The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner

August 26, 2017 Whitney Review 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Vatican Princess by  C.W. GortnerThe Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner
Published by Ballantine Books on February 9th 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley

For fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, a gripping novel that follows the extraordinary life of young Lucrezia Borgia, the legendary Renaissance Pope Alexander’s beautiful daughter. Was she the heartless seductress of legend? Or merely an unsuspecting pawn in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and her own survival?

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias became Italy’s most ruthless and powerful family, electrifying and terrorizing their 15th-century Renaissance world.

To this day, Lucrezia Borgia is known as one of history’s most notorious villainesses, accused of incest and luring men to doom with her arsenal of poison.

International bestselling author C.W. Gortner’s new novel delves beyond the myth to depict Lucrezia in her own voice, from her pampered childhood in the palaces of Rome to her ill-fated, scandalous arranged marriages and complex relationship with her adored father and her rival brothers—brutal Juan and enigmatic Cesare.

This is the dramatic, untold story of a papal princess who came of age in an era of savage intrigue and unparalleled splendor, and whose courage led her to overcome the fate imposed on her by her Borgia blood.

First Impressions:

The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner is an intriguing narrative of the Borgias.  There is drama, backstabbing and poison all tied up in one neat package.  I was immediately entranced.

What I Liked:
  • The pacing of the novel was fantastic. I was on the edge of my seat waiting upon the next conniving move to be made.
  • Lucrezia Borgia was a very likable person despite the atmosphere she grew up in. I thought C.W. Gortner did a good job portraying her innocence and naivete. As she was only 13 when she wed her inexperience in all aspects of life was an interesting look and I enjoyed seeing her mature and using her instinct to manipulate situations.
  • Despite her family being horrible I quite liked the interactions between them, no matter how dastardly.  However, just when you thought blood was thicker than water I was proved wrong time and time again.


What I Didn’t like:
  • There were three sex scenes that I didn’t care for.  The first, while the act of cheating served a purpose and set wheels in motion, I didn’t care for how it was done.  I thought it was a little too explicit and I would have prefered an “end scene” route.  The second, I knew was coming the minute Lucrezia married.  Her husband forced himself on her.  It just gave me a bad taste in my mouth and was glad it ended quickly. The last involved incest, it was a little to Princess Daisy for my taste and could have been skipped over.


Audio Impressions:

I did listen to part of this on audio and really enjoyed Julia Whelan’s interpretation of it. She is fast becoming a go-to narrator as she enhances the vibrant words being read.

Final Impressions

This was my first book by C.W. Gortner and I know it won’t be my last.  He is so descriptive I could picture the very stones Lucrezia walked on. The author was also so meticulous in bringing these characters to life that they could only be compared to Pinocchio becoming a “real boy”. The Borgias were vivid creatures and were as alluring and deceitful as the Tudors. Lucrezia’s story is one I will not forget anytime soon.


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