Henry VIII, Suleiman the Magnificent, and Moctezuma II come to power. The Prince, the Mona Lisa, and the Gutenberg Bible are created. European empires arrive in the Americas and Constantinople falls. This is only a tiny fraction of the astonishing and world-shaking events that occurred during the Renaissance. It’s no wonder then that countless authors have used this fertile time period as inspiration. From the artistic grandeur of Florence to the waning days of the Aztec empire, the following novels take us around the world on vivid adventures that you won’t soon forget.
Philippa Gregory, the queen of historical fiction, vividly transports us to Tudor Britain after the untimely death of Henry VIII’s third wife. Three women will have their lives transformed by the infamous king’s selection of his next betrothed, and they must use all their wits to survive in a court filled with scheming, envy, and duplicity.
From “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) comes this New York Times bestseller featuring three very different women whose fates are each bound by a bloody curse: the legacy of the Boleyn family.
After the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII of England decides to take a new wife, but this time, not for love. The Boleyn Inheritance follows three women whose lives are forever changed because of the king’s decision, as they must balance precariously in an already shaky Tudor Court.
Anne of Cleves is to be married to Henry to form a political alliance, though the rocky relationship she has to the king does not bode well for her or for England.
Katherine Howard is the young, beautiful woman who captures Henry’s eye, even though he is set to marry Anne. Her spirit runs free and her passions run hot—though her affections may not be returned upon the King.
Jane Rochford was married to George Boleyn, and it was her testimony that sent her husband and infamous sister-in-law Anne to their deaths. Throughout the country, her name is known for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust.
The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about three women whose positions brought them wealth, admirations, and power, as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror.
For fans of Outlander, this captivating and passionate novel follows Beatrice as she travels to Tuscany to handle her late brother’s estate. She does not expect to wake up seven hundred years in the past, in a beautiful medieval city facing down the plague. And she especially does not expect to fall in love and grapple with the question: Where and when does she belong?
Celebrity chefs are a dime a dozen today but in Renaissance Italy, there was only Bartolomeo Scappi. After the famous chef’s death, his nephew is tasked with going through his property and finds two mysterious strongboxes. Inside, he discovers his uncle’s astonishing, illicit, and dangerous secrets, changing his life forever. A sumptuous and unputdownable novel, THE CHEF’S SECRET is the perfect read for foodies.
A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.
When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.
As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.
With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.
This novel was inspired by the fascinating life of one of Iran’s most famous medieval royals, Princess Pari. She must carefully navigate the tumultuous court after her father dies without naming an heir. With only her adviser by her side, Pari must use all her intellect and ambition to bring order to her father’s kingdom. This is the ultimate engrossing read for anyone who loves palace intrigue and powerful women who must overcome dangerous dissent.
Loosely based on the life of a historical Iranian princess, EQUAL OF THE SUN is a gorgeously wrought and evocative tale of power and destiny. When the shah dies suddenly, his daughter is more than qualified to take the throne, but resentment and secrets prevent her. Can she navigate the court in this passionate tale of a powerful woman?
The story of a hilarious and madcap heist, THE RELIC MASTER follows a man in pursuit of religious relics for his powerful clients. Too bad most of these relics are forgeries but what his clients don’t know won’t hurt them. And too bad his clients’ latest request (or demand) will take him across Europe on a thrilling, suspenseful, and at times bloody adventure. A witty combination of historical fiction and clever satire from one of America’s most beloved humorists.
Christopher Buckley’s “hilarious, bawdy, and irreverent frolic of a tale” about a sixteenth-century relic hunter and the artist Albrecht Dürer who conspire to fabricate Christ’s burial shroud reads “like Indiana Jones gone medieval” (USA TODAY).
The year is 1517. Dismas is a relic hunter who procures “authentic” religious relics for wealthy and influential clients. His two most important patrons are Frederick the Wise and soon-to-be Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz. While Frederick is drawn to the recent writing of Martin Luther, Albrecht pursues the financial and political benefits of religion and seeks to buy a cardinalship through the selling of indulgences. When Albrecht’s demands for grander relics increase, Dismas and his artist friend Dürer fabricate a shroud to sell to the unsuspecting noble. Unfortunately Dürer’s reckless pride exposes the trickery, so Albrecht puts Dismas and Dürer in the custody of four mercenaries and sends them all to steal Christ’s burial cloth (the Shroud of Chambéry), Europe’s most celebrated artifact. On their journey to Savoy where the Shroud will be displayed, they battle a lustful count and are joined by a beautiful female apothecary. It is only when they reach their destination they realize they are not alone in their intentions to acquire a relic of dubious legitimacy.
“A rollicking good time, Christopher Buckley has transported his signature wit and irreverence from the Beltway to sixteenth-century Europe in The Relic Master” (GQ). This epic quest, “as rascally and convivial as any that Mr. Buckley has written” (The Wall Street Journal), is filled with fascinating details about art, religion, politics, and science; Vatican intrigue; and Buckley’s signature wit “holds the reader till the very last page” (The New York Times Book Review).
History’s most famous lover reveals his exhilarating and decadent exploits as a seductive libertine and as a spy for Spain. From seducing women across the empire to crossing paths with inquisitors determined to put an end to his debauchery, Don Juan is an unforgettable protagonist that may just teach you a thing or two about romance.
Douglas Carlton Abram’s magical debut novel captures the heart of the Spanish Golden Age and the secret life of the world’s greatest lover—Don Juan—who came to embody the spirit of desire that would inflame the modern age.
It was a time of discovery and decadence, when life became a gamble and the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself. In the midst of these treacherous times, Juan Tenorio is born and then abandoned in the barn of a convent. Raised secretly by the nuns, he learns to love and worship all women and wants nothing more than to be a priest, until he falls in love with one of the sisters. When their affair is discovered, Juan leaves the Church forever.
He is soon recruited to be a spy by the powerful Marquis de la Mota, who teaches him to become the world's greatest libertine and seducer of women. But when he crosses swords with the most powerful man in the Empire, Don Juan must escape the murderous fury of the Inquisitor who battles all forms of debauchery, deviance, and heresy.
It is after knowing countless women that he is convinced by the Marquis to keep a diary, and it is here within its pages that Don Juan reveals his greatest adventures and the Arts of Passion he mastered. But what finally compels him to confess everything and risk losing his life, livelihood, and honor is the most perilous adventure of all—the irresistible fall into the madness of love with the only woman who could ever make him forget all others.
In this thrilling look at one of the most famous paintings of the Renaissance, Pope Alexander VI hurries to uncover the blasphemous clues in da Vinci’s The Last Supper before it is too late. For those who love their history with a dash of conspiracy, this is a compulsively readable novel about heresy at the highest levels.
Milan, 1497: Leonardo da Vinci is completing his masterpiece, The Last Supper. Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling -- and blasphemous -- message, which he is determined to decode. The Holy Grail and the Eucharistic Bread are missing, there is no meat on the table and, shockingly, the apostles are portraits of well-known heretics -- none of them depicted with halos. And why has the artist painted himself into the scene with his back turned toward Jesus? The clues to Leonardo's greatest puzzle are right before your eyes....
From the romance of modern Paris to the intrigue of sixteenth-century Florence, this evocative mystery follows a scholar searching for answers about an alleged elixir of immortality created by Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. A lush and magical novel filled with twists and turns, THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS is an unforgettably alluring adventure.
New York Times bestselling author M. J. Rose’s “wondrously original” (Providence Journal) suspense novel featuring perfumer Jac L’Etoile “combines fascinating history, torrid romance, and a compelling mystery” (Associated Press).
An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become not only the greatest perfumer in the country, but also the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen, Catherine de Medici, to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, René can’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.
Paris, France—The Present:
Renowned mythologist Jac L’Etoile becomes obsessed with René le Florentin—who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. Together with her estranged lover, Griffin, they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection, a woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir…and believes the end will justify her deadly means.
Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, this gothic tale zigzags from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first-century France. Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants, raves about the book: “Mysterious, magical, and mythical. What a joy to read!”
The first in a masterful epic series, AZTEC is the history-changing story of one of Mesoamerica’s most powerful empires on the cusp of tremendous upheaval. Chronicling the life of an Aztec man, it follows his adventures as a respected assistant to Moctezuma II and witnesses the arrival of Hernán Cortés. A sweeping look into a culture many of us can only imagine, this is packed with in-depth details and unforgettable characters—both fictional and historical.
This richly woven epic sweeps us to fifteenth-century Beijing and Zanzibar, following a concubine in a star-crossed romance who carries secrets that could bring down the imperial court. Politics, passion, and vengeance come together in this resplendent tale of one of China’s most powerful golden ages.
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