The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas
Copy Courtesy of NAL Trade
Barbara of Austria has become the second duchess of Ferrara, but even before she has wed the Duke, Alfonso d'Este, the rumors of how his first wife died are whispered all around her. While Barbara only wishes to revel in her elevated station as the head of a prominent household, the question of how the first duchess perished plagues her every thought, and Barbara will risk everything to find out the truth.
The beginning of The Second Duchess is pretty slow moving. The story is more of a murder mystery that happens to be set within a historical context rather than a story of wealth and nobility that happens to have a murder mystery within it. For me at least, this was a bit off-putting because I had hoped for more political intrigue and less playing the detective. Once the actual mystery got going though, this actually turned out to be an interesting read.
It is very likely that you will find the ghost of the first wife (oh yes, she's there and can't do anything but comment on what's happening in the story) annoying as she was a very spoiled (VERY) little girl. Granted, I'm sad that she died, but that doesn't make me like her more. Barbara though starts out somewhat naive and gets bolder and more fun to read as the book goes on.
If you have a thing for mysteries, you will probably enjoy the novelty a mystery in a historical fiction setting. The murder mystery itself was an enjoyable puzzle to try to guess at. I, at least, didn't really expect the ending, but then again I don't read too many mysteries so perhaps it will be more obvious to you ^.^
Star Rating: 3.5/5.0
For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.