Francesca Felizzi, former mistress of the Duke of Ferrara, is now an aspiring courtesan. Astonishingly beautiful and ambitious, she revels in the power she wields over men. But when she is visited by an inexperienced young man, it becomes horribly clear to Francesca that despite her many admiring patrons, she has never truly been loved. Suddenly, her glittering and sumptuous life becomes a gaudy façade. And then another unexpected encounter brings with it devastating implications that plunge Francesca and her two young daughters into the sort of danger she has dreaded ever since she began to work the streets all those years ago.

RHFL Classification:

Romantic historical fiction

Renaissance Italy

Heat Rating: 2 (some coarse language –explicit)

Review Rating: 3 STARS

Reviewer:  Lucy Bertoldi (EBJ – History Salon)

Let’s face it- when you’re going to read about a courtesan, you’re going to have to go through some racy and explicit stuff…but I’m glad to say that those parts were not a strong enough deterrent to keep me from reading on. For sure there were some very disturbing parts and at times I wondered how all of Francesca’s ‘somehow inter-related’ clients could possibly ever find a suitable situation to these incredible scenarios…

This very intricate story of a courtesan living in Renaissance Naples at a time when the Spanish ruled is filled with mystery, crime, passion and a lot of degenerate behavior. That being said, the story also contains love of family, honour and caring.

There are several sub stories linked to the main plot revolving around this courtesan’s life changing decision brought upon by an awakening to true love.  Francesca is the pivotal character from whom all others’ lives somewhat depend on;   from clients, to servants, to her daughters (she has twin girls), to newly befriended ‘regular’ ladies, to criminals, chiefs of police…and the love of her life.

I quickly became immersed in the story, and although some of the writing lacked fluidity compounded with casual details needing extensive editing- I still longed to find out what would happen next.  The intricacies of circumstances that would be incredulous in real life somehow ended up all working out in the end.  Characters were exiled and others conveniently moved away, or killed off, lovers’ reconciliations – everything fell suitably into place. 

Fiction set in an historical time when courtesans and villains took center stage.  Indeed, this is the story of a ‘princess’ finding her happily ever after… Captivating after all!


 It was probably my fascination withall the drama in the lives of past royals that led me to become an avid readerof historical fiction.  My love affairwith this genre began several years ago, thanks to my all-time favouriteauthor, Jean Plaidy.   I read mostlyEuropean historical fiction (18c or earlier); with a preference for all thatwas based in France or Italy.Over at my blog, Enchanted by Josephine-History Salon, I post reviews, author interviews, my history-relatedresearch, historical tid-bits and facts, -oh, and some of my travel finds aswell (I love Venice…and Paris of course!).  When visiting my site, you mightnotice that I’m (just a tad) obsessed with my muse…Josephine Bonaparte.  I also have a section on several otherhistorical women of interest that I am researching- as this is an ongoingproject that I have yet to complete. Besides reading, writing, reviewing andresearching, I also love to indulge in my other passion which is creating art. I was born and raised (and still live!) in the historic French part of Canada; beautiful Montreal. French and English are my first languages- and Italian, my mother tongue.  Happily married-and-5 very busy kids.






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