Friday, February 14, 2020

Book Review and Giveaway: The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin's 
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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.  Alyssa Palombo's captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy's most infamous families--the Borgias." 

Everyone has heard of the infamous Borgia family who held a lot of power in Italy during the 15th century and Palombo dives even deeper into their tumultuous reign by telling us a story from Cesare's viewpoint as well as Maddalena, a servant to the Borgia family.  Cesare, the Pope's son, isn't interested in becoming an Archbishop, but he knows that he has no choice as his purpose in life is to serve the Borgia family and his father.  He wishes that he was given the task of controlling the military, like his brother Juan.  This definitely is problem as not only does Cesare and Juan not get along, they also compete against each other.  Then there's the Pope's daughter, Lucrezia, who is going to be married off to strengthen the Borgia's alliances with other powerful families.  Every move that the Pope makes is calculated and for a reason: to keep the Borgia family in power.  Readers also get to know Maddalena, who is from the Italian countryside; so, her world is turned upside down as a servant to the Borgias. This is especially true when she catches the eye of Cesare.  If you thought the Tudors had a lot of drama and court intrigue, they have nothing on the Borgias.  If you like historical fiction filled with a lot of lust, drama, and family politics, you won't want to miss The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo.

All of the Borgia family members are flawed, some more than others, but I found myself drawn to Cesare's story the most. How could I not? He had zero interest in becoming a powerful member of the Catholic church, but had to because of his power hungry father.  He finds himself in dangerous affairs and difficult situations all while dealing with his brother, Juan, who is just as bad as his father.  Readers can't help but root on Cesare as Juan is an all around horrible guy, but their competition becomes too much even for Cesare.  Cesare starts making some very bad decisions, but I have to say I enjoyed going along for the ride, because it got very entertaining.  He also begins an affair with Maddalena, which is also complicated.  Let's just say nothing is easy for Cesare and these bad decisions he is making have major consequences for all.

Maddalena is a character that you can't help but feel for in The Borgia Confessions.  She is a widow and is trying to start her life over by working for the Pope. She attracts a lot of unwanted attention from Juan, so Cesare, being a nice man, moves her to work for his sister, which is a much better spot.  But in turn, she has attracted the eye of Cesare  which pleases her as she has watched him admirably from afar and wondered what it would be like to be with him.   

All of these characters in The Borgia Confessions are merely pawns for the Pope.  Everyone is at his mercy and whatever he decides is what will happen.  Cesare, Juan, and the other Borgia children don't have a say; they are merely chess pieces moving around the board in order to win a larger game. It really highlights how corrupt the church was at this time and how greedy the Borgias, as well as many other families, were.  They were all fighting for power and working daily to maintain it at whatever the cost.

If you love the intrigue and the drama of the Tudor court, you must check out The Borgia Confessions. There is a reason the Borgias are Italy's most notorious family. Comment below and tell me what you think about the Borgia family. Have you read any other novels featuring them? 

I can't think of a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than to give away a copy of The Borgia Confessions to one lucky US reader.  Thank you to St. Martin's for hosting this fantastic giveaway.  Please refer to my giveaway rules and good luck! 


  1. I do find stories about The Borgias fascinating!

  2. The comparison to the Tudors has me all sorts of intrigued!

    1. Right? They are definitely as entertaining! Thanks for visiting, Angela.


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