The Lion and the Rose (Borgia )

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9780425268766: The Lion and the Rose (Borgia )

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Alice Network comes the continuing saga of the ruthless Borgia family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit...

As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over—and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina.

Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask...

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About the Author:

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before moving to the 20th century with the The Alice Network. All her books have been translated into multiple languages.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

THE LION AND THE ROSE

Chapter One

You are as wise as you are perfect.

—Rodrigo Borgia to Giulia Farnese

GIULIA

You’d think that the Holy Father would have an all-seeing gaze, wouldn’t you? Being God’s Vicar here on earth, surely he would be granted divine sight into the hearts and souls of men as soon as that silly papal hat everyone insisted on calling a tiara was lowered onto his brow. The truth is, most popes don’t have divine insight into much of anything. If they did, they’d get on with the business of making saints and saving souls rather than pronouncing velvet gowns impious or persecuting the poor Jews. Blasphemy it may be, but most popes have no more insight into the minds of humanity than does any carter or candlestick maker walking the streets of Rome in wooden clogs.

And my Pope was no exception. He was the cleverest man I knew in some ways—those dark eyes of his had only to pass benignly over his bowing cardinals to know exactly which ones were scheming against him, and certainly that despicable French King had learned not to cross wits or swords with Rodrigo Borgia over the past year and a half since I’d been ransomed. But when it came to his family, His Holiness Pope Alexander VI was as dense as a plank.

At least at the moment he was a very happy plank.

“Mi familia,” he said thickly, and began to raise his goblet but put it down again to dash a heavy hand at the water standing in his eyes. “My children all together again. Cesare, Lucrezia, Joffre—Juan—”


The loathsome young Duke of Gandia preened, sitting at his father’s right where Rodrigo could easily reach out to touch his favorite son’s shoulder. Juan Borgia, twenty years old now and returned from his lands in Spain. Although he was a duke, a husband, even a father (Holy Virgin, fetch me a basin!)—that auburn-haired young lout looked no different to me, lolling in his chair fiddling with his dagger hilt, already halfway through his cup of wine and giving me the occasional leer over the rim. I’d heaved a great sigh that afternoon, watching him strike a pose before the cheering crowd as he disembarked from his Spanish ship. My lover’s second son had been wearing silly stockings embroidered in rays and crowns, and I’d realized just how much I’d been hoping never to see Juan or his ridiculous clothes or his leer again. As soon as I heard Rodrigo had summoned Juan from Spain to take command of the papal forces against the French, I prayed so devoutly for a shipwreck. You’d think someone nicknamed the Bride of Christ could get the occasional prayer answered, wouldn’t you?

But if I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Juan or his silly stockings again, my Pope was—he had rushed from his elaborate sedan chair across the docks to embrace his son in a great sweep of embroidered papal robes, kissing both his cheeks and uttering a great many ecstatic things in Catalan which he saved for moments of high emotion. Nobody else had missed Juan when he departed Rome for Barcelona to take possession of the Spanish duchy and the Spanish bride my Pope had inveigled for his favorite son—but my Pope certainly had. And nothing would do but to gather the whole family together for an intimate evening cena in the Holy Father’s private apartments at the Vatican.

And what apartments! Just a modest little nest of rooms in the Vatican where the Holy Father could remove his jeweled cope (along with the weight of all Christendom) and relax at the end of the evening like any ordinary man. But Rodrigo Borgia would have nothing ordinary. He had declared he would have the papal apartments new-made, stamped and decorated with a flair that said nothing but Borgia. It had taken two years, but that little painter Maestro Pinturicchio had finally finished the frescoes that had been designed especially for the Holy Father’s personal rooms, and the resulting splendor left all Rome gasping. Our small cena tonight had been set in the Sala dei Santi: the long table draped with sumptuous brocades and set with solid silver dishes and fragile Murano glass; the ceiling arched overhead painted in double crowns and the Borgia bull; the frescoes framed with geometric Moorish patterns in a blaze of colors, imported straight from Spain.

Pinturicchio had used us all as models for his various scenes—Lucrezia dimpled and tossed her blond head under the beseeching figure of herself on the wall as Santa Caterina; inscrutable Cesare lounged under his own image as inscrutable Emperor Maximilian in a massive throne; fourteen-year-old Joffre pranced in the painted crowd as one of the background figures; and Juan cut a ridiculous figure on the wall in a silly Turkish mantle as a turbaned heathen. I was a Madonna in one of the other chambers, with my Laura on my lap for the Christ child. “Surely it’s blasphemous to have a girl sit as model for our Lord!” Maestro Pinturicchio had protested.

“Any more blasphemous than to have a harlot sit for the Madonna?” I’d countered, the Holy Virgin’s blue veil swinging about my face like a joke. I’d never asked to be a notorious woman; I’d been raised for a husband and children like any other girl of noble birth, but here I was. I’d made my own choices, and I made no bones either about what it made me—but I’d been determined to have my Laura in the frescoes along with all the other Borgia children. Maestro Pinturicchio had taken one look at the set of my chin and begun sketching. A nice little man, ugly as the day was long, but skilled. His wife was the most notorious harpy in Rome, and I gave him a rose-quartz and crystal bracelet to give her in the hopes it would sweeten her temper. It hadn’t, but he thanked me anyway, and he made Laura look very pretty indeed in our Madonna-and-Child fresco. Though the halo certainly didn’t suit her; she was a full three years old now and a proper little imp!

Rodrigo was still looking about the table with misty eyes, and I ceased my musing. “It’s not just Our own children here tonight,” he continued, beaming like any proud father despite the regal papal We. “Our new children as well. Sancha—”

Young Joffre’s Neapolitan wife, Sancha of Aragon, was making doe eyes at Cesare through the candlelight, but she dropped her lashes demurely at her father-in-law.

“—and of course Lucrezia’s Giovanni Sforza is here in our thoughts, if not the flesh. A pity he could not join Us—”

Lucrezia giggled behind her hand, not looking very put out about that. My Pope had called her back from her husband’s home in Pesaro last winter for a long visit, declaring he could not do without his dear daughter any longer, and certainly I’d been delighted to see Lucrezia again, both of us chattering and gossiping in the Palazzo Santa Maria just like the old days when she’d been a little girl dreaming of marriage—but she had certainly not seemed inclined to go back to her new home now that she was married. I suppose Pesaro’s provincial pleasures had worn rather thin after two years. Lord Sforza had stamped off home this spring, muttering of duties that could not be put off, and he’d stamped off alone.

“And a pity your beautiful Maria Enriques could not travel with you from Spain,” Rodrigo continued, giving Juan’s arm another pat. “We would have liked to see Our new daughter.”

“She begged to come, but she’s breeding again.” Juan shrugged, rotating the silver stem of his wine goblet between restless fingers. “I’m happy enough to leave her behind. The cow is always weeping and praying.”

“Now, now,” Rodrigo chuckled. “She’ll be mother to another Borgia prince soon!” He gave an indulgent shake of his head and raised his goblet. “No matter. All of us are together again. As it should be.”

His children raised their goblets too, but I couldn’t help noticing that not everybody looked entirely pleased to see la familia Borgia reunited. Joffre was sulking, squashed in beside Juan and ignored by Sancha, and as for Cesare . . .

“La familia,” said the Holy Father.

“La familia,” everyone echoed, and the look Cesare sent his brother across the table could have kindled the napkins.

“So,” I said brightly as a stream of papal servants entered with massive silver dishes, “how was the crossing from Spain? Did the waves stay smooth for the Duke of Gandia?”

“Smooth enough,” Juan said, eyes flickering to my breasts.

“I suppose your Duchess will be very much distressed to have you gone.” Myself, I’d have thrown a great party in celebration.

Juan shrugged again, clearly not interested in his wife. His eyes went to Cesare as the first dishes were laid before us on the cena table. “So, brother. Hostage to the French, were you? I hear you ran away.”

“Escaped,” said Cesare. He was a dark shadow among the candles—in his plain black velvets he seemed to eat the light and refuse to give it back again. “The Holy Father and I arranged it all. I escaped as a groom shortly after we set out from Rome.”

“Ran,” Juan grinned.

“He was ever so brave,” Sancha cooed in her milky-sweet voice. She and Joffre had been recalled from their official seat in Naples to Rome that May, and it hadn’t taken me more than a week to start despising that velvety purr of hers. I’d met Sancha only once, at her wedding to little Joffre when he was twelve and Sancha four years older, and that occasion had been quite enough to make me think we weren’t destined to be the best of friends. And when Sancha took an idle look at Leonello at her welcoming banquet and told me, “Your dwarf is a fine specimen; have you ever considered breeding him? I have the most cunning little juggling woman—” Well, after that I’d started calling her the Tart of Aragon, and I knew I’d happily watch her choke to death on a fish bone. “Try the carp, Sancha,” I suggested, but she was talking over me and toying with the pearl pendant about her neck to draw attention to her breasts.

“Cesare left all his baggage behind, you know.” She left off the pendant long enough to hold her wine cup to be refilled again—she certainly could put it away! “And when King Charles went to look, he saw that all those chests that were supposed to be filled with coin and silver plate had nothing but stones under a top layer of ducats! You could hear the scream all the way in Rome.”

Juan gave Sancha’s breasts an automatic glance, but his attention was all for his brother. “I expect I’ll do better than run when I see the French, brother.”

Cesare toyed with his table knife.

“You’ll send the French packing, boy!” my Pope said warmly. He’d left off his ecclesiastical robes, and in his embroidered doublet and linen shirtsleeves he could have been any merchant father or ducal paterfamilias: the proud and swarthy Spaniard surrounded by children who all looked like him. “We taught them a lesson at Fornovo; now you’ll finish them off.”

Really, after all that fuss the French had made declaring they would annex all of Naples and the papal territories too before they were done, everything had petered out so embarrassingly. Well, embarrassing if you were French. After they got their poxy noses bloodied at Fornovo and had to flee back north, my Pope made me a present straight from the French King’s own abandoned baggage: a certain diary in execrable handwriting, detailing the ladies who had shared the royal bed on campaign, with descriptions of their skills. “No, thank you,” I’d said, wrinkling my nose.

“Are you sure?” Rodrigo had turned the pages with great interest. “There are a few ideas here. Requiring a bit more flexibility than I’m capable of at my age, to be sure . . .”

“Really, Rodrigo,” I’d scolded. “Dirty stories? Whatever happened to giving a woman flowers?”

“Then flowers you shall have.” And I’d acquired a pretty little set of diamond roses to clip into my braided hair. Every time the Tart of Aragon looked at them I could see her little nose twitch with lust. Her little nose was usually twitching with lust of one kind or another. For the past two months it had been twitching for Cesare, in whose lap she appeared to be dandling her hand under cover of the damask tablecloth. She didn’t have a glance for poor little Joffre—he’d grown to a tall gangly youth, but he still seemed like a child to me, sulking in the shadow of his voluptuous wife and his taller, handsomer brothers. I tried to engage him in the conversation—“You’ll be next on the battlefield after your brothers, Joffre!”—but he pushed his lip out in sullen silence and I finally gave up and stabbed at my roast capon, which had been taken off the spit too soon and was now oozing red juice all over my plate like it had been wounded rather than cooked. You’d think the Pope would eat better than anyone else in the Holy City, but you’d be wrong. It wasn’t fair, this reputation he’d acquired for dissipation and luxury—my Pope was so indifferent to what he ate, he didn’t care if the Vatican cooks fed him or his guests on bread and water. Anyone who wanted a decent meal at the Pope’s table had better hope they were eating at the Palazzo Santa Maria, where I presided over the table and my fierce Carmelina Mangano held sway in the kitchens. Carmelina would have taken one look at this half-raw chicken and the burned focaccia and the salad with too many capers and gone down to the Vatican kitchens to whack off a few heads.

I pushed my plate away. All this la familia tension was giving me a headache, and I always eat when I have a headache, but this food was past enjoying. Besides, I was starting to get just a bit plump again—some women might be able to stay wand-slim no matter what they ate, but my dresses got tight if I even looked at a plate of tourtes. So very unfair. At least food like this was easy to push away.

“So you’re to be Gonfalonier?” Sancha was bubbling now at Juan. “Our bold leader against the French! I see bravery in the Borgias isn’t limited to just one brother!”

“One might doubt that,” Cesare murmured.

“My husband wanted to lead the papal forces, you know.” Lucrezia laughed. “Can you imagine? He has trouble enough with those Pesarese captains of his, and now he wants papal soldiers! He thinks he’s Alexander the Great, you know; too ridiculous—”

Sancha tittered and Juan guffawed; even Rodrigo had a chuckle at his son-in-law’s expense, and I couldn’t blame him either because Lord Sforza had gotten very sour this past year and spent most of his last visit pestering my Pope for money. But I couldn’t help looking at Lucrezia—sixteen years old now but as poised as a woman of twice as many years, wearing a purple-and-crimson gown cut as low as Sancha’s, rubies in her ears and rouge patted on her cheeks and a ring on every finger. She looked eager and glittering, greedy for every eye to be on her, and I thought back to the gently glowing girl who had first blushed at her new husband over my cena table.

Well, such girls grew up. And Lucrezia had acted alongside me as her father’s hostess this past winter, finally old enough to take her place as the star of the papal court—perhaps it had gone to her head just a little. It certainly would have gone to mine at her age. I had only twenty-two years to my name, but sometimes I felt distinctly world-weary.

They were talking of that mad priest Fra Savonarola now, the one preaching and frothing at the mouth in Florence and getting everyone to give up their cards and their fine clothes and all their other luxuries. “Only in Florence,” Juan snickered. “That would never happen in Rome!”

“My Giulia might give up cards,” Rodrigo said, giving my cheek an affectionate tweak. “But never her pearls!”

“As if anyone would go about in sackcloth just because one sour old man said puffed sleeves were heretical!” Lucrezia laughed.

“I don’t kn...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . . As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina. Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . . Codice libro della libreria AAS9780425268766

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . . As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina. Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . . Codice libro della libreria AAS9780425268766

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. New.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . . As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina. Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . . Codice libro della libreria BTE9780425268766

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