THE RED LILY CROWN
Loupas’ reputation as a force in historical fiction gains momentum with this exciting, well-crafted story. Loupas paints a vivid portrait of the time, giving readers an in-depth picture of the beauty, cruelty and madness, and the superstitious nature of powerful men and women.
Florence is in flux as one duke dies and another prepares to take his place. Young Chiara Nerini would gladly sell her soul or her body to the new duke, Francesco, if it would keep her family safe. The duke wants her father’s alchemy equipment and her as his virgin accolade. For 14 years Chiara is Duke Francesco’s prisoner, navigating the halls of the Plaza and myriad intrigues. Chiara grows from girl to woman working alongside the duke’s alchemist, Ruanno, who carries his own secrets and burdens. It is easy for her to fall in love with him as they become pawns in Francesco’s treachery. (NAL, Apr., 448 pp., $16.00)