Book Review: The Borgia Confessions, by Alyssa Palombo

the borgia confessions
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Borgia Confessions
Author:  Alyssa Palombo
Genre:  Historical fiction
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Rome, 1492.

Rodrigo Borgia has risen to pope and is intent on bringing his family with him on his rise in power. His goal is a papal dynasty. His oldest son, Cesare, doesn’t want to enter the church—he wants to be in the military—but he abides by his father’s plans—as his foolish brother is chosen for military greatness. So Cesare learns to keep his thoughts and his emotions a secret.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside. She’s thrilled to have found a place working in the pope’s household and ecstatic to be working for such a holy man. Until Maddalena realizes the Borgia family have feet of clay, and her faith starts to crumble. Soon she finds herself involved in a secret relationship with Cesare and knowing all the Borgia secrets—enough to put her life in danger.

Fantastic writing in this novel. The setting, characters, and cultures all came to vibrant life. But…I didn’t like any of them. The Borgia family is selfish and self-absorbed—at best—caring only for their own ambitions and desires and ignoring those they hurt on the way. I had some sympathy for Maddalena, but she embraced her weakness for Cesare and made excuses for it, and that’s something I cannot fathom. These people were horrible to each other—but the writing was spectacular enough that I was engrossed in a book about people I avidly disliked.

Alyssa Palombo lives and works in Buffalo, New York. The Borgia Confessions is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

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