Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas

"The prince was a Medici, richer than Satan, and people said he loved only two things - women and alchemy. To feed her Nonna and her two little sisters, Chiara would have sold herelf to him quck as a stray cat, but she wasn't very promising concubina material - her chest bones stuck out and hyer wrists and ankles were knobbly as a colt's fetlocks. True, she was fifteen and a virgin and had a braid of dark hair down to her hips, but on the other hand she had the curved scar on the left side of her head, just above her ear. Her hair covered the mark but she couldn't always hide the headaches and the falling-spells. Sometimes she heard demon's voices." Opening Paragraph 

Synopsis:  Elizabeth Loupas returns with her most ambitious historical novel yet, a story of intrigue, passion, and murder in the Medici Court...

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?

Review by Mirella Patzer

The Red Lily Crown literally swept me away. I was totally engrossed with this fantastic story! I read the entire novel in less than 24 hours. Yup, it was that good! Italian historical fiction is my favourite genre, and the Renaissance is another source of fascination for me. Author Elizabeth Loupas did her research. Her story is full of twists and turns, murder plots, danger, and plenty of shocking turns of events. Florence and Milan truly came alive with her detailed descriptions of locations, buildings, and characters. The alchemy part of the novel was also fascinating as she weaved this magical element in a most believable way throughout the story.With a savvy, courageous heroine, plenty of terrible villains and duplicitous characters, and true love, this story has it all to keep anyone entertained for hours and hours. I loved it and it is one of my favourite all time novels! 

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