Title: The Daughter of Siena
Author: Marina Fiorato
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical Fiction
How I Read It: Advanced copy from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program
Synopsis: For her nineteenth birthday, Pia Tolomei, the most beautiful woman in Siena, was given a necklace and a husband…
It is 1723, on the eve of the Palio, the white-knuckle horse race that is the most important event in Siena. Everyone will be watching, but for two of the noblewomen in the crowd, far more than the coveted prize is at stake. Headstrong Pia, once the greatest marriage prize in the city, is praying that her betrothed will be killed in the famously dangerous race, while the Governess of Siena, Duchess Violante Beatrix de’ Medici, is at the center of a plot that threatens her very existence.
When the trumpets sound, Pia finds herself drawn to a magnificent, unknown horseman, clad in a rival’s colors, who will tip the course of the race in a way that will bind them in a web of intrigue and passion.
My Review: This was such a lovely novel, it pulled me in right away and I really had a hard time putting it down. Somehow I missed the fact that it featured the de’ Medici family, so that was a very pleasant surprise for me as well!
The author does such a fabulous job of making you genuinely feel the terror Pia is in, going from a relatively calm existence in her fathers home to a terrifying new life as the wife of the heir to the Eagle contrada. I honestly felt anxious as I was reading any interaction that had to do with that family – such treacherous people, only concerned with their own upward mobility.
We soon meet Pia’s unknown horseman, Riccardo Bruni, who is an amazing character that absolutely captivated me. It doesn’t hurt that he makes for a fabulous contrast to the evil of the Eagle men, but we get to see how good he is separate from that comparison, making for an all around wonderful leading man that I could fall in love with very easily.
In the meantime, we watch events unfold as Violante learns more about a plot to not only end her reign as Governess of Siena, but possibly her life as well. Thus a band of misfit counter-conspirators forms, trying to stay one step ahead of the game and foil the plot before it becomes too late. With danger and secrets looming around each corner, I found myself turning the pages with much anticipation, yearning to see how the story would end and what would become of all these characters.
This is definitely one I stayed up past my bedtime to read, both wanting to prolong the story and find out what was going to happen all at the same time. I loved all the main characters, felt like I was living their lives with them, and wishing I really could be there to see it all happen.
There were a couple of plot points that I felt I could see coming, but it didn’t bother me enough to ruin the book for me. I’m not sure how closely it follows the last members of the de’ Medici family, so that would be the only part I could see Medici fans potentially disliking. Overall, so much fun and really a great read.
Read this book if: You like historical fiction set in Italy. I really think most hist. fic. fans will enjoy this one!
My Rating: 4/5 – Borderline Amazing!
Full Disclosure: I received this book for free as a member of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, and it came from the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin. This has not affected my review in any way. I was likewise not compensated for this review.