Review: The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

I have been a fan of Alyssa Palombo since her very first book. I think she is absolutely a fresh voice in historical fiction and I am always down to read one of her new books.

Last year her book on Katrina Van Tassel was so fun and I was eager to see where her next story might take place. When I saw that it was in Italy featuring one of the most notorious families in history, I was so here for it!

Palombo always does a marvelous job researching her novels so that they please history fans but they also have enough character development and intrigue to satisfy fans of fiction too. This book is no exception.


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. (summary from Goodreads)


While I loved the Katrina Van Tassel book because I love Sleepy Hollow, no one does Italian history like Palombo. Her other books have all been set in Italy and though they have been set in different periods, she always manages to capture the romance and beauty of each period and setting so well!

In this book she really out does herself and provides a very detailed accounting of various historical figures and events throughout the story all while navigating fictional characters as well as real life figures in history. Her writing is detailed and elegant as always. I loved how she captured all the political intrigue and scheming, it was really interesting and well done!

Sometimes courtier dramas and political intrigue can get a little cliche and boring, but not in this book! I absolutely loved it! As a Catholic, it was fun to learn all the papal history and events. I haven’t studied a ton of religious history during that time, particularly Catholic history so it was fascinating for me to read about. And can I just say, wow I had forgotten how much sex there was in the papal history!

If you love historical fiction then this is an author you want on your radar. Normally Renaissance history isn’t a time period that I jump to read but I do when I know it’s been researched and written by this author! I loved this book and am excited to see what her next book is going to be about!

Book Info and Rating

Paperback, 432 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN 1250191203 (ISBN13: 9781250191205)
Free review copy provided by publisher, St Martin’s, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: historical fiction


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