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The Borgia Betrayal: Book summary and reviews of The Borgia Betrayal by Sara Poole

The Borgia Betrayal

A Poisoner Mystery Novel

by Sara Poole

The Borgia Betrayal
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2011
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

Before the Tudors, there were the Borgias. More passionate. More dangerous. More deadly.

From the author of Poison, comes a new historical thriller, featuring the same intriguing and beautiful heroine: Borgia court poisoner, Francesca Giordano.

In the summer of 1493, Rodrigo Borgia, Alexander VI, has been pope for almost a year. Having played a crucial role in helping him ascend the chair of Saint Peter, Francesca, haunted by the shadows of her own past, is now charged with keeping him there. As court poisoner to the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy, this mistress of death faces a web of peril, intrigue, and deceit that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance.

As dangers close in from every direction, Francesca conceives a desperate plan that puts her own life at risk and hurls her into a nightmare confrontation with a madman intent on destroying all she is pledged to protect. From the hidden crypts of fifteenth-century Rome to its teeming streets alive with sensuality, obsession, and treachery, Francesca must battle the demons of her own dark nature to unravel a plot to destroy the Borgias, seize control of Christendom, and plunge the world into eternal darkness.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A nice accompaniment for this spring's The Borgias TV series, Poole's hypnotic, richly detailed historical provides an illuminating portrait of Italy's most powerful Renaissance family... [An] aromatic elixir of political power plays, seductive romance, and dark derring-do." - Publishers Weekly

"Poole's second historical title continues seamlessly from where Poison left us...Sometimes fascinating, often implausible, this is nonetheless a good read. For historical fiction and romance readers." - Library Journal

Reading Guide

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Reader Reviews

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Carol G. (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)

The Borgia Betrayal
After watching The Borgias TV series I wanted to read this book. I'm only sorry that I didn't read Poole's Poison first for some insights and info on Francesca and her family.
I've read so much about the Tudors and now continuing on to the Borgias now. This detailed historical novel gives much insight into this powerful Renaissance family that many probably are not aware of.
I am looking forward to the third installment of this series as the conclusion of this book promises additional conflict.
This book was a compelling read from the first page and I would bet that any lover of historical fiction would be enthralled by its action and suspense during this Renaissance period.
It was a super read! Thank you for allowing me to review this superb book.

Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)

The Borgia Betrayal
The Borgia Betrayal is the sequel to Poison by Sara Poole, the first book about Francesca Giordano, but readers who start the series with the second one will have no trouble picking up the story, as it really stands alone. I was surprised that a series based on a female Italian poisoner was not about Lucrezia Borgia, but although she makes several appearances in the book, she is thirteen and waiting for her wedding, that may or may not actually take place. Francesca is the personal poisoner and protector of the Borgias, Lucrezia, Cesare (her lover) and Pope Alexander VI and is trying to protect them and, at the same time, kill her father’s murder, a mysterious priest who is the enemy of the Borgia pope and supporter of the fanatic Savonarola. Amid poisoning attempts and obscene graffiti, underground tunnels and an army of thieves, Francesca must always be one step ahead of those who threaten the Borgias. Although the papal and international politics of the time form the background of the plot, readers unfamiliar with them will not be disadvantaged as enough information is scattered in the chapters to make it clear what’s happening outside of Rome. No big paragraphs of history, just enough conversation to guide readers in the complex politics of the time. The hot, humid atmosphere of Rome in the summer makes you want to turn up the air conditioner full blast—or at least get a cold lemonade. Although taking place in a small part of the city, I felt that I knew it when the book was done and could have greeted the glassmaker and Captain of the guard by name. Sara Poole writes well, the story is well paced and I really got a sense of Francesca and her friends. Although the repeated references to Francesca’s “darkness” and “the beast inside” make me wonder if this was going to be one of the trendy vampire mashups, it wasn’t (thankfully) and even Francesca’s psychological issues were well integrated into the story. Now I need to read the first book and find out what started Francesca on her dark road. The conversation with the author at the end of the book indicates that Poole has several more volumes planned in Francesca’s story, so more to look forward to. Thanks to BookBrowse for sending me The Borgia Betrayal, and introducing me to this fascinating woman and her times,

Judy B. (Santa Fe,, NM)

The Pope's Poisioner
The continuation of Sara Poole's character, Donna Francesca, the Pope's Poisoner, is an action-packed novel with handsome knights, ordinary citizens of 15th century Rome, smugglers of the world below that city, a priest who is not very holy, and Pope Alexander VI who is conniving and cunning and wishes to barter his daughter's hand in marriage to retain his office as Pope. Donna Francesca must find the priest who wishes to kill the Pope before he does so and in so doing determine which of the pope's sons is a loyal subject. This is a very well researched "page-turner" of the highest form and you are learning history, too! Incidental to the plot are historical characters such as Christopher Columbus and their Most Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella, play parts as well, making this a lush, swashbuckling, historical tale.

Mary D. (Claremont, CA)

The Borgia Betrayal
Excellent book! The storyline was intriguing and it drew you in right away. Even though I had not read the first book in this series, Poison, there was enough background information given so this book stands alone easily. (I did buy a copy of Poison and am reading it now.) The characters are well-drawn and all very interesting, although not all are likeable. Sara Poole has done great research into the time period both historically, especially dealing with the way Jews were treated and looked upon at that time and in the way the Roman Catholic Church tried to discourage education among the masses, and in terms of the art and architecture of the time. While resolving most of the loose ends in this book, Ms. Poole has left the door wide open for the next book in the series, which I will be eager to read. I would highly recommend this to all fans of historical fiction/suspense.

Carol P. (Mendham, NJ)

The Borgias and treacherous times
I tend to gravitate to historical fiction so although I may be biased, I thought Sara Poole did a wonderful job providing a view of a very turbulent time in Italy and around the European continent. Her narrative brings you into the intrigues, and lust for power being taken by the aristocracy and the church. At the same time however, you are able to envision the city of Rome, the streets and back alleys and all the sights and sounds of a city in tumult. The main character Francesca, a woman poisoner, brings to life the family story of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, his sons Cesare, Juan and his daughter Lucrezia and the power feuds and treachery encompassing them all.

I would recommend to book clubs as a great discussion vehicle for the changes occuring in the Church, and the changes to political families in power.

Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)

The Borgia Betrayal
Sara Poole has created a cracking good tale, filled with intrigue, mystery, plots twists, and romance told by the heroine Francesca Giordano, poisoner to Pope Rodrigo Borgia. I loved it that the central character is an interesting, independent woman, living a life unlike most other women of her time, yet made believable by the setting and circumstances created by the author.

Set in 1493 just after the discovery of the New World by Columbus, it brought me a new perspective on and interest in the effects of that discovery on the European world, and the power struggles it set into motion. Francesca deals with her job of protecting the pope and his family, while also trying to avenge the murder of her father, against the backdrop of the historical drama taking place as a result of that discovery.

The only slight criticism I have of the book is that it gets a bit carried away with the lurid love scenes, bringing it back down into the realm of a lightweight "romance" novel.

It was a quick read and one of those books that once started was hard to put down. I definitely plan to go back and read the first novel in this series, "The Poisoner", and look forward to the rest of Francesca's story yet to come - I hope in many, many more adventures!

...35 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Sara Poole Author Biography

Sara Poole is the pen name of a NY Times bestselling author who is branching out to write historical novels. Her long-time fascination with Renaissance Italy and with the Borgias in particular has led her in this new direction. It corresponds nicely with her interest in botany as especially regards the poisonous plants flourishing all around us. Sara lives in the Northeast with her husband and a menagerie of animals who are discouraged from nibbling on anything outside.

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