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The Scarlet Contessa: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  2,311 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews

Historical fiction author Jeanne Kalogridis tells the remarkable story of Caterina Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan and the bravest warrior Renaissance Italy ever knew.

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 o

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Published July 6th 2010 by Tantor Media, Inc. (first published 2010)
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Rio (Lynne)
Ehhh. I hate when you really want to like a book! 2 and 1/2 stars. This is the story of Caterina Sforza, the bravest warrior of the Renaissance. After reading The Borgia Bride where we were introduced to Caterina, I couldn't wait to begin to read her story. It started out interesting, even if the first half was about a fictional character her lady in waiting Dea. I started to wonder where the story of Caterina would begin. I see what the author was doing, but I would have rather read the story t ...more
Aug 11, 2010 C.W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bestselling author Jeanne Kalogridis returns to Renaissance Italy in this vivid tale of one of the era's lesser known figures— the indomitable Caterina Sforza, illegitimate daughter of the duke of Milan, who married into the papal della Rovere family and ended up battling for her estates against the notorious Borgia.

Told through the eyes of Caterina's lady in waiting, Dea, the book sweeps the reader from the glamorous barbarism of the Sforza court to the vicious intrigues of Rome and insular sav
Paulo Pires
May 08, 2014 Paulo Pires rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog
«Um irresistível romance histórico da Renascença Italiana.

Este livro tem dois pontos de incontornável interesse, Catarina Sforza uma figura impar e os Borgia.

Catarina Sforza «famosa por sua audácia no amor e na guerra», dominava ambas as artes! Com um apurado sentido prático, uma perspicácia politica e militar que sobressaia e a destacava. Era adorada por uns e temida por outros.

Esta é a época dos Borgia, a incontornável família espanhola/italiana da renascença italiana, que conseguiu “produzir
Kate Sherrod
Let me take a moment to observe, very gratefully, that this has got to be one of the most misleading book covers I've encountered in quite a while. Sing hosannah! When I got a proper look at it, I felt I'd made a dreadful mistake and ordered some ridiculous softcore porn "romance" novel that was only sort of about Caterina Sforza, badass military bee-hatch of the Italian Renaissance.

Whew! Especially since The Scarlet Contessa seemed to be the only novel -- indeed, the only book -- devoted to Sf
When I picked this book up at the library, I was under the impression that a good friend of mine had strongly recommended "The Scarlet Contessa" to me. Either a) I misremembered the wrong friend, or b) I fabricated the whole thing, because my friend denies all responsibility for this book. Either way, "The Scarlet Contessa" isn't bad. It's reasonably well written and the topic is a favorite one of mine: women who come to bad ends because they're too damned smart, ambitious, and just like men. I ...more
Jun 21, 2012 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Eagle
Was this a romance novel? Was this a shot at historical fiction? Was it a mystery? All questions I asked myself while reading it. I found it somewhat entertaining, slightly interesting, but really in need of a good researcher. Did palaces in Rome really have driveways in this time period? Did ladies in waiting know enough about science to compare a bright light to an atom? If you can overlook these 20th century references you might find this book interesting.
Aug 07, 2010 Sherri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Loved her earlier books, the Borgia Bride and I, Mona Lisa. However, this book fell flat. I thought the main character was selfish and just didn't appeal to me at all. What I enjoyed about her earlier books was that she delved into the politics of the Italy and Rome. While the author attempted to bring in the political aspects of this book, it just didn't work. The politics ended up being more of a sub plot. Very disappointing.
Elizabeth Sulzby
I am disappointed in this historical novel which seems mostly to be about fictional characters. The novel begins with casting Caterina, the teenager, as a hard hearted, cruel and trivial young woman, viewed by a fictional lady-in-waiting to Bona, Caterina's stepmother. This lady in waiting called "Dea" for short has a ridiculous marriage to a young man who never consummates the marriage but is depicted as lovingly honoring Dea and trusting to her secrets of his writings, codes, and schemes of pr ...more
Aug 01, 2012 Kristen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got about one-quarter through this book before admitting that I just wasn't enjoying it enough to finish.

I will take some of the responsibility for this being a miss, because I knew to some extent that the Sforzas of Milan weren't exactly humanitarians, but there wasn't a single character in this book I liked even a little bit. Virtually everyone in the story is selfish, mean, greedy and violent. And while I can cut them a little slack understanding how dog-eat-dog this period of history was,
Sawyer Slater
Oct 03, 2013 Sawyer Slater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: females over the age of eighteen
Shelves: favourites
The Scarlet Contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis is a novel of the Italian renaissance. As a tale of romance, mystery, dark fantasy, and historical fiction, I found this book amazing!
This is the author's fourth book. While I have never read any of her other book, they all take place in the European renaissance. Kalogidis is a very dedicated author having done a year of research to prepare to write this novel.
This book revolves around a real person, Caterina Sforza the Countess of Forlì. W
Agnes Franczia
Aug 11, 2013 Agnes Franczia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I bought this book because previouly I have read The Borgia Bride which was really really interesting and exciting and other books of the author which I found pretty good. So when I heard that she wrote another one about Caterina Sforza who in my opinion is was one of the most fascinating woman of the reneissance, I naturally ordered it. If only I knew that this book was more about her lady-in-waiting good friend and her triumph cards and this ridiculous superstitious nonsense
Aug 16, 2015 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always been fascinated with strong historical females. Caterina Sforza is exactly one of them. As the daughter of the Duke of Milan, she often laments that if she was born a man, she would have been a great military presence. Even though she was female her mind was certainly a force to be reckoned with. And although this is fiction, some of the events are real. A great book.
Jan 21, 2016 Tara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had a lot of potential, but was largely disappointing. The character's personalities fell flat. Caterina was alternatively portrayed as a self-absorbed child and a politically savvy woman, but it was difficult to reconcile these two images. It was also disappointing that the best way to demonstrate that Caterina was like a man was through her sexual appetite. Caterina Sforza was an amazing woman, but Kalogridis' depiction of her fell flat. Dea's story wasn't much better. At times it wa ...more
Jun 11, 2016 Alisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a quick summer read and like historical fiction, The Scarlet Contessa might be the book for you. Jeanne Kalogrdis tells the story of Caterina Sforza, an Italian noble woman known for her indomitable spirit and military genius. Rather than have Caterina herself tell the story, the narration is assigned to her chief lady-in-waiting, Dea, who is also a half-sister of the Contessa. This character is fictional, but she is given a good vantage point from which to describe Caterin ...more
Sarah u
I put this book down for good at around the 30% mark on my kindle.

The writing was good, but I don't think the story was my cup of tea. The blurb offers a novel of Caterina Sforza, but this is really a story about a maid in her household, and her (view spoiler). There's nothing wrong with this, of course, but it isn't the story I wanted to read.

Despite my disappointment in this story, I would try another novel by this author.
A confused effort that seems to try to please everyone: some neoplatonist magic, some bodice ripping, a touch of almost-incest for borgia fans, battle scenes and descriptions of sumptious palaces and dresses. A relaxing read in many ways, but one to be skimmed over. Catarina and Dea are appealing characters, as are their favorite male counterparts, Matteo, Luca, and Giovanni.

But there is a lot of confusion and lack of motivation.

Recommended with these warnings.
Another book that I stopped and started..I had no idea that there was a book before this one The Borgia Bride so maybe it might of changed my opinion of this book or I would of felt more at home with the characters...Not sure. After reading a book set in (historic) Japan and leaping over the other side of the world to (historic) Italy it did fiddle with my brain for a tiny bit!

Some books I find hard to get into and this was one of those...I'd started this book last year after being distracted by
Aug 26, 2016 Etcetorize rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was time for an epic historical fiction novel and his one fit the bill perfectly. Caterina Sforza is one of those historical figures who you can barely believe actually lived such an incredibly full, adventurous, and dangerous life. She was most definitely not typical of the women of her time, and really even by today's standards, she would probably be considered a little overconfident.

The story is told by the fictional character of her attendant/sister. I'm so glad that the author created D
Heather Albano
I really wanted to like this, but it simply didn't hit hard enough. The premise was interesting and the last chapter was great; the ~400 pages in between were painfully slow, going through all the motions of a grand epic without the intensity of emotion, like watching one of the big mechanical critters in the second Star Wars movie pick up its leg and put its leg down again. Would have been better at half the length.
The story of Caterina Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan and wife of the coniving Count Girolamo Riario, or so the book jacket says. Actually, it is the story of Caterina's lady in waiting and (spoiler alert) half sister, Dea.

I generally like novels about the Renaissance period in history and know someone who can trace their ancestry back to Madame Sforza so it seemed like a good book for me.

The tale, as does reality, also includes the famour Borgia family and their evil is closely intertwi
Opinião do blogue Chaise Longue:

Jeanne nasceu na Florida em Dezembro de 1954, e desde aí que adora livros. Estudou Russo e Microbiologia, e depois foi secretária dois anos, acabando por regressar aos estudos, onde se formou ainda em Linguística e Linguística Computacional, esta última apenas por diversão. Durante oito anos foi professora de Inglês na universidade até desistir para se dedicar à escrita a tempo inteiro.
Publicou o seu primeiro livro em 1994,
Aug 25, 2010 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm looking for my book club book...set in the Renaissance. This was not it. I liked the main character, but there was too much death, sex/adultery/homosexuality, and negative portrayal of the Catholic church for my taste. So I'm still looking. I have one book to fall back on and 3 more to read by the end of September. :)
Oct 08, 2014 Donia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many historical figures dominate 15th century Italy - the Borgias, the della Roveres, the Medici, Machiavelli, da Vinci - that it's easy to forget that powerful family in Milan, the Sforzas. Before reading this novel, I knew very little about Caterina Sforza, which is unbelievable!

At the start of Kalogridis' portrayal, Caterina is easy to dislike. We come to know her through a fictional character, her half-sister and lady-in-waiting, Dea. Caterina is spoiled and foolish in her youth, but then
Lissa Reed
Oct 04, 2015 Lissa Reed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a sucker for historical fiction, and over the last year have slowly shifted my formerly exclusive Tudorian England focus to include Borgian Italy, and I regret nothing!

I found this book a bit slow to get into - I had to start it over again a couple of times - but once I got absorbed, I couldn't put it down. I knew Kalogridis was taking as many liberties with history as does Philippa Gordon, yet I found her to be better at it, and it was far less irksome. It is a tribute to her lushly descri
Dec 20, 2014 Lia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rocca di Ravaldino, 10 dicembre 1499, ai margini della città di Forlì. Dea è sdraiata su una branda, vorrebbe tanto dormire ma in quei giorni di angoscia il sonno tarda ad arrivare. Dopo le esercitazioni militari del giorno e l’approntamento dell’artiglieria, la contessa Caterina Sforza, signora di Forlì, viceversa, non desidera il riposo. Le sue grida di piacere e del suo ultimo amante, Giovanni di Casale, si fondono e invadono la torre. Mancano quindici giorni alla data del Natale e nel nuovo ...more
Tammy Buck
Sep 19, 2014 Tammy Buck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author certainly made the 1400's come alive to me. The characters were well developed. The story filled with action, intrigue and passion. Would like to read more from this author.
Can never resist a Borgia themed book so I had to get this one into my TBR pile. The main character is the somewhat (unfortunately)historically overlooked Caterina Sforza, who was the equal of any Renaissance-era Italian man when it came to political prowess, military leadership, and romantic entanglements. The novel is told from the viewpoint of Caterina's (fictional) lady-in-waiting Dea, who loves her beauteous mistress but is not blind to her faults and flaws (and even allows herself to absor ...more
Sep 04, 2011 Michaela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the perfect way to end the summer - a total guilty pleasure...I loved every contrived plot twist.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 12, 2015 12:33PM  
  • The Borgia Betrayal (The Poisoner Mysteries, #2)
  • The Second Duchess
  • The Daughter of Siena
  • Madonna of the Seven Hills (Lucrezia Borgia, #1)
  • The Serpent and the Pearl  (The Borgias, #1)
  • The Princess of Nowhere
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
  • To Serve a King
  • The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
  • Sins of the House of Borgia
  • Pale Rose of England
  • O, Juliet
  • His Last Duchess
  • The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou
  • The Ruby Ring
  • Queen By Right
Okay, here are the bare facts: I was born in Florida on December 17, 1954, and I've been interested in books ever since. My interest in language led me to earn a B.A. in Russian in 1976 (although my major was microbiology until my senior year).

That was soon followed by a two-year stint as a legal secretary. The good part about that was, I learned how to type, which comes in useful these days. Then
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