The Scarlet Contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis

Title: The Scarlett Contessa: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance
Author: Jeanne Kalogridis
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 10, 2010
Hardcover, 512 pages
ISBN: 978-0-312-36953-8
Daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the conniving Count Girolamo Riario, Caterina Sforza was the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew. She ruled her own lands, fought her own battles, and openly took lovers whenever she pleased.
Her remarkable tale is told by her lady-in-waiting, Dea, a woman knowledgeable in reading the “triumph cards,” the predecessor of modern-day Tarot. As Dea tries to unravel the truth about her husband’s murder, Caterina single-handedly holds off invaders who would steal her title and lands. However, Dea’s reading of the cards reveals that Caterina cannot withstand a third and final invader—none other than Cesare Borgia, son of the corrupt Pope Alexander VI, who has an old score to settle with Caterina. Trapped inside the Fortress at Ravaldino as Borgia’s cannons pound the walls, Dea reviews Caterina’s scandalous past and struggles to understand their joint destiny, while Caterina valiantly tries to fight off Borgia’s unconquerable army.

The story is told through the eyes of Dea. She is the lady in waiting to Caterina Sforza. Caterina and Dea are very strong women. Caterina is bold and daring, willing to do what ever it takes to get the success she craves. Dea is strong in more subtle ways. She gives strength to those around her especially Caterina. Their fates are tied together by love, loyalty and sisterhood.  The storyline was good, although a little hard to take sometimes.  I don't want to give too much away and you know how I hate spoilers, but I do feel the need to tell you. There are some rape scenes in this book. They are not overly graphic and  they are relevant to the story line. However, Jeanne Kalogridis did a great job weaving together this interesting story filled with love, hate and revenge. The story flows from beginning to end. Some of the events in this story are based on real life events. Which ones? Well you know I won't tell you. You are going to have to read it yourself.  However if you are like me, you will find yourself googling to see which ones are real and which are pure fiction. If you like historical fiction I suggest you gives this book a try. 
Jeanne Kalogridis is the author of several other historical fiction books including: The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici and the Borgia Bride. If you would like to find out more about the author and her books, check out her website here
* Picture is from Goodreads and Summary is from Barnes and Noble
** I received this book from Crazy Book Tours for review.