First line: The day I learned of my father’s plans for me, I was but nine years old.
In the summer of 1492 in Rome Cesare Borgia sees his father rise to the
become the newest pope. Cesare has been forced to follow his father
into the church but he knows that he is destined for something more. He
has a strong military mind and passion to rule. However, his father is
blinded by his ambitions to consider what Cesare wants.
Moretti has come from the country to work in the Vatican. As a servant
she sees into the world of powerful men who rule Europe. When she
catches the eye of the handsome cardinal, Cesare Borgia, their lives
become entwined as Rome and the rest of Italy fight the changes that are
coming for them all.
My Thoughts: I love Alyssa Palombo. She is such a talented writer. She brings her stories to life and makes the characters believable. Even though many of the characters in this story are not likeable she does a fantastic job of getting the reader to at least understand them. I have been fascinated by the Borgia’s since picking up The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis. I was very excited when I saw that Alyssa Palombo’s newest book would be centered on this notorious family.
I love the intrigue and drama of the
Borgia family. They were people who schemed for everything they got but
were at the center of religious power in Europe. I am very familiar with
their story so there was not much that surprised me in the narrative
but I loved the naughty bits which were more prominent in this novel
compared to her other ones. I liked seeing the world from the eyes of a
servant. At the end the author discussed how she wanted to look at the
events from someone of power and someone without power. I agree it makes
it much more interesting to see both sides.
FYI: Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.
First line: The day I met Mr. Gellis, I had been walking in the rain.
Sarah Piper is a poor young woman working for a temp agency in London
when an unusual job becomes available. She is hired on as an assistant
for a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis, a WWI veteran and ghost enthusiast,
is determined to prove the existence of ghosts. He wants Sarah’s help
with the ghost of Maddy Clare. Maddy was a servant for the Clare family
until she took her own life in their barn. Now her spirit is wreaking
havoc on the occupants. With the help of Matthew Ryder, a former soldier
and friend of Alistair’s they search for a way to help Maddy move on
and solve the mystery behind her destructive behavior.
Absolutely chilling! Simone St. James is by far one of the best
writers, in my opinion, of the Gothic ghost story. She can weave the
historical fiction, romance and spookiness together seamlessly. I have
been meaning to read this for some time now. It took me just a few days
to read because it was that good!
I loved the mystery behind
Maddy. No one knew who she was or where she came from. She had no memory
and rarely spoke. Then one day she hangs herself in the barn of her
employer. That’s when the trouble really begins. Maddy’s vengeful spirit
is set to attack any man who sets foot on the Clare property. What
happened in her past? Sarah’s first interactions with Maddy were a
little terrifying. It literally gets your blood pumping as you read it.
When you pick this up be prepared to finish it. Maybe even the same day.
FYI: If you like this then try Wendy Webb and Amanda Stevens.
Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
First line: The gentle melody of a Christmas song lifted into the air of his study from the street below.
Summary: Clara Kelley is a poor Irish girl who has been sent by her family to America to acquire a job so she can send money home to her parents. When she is mistaken for another Irish immigrant, she gains the job of a lifetime. She is hired as the lady’s maid to Mrs. Carnegie, the mother of the rising industrialist, Andrew Carnegie. When she is discovered reading books in the family library by Andrew they strike up a friendship. They discuss poetry, their past lives and business. As their relationship grows, she continues to worry that she will lose her position and no longer be able to help her starving family in Ireland.
Highlights: I loved the lightheartedness of the story. The character of Clara was one I enjoyed following through the story. The time period is one filled with change. Seeing the friendship between Clara and Mr. Ford. They were two outcasts at the time. Each had their own struggles in the time of the Civil War. It was a nice look into the history and cultural outlook of the era. I liked the relationship between Andrew and Clara. The background of Andrew Carnegie was fascinating. It showcases the American dream. He came to America as a poor young man but he took advantage of every opportunity to become one of the richest men in U.S. history. I enjoyed his discussions about his love of reading that slowly evolve into the idea for the Carnegie libraries. Mrs. Carnegie was fascinating. She is a society woman who was not exactly sure how to be a society woman. She was new money and learning as she went. I liked that she deferred to Clara on how things were done. However, she always seemed to be in control.
Lowlights: I wanted more of the friendship between Mr. Ford and Clara. They have such an interesting dynamic. Clara claims that Mr. Ford was her only friend but we see very few interactions between the two. I liked that they found someone who is as much on the outside as the other.
FYI: The story is fiction but it is a nice story of Andrew Carnegie.