One of the best books I read in 2011! The story of Alfonso d’Este’s second wife Barbara (his first being the young Lucrezia de Medici, the subject of Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess”) is well written and full of Renaissance Italy detail. Loupas presents Barbara as a smart, likeable heroine who is determined to find out exactly what happened to her predecessor but she never come across as too modern in her behavior or her beliefs. As the story and the intrigue develop, so does Barbara’s relationship with her husband and they becomes unlikely allies in their quest for the truth. A nice touch is the enigmatic Lucrezia telling her side and giving clues to the reader.