The Borgia Mistress


Rome, 1593. Francesca Giordano, a young woman of dark passions and even darker talents, is the court poisoner to Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia. Her task is to protect Rodrigo, his papal throne, and the lives of the Borgia family from the threats of enemies both within and outside of Rome. Here the Church is enveloped in corruption. Monarchs and Cardinals vie to wrest control of Christendom from Borgia’s hands.

Underlying these obligations is Francesca’s sexual relationship with Cesare, the Pope’s son, and an illness of the mind and body which frequently overwhelms her. Her obsessive need to find and kill the priest who murdered her father has been redirected to two very different themes. The first is to discover more about her dead mother from her mother’s childhood friend. The second is to discover who is assassinating members of the papal household. Who could gain from these deaths? Once again the Borgia papacy is threatened, and it falls to a physically debilitated Francesca to discover the answers.

Poole weaves her complex tale like the finest silk. The story is both subtle and rich, enveloping her readers in the historical complexity of Renaissance Rome. Poole’s third novel is peopled with many of the same characters as HBO’s The Borgias. I sincerely hope that this is not the last we see of Francesca Giordano and her friends. Sara Poole’s Borgia stories are a delight. Highly recommended.

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