24 March 2011

The Second Duchess, by Elizabeth Loupas

Let me first start off by saying that I will most assuredly be gushing about this book. And it will be a lengthy post because there is so much to share. Debut author Elizabeth Loupas has hooked me in with The Second Duchess, which was just released this month. Go to the store, flip through the pages...

I was traveling to Portland, Oregon for a business meeting, so I had plenty of time to read while traveling from one coast to the other. Since I was only there for Monday's meeting, I had to make the most out of my air travel, which I was dreading. I brought along The Second Duchess although I had promised myself that the reason why I got my Nook Color was because it made traveling so much easier for my back (no hardcover or thick books to carry with my briefcase). But I just had to bring this one with me - I was emotionally invested in the storyline already and I craved more.

Scandal and murder... this was life in 16th century Italy, and more specifically, Barbara of Austria and her marriage to Alfonso. Thus, the Duke and second Duchess of Ferrara begin their marriage with a whispering servant in Barbara's ear...did you know that his first wife was murdered, and that he murdered her...

When Barbara of Austria marries Alfonso, the Duke of Ferrara, rumors wind their way around the Duke's previous marriage to Lucrezia de' Medici, a young fifteen-year-old girl from Florence. That marriage ended with an untimely death after the Duke confined her to a monastery. Barbara, intelligent and independent for a woman of her time, begins to secretly ask questions about what happened to Lucrezia, but as she begins her investigation, she herself becomes the victim of attempts on her own life.

With an intriguing character introduced into the story that I cannot give away, I found I was absolutely captivated. Elizabeth Loupas has developed an elegant whodunit wrapped in Italy in the 16th century. Detailed descriptions carry the reader into a comprehensive and enthralling story that I couldn't put down. While Barbara of Austria was compelling and engaging, and I enjoyed her spirit and intelligence as she slowly began to piece the puzzle together, I found that I was also pulled into the Duke's conflicted emotions and mannerisms. He was both very much a man of his day, but at times, so much a modern man of our contemporary times. Now this... this was a book. A book that I loved.

I sat on my four hour flight to Portland, Oregon and barely noticed my growling stomach, the flight attendants' offers of something to drink, the horrible turbulence on the flight. I soaked in the descriptions of the food and the clothing in 16th century Italy, and as I turned each page I got more and more swept up in the mystery. I kept questioning every character that graced the pages - did the Duke do it? What about his nasty sisters? Or that diplomatic sneak I couldn't stand? Who killed the first duchess and is trying to kill the second?

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, mysteries, and Italy... I loved this book!

Click here to read the first chapter on the author's site.

About the Author
Elizabeth Loupas has worked as a writer, producer, and executive in the broadcasting industry; in other times and other places she has been a librarian, a magazine editor, a teacher, and a marketing consultant. She holds degrees in literary studies and library/information science.

She lives on the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, with her husband and two beagles.

Visit Elizabeth Loupas on her website by clicking here.
Become a fan of Elizabeth Loupas on Facebook by clicking here.

And One More Thing...
Did you hear about the new Showtime mini-series called The Borgias? Pick yourself back up off the floor because I have one more exciting thing - Jeremy Irons is in it. Yes, I think I just heard you faint.

The Second Duchess will be one of the books featured in a Barnes & Noble and Nook Color promotional sweepstakes built around the Showtime mini-series The Borgias. You'll soon see commercials promoting the sweepstakes which will run nationally at the beginning of the shows throughout April and May. One of the prizes is a trip to Rome? Oh. My. Goodness. Yes, I will be watching! Barnes & Noble will also be promoting the sweepstakes with in-store end caps that will feature The Second Duchess.

Regular readers of this blog know how much I love Italy and how much I dream about moving there one day. So I think you can safely assume that I'll be watching this mini-series.

Happy Reading,
Coffee and a Book Chick


  1. This book sounds interesting and so does the mini-series.

  2. This book sounds really good. No idea if and when we'll get to see the miniseries though Down Under!

  3. Sounds like it whisked you away. Great review!

  4. It's a fabulous book, and the mini-series sounds great too!

  5. Awesome review. This one sounds fantastic and books that capture you like that are right up my alley. I love Italy. 2 Kids and Tired Books

  6. I'm a tiny bit burned out on historical fix, but you're tempting me. Great review!

  7. Obviously, I meant "historical fiction". Stupid iPad corrected "fic" to "fix".

  8. You have made a very good case, I must say. I have yet to read about 16th century Italy. Sounds good to me! Thanks.

  9. Going to tag this one as a MUST READ! Your review just had me engrossed and now with the news of Jeremy Irons in the series.. WOW!

    PS Jeremy Irons son is one of the leads in The Red Riding Hood movie that just came out. Must be in the DNA structure to be a THESPIAN ;)

  10. I'm so excited about this series I can't even tell you. I ordered Showtime just for this series. Now, you make me want to read this book. Great review.

  11. Connie at Sogni E Sorrisi - The book is incredible, I highly recommend! And I can't wait for this mini-series - it's not based on The Second Duchess, though, bear in mind. The Second Duchess is being promoted with other books in Barnes & Noble for the mini-series premiere. I'm so excited for anything set in Italy!

    samstillreading - Let me know if you get a chance to read it!

    Juju at Tales of Whims.com - You are absolutely right! It did whisk me away! :)

    Liz - This book kept me up quite late - I'm looking forward to more from Elizabeth Loupas!

    Holly (2 Kids and Tired) - I love Italy so very much, and I love reading anything set in that part of the world. My own dream is to move there one day! :)

    Bookfool - Ooh, you should try this one! It's very different, and I think most would love this one! LOL on your second comment! I have the same issue as well, too with automatic corrections on the iPhone! :)

    BookQuoter - Let me know if you get a chance to pick this one up! :) I'd love to see the quotes you select for this one!

    Aisle B - Yes, it is a definite must read! Keep in mind that the mini-series Jeremy Irons is in isn't about this book, but it's all set in Italy, has to do with the Borgias, etc., etc. All good things in my opinion!! :) And I didn't know about Jeremy Irons' son being in The Red Riding Hood movie?! Good to know - I want to read that book, too!

  12. If this book could keep my mind off a long and terrible flight from coast to coast I will definitely add it to my future list!

  13. Great review, and the book sounds promising too! I'd be adding this in my list of books to read, and your site too... :)

  14. Great review! I just bought this one and can't wait to read it. Missed the first episode of the Borgias but I have it DVRed and am hoping to get to it in the next day or two.