A hearty sized book filled with court intrigue, magic, poison, corruption........and perhaps somewhere in there love will even bloom. Ancient Italy in all it's decadent glory. Watch a woman work to turn from helplessness to full power within the ranks of men. This is a book you can sink into and stay to visit for a while, not a quick run through read. Perfect for the historical novel buff.
The Red Lily Crown
A Novel of Medici Florence
April 1, 2014
Elizabeth Loupas returns with her most ambitious historical novel yet, a story of intrigue, passion, and murder in the Medici Court...
April, 1574, Florence, Italy. Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici lies dying. The city is paralyzed with dread, for the next man to wear the red lily crown will be Prince Francesco: despotic, dangerous, and obsessed with alchemy.
Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.
Witness to sensuous intrigues and brutal murder plots, Chiara seeks a safe path through the labyrinth of Medici tyranny and deception. Beside her walks the prince’s mysterious English alchemist Ruanno, her friend and teacher, driven by his own dark goals. Can Chiara trust him to keep her secrets…even to love her…or will he prove to be her most treacherous enemy of all?
"Saucy/blush worthy" Excerpt Below:
@copyright Elizabeth Loupas
At the center of the clearing, the geometrical center of the labyrinth itself, rested an oblong stone, half-buried, the width of two hands, the length of three. There were round holes on its surface, as if it had once been hot enough to boil, and bubbles had risen to its surface.
“This is the center of the labyrinth. The heart of knowledge. Do you see that stone, my Bia?”
“It fell from the sky a thousand years ago. Now it belongs to me. It is full of iron, but even so I had it carved—the arms of the Medici and the lily of Florence, my own impresa and my secret glyph, my device as an alchemist.”
He was proud of the stone, its uniqueness, its value, its meaning, what it concealed. He could see that Bia did not understand. She was bored and shivering.
“I think you should put off that fine mantle you are wearing,” he said to her, “and remove your sleeves, and open the front of your bodice.”
“But it is so cold.” The Bia-voice, high and sweet. “Franco, I shall be cold.”
“Good. You have been quite heated and comfortable at the Carnival banquets and entertainments, wearing fine clothes and jewels that do not belong to you, drinking in the admiration of every man in Florence. Now you shall feel the cold bite into that fine flesh of yours, and beg me to allow you to be warm again.”
Slowly she reached up and unfastened the jeweled martens’-head clasps. The mantle fell in a heap of velvet and fur. She shivered again.
“Perhaps I should help you with the rest.”
He drew his dagger and cut the laces at her shoulders. She tugged the embroidered silk sleeves down her arms and dropped them on top of the mantle. She was wearing a white silk camicia with sleeves that reached her wrists, but it was thin, thin as a whisper. Even so— He cut the camicia’s sleeves away, leaving her arms bare. Her smooth, rosy skin contracted into gooseflesh as he watched.
“C-cold,” she whispered.
He went behind her and cut the laces of her bodice. The boned and stiffened fabric was so thick with gold thread and jewels that it retained its shape when it came away from her body, like some fantastic insect’s shell. She let it drop. He went back in front of her and cut the drawstring of her camicia, then pulled the gathered neckline to loosen it. One breast was entirely exposed, the nipple tight with the cold. The other was half-covered by the sheer white fabric. The sun was setting behind the labyrinth and a wash of pink-gold light made her flesh glow.
He did not touch her. He did not have to. She was trembling, but it was no longer entirely a result of the cold. She was aroused, his creature in that moment, there in the heart of the labyrinth. He could tell her anything, and no one else would ever know....