"A saucy account of Lucrezia de' Medici's ill-fated marriage, inspired by Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess." " - Kirkus
"Kimm neatly ties up all the loose ends while cleverly setting the stage for a spin-off. Poetry enthusiasts will be intrigued and historical fiction fans will appreciate the authentic Renaissance-era detailing.
" - Booklist
"This strong first novel is marked by well-developed, memorable protagonists and a pacing that quickens and builds readers' anxiety as the story progresses. " - Library Journal
" I, personally, cannot wait to see what Gabrielle Kimm has next to offer." - Luxury Reading
"It had lovely prose and was full of romance and suspense.
" - Readin and Dreamin
"The book is well researched, well written with subtlety blended plot lines that will have you routing for Lucrezia as the book nears the end. It's a compelling read that I certainly think can't fail to please. I thoroughly recommend this as a very readable, enjoyable, and illustrative book about this famous family." - Books by the Willow Tree
"There are so many twists and turns that the reader will have a hard time figuring out how this one will end." - Debbie's Book Bag
"His Last Duchess will grab you and be prepared for the twisted moments artfully crafted by Gabrielle Kimm. Trust me you don't want to miss this chilling tale from Renaissance Italy. The strokes of darkness and love combined make this a MUST READ!
" - Aisle B
"Passion, heartbreak, illicit affairs and sorrow makes this a must read fabulous!
" - Lou Graham's Blog
"Gabrielle Kimm rivals authors like Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy with her descriptive historical romantic style-especially where intrigue lies. " - Boulder Books Examiner
"I immensely enjoyed this novel and very highly recommend it guaranteed to please.
" - History and Women
"His Last Duchess has some wonderfully poignant moments, some very suspenseful moments and a great villain (her husband.) This is a well written historical fiction book, rich in detail and if you like this genre, you'll love His Last Duchess.
" - Kay's Blog
""His Last Duchess" is a unique novel in historical fiction. This is the kind of novel that will leave you feeling a range of emotions. One thing is for sure, you won't want to put it down!
" - Pittsburgh Historical Fiction Examiner
"The plot of this luscious tale intensifies with every page turn as the characters converge to an exciting climax. The tension mounts with every chapter, keeping me interested until the end. And who cannot resist a tale of love and lust sprinkled with the madness and desperation of an evil antagonist set in the luscious background of the Renaissance? I immensely enjoyed this novel and very highly recommend it guaranteed to please.
" - Historical Novels Review Blog
"I think all historical fiction fans will find this to be a worthwhile read. Step into the passions of sixteenth century. Follow a story of forbidden love and darkness that will haunt you.
" - Eva's Sanctuary
"I will say no more about the plot: your coffee will go cold reading this novel and I don't want to give anything away. Integral to its pace is the balance within its characters; there are no cardboard stereotypes here. Complex psychology is demonstrated in dialogue and actions appropriate to the period (to some extent Alfonso is a product of his time), but they are essentially, deeply human and in that sense are timeless." - Words in the Treehouse
A saucy account of Lucrezia de' Medici's ill-fated marriage, inspired by Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess."
In Browning's masterpiece, the Duke speaks of his last Duchess on the wall, painted by Fra Pandolf, "looking as if she were alive." In this, Kimm's second novel, she creates the circumstances that lead up to the ominous moment when the Duchess is dead and the Duke jealously guards the painting's likeness. The Duchess is Lucrezia de' Medici, the teenage heir to a considerable 16th-century fortune who is set to marry the powerful Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. The excitement of the marriage ceremony is overshadowed by the misery of the marriage night—the Duke cannot perform. We learn it is no medical matter—the Duke's mistress Francesca has two of his children—but a matter of temperament. Lucrezia's innocent beauty prevents his "stiffening." He keeps trying, but his withering penis (it's practically a character itself) is beginning to turn him mad. The Duke's madness—a buzzing in his head, an obsessive fury and relief found only in the cool confines of the castle dungeon—is a modern take on Browning's villain, and makes the Duke credible. After two years of an issueless marriage to Lucrezia, the Pope is threatening to take away Ferrara if he does not produce a legitimate heir. Meanwhile, the Duke has hired Fra Pandolf to paint a large fresco and Lucrezia is unexpectedly taken with his assistant, Jacomo. The two begin an affair and plan to run away together, once they figure out how to solve the mountain of complications their escape would create. The Duke, more desperate and sadistic than ever, has decided to poison Lucrezia, but not before Fra Pandolf paints her portrait, so he can once and for all possess her. Far more erudite than the average bodice-ripper, the novel straddles the line between the gravity of historical fiction and the trite predictability of romance.
Few surprises, but a punchy end redeems the occasional awkwardness.