The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

Published:  February 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  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. (publisher)

My take:  If you like historical fiction set in 15th century Italy you probably know about the Borgias. Alyssa Palombo delves into this illustrious family that ruled the Vatican and provided fodder for Roman citizens who enjoyed gossiping about the rich and famous.

The novel is filled with the politics of the day, intrigue, and outrageous family dynamics fueled by the self-serving ambitions of the Borgia siblings and their father. The Borgias believed the ends justified the means and they did whatever it took to get what they wanted. Told from the perspectives of Maddalena, a pretty maid in the household of Lucrezia Borgia, and Cesare Borgia, the oldest son of Pope Alexander VI. Ultimately, The Borgia Confessions is a tale of ambition and betrayal and the cost to all involved.

Palombo’s informative author’s note at the end explains the fictional and actual events of the novel.


Praise for Alyssa Palombo and THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS

“[A] vivacious tale of power and love set in 1492… Excavating the personal relationships and petty disagreements that fueled Pope Alexander VI’s controversial reign, Palombo’s enticing tale will please fans of Sharon Kay Penman.” 

Publishers Weekly

“Readers looking for an immersive, light, romantic read will enjoy this book.”

 –Booklist

 

“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. I was utterly engrossed from page one. A colorful and suspenseful novel, The Borgia Confessions is packed with complex characters and political intrigue, and will leave readers hungry for more.” 

Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco

“Palombo has crafted a sweeping and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Cesare Borgia, one of history’s most notorious “bad boys,” and the world surrounding him. [A] dark Renaissance parable about the intertwining of lust and power. If you’re as fascinated with all things Borgia as I am, you won’t want to miss this one!” 

Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams and Bad Princess

“Handsome. Intriguing. Dangerous. Seductive. [This] is everything you want in a book–it’s a romance, a page-turner, and a ride deep into the sumptuous and tumultuous time of Renaissance Italy.” 

Crystal King, author of The Chef’s Secret

“Alyssa Palombo’s deft and delicate prose makes a gorgeous contrast against the visceral and cutthroat world of the Borgias. Dark and decadent, THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS is mesmerizing from start to finish.” 

Meghan Masterson, author of The Wardrobe Mistress


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.

Photo credit: Jennifer Hark-Hameister



THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS: A Novel

By Alyssa Palombo

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin | On-Sale: February 11, 2020

Trade Paperback | 9781250191205 | $16.99

EBook | 9781250191212 | $9.99


An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham

An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham

Published:  February 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  At thirty, Greer Hadley never expected to be forced home to Madison, Tennessee with her life and dreams of being a songwriter up in flames. To make matters worse, a series of bad decisions and even crappier luck lands her community service hours at a nonprofit organization that aids veterans and their families. Greer cannot fathom how she’s supposed to use music to help anyone deal with their trauma and loss when the one thing that brought her joy has failed her.

When Greer meets fifteen-year-old Ally Martinez, her plans to stay detached and do as little as possible get thrown away. New to town and dealing with the death of her father in action, she hides her emotions behind a mask of bitterness and sarcasm, but Greer is able to see past it and recognizes pieces of who she once was in Ally. The raw and obvious talent she possesses could take her to the top and Greer vows to make sure life’s negativities don’t derail Ally’s potential.

After Greer is assigned a veteran to help, she’s not surprised Emmett Lawson, the town’s golden boy, followed his family’s legacy. What leaves her shocked is the shell of a man who believes he doesn’t deserve anyone’s help. A breakthrough with Ally reminds Greer that no one is worth giving up on. So she shows up one day with his old guitar, and meets Emmett’s rage head on with her stubbornness. When a situation with Ally becomes dire, the two of them must become a team to save her—and along the way they might just save themselves too. (publisher)

My take:  Thirty year old Greer Hadley tried to make it as a singer/songwriter in Nashville but when her dream didn’t take hold she came home to Madison, TN. To make matters worse she gets in a bar fight which gets her arrested. She ends up doing community service at a non-profit that uses songwriting and music as therapy for veterans or family members of vets.

Greer gets the most challenging clients. First is Ally, a surly teenager who has no interest in a stranger teaching her how to write songs. Second is Emmett, a newly discharged vet who is dealing with the loss of a leg and the reasons behind it. He’s also a former classmate of Greer’s. She has her hands full with these two but is determined to put her time in and then move on with her life.

An Everyday Hero is about learning to live a new normal after you think life is through with you. I liked the realistic and upbeat tone of the book. This is the second of Laura Trentham’s books I’ve read and I look forward to reading more.


About the author:

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. Then He Kissed Me, a Cottonbloom novel, was named as one of Amazon’s best romances of 2016. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.


 

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Published:  Oct. 29, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.

But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?

Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?

From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words BookshopThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out. (publisher)

My take:  Take one completely engaging lead character (Ailsa), add a life-threatening condition, a sparkling cast of characters with issues of their own, and tango – well that’s a recipe for a novel that made me happy I’m a reader.

Ailsa was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and has managed to stay alive until the age of twenty-eight when a compatible heart becomes available. She thought the journey to that day was hard. And it was. But she learns that living with her new heart has a new set of challenges, not the least being brave enough to put herself out there in this new life.

The story is told through the blog she set up related to her condition, emails and texts with various people, and the story of past relationships. I hesitate to expand but I can say I’m very glad to have had the chance to read Stephanie Butland’s second novel. It’s an emotional novel and one that left me with a happy heart.


About the author:

Photograph by Elliott Franks

STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.

Book-buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250242174


 

Seven Letters by J.P. Monninger

Seven Letters by J.P. Monninger

Published:  October 8, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  Kate Moreton is in Ireland on sabbatical from her teaching position at Dartmouth College when she meets Ozzie Ferriter, a fisherman and a veteran of the American war in Afghanistan. The Ferriter family history dates back centuries on the remote Blasket Islands, and Ozzie – a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States – has retreated to the one place that might offer him peace from a war he cannot seem to leave behind.

Beside the sea, with Ireland’s beauty as a backdrop, the two fall deeply in love and attempt to live on an island of their own making, away from the pressures of the outside world. Ireland writes its own love stories, the legends claim, and the limits of Kate and Ozzie’s love and faith in each other will be tested. When his demons lead Ozzie to become reckless with his life―and Kate’s―she flees for America rather than watch the man she loves self-destruct. But soon a letter arrives informing Kate that her heroic husband has been lost at sea, and Kate must decide whether it is an act of love to follow him or an act of mercy to forget.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of Kate and Ozzie. They meet, fall in love, and then life takes unexpected turns. I was surprised that everything seemed to happen quickly where these two were concerned but decided it was the author’s story to tell and I was along for the ride.

I loved the setting. I know Ireland is wonderful and magical because I’ve been there more than once. Monninger did a beautiful job with description. I also liked learning a bit about the Blasket Islands. Although set mainly in Ireland the story travels to Italy, Canada and the US.

There were a few times when I felt lost because of ‘time gaps’  but I quickly got up to speed. The seven letters serve to catch the reader up as the story progresses and by the time I’d read the seventh I was satisfied with the resolution. As I read I felt a bit of a folktale tone – something I didn’t know I liked. I enjoyed Seven Letters and recommend it to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.


About the author:

J.P. Monninger, author of The Map That Leads to You, is an award-winning writer in New England and Professor of English at Plymouth State University.


 

Christmas Angels by Nancy Naigle

Christmas Angels by Nancy Naigle

Expected publication date:  Oct. 15, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Growing up, Liz Westmoreland dreamed of taking over her grandparents inn located in the small mountain town of Angels Creek only for it to be sold before she ever got the chance. While browsing the internet, she stumbles upon a listing for what looks to be the picturesque inn and it’s set to go to auction. Liz places a bid, and by a miracle, wins the auction. But when she gets there she finds the property in significant disrepair.

When Matt Hardy narrowly lost the inn and property that butted his land, he just hoped it wasn’t another city slicker coming to make matters worse after the previous owners gutted the place for an art gallery. But the minute he recognized the sweet, freckle-faced girl from his childhood and heard her plans to reopen the inn, he jumps at the chance to help his childhood crush restore a place where he made so many fond memories.

While working on repairs, Liz and Matt discover her grandmother’s collection of angels in one of the cabins. When the angels start mysteriously showing up all over the inn, she begins to look at them as reassurance—that restoring the inn is what she’s meant to do. But when an accident leaves Liz feeling like she made a mistake, will Matt—and the residents of Angels Creek—be able to show Liz that she’s found a home? And possibly true love as well? (publisher)

My take:  Christmas Angels is the story of Liz Westmoreland and Matt Hardy, two people looking for a chance to realize their dreams. When fate brings them together in Angels Creek they’ll find out if dreams really do come true. Liz loved the area when her grandparents lived there and ran an inn. She would love to do the same and, at the same time, help to revitalize the community. Matt has the same intentions and will use his contractor and construction skills to make things happen. The two will have to dodge occasional bumps in the road but they also have a lot of fun getting to know each other along the way. This is a Christmas story with the theme of sharing one’s gifts being the best gift of all. Perfect for fans of Hallmark movies and all things Christmas.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Patchwork Bride

The Patchwork Bride by Sandra Dallas

Paperback publication: August 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Giveaway book courtesy of the publisher

From Sandra Dallas, the best-selling author of A Quilt for Christmas, comes the irrepressible story of one woman’s quest to find love without losing herself in the American West – now available in paperback.

Ellen is putting the finishing touches on a wedding quilt made from scraps of old dresses when the bride-to-be—her granddaughter June—unexpectedly arrives and announces she’s calling off the marriage. With the tending of June’s uncertain heart in mind, Ellen tells her the story of Nell, a Kansas-born woman who goes to the High Plains of New Mexico Territory in 1898 in search of a husband.

Working as a biscuit-shooter, Nell falls for a cowboy named Buddy. She sees a future together, but she can’t help wondering if his feelings for her are true. When Buddy breaks her heart, she runs away.

In her search for a soul mate, Nell will run away from marriage twice more before finding the love of her life. It’s a tale filled with excitement, heartbreak, disappointment, and self-discovery—as well as with hard-earned life lessons about love. Another stunning, emotional novel from a master storyteller.

Sandra Dallas is the author of fifteen novels, including A Quilt for Christmas, Fallen Women, True Sisters, The Bride’s House, Whiter Than Snow, Prayers for Sale, Tallgrass and New Mercies. She is a former Denver bureau chief for Business Week magazine and lives in Denver, Colorado.


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