Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: The Lion and the Rose

The Lion and the Rose (Borgias- Book 2) by Kate Quinn

Publication Date: 01/07/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 464
ISBN-10: 0425268764
ISBN-13: 978-0425268766

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Kate Quinn on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

The Serpent and the Pearl (2013), The Lion and the Rose (2014)

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from, The Lion and the Rose, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


From the national bestselling author of The Serpent and the Pearl comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . .

As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over—and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina.

Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . .


Kate Quinn's second book in the Borgia series, The Lion and the Rose continues the story of one of the most notorious families in Roman history. The Borgias were known for their manipulations and ruthless ways and Quinn does a fantastic job of bringing them to life. Pope Alexander VI, better known as, Rodrigo Borgia holds Rome in his iron grip, as well as, his mistress Giulia. His enemies are closing in and Giulia must trust her friends Leonello and Carmelina to help her. Quinn tells a gripping tale of betrayal, power and questionable religious practices, in this second book and readers will be biting their nails as the action heats up. An outstanding addition to the series.

What I liked:

When the first book in this series came out, The Serpent and the Pearl, I wasn't sure if I would like it. I am a huge historical fiction fan, but so much has been written about the Borgias and now with television series added to the mix I was afraid it would be a bit of overkill. Happily, I did go ahead and read Kate Quinn's version of the most ruthless family in Catholic history and I became an instant fan of her writing. She has a smooth lilting kind of style that makes the book read in an almost poetic manner. Her descriptions are flawless and it is obvious that she must be obsessed with the Borgias, because she writes about them with such passion. I love her voice and I would recommend both the first book in the series, and The Lion and the Rose to anyone who loves history and the magic of adding details to the lesser known facts and people. Quinn is an exceptional writer in this genre.

Giulia is Pope Alexander VI's concubine. Even though she is married, she has been traded by her husband to the Pope in order to receive his favor. She is such a interesting character. She has her own agenda throughout this book and she isn't afraid to manipulate and challenge and work people and situations to her own benefit. She isn't a shy, innocent by any means. She has the world practically at her feet, but she is still in danger, because Rodrigo is making lots of enemies. Her character growth throughout this book was amazing. I thought I liked her in the first book, but in this one she really comes into her own. Quinn does an excellent job making her easy to relate to.

The secondary characters like Leonello and Carmelina are a very important part of the story as well. They provide everything from advice to help for Giulia. They also help to move the plot along, as well as, giving moments of levity and even a bit of comedy here and there. This was a scary time in the history of the Catholic church and there were some extremely evil villains to contend with. Don't get me wrong, the Borgias brought a lot of their troubles on themselves, but it was still a chaotic and all together ruthless time in history. The secondary characters really bring that to light in how they operate outside the confines of the Vatican. I thought Quinn did an excellent job with them and that they were relevant and necessary to the whole story.

I loved the way that Quinn interjects her own bits of fiction into the events that been told about for centuries. She is able to take the Borgias and give them new life in the sense that her take on their story is unique and different from anything else on the market right now. I was expecting the same old details and legends and Quinn really did a great job of mixing it up and adding her own originality to it. Excellent writing, colorful characters and wonderful storytelling.

What I didn't like:

This is historical fiction and I realize that it tends to be a bit longer than your average romance or mystery you might pick up off the shelf. I had no problem with the fact that this book was lengthy, but I fear that some readers may not grab it because the page length is a bit daunting. 

Bottom Line: 

Trust me, if you are a historical fiction fan, read this book! It's excellent. And if your not, this is the kind of book you want to try first. Full of action at every turn, with striking characters and history woven into the fabric of every page. You won't be disappointed.

The Lion and the Rose is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Kate Quinn is a native of Southern California . She attended Boston University, where she earned a bachelor's and master’s degree in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she’s written three previous novels set in ancient Rome -- Mistress of Rome, Daughters of Rome, and Empress of the Seven Hills -- all of which have been translated into multiple languages. She is also the author of The Serpent and the Pearl, another novel about the Borgia family and a prequel to The Lion and the Rose.   Kate lives in Maryland with her husband.