Sancha of Aragon is the illegitimate daughter of the King of Naples yet she and her brother are raised as royal children. She lives in a court ruled by lasciviousness, avarice, and treachery. As a child she is told that she would make a good ruler. Sancha did not consider it a compliment. She wants to be nothing like her father and yet she recognizes characteristics in herself that do mirror those of the cruel parent. Sancha finds that when she is in the company of her brother she becomes a better person. He brings a sense of well being into her world. She swears to never leave him lest she go mad.
It is unfortunate, however, that once the fierce dedication and need for her brother becomes evident to their father he then uses it against Sancha. At an early age, she learns to conceal her emotions and refuses to allow anyone to hurt her so deeply ever again. Along with maturity comes the realization, too, that life will not allow Sancha and Alfonso to remain children. Destiny will pull them apart and it will take as much determination as ever to keep Sancha close to her brother. Had she known what depths her compulsion would take her, would she have been so fixed on yielding to it?
When Rodrigo Borgia becomes Pope the house of Aragon make plans to re-establish good relations whereas in the past they had not been looked on too kindly. Sancha’s arrival in Rome with her new husband is abounding with unexpected and twisted discoveries. The Pope is more interested in his lust for power and women that includes his daughter Lucrezia, than he is in anything else. Sancha falls for the brother of Lucrezia, which makes her a target. Now Sancha must gather together her strength and determination that has been the balance most of her life. She must protect and avenge herself as well as those who are dear to her. Sancha uses her knowledge to beat the Borgia’s at their own game.
There is so much more to The Borgia Bride than I have room to describe. The intricate weaving of historical detail in this fictional account of a violent family is exceptionally done. The author succeeds in pulling the reader in with her richly drawn characters and the intriguing way in which she tells a story. This novel is brimming with suspense and that makes it nearly impossible to put down once you’ve started.
If you are a fan of Phillipa Gregory then you will love Jeanne Kalogridis’ The Borgia Bride. It is not a romance novel, but instead a tale of an unlikely hero in a time when women were political pawns.