The Scarlet Contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis
(St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011, 480 pages)
This is a riveting story about two women, Caterina Sforza and Dea her lady in waiting. Caterina is an aristocrat, the daughter of the Duke of Milan. Dea doesn’t know her heritage, but knows she was taken in at a young age by the Sforza family when she was orphaned. The two woman are close in age and live out their lives bound together. Dea learns that she can foresee the future when she begins reading the “triumph cards.” Caterina grows up to be quite a warrior, a leader of armies, just like her adored father. She becomes a military fortress and surprises many men of her day; however, it is Dea that becomes the heroine who plots to overthrow the corrupt Pope Alexander VI. Although Caterina keeps secret about her father’s scandalous womanizing, in the end she acknowledges that Dea is her biological sister.