The Borgia Confessions
'Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition--and love." - Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco 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 Borgia Confessions Details

TitleThe Borgia Confessions
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 11th, 2020
PublisherSt. Martin's Griffin
ISBN-139781250191205
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Cultural, Italy, Romance, Fiction

The Borgia Confessions Review

  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. Oh my goodness, I loved this book! In The Borgia Confessions, Alyssa Palombo travels back to Italy in the late 15th century as Pope Alexander VI becomes head of the Church in 1492. The events that follow are told from the perspective of an illegitimate son, Cesare, who becomes a Cardinal in the Church and Maddalena Morretti, a widowed country girl that becomes a servant in the House of Borgia. As the Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an egalley in exchange for an honest review. Oh my goodness, I loved this book! In The Borgia Confessions, Alyssa Palombo travels back to Italy in the late 15th century as Pope Alexander VI becomes head of the Church in 1492. The events that follow are told from the perspective of an illegitimate son, Cesare, who becomes a Cardinal in the Church and Maddalena Morretti, a widowed country girl that becomes a servant in the House of Borgia. As the Pope arranges advantageous marriages for his other children- Lucretia, Juan, and Joffre, loyalties will be tested and betrayals are in every corner. Cesare broods with the anger of the life that he has been given and shows himself to be a very complicated man. As Maddalena will soon learn, the Borgias will stop at nothing to gain what they desire. The Borgias were a truly fascinating family, but of course, I can say that with the luxury of not living in the same time period as them. I enjoyed both Cesare and Maddalena's perspectives in the story, even if their relationship was a very, very, slow burn. A truly memorable novel!Goodreads review 15/02/20Publication Date 11/02/20
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  • Jennie Damron
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first time ever where I loved a book, but did not like any of the characters; real and fake. The writing was superb and the research and passion she showed in this work is incredible. I loved learning about the Borgia's. The family is fascinating in their quest of love and power, but not a single one had integrity or like ability. The character of Maddalena was well thought and believable, but I wanted to shake her sometimes. She would drive me half mad with her decisions and then This is the first time ever where I loved a book, but did not like any of the characters; real and fake. The writing was superb and the research and passion she showed in this work is incredible. I loved learning about the Borgia's. The family is fascinating in their quest of love and power, but not a single one had integrity or like ability. The character of Maddalena was well thought and believable, but I wanted to shake her sometimes. She would drive me half mad with her decisions and then agonizing over guilt that the religion of the day would have her carry. I felt for Maddalena, but did not necessarily like her. I love the way Alyssa Palombo writes. She is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. The history and love of her subject is obvious in this book and I would recommend it highly.I received this advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) as a boy dreams of becoming a soldier and conqueror like the great Roman conqueror, Giulio Cesare. But his father has a different plan for him – to join the Church and follow in his footsteps. This strategic plan of Rodrigo Borgia is for him to reach his goal of becoming pope. Rome, 1492: Maddalena Moretti is a maid serving in the Holy Father’s house. She takes great pride in it. Now, the death of the Pope Innocent brings her a step closer to another historical event of Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) as a boy dreams of becoming a soldier and conqueror like the great Roman conqueror, Giulio Cesare. But his father has a different plan for him – to join the Church and follow in his footsteps. This strategic plan of Rodrigo Borgia is for him to reach his goal of becoming pope. Rome, 1492: Maddalena Moretti is a maid serving in the Holy Father’s house. She takes great pride in it. Now, the death of the Pope Innocent brings her a step closer to another historical event of conclave - choosing the next pope. And she is responsible for gathering servants to prepare the Sistine Chapel for this event; still innocent in her thinking that the process is all guided by God. But she is about to learn how the Vatican really works.Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia has been chosen as the next pope – Pope Alexander VI. And his son Cesare is now an archbishop. His daughter Lucrezia is to marry Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro.King Charles VIII of France invades the peninsula (Italy) in order to gain back Naples. As a result counter strategy leads to signing the Holy League pact. Thus, strengthening the papal rule of Borgia. Cesare becomes less innocent and more calculating in his actions.But ambition and lust for power take breaks, while he romances with Maddalena. This part seems a bit fake and her speaking boldly on a couple occasions. Later him, summoning her almost every night to release his tensions physically. At this point, the story is concentrated on them and the historical background of Borgias’ scheming is put to rest. Also, I don’t pick historical fiction to be reading about intimate pleasure scenes. Therefore for me, those scenes could be omitted. The prophecies and speaking against the Church by Friar Savonarola put the story back on track. Then Cesare asks Maddalena to “go to Florence, to pose as a member of Savonarola’s loyal following, and pass on any and all information…” to him.I wished there were more of stirring the pot by Savonarola and less of romancing. But I can see how the romance part can be appealing more to others rather than scheming.There is one bare mention of poison, which I was expecting more of it. The Borgias are associated with poisoning, but as there is no evidence for them actually resorting to it, I understand author’s choice not wanting to integrate that part into the story.Both characters of Cesare and Maddalena (fictional) reflect well the obedience that was expected of that time period. Cesare forced to follow in his father’s footsteps, instead of following his heart of becoming a great conqueror. Maddalena forced to marry at young age, now enjoys her independence for which she prays for forgiveness as her role as a woman is to marry and be obedient to her husband and have children.The story also presents well the political scheming of Borgias, both father Rodrigo and the oldest son Cesare were very talented strategists.The story gives a good historical background of political-geography of powerful city-states of the peninsula: Vatican with Borgias, Florence with Medici and Milan with Sforza. The conflict of Naples brings King Charles VIII of France crusading over the Alps and invading the peninsula, resulting in Medici family fleeing Florence and Fra Savonarola taking over and creating even bigger havoc.It’s all very real: the alliances and scheming of those who want to be in power, and the piousness of those who still strongly believe in God’s guidance over Church and not corruption.From the historical perspective, the author paints a very rich canvas spreading over the peninsula. Even though, I would rather scratch out the romance from this canvas, I still give this book well-deserved five stars.Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • The Celtic Rebel (Richard)
    January 1, 1970
    Original ~ Informative ~ Entertaining ~ Twisted ~ Haunting ~ Great World Building ~ Realistic ~ Easy To Read ~ Page-Turner ~ Steamy - Wonderful CharactersI have always had a historical fascination with the scheming Borgia family and when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I was really happy when I won it in a giveaway. Alyssa Palumbo has been added to my favorite authors list because she did a really good job here of portraying the political schemes of the Borgias that keeps you interested Original ~ Informative ~ Entertaining ~ Twisted ~ Haunting ~ Great World Building ~ Realistic ~ Easy To Read ~ Page-Turner ~ Steamy - Wonderful CharactersI have always had a historical fascination with the scheming Borgia family and when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. I was really happy when I won it in a giveaway. Alyssa Palumbo has been added to my favorite authors list because she did a really good job here of portraying the political schemes of the Borgias that keeps you interested in finding out what will happen next. It is a sign of true talent to take very unlikable characters and still keep the reader interested. The Borgia family is filled with very selfish and evil individuals. You throw in sweet, caring Maddalena and you should be able to love her. But not so.Maddalena is one of those characters that you just find yourself constantly shaking your head and saying Maddalena quit being so stupid. In the end you don't feel sorry for her because so much of what happened, she did to herself.Overall this is a wonderful book, and I am so glad I read it. Can't wait to read more from Palumbo's pen.
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  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    It is 1492 and we meet Rodrigo Borgia - Pope Alexander VI who has four children and a mistress.The children must do what their father says so the Borgia family can become more powerful.His son, Cesare, must become a cardinal when he really wants to be in the military.His son, Juan, must go to the military when he really isn't suited for it.His daughter, Lucrezia, is thirteen and must marry a man 20 years older than she is so two powerful families can advance together.The fourth child, Jofre, was It is 1492 and we meet Rodrigo Borgia - Pope Alexander VI who has four children and a mistress.The children must do what their father says so the Borgia family can become more powerful.His son, Cesare, must become a cardinal when he really wants to be in the military.His son, Juan, must go to the military when he really isn't suited for it.His daughter, Lucrezia, is thirteen and must marry a man 20 years older than she is so two powerful families can advance together.The fourth child, Jofre, was too young to even consider for anything to help his powerful reign increase until he decided it would be in the family's best interest to find a marriage partner for him at the age of 12.It seems as if marrying into another powerful family would make your family more powerful, and that seemed to be the Pope’s main concern.Ms. Palombo did extensive, amazing research for THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS and gave us a detailed account of the activities at this time. What a wonderful history lesson with information that was new to me.Learning how life in the Vatican was in the 1400’s was quite interesting especially how they married off their children at such a young age and did everything for gaining status and power.I enjoyed the family interaction, but the military planning and political undertakings were not of much interest even though these facts were the gist of the story line and marvelously told. Also be aware that there are some graphic romantic scenes.Did the public really know what went on in the castles with these holy men? What a time to live, and what a family.It seems that there was a lot of greed, scheming, murders at their whim, and other sins to confess. :) 4/5This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    this is a new book from my library and I thought I would like it -- turns out it is very flowery and overly dramatic in its presentation of what seems to be a romance rather than serious historical fiction as I had wrongly thought it was when I checked it out.I am reading another book instead of this one and will reserve the right to change my view if I try it on another day when I am in a different mood. I am feeling Poped out at present.Later maybe.Later Update 2/27: I did open up the book, this is a new book from my library and I thought I would like it -- turns out it is very flowery and overly dramatic in its presentation of what seems to be a romance rather than serious historical fiction as I had wrongly thought it was when I checked it out.I am reading another book instead of this one and will reserve the right to change my view if I try it on another day when I am in a different mood. I am feeling Poped out at present.Later maybe.Later Update 2/27: I did open up the book, took a revisit and found this to be something I do not care for. A load of descriptions of breasts and vulgarity including sex scenes involving pope? Not for me! Back to the library it goes.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...Alyssa Palombo’s The Borgia Confessions invites readers to explore the halls of the Vatican Palace, peek behind its decadent curtains, and glimpse its most exclusive chambers to understand the rise of notorious Borgia scion, Cesare.Written as a sort of bad boy origins story, The Borgia Confessions illustrates Cesare’s world as well as the politics and personalities that shaped him into Machiavelli’s quintessential Prince. Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...Alyssa Palombo’s The Borgia Confessions invites readers to explore the halls of the Vatican Palace, peek behind its decadent curtains, and glimpse its most exclusive chambers to understand the rise of notorious Borgia scion, Cesare.Written as a sort of bad boy origins story, The Borgia Confessions illustrates Cesare’s world as well as the politics and personalities that shaped him into Machiavelli’s quintessential Prince. Palombo understands the complex legacy of her protagonist and the story she presents is a brilliantly imagined chronicle of his individual evolution and the sins he felt forced to commit in the name of both familial and personal ambition.Politically, I loved how this novel captured the ruthless and manipulative nature of power during this period and the dangerous games played by those at its pinnacle. Palombo’s characters aren’t likable, but they aren’t supposed to be. They are a complicated collection of immoral schemers, deceivers, hypocrites, and rogues. Their lack of scruples and less than holy lifestyles deliberately provoke the reader and in so doing create a boldly memorable novel of conflict, controversy, and corruption.The only aspect of the story that didn’t work for me was Maddalena. Her relationship with Cesare felt one-sided and her role, while fun to read, didn’t feel intrinsic to the telling. She didn’t detract from the novel by any means, but she felt like something of a late addition to the narrative, a character shoehorned into place to appease industry standards requiring romantic subplots. I love what Maddalena represents and feel she boasts an admirable degree of brass, but at the end of the day, I didn’t feel her at all necessary to Cesare’s journey.
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  • The Lit Bitch
    January 1, 1970
    I have been a fan of Alyssa Palombo since her very first book. I think she is absolutely a fresh voice in historical fiction and I am always down to read one of her new books.Last year her book on Katrina Van Tassel was so fun and I was eager to see where her next story might take place. When I saw that it was in Italy featuring one of the most notorious families in history, I was so here for it!Palombo always does a marvelous job researching her novels so that they please history fans but they I have been a fan of Alyssa Palombo since her very first book. I think she is absolutely a fresh voice in historical fiction and I am always down to read one of her new books.Last year her book on Katrina Van Tassel was so fun and I was eager to see where her next story might take place. When I saw that it was in Italy featuring one of the most notorious families in history, I was so here for it!Palombo always does a marvelous job researching her novels so that they please history fans but they also have enough character development and intrigue to satisfy fans of fiction too. This book is no exception.While I loved the Katrina Van Tassel book because I love Sleepy Hollow, no one does Italian history like Palombo. Her other books have all been set in Italy and though they have been set in different periods, she always manages to capture the romance and beauty of each period and setting so well!In this book she really out does herself and provides a very detailed accounting of various historical figures and events throughout the story all while navigating fictional characters as well as real life figures in history. Her writing is detailed and elegant as always. I loved how she captured all the political intrigue and scheming, it was really interesting and well done!Sometimes courtier dramas and political intrigue can get a little cliche and boring, but not in this book! I absolutely loved it! As a Catholic, it was fun to learn all the papal history and events. I haven’t studied a ton of religious history during that time, particularly Catholic history so it was fascinating for me to read about. And can I just say, wow I had forgotten how much sex there was in the papal history!If you love historical fiction then this is an author you want on your radar. Normally Renaissance history isn’t a time period that I jump to read but I do when I know it’s been researched and written by this author! I loved this book and am excited to see what her next book is going to be about!See my full review here
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  • Zoe
    January 1, 1970
    Rich, fascinating, and immersive!The Borgia Confessions is a compelling, informative tale set in Rome from 1492 to 1498 that tells the story of Rodrigo Borgia’s children, primarily Cesare, the Archbishop of Valencia who entered the church to please his father against his own true passion for battle and desire to become a condottiere; as well as that of Maddalena, a pious, palace servant who was not only loyal and friendly but a temptation too strong to resist.The prose is vivid and alluring. The Rich, fascinating, and immersive!The Borgia Confessions is a compelling, informative tale set in Rome from 1492 to 1498 that tells the story of Rodrigo Borgia’s children, primarily Cesare, the Archbishop of Valencia who entered the church to please his father against his own true passion for battle and desire to become a condottiere; as well as that of Maddalena, a pious, palace servant who was not only loyal and friendly but a temptation too strong to resist.The prose is vivid and alluring. The characters are bold, ruthless, and driven. And the plot is a sweeping saga that gives an insightful view into the sacrifices, struggles, hopes, fears, treachery, and entangled relationships of one of the most powerful families of Renaissance Italy.The Borgia Confessions is, ultimately, a story about life, loss, love, politics, power, war, corruption, greed, fervour, desires, and sacrifice. It’s a perceptive, absorbing, well-written tale by Palombo that does a beautiful job of highlighting her impressive research and considerable knowledge into the infamous House of Borgia and their undeniable influence on both the Vatican and Italian history.Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Annabelle 💙📘
    January 1, 1970
    I think every book lover needs a healthy dose of family drama, politics, romance and scandal once in a while to stay book fit.
  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and appreciate the opportunity to read ahead of publication.2.5 stars. I REALLY wanted to like this more. The first half moved pretty slowly for me, the 2nd half more interesting. The Borgia's are such a fascinating family in Italian history and I've read both non-fiction and fiction about them. This story didn't add much to what I already knew, nor did the imagined MC of Maddalena provide much interest for me. The chapters are short and alternate between I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and appreciate the opportunity to read ahead of publication.2.5 stars. I REALLY wanted to like this more. The first half moved pretty slowly for me, the 2nd half more interesting. The Borgia's are such a fascinating family in Italian history and I've read both non-fiction and fiction about them. This story didn't add much to what I already knew, nor did the imagined MC of Maddalena provide much interest for me. The chapters are short and alternate between Maddalena & Cesare Borgia's narration of the story. It was choppy and hindered the flow of the story. The characterization of the Borgia's were missing the strength, manipulation & cunning that is always attributed to them as they grabbed power. The addition of Pope Alexander's (Rodrigo Borgia) schism with Savonarola was a nice addition and I would have liked more about this character who had such an impact during the times on cultural and religious thinking. OK, it was a story about Cesare & Maddalena....I appreciated the author's notes, especially the pointing out that there is nothing to substantiate the long-held story that Rodrigo & Cesare had incestuous relationships with Lucrezia. Palombo makes it clear in the novel that it was rumor perpetrated by Borgia enemies.
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  • Kathi Hanaka
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book and the story of the Borgia's. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. Alyssa Palombo's story of the Borgia's quest for power was enhanced wonderfully by her talent to use a historical setting and entwining it with a story of a servant having inside access to the Borgia's plots and schemes to gain power in Rome. Her research and attention to detail of the time period, allowed you to vividly imagine what it was like during the Renaissance. You could easily step into I loved this book and the story of the Borgia's. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. Alyssa Palombo's story of the Borgia's quest for power was enhanced wonderfully by her talent to use a historical setting and entwining it with a story of a servant having inside access to the Borgia's plots and schemes to gain power in Rome. Her research and attention to detail of the time period, allowed you to vividly imagine what it was like during the Renaissance. You could easily step into Maddalena's shoes and feel her struggle between her want of Cesare and her devotion to her faith. When reading from Cesare's point of view you were taken into the struggles of family and church, how futures were plotted and arranged, the lengths to what they would do to keep their family in power and lies and secretes told.After reading this account of Italy in the late 1400's, I can't wait to do more research on the Borgia's.
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  • Adrienne Carrick
    January 1, 1970
    This is how I want to learn about history! This was a very fascinating look at the history of the church and how ambition and desire for power changed what it was meant to be. The author clearly did a great deal of research to make the story as authentic as possible.
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  • Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
    January 1, 1970
    Everyone has heard of the infamous Borgia family who held a lot of power in Italy during the 15th century and Palombo dives even deeper into their tumultuous reign by telling us a story from Cesare's viewpoint as well as Maddalena, a servant to the Borgia family. Cesare, the Pope's son, isn't interested in becoming an Archbishop, but he knows that he has no choice as his purpose in life is to serve the Borgia family and his father. He wishes that he was given the task of controlling the Everyone has heard of the infamous Borgia family who held a lot of power in Italy during the 15th century and Palombo dives even deeper into their tumultuous reign by telling us a story from Cesare's viewpoint as well as Maddalena, a servant to the Borgia family. Cesare, the Pope's son, isn't interested in becoming an Archbishop, but he knows that he has no choice as his purpose in life is to serve the Borgia family and his father. He wishes that he was given the task of controlling the military, like his brother Juan. This definitely is problem as not only does Cesare and Juan not get along, they also compete against each other. Then there's the Pope's daughter, Lucrezia, who is going to be married off to strengthen the Borgia's alliances with other powerful families. Every move that the Pope makes is calculated and for a reason: to keep the Borgia family in power. Readers also get to know Maddalena, who is from the Italian countryside; so, her world is turned upside down as a servant to the Borgias. This is especially true when she catches the eye of Cesare. If you thought the Tudors had a lot of drama and court intrigue, they have nothing on the Borgias. If you like historical fiction filled with a lot of lust, drama, and family politics, you won't want to miss The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo.Read the rest of my review here: http://www.confessionsofabookaddict.c...
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  • Robin Loves Reading
    January 1, 1970
    I admit that I must have fallen asleep during history class at one point, because when I picked up this historical fiction for review, I was not prepared. I was not prepared to learn of Papal history in Rome during 1492. I was not prepared to discover that priests, Cardinals and even the Pope had wives and mistresses. I was not prepared for the lot of it. But I could not put it down - and read it from cover to cover - a fact that has already been disputed despite its length. But I digress.The I admit that I must have fallen asleep during history class at one point, because when I picked up this historical fiction for review, I was not prepared. I was not prepared to learn of Papal history in Rome during 1492. I was not prepared to discover that priests, Cardinals and even the Pope had wives and mistresses. I was not prepared for the lot of it. But I could not put it down - and read it from cover to cover - a fact that has already been disputed despite its length. But I digress.The most incredible discovery I had was the Author's Note and the Acknowledgement at the end of the book. I won't detail those, but needless to say, my eyes were opened even wider than while reading this incredible book.So, it gets Five Stars. Not because I like the Borgia family. In fact, I did not. They were selfish and immoral - something I was unprepared to accept in reading of a holy royal family. I have to rate this book high because it is incredibly well-written and more than captivating.We meet the Borgia family early on when the patriarch of the family, Rodrigo Borgia becomes Pope. He insists that his eldest son Cesare follow his footsteps and instals him as Archbishop of Valencia. From a child, Cesare fought his father on this matter. He wanted an entirely different life. A life, in fact, that his father gave his brother.Another big player in this book is Maddalena Moreti, who is working in the Vatican Palace. Both Borgia brothers notice her undeniable beauty, and Cesare becomes her protector - if at a distances. Through the years, Cesare and siblings grow into young adulthood and they all seek their own desires, especially the older siblings. This continues the long-held jealousy the family dealt with leading with devastating consequences.During these years history and its battles affected the Borgia family on every level, threatening the safe bubble they once lived in. Will this family survive battles that hit them hard from within and outer sources?While written as a fictional novel, it is largely based on historical fact and makes me rather curious to crack open some of the sources that are provided as references at the back of the book. There is literary license in this book in order to make it flow as a story. Perhaps this is what made this a book that caught me from the very beginning. I am not sure my brain can take much more of so much history when I adore fiction, but this was a great foray into something completely different.Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    I was provided an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.This book was well written, and you can tell that the author did her research. I had alway heard of the Borgia's but I never really knew much about them. I learned a great deal from this book, and it prompted me to look up more about them and the actual events that took place. I always knew that the church was corrupt, but this take the hypocrisy to another levelThis book takes place in the 1490s, when Rodrigo I was provided an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.This book was well written, and you can tell that the author did her research. I had alway heard of the Borgia's but I never really knew much about them. I learned a great deal from this book, and it prompted me to look up more about them and the actual events that took place. I always knew that the church was corrupt, but this take the hypocrisy to another levelThis book takes place in the 1490s, when Rodrigo Borgia rises to power as Pope Alexander VI. Determined to make the Borgia's family a dynasty of its own, he uses his children born of his mistress as political pawns to bring his plans to fruition. The book is told from two perspectives, Cesare the eldest, and Maddalena a maid serving in the Vatican. Cesare would rather join the military as he has a head for strategy and is skilled at fighting, however his father has him join the church to broker political deals within the Vatican. Maddalena ends up as a maid and seamstress for Cesare's younger sister. She tries to be a pious woman, but eventually gets caught up in the power struggles, politics, and lust that seems to surround all of the Borgia's.This book is long and very detailed about all of the things that happened from the time Rodrigo Borgia was made Pope until Cesare leaves the church. I will admit that this is not my preferred time period to read about when it comes to historical fiction, but it was very well done. I will say that towards the end it got a bit repetitive as Cesare and Maddalena's relationship progressed. Something would happen to upset Cesare, he would call for her to have a lust filled evening to release his frustration, wash, rinse, repeat. While he did confide in her and they had conversations, they both knew there would be no long term relationship between them because of their stations. I don't at all feel like he was using her or she felt forced into the relationship with him, it but their encounters just got repetitive after a while.I highly recommend reading the author's note about her research and some of the claims made against the Borgia's and what she was able to uncover. It helped clear up some of the fictional liberties she took with the book as well as confirm the actual events that took place during that time.
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  • Diane Standish
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.(Pub date Feb 11, 2020)I've always been fascinated by the Borgias. The author writes from the POV of Cesare and a fictional servant girl Maddelina. It is fiction, but lots of factual history included. Pope Alexander had just ascended the papacy, and he has plans to create a dynasty through his 4 children. Cesare is forced to become an archbishop, then cardinal at 18. The book then tells of Juan, Lucrezia Thanks to Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.(Pub date Feb 11, 2020)I've always been fascinated by the Borgias. The author writes from the POV of Cesare and a fictional servant girl Maddelina. It is fiction, but lots of factual history included. Pope Alexander had just ascended the papacy, and he has plans to create a dynasty through his 4 children. Cesare is forced to become an archbishop, then cardinal at 18. The book then tells of Juan, Lucrezia and Jorge's places in his grandiose ideas. Maddelina is in service to Lucrezia. I enjoyed reading how the author describes the unfolding of the events in Italy from 1492 to 1499. I recommend if you're interested in this period of history.
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  • Miriam Meza
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book, then read it again, and again... and every single time I felt captivated for the writer's narrative voice, the way she constructed her characters and how history and fiction mixed together to bring us a fascinating tale of love, lust, ambition and faith.It was my first time reading this author, but not the first time reading about the Borgias. Yet somehow this read felt different to me, and I loved that. I enjoyed to be surprised in every turn of the page, and can't wait to see I read this book, then read it again, and again... and every single time I felt captivated for the writer's narrative voice, the way she constructed her characters and how history and fiction mixed together to bring us a fascinating tale of love, lust, ambition and faith.It was my first time reading this author, but not the first time reading about the Borgias. Yet somehow this read felt different to me, and I loved that. I enjoyed to be surprised in every turn of the page, and can't wait to see what this author has in store for us in the future.
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  • Piepie
    January 1, 1970
    This was an excellent, excellent book! There were a lot of chapters, but they were short, and I flew through the story. While I had some knowledge of the Borgia family prior to reading this, Alyssa Palombo was undoubtedly able to provide a fresh take on Cesare's life. I really enjoyed reading about sweet Maddalena. Alyssa is an author I repeatedly recommend for great historical fiction -- every one of her novels are great, and this one stands strong. Thank you, Netgalley, for this arc.
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  • Trina
    January 1, 1970
    FANTASTIC! SUPERB! Full review to follow.
  • Dee
    January 1, 1970
    Palombo's books are so well researched and this one is no exception. The Borgia Confessions takes a piece of history and weaves it into a story with interesting (yet very flawed!) characters and vivid details of the setting throughout. A great read for historical fiction fans!
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  • Dan Curnutt
    January 1, 1970
    What an intriguing historical novel. The Borgia family is fully committed to the Roman Catholic Church. So much so that Cardinal Borgia wants to be the Pope and he wants his eldest son to be in the church and eventually take the role of The Pope when the time comes.Now that may sound strange to most of us, how can The Pope have a son? Aren't the Catholic Priests Celibate? If so, then there can not be a "family" succession from father to son. But that is where things become tangled. It is What an intriguing historical novel. The Borgia family is fully committed to the Roman Catholic Church. So much so that Cardinal Borgia wants to be the Pope and he wants his eldest son to be in the church and eventually take the role of The Pope when the time comes.Now that may sound strange to most of us, how can The Pope have a son? Aren't the Catholic Priests Celibate? If so, then there can not be a "family" succession from father to son. But that is where things become tangled. It is apparent that many priests had mistresses and thus had families, although not children that they necessarily publicly acknowledge.Pope Borgia has a son, Cesare, whom he wants to have succeed him as Pope. Thus he makes him a Cardinal in the church after become The Pope.The story revolves around Cesare and his life within and outside of The Church. It documents the political connections that are made. The deals made through marriage to draw families and countries together for the good of the Church.The story is very intriguing, it is filled with surprises, it is filled with love and passion, but not typically for the church but for human companionship. If you are going to read this novel please have an open mind. It is not meant to give you a reason to hate the Catholic Church, it is meant to tell the story of human companionship, human passion, human need and all the good and evil that comes from that.Prepare to be entertained, informed and astonished.
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    A well written, well researched book! The book alternated chapters and I found each storyline interesting. I enjoyed the book and liked the characters even tho I didn’t agree with the things they did. Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin’s press for the early copy.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I was particularly excited for this book. I took a medieval/Renaissance literature class during my undergrad, which taught me a lot about the Borgias and how the Catholic Church functioned in this time. (I also played an excessive amount of Assassin's Creed a few years back, which is obviously a 100% accurate historical record.) I haven't read a contemporary novel set in that era, so I was An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I was particularly excited for this book. I took a medieval/Renaissance literature class during my undergrad, which taught me a lot about the Borgias and how the Catholic Church functioned in this time. (I also played an excessive amount of Assassin's Creed a few years back, which is obviously a 100% accurate historical record.) I haven't read a contemporary novel set in that era, so I was interested to see where this would go. The story follows Cesare Borgia, the illegitimate son of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, and the fictional character Maddalena, who is a servant for the pope.We're thrown into the middle of political intrigue with alliances and betrayals being formed from the prologue. While this immediately creates an interesting read, I don't think enough context was always given. There were a lot of names and titles, and I felt myself easily getting confused. I know the political alliances were complex and always shifting at this time, and I'm not sure if enough work was done to make them coherent and clear to the reader. There wasn't a lot of exposition, in my opinion, but the story might have actually benefitted from a bit.I did DNF this, but I think it's mostly because I couldn't deal with the discussions of child marriages. Cesare's sister, Lucrezia, is given over to a widowed man more than twice her age at the age of thirteen. I know it was normal for that era but some discussions of having sex with such a young child were...ick. (Not to mention grown men lusting over a 13 year old and policing her virginity for political reasons. It's a no from me.) Beyond that, I found Maddalena's POV a bit boring--it didn't have the intrigue and political venom I wanted and expected in a novel about the Borgias.I think it's an interesting premise and I would love to find more books set in this time, but this will be a pass.
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  • Margaret
    January 1, 1970
    This and other reviews can be found at JustOneMoreChapter.comCesare Borgia was a teen with dreams of military life but when your father is Rodrigo Borgia, the Pope, well your life isn't your own. When the Pope tells you what to do there is no arguing. Such is the life of Cesare, bowing to his father (literally). It was a nice change to have a male POV, he might not be all that likable but getting a sense of his turmoil and desires made his story authentic. It wasn't a pretty story - these are This and other reviews can be found at JustOneMoreChapter.comCesare Borgia was a teen with dreams of military life but when your father is Rodrigo Borgia, the Pope, well your life isn't your own. When the Pope tells you what to do there is no arguing. Such is the life of Cesare, bowing to his father (literally). It was a nice change to have a male POV, he might not be all that likable but getting a sense of his turmoil and desires made his story authentic. It wasn't a pretty story - these are the Borgia's after all, but seeing it from his perspective didn't justify his behavior but one could understand it better. Actually, that isn't correct, who can really understand the things they did.The other POV was that of Maddalena, she is a fictional character, maid to Cesare's sister Lucrezia. With desires of her own, secrets to keep and guilt to overcome she is caught up in the Borgia net and gets more than she bargained for.This is only my second time reading Alyssa Palombo and I find her writing style gripping. I am placed in the halls of The Vatican or in the dark alleys. She brings to life a time of unrest with her research shining through along with her passion for the time period. If you haven't read Alyssa Palombo I highly recommend this book along with her previous release The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow.My thanks to St. Martin's Griffin (via Netgalley) for an advanced digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Reeka (BoundbyWords)
    January 1, 1970
    As seen on my blog: Officially the first book I've read that's set before the 1800s, The Borgia Confessions was an extraordinarily well-researched depiction of the infamous Borgia family during Rodrigo Borgia's reign as Pope in the 1490s. Fictional storylines weaved with factual events, characters were pulled from their place in history and reanimated at Palombos hand; made flesh again to relive their sordid tales and commit their heinous crimes. I'm not the first to admit that I knew As seen on my blog: Officially the first book I've read that's set before the 1800s, The Borgia Confessions was an extraordinarily well-researched depiction of the infamous Borgia family during Rodrigo Borgia's reign as Pope in the 1490s. Fictional storylines weaved with factual events, characters were pulled from their place in history and reanimated at Palombos hand; made flesh again to relive their sordid tales and commit their heinous crimes. I'm not the first to admit that I knew absolutely nothing of Cesare Borgia (the eldest son), his siblings, or his parents before I began reading Palombo's detailing of Rodrigo Borgia's rise to the prestigious and powerful title. I researched whilst reading, and found that it really added to the experience, and filled in the very minimal blanks in the plot. As the author took some scandalous liberties with the storyline, I wanted to make sure I knew the basic and general lay of the land (character and scandal-wise). I liked that once I did that, I found that I cared very little for the strategic scenes about war, invasions and attempts to overthrow existing rulers (though my brain would have melted regardless), and instead enjoyed the power and lust-fueled relationships that Palombo handed to me. I found it the most excellent choice to use Cesare, and a fictional lady servant Maddalena, as the two perspectives throughout the narrative. As a reader, I was able to glimpse both sides of the political turmoil, one view coming from the comforts and false sense of security on the inside, and the second, from the general public during some significant changes to their lives. It's when these worlds collide that things get interesting, more dangerous (and to much a readers' dismay, lustier--though I thoroughly enjoyed these bits). I can only write this review as a lover of fiction, and an appreciative student of accidental learning through said fiction. I don't seek out the historical fiction genre, but I know a book deserving of praise when I see one, and The Borgia Confessions is definitely not to be missed by those who are truly fans of both historical fiction and the lives, and misdeeds, of the Borgia family.--------------------* I received an egalley from the publisher via Netgalley to participate in the blog tour*
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  • Andreajanel
    January 1, 1970
    The publisher and Netgalley provided me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia are the children of a man with limitless ambition. He is determined to ascend to the title of Pope, and become the most powerful man in the Western world. His children are tools to fuel his ruthless ambition, and his desire for an enduring legacy. They become pawns in his grand schemes, their own desires and needs sabotaged and drowned by his avarice. Cesare has no The publisher and Netgalley provided me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia are the children of a man with limitless ambition. He is determined to ascend to the title of Pope, and become the most powerful man in the Western world. His children are tools to fuel his ruthless ambition, and his desire for an enduring legacy. They become pawns in his grand schemes, their own desires and needs sabotaged and drowned by his avarice. Cesare has no desire to become a man of the church. He wants to become a soldier, and is jealous of his indolent brother's fortune. Lucrezia wants to be recognized for her sharp wit - but in a world that values women for their jeweled appearance, her intellect is unwelcome. Maddalena is a young widow who becomes a servant in the Borgia household. She is irrevocably drawn to Cesare, despite the warnings clamoring in her conscience. Soon, their lives become inextricably entwined, and mired in secrets that could topple and empire.I loved this dark exploration of the Borgia family and the forces that painted them as forever infamous.
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  • Lissa
    January 1, 1970
    The Borgia family dominated Roman political and religious culture in the late 15th century. The family is mostly known for its ruthless and scandalous behavior and that is on display in this historical fiction retelling. The author does stick fairly close to historical research and stays away from the more salacious (and probably unlikely) gossip which provides an interesting yet entertaining glimpse into the private lives of the Borgias. There is more written about politics then I was expecting The Borgia family dominated Roman political and religious culture in the late 15th century. The family is mostly known for its ruthless and scandalous behavior and that is on display in this historical fiction retelling. The author does stick fairly close to historical research and stays away from the more salacious (and probably unlikely) gossip which provides an interesting yet entertaining glimpse into the private lives of the Borgias. There is more written about politics then I was expecting but I ended up learning quite a bit about fragmented Italy at that period of time. I love meaty historical fiction and I think I would include this in that category. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • SOMDReigel
    January 1, 1970
    “What is in your heart is of no use to me, nor to this family”..”It is what is in your mind that will serve us, and what I intend to make us of..” I don’t seek out novels set in the Renaissance era so this was an unusual read for me. I wanted to go out of my comfort reading zone and am very glad that I took a chance on The Borgia Confessions. A wonderful read about the rise of power of the Borgia family and how the ambition and lust for power affected the family. Cesare is the center point “What is in your heart is of no use to me, nor to this family”..”It is what is in your mind that will serve us, and what I intend to make us of..” I don’t seek out novels set in the Renaissance era so this was an unusual read for me. I wanted to go out of my comfort reading zone and am very glad that I took a chance on The Borgia Confessions. A wonderful read about the rise of power of the Borgia family and how the ambition and lust for power affected the family. Cesare is the center point character as we see his rise through the church ranks though his desire is to be a soldier. The historical events in this novel really happened as well as most of the characters mentioned are real. One exception being Maddalena who is a servant girl in the Vatican Palace who finds herself woven into Borgia family. Her point of view, along with Cesare’s make an intriguing read. I was entertained, I learned some history I wasn’t aware of, and I now will seek additional info on the Borgia family, especially Cesare. Fantastic writing, engaging characters, with history brought to life in a fascinating and engaging way to captivate the reader. A novel which has stuck with me after I have read it – that is what makes a 5 star read for me. I am not quite ready to let it go yet! Excellent read.ARC provided by publisher
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  • Julia
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Palombo's VIOLINIST OF VENICE, but each subsequent book of hers I read, I like a little less. In her latest, Palombo exposes the corruption and evil of the Borgias through the eyes of a fictional maid that has an affiar with Cesare Borgia, the son of a pope and a cardinal. This book was about two and a half stars for me. There was too much politics and machinations of the papacy and the Borgia family - most of which was telling not showing, with Cesare and the pope discussing the I loved Palombo's VIOLINIST OF VENICE, but each subsequent book of hers I read, I like a little less. In her latest, Palombo exposes the corruption and evil of the Borgias through the eyes of a fictional maid that has an affiar with Cesare Borgia, the son of a pope and a cardinal. This book was about two and a half stars for me. There was too much politics and machinations of the papacy and the Borgia family - most of which was telling not showing, with Cesare and the pope discussing the political and military situations. I was bored with that. The fictional maid, Maddelena, seemed two-dimensional and ultimately unlikeable. It also probably doesn't help that I've read much better and captivating historical fiction books on the Borgias, including C.W. Gortner's excellent THE VATICAN PRINCESS and Kate Quinn's THE SERPENT AND THE PEARL. I'm not sure what Palombo's book adds to all this.One final problem was the lack of a cohesive plot.
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