Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin
Date of publication: February 11th, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.
Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.
As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.
Alyssa Palombo’s captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.
The day I learned of my father’s plans for me, I was but nine years old.The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard a ton about the Borgia’s. What information I knew had been picked up in other books. So, when I was approached to the blog tour for The Borgia Confessions, I was intrigued. The blog painted the book as a romance set in Renaissance Italy. Then I read the book and man; it is more than what I thought. And I mean that in the absolute best way!!
The Borgia Confessions is told from the viewpoint of Cesare (1st person) and Maddalena (1st person). I am not a fan of dual storylines, but in this case, it was needed.
The pacing of The Borgia Confessions was fast-paced. It needed to be, considering the author was writing about a time where wars ended politics and people being murdered was commonplace. There were no dropped storylines, no dropped characters, and I didn’t have any issues keeping up with the plotline. What I enjoyed is that even though the plotline was fast-paced, I didn’t have to go back and reread chapters. That was a massive plus for me.
I will admit that I did some research into Cesare Borgia after I read the book. The author did a great job of keeping to who Cesare was. He was not a nice man. He murdered, bribed, and man whored. There was a hint of the scandal between him and Lucretiza. But, the author only let it stay a hint. The majority of the book focused on Cesare, his issues, and of course, his romance with Maddalena.
I did like Maddalena, and I loved the insight that her character gave to what was happening behind the scenes. But I found her almost too pious. Her constant praying and thinking about sin got on my nerves. I also wasn’t a fan of how two-sided she was. She was quick to condemn Cesare when he was sleeping with his brother’s wife. But when she was sleeping with him and was condemned by the other servants, she was hurt. I kept thinking to myself, “Can’t have it both ways, buttercup.”
I did think Cesare was a manwhore. Him being a Cardinal didn’t slow him down. He went after anything in skirts. That included his own brother’s wife. I was expecting Maddalena and him to hook up, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as late in the book as it was. Honestly, I was glad. I liked that Cesare and Maddalena were able to form a relationship before they got involved. Did I believe that Cesare loved Maddalena? Yes, I do. I do think that in his way, he did.
The end of The Borgia Confessions was rather abrupt. I was left wondering what happened to Maddalena and Cesare. The author’s note, afterward, did clear up any questions that I had. The author, in her note, also explained why she didn’t touch upon the rumors that surrounded Cesare, Lucretiza, and Pope Alexander’s incestuous relationship. She also told why she changed Joffre and Juan’s names. In real life, they were Gioffre and Giovanni.
I would give The Borgia Confessions an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread The Borgia Confessions. I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**