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A Passion in the Blood

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Beautiful, passionate, concerned only with her creature comforts and her sexual needs, Lucrezia was unable to control either the hot Borgia blood that coursed in her veins or the lust her beloved brother, Cesare, felt for her. Married off at thirteen for the political convenience of her father, Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia soon discovered that her husband was more enchanted Beautiful, passionate, concerned only with her creature comforts and her sexual needs, Lucrezia was unable to control either the hot Borgia blood that coursed in her veins or the lust her beloved brother, Cesare, felt for her. Married off at thirteen for the political convenience of her father, Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia soon discovered that her husband was more enchanted by the palace serving boys than by his child bride. Her second marriage, at eighteen, was an all-consuming love match, which came to a violent and tragic end at the fine Italian hand of her unholy, demon-ridden brother. Her third marriage, at twenty-three, was to a strong yet gentle man, who taught her that there was more to love than gratification in the bedchamber. And always, hovering over her life like the embodiment of Lucifer, was Cesare, who loved her and hated her, who lusted after her even as he tried to destroy her.


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Beautiful, passionate, concerned only with her creature comforts and her sexual needs, Lucrezia was unable to control either the hot Borgia blood that coursed in her veins or the lust her beloved brother, Cesare, felt for her. Married off at thirteen for the political convenience of her father, Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia soon discovered that her husband was more enchanted Beautiful, passionate, concerned only with her creature comforts and her sexual needs, Lucrezia was unable to control either the hot Borgia blood that coursed in her veins or the lust her beloved brother, Cesare, felt for her. Married off at thirteen for the political convenience of her father, Pope Alexander VI, Lucrezia soon discovered that her husband was more enchanted by the palace serving boys than by his child bride. Her second marriage, at eighteen, was an all-consuming love match, which came to a violent and tragic end at the fine Italian hand of her unholy, demon-ridden brother. Her third marriage, at twenty-three, was to a strong yet gentle man, who taught her that there was more to love than gratification in the bedchamber. And always, hovering over her life like the embodiment of Lucifer, was Cesare, who loved her and hated her, who lusted after her even as he tried to destroy her.

33 review for A Passion in the Blood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    Silent film director Erich von Stroheim was adept at making "perverted valentines" to his dear pre-WW1 Vienna. A gross and degenerate, yet sometimes charming, nobility are the centerpieces, and there is a gleeful, off-the-wall tone to his movies - almost a fresh-faced decadence, for lack of a better way to describe it. So much is wrong and gross, but it has a charm of its own. I hadn't gotten too far into this vintage romance about Lucrezia Borgia when von Stroheim's movies were brought to mind, Silent film director Erich von Stroheim was adept at making "perverted valentines" to his dear pre-WW1 Vienna. A gross and degenerate, yet sometimes charming, nobility are the centerpieces, and there is a gleeful, off-the-wall tone to his movies - almost a fresh-faced decadence, for lack of a better way to describe it. So much is wrong and gross, but it has a charm of its own. I hadn't gotten too far into this vintage romance about Lucrezia Borgia when von Stroheim's movies were brought to mind, and this impression remained with me for the rest of the book. It's sort of a hybrid between straight HF and some wacky elements of old skool romance. If you want to know more about the Borgias, then this would be a fine book to read. The story follows Lucrezia from the age of 11 (where she already has a very adult, yet unconsummated, relationship with her brother, Cesare) to her death. Wikipedia has all the facts for you about her family and husbands (if you trust Wiki), and they're all here: the line of husbands and their individual fates, Cesare's ruthless and impetuous nature, the political hamfistedness and moral corruption of the Vatican, and so on. The way Lucrezia is portrayed could probably be called revisionist, since here she's not the famed humpy harlot of lore (well, just a little, maybe - but it's borne out of an immense pile of insecurities). However, the recent School of Thought has revised her even further into the current popular mode of "Maligned Über-Talented Woman Before Her Time", and so Davis' interpretation might not be as flattering and empowering as some readers would like. Lucrezia's pretty childish, impetuous, spoiled, cranky, and emotional for most of the book, since she is a child and serves only as a tool for her daddy, the Pope, to strengthen alliances whenever he needs them. When he wanted her to ditch a weak husband and marry a stronger one, he and Cesare arranged it through fair means and foul. Her job was to do her duty to the family and, with the papal crown at stake, obey and like it. It's a grim, stifling fate, and she chafes against it. Who wouldn't? This frustration comes out in petty ways with her maid, Maria, who gets slapped a lot, but manages to get away with sass because, in reality, she's the only intimate her mistress can trust. One typical exchange occurs when Lucrezia is readying herself for Wedding #2 and she has an attack of the hysterics and slaps the poor maid: "Forgive me, Maria, but I am so frightened. What if I wet myself?" Maria stood with folded arms. "Then you had better wear black." There are many wry exchanges between the characters (mainly Cesare and Pope Alexander), and it's a style that I like, so I often had a grin on my face. Since Lucrezia's legacy is so tied up in fornicating rumors with her brother, I was interested to see what Davis would do with it. In the end, it reminded me greatly of the relationship in Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" between Lucilla and Commodus, with sibling love, passion, hatred and entrapment all wrapped up together in a very human mess. Some of the charming gross-out (and non-sexual) stuff I mentioned earlier shows up in their relationship as children, as they are totally at ease with each other as brother and sister can often be. She loves him despite how he hurts her, and he loves her to the exclusion of all else except waging war. A good read with a fine pace. Nothing is dwelt on overly long, and there is an array of characters that are engaging caricatures. I didn't get a sense of the author's agenda, which is what seems to pervade much of recent HF. If Davis had one beyond a quirky romp that is both fun and dismal through Lucrezia's life and times, then I didn't see it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Trina Dienger

    I’ve read many biographies of Cesare Borgia and family so I’m knowledgeable about when novels skewer the history behind repair. While the history in most books is adequate the characterizations are poor, especially since most tend to write Cesare off as a psychopath, something that annoys me given I don’t view him in that light. To view Cesare in the morals of our own period, as is often done, is wrong and ignores everything that makes Cesare great and the Prince Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about. I’ve read many biographies of Cesare Borgia and family so I’m knowledgeable about when novels skewer the history behind repair. While the history in most books is adequate the characterizations are poor, especially since most tend to write Cesare off as a psychopath, something that annoys me given I don’t view him in that light. To view Cesare in the morals of our own period, as is often done, is wrong and ignores everything that makes Cesare great and the Prince Niccolo Machiavelli wrote about. Cesare was a product of his time, his expedience of killing, his cruelty towards traitors, his ambitions are all Renaissance Italy and few men wielded the garrote and sword for better purpose. King Ferdinand I of Aragon had a mummy museum of his enemies, Ludovico Sforza poisoned his nephew for the Duchy of Milan, and great artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were immortalizing their names in history. Cesare Borgia grew to age in a world of intrigue and few books take into account his surroundings when casting him as an irredeemable psychopath. Cesare was many things but he was not that. He was Duke of Valentinois at his height and before that Cardinal of Valencia hence his nickname of Valentino and as Valentino he conquered cities through whatever means necessary, ruled his cities justly, his soldiers loved him, his condottieri (his captains) betrayed him for ambition and he swiftly dealt with them through a beautiful deception and the garrote. He helped divorce Lucrezia to her first husband, a husband he himself protested at, and when politics and a threat to his own life demanded it ordered her second husband’s murder. Cesare was pitiless ambition but he was also not heartless. He loved his sister and they shared a close bond up until his death. He also had a wife in France who refused to remarry and who mourned him until her own death many years after his. Knowing Cesare’s character better I pronounce a travesty with this novel in regards to Cesare’s portrayal. A Passion in the Blood does well with getting the facts right, but Cesare is painted as a psychopath. Cesare is heartless in this novel with few, if any, redeeming qualities. One can still believe Cesare is evil and give him some good qualities surely, but all we ever see of Cesare is a desire to murder. Cesare to Alexander about Juan’s wife Maria: “But his wife is not a problem,” Cesare suggested. “At least she is not a problem that cannot be resolved.” “There will be no more bloodshed,” Alexander said with something strange in his eyes. “There wouldn’t be any blood necessarily,” Cesare said with a little thrill of power, for he realized the thing he’d seen in Alexander’s eyes was fear.” This next quote is said to Alfonso shortly before Cesare orders his death. Cesare is very one dimensional, but I’ve read worse Cesare’s before. The hint of incest is present throughout the novel between Lucrezia and Cesare, though nothing ever happens sexually there is at least emotional incest on Cesare’s part and quite possibly Lucrezia’s. “Cesare flushed and then paled. “Well, what was begun at supper might still be done at breakfast.” Alfonso, Duke of Bisceglie, her second husband went away for two months and when he came back he asked Lucrezia: “How many times were you with him?” “Once,” she answered firmly, “only once.” This is outrageous for two reasons; first because apparently it was Ascanio Sforza which never happened and because she was pregnant during. Lucrezia is, as another posted, very childish in this adaption. Lucrezia is often victimized in most novels nowadays. This one makes her out to be a victim as well because as a daughter of the Pope she had little control over her life, this I can understand but I don’t see Lucrezia as viewing herself as a victim most of the time. One thing this novel didn’t do however was make her hate Cesare and Rodrigo after her second husband’s death which is accurate to historical Lucrezia. Too many novels make her into a paragon of virtue, a talented woman who was ahead of her time and rumored evil only given her relationship to the terrible Cesare and Alexander. I don’t think of Lucrezia Borgia as an entirely helpless victim nor do I view her as a Messalina. This Lucrezia is decided more human than I am use to and I’m grateful for it. It may not be the exact Lucrezia I wanted but it was better than normal portrayals. Alexander is often seen in this novel plotting with Cesare or trying to reassure Lucrezia that her marriages are for the good of the family. Alexander was good in this novel, again I’ve seen worse. The only thing that gave me pause was Alexander’s fear of Cesare, which I find hilarious given Alexander was as quick to murder as Cesare. All in all I give this three stars mostly for Lucrezia’s portrayal.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Khothy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marian

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anny

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gurchintan

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine

  8. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Morris

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Terry

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wendy, Lady Evelyn Quince

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tanzanite

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mermarie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mystikfire

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emanuela

  17. 5 out of 5

    Louis

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bambi Unbridled

  19. 5 out of 5

    *mybooksrule*

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Mac

  22. 4 out of 5

    Willow

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sun

  24. 5 out of 5

    Frances

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Wilhite

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eva

  29. 5 out of 5

    Denise

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abby Rose

  31. 5 out of 5

    Amy Klima

  32. 4 out of 5

    shipcestuous

  33. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

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