The Lion and the Rose will be released in less than two months on January 7th, and I’ve included a New Year’s treat. Tucked in the back will be a teaser chapter from the forthcoming sequel to Empress of the Seven Hills. Not just any chapter, either. Lots of readers have asked me the following questions: “Will Vix ever go home to Britannia?” and “Will we ever see Arius and Thea from Mistress of Rome?”
Yes, and yes. That’s the scene tucked into the back of The Lion and the Rose. And for you now, a snippet from Vix’s eyes when he goes back to Britannia for the first time in nearly twenty years. Partly to help build a certain wall in the north, but partly to see his family:
My feet were soundless on the grass as I approached the garden, but the man whipped about before I got a step further, one gnarled hand dropping his trowel and drawing the dagger at his waist instead. He was up in a crouch and ready to face me in an eyeblink, and his shoulders were bent and his hair entirely gray, but that crisp secutor stance could have graced any arena in Rome. And had.
“You haven’t gotten slow with age,” I told my father. “But you still can’t garden worth a tribune’s arse.”
The rest of the scene awaits you at the back of The Lion and the Rose. Hope you enjoy!
It’s about two and a half months until The Lion and the Rose is released–the second half of my Borgia duology about papal mistress Giulia Farnese and her two friends, the cynical dwarf bodyguard Leonello and the sharp-tongued female cook Carmelina. If you’d like to get your hands on an early copy of L&R, here’s your chance, because I’m running a very special kind of giveaway.
Lots of readers have written to tell me how much they swooned over all the delicious food in The Serpent and the Pearl – I even set up a virtual potluck with food bloggers cooking dishes straight out of the book. I had such a blast seeing the food pics that came out of my own pages that I’m extending a challenge: any reader who cooks a dish out of The Serpent and the Pearl will be eligible to win an advance copy of The Lion and the Rose.
So, here are the rules:
1. Choose a dish out of The Serpent and the Pearl that hasn’t been made yet.
2. Cook your chosen dish. Just be aware that some of the things my Renaissance heroines eat are illegal in the 21st century–don’t get fined for trying to cook a swan!
3. Email a pic of you with your finished dish to email@example.com, along with a few words on how you cooked it and how it turned out. (Even if it’s a disaster. Because kitchen disasters can be hilarious!)
4. For every dish you cook, I’ll enter your name into a random drawing. And if you attempt something truly awesome, I’ll enter your name in twice. Because let’s be fair–if someone makes a stab at spit-roasted peacock or whole truffled sea bass in champagne-caviar sauce, they deserve a double entry.
5. And that’s it! On November 1, I’ll pull two names out of the hat and mail my two winners an advance copy of “The Lion and the Rose.”
So, who’s ready to start cooking?
I’ve gotten the ok from my publisher, and I can finally let slip some news I’ve been keeping quiet for a while.
My usual writing schedule is simple: one 450 page book per year, give or take. But that’s going to be different this year. I didn’t write one 450 page book last year–I went on some kind of insane hyper-drive, and wrote two.
And they’re both going to be released in the next six months.
As for one more bit of news? Both books are Borgia novels. I know some of you are looking ahead for the sequel to Empress of the Seven Hills (more on that later) but all I can say is, I took what was intended to be a one-book vacation to the Italian Renaissance, and my one-book vay-cay turned out like a high-school kid’s two-day sight-seeing trip to Paris which somehow morphs into two years of backpacking through Europe. The Borgia world grabbed me like a vise, and so did my characters. Giulia Farnese, mistress to the Borgia Pope and my irrepressible heroine, had far too many real-life adventures to confine to one book. A standalone novel became a duology instead–and to avoid leaving poor Giulia (and my readers) on another cliff-hanger, I wrote both books of the duology back to back. The Serpent and the Pearl is the first installment, set for release five weeks away on August 6, 2013 (though if you want to enter the new Goodreads giveaway for an advance copy, click here.) The concluding installment of Giulia Farnese’s story will be titled The Lion and the Rose, and it’s slated for release January 7, 2014 – just five months later.
And for those looking for news on the Empress of the Seven Hills sequel, I can tell you that I’m busy writing it now. It has no fixed release date yet, but it will be titled Lady of the Eternal City. Hopefully the Borgia novels and their trio of heroes will tide you over: Giulia Farnese, the Renaissance’s most beautiful woman; her cynical bodyguard Leonello who duels with Cesare Borgia and hunts serial killers for fun; and a fiery cook named Carmelina who has a genius for gourmet food, a mummified hand in her pocket (don’t ask), and more secrets than she can count.
Take a look here at my duology’s two gorgeous covers, and two (spoiler-free) descriptions:
Rome, 1492. The Holy City is drenched with blood and teeming with secrets. A pope lies dying and the throne of God is left vacant, a prize awarded only to the most virtuous–or the most ruthless. The Borgia family begins its legendary rise, chronicled by an innocent girl who finds herself drawn into their dangerous web . . .
Vivacious Giulia Farnese has floor-length golden hair and the world at her feet: beauty, wealth, and a handsome young husband. But she is stunned to discover that her glittering marriage is a sham, and she is to be given as a concubine to the ruthless, charismatic Cardinal Borgia: Spaniard, sensualist, candidate for pope–and passionately in love with her.
Two trusted companions will follow her into the world of the Borgias: Leonello, a cynical bodyguard bent on bloody revenge against a mysterious killer, and Carmelina, a fiery cook with a past full of secrets. But as corruption thickens in the Vatican and the bodies begin to mount, Giulia and her friends must decide if they will flee the Borgia dream of power–or if they can even survive it
From the national bestselling author of “The Serpent and the Pearl” comes the continuing saga of the ruthless family that holds all of Rome in its grasp, and the three outsiders thrust into their twisted web of blood and deceit . . .
As the cherished concubine of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI, Giulia Farnese has Rome at her feet. But after narrowly escaping a sinister captor, she realizes that the danger she faces is far from over–and now, it threatens from within. The Holy City of Rome is still under Alexander’s thrall, but enemies of the Borgias are starting to circle. In need of trusted allies, Giulia turns to her sharp-tongued bodyguard, Leonello, and her fiery cook and confidante, Carmelina.
Caught in the deadly world of the Renaissance’s most notorious family, Giulia, Leonello, and Carmelina must decide if they will flee the dangerous dream of power. But as the shadows of murder and corruption rise through the Vatican, they must learn who to trust when every face wears a mask . . .