This plot is a bit complicated so I will try to keep this summary short and sweet. Francesca Giordano is daughter to the official poisoner for Rodrigo Borgia (what a job). Her father is mysteriously bumped off, and with her eye on taking over pop’s job she shows off her poisoning skills to Borgia and like that she’s got the gig – and that includes finding a way to bump off Pope Innocent before he can sign an edict expelling the Jewish refugees flooding Rome after being expelled from Spain during the Inquisition).

About halfway through the story switches gears as the Pope finally dies (no spoiler, that’s known history) and the story switches focus to a fight between the forces of good (Borgia who wants to protect the Jews so they can continue to bribe him) and bad (the rabid churchmen who want to incite Rome into slaughtering the Jews) and Francesca finds herself in the thick of things in a nail-biting race to save a child from becoming an unwilling sacrifice at the hands of a madman.

The first person narrative used in this book (admittedly not my favorite), comes off at times as overly chatty, it feels like she’s retelling it to an audience and sometimes the attempts at humor fall a bit flat – at least for me. I really didn’t care much for Francesca, nor could I pick up on why she’s so attractive to all the men lusting after her. In the end, this was an OK book, not bad but certainly not great either. If you like historical mystery/thrillers with a OTT credulity stretching heroine who can leap tall buildings in a single bound (let alone diagnose someone with “influenza” years before the word came into use), you might want to give this a whirl. If you’re like me and expecting a serious novel with new insights into the Borgias I’d recommend you keep searching as you won’t find that here. From the ending as well as the jacket blurbs I am guessing this is going to be an ongoing series – Francesca and the Borgias will return to fight the evil priests of Renaissance Italy. Nicely timed now that Showtime is switching gears, hmmm? 3/5 stars.

FTC, I got it via Amazon Vine.

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