Yes, it really is one of those books that you can't physically put down... The plot is heart wrenching, gut wrenching, and at times so full of suspense you will find yourself holding your breath. An amazing must read book!!"