Review: The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas

by Elizabeth Loupas

Publication Date: March 1, 2011
NAL Trade


A rich, compelling historical novel-and a mystery of royal intrigue.

In a city-state known for magnificence, where love affairs and conspiracies play out amidst brilliant painters, poets and musicians, the powerful and ambitious Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, takes a new bride. Half of Europe is certain he murdered his first wife, Lucrezia, the luminous child of the Medici. But no one dares accuse him, and no one has proof-least of all his second duchess, the far less beautiful but delightfully clever Barbara of Austria.

At first determined to ignore the rumors about her new husband, Barbara embraces the pleasures of the Ferrarese court. Yet wherever she turns she hears whispers of the first duchess's wayward life and mysterious death. Barbara asks questions-a dangerous mistake for a duchess of Ferrara. Suddenly, to save her own life, Barbara has no choice but to risk the duke's terrifying displeasure and discover the truth of Lucrezia's death-or she will share her fate.


Inspired by the Robert Browning poem titled The Last Duchess, author Elizabeth Loupas gives her own rendition of the mystery behind the death of Lucrezia d’Medici, rumored to have been murdered by her husband, the Duke of Ferrera in The Second Duchess.

For Barbara of Austria marriage to the duke and at last having a court of her own was a dream come true. However, the dream fades as she is immediately bombarded upon her arrival with the whisperings and rumors of court gossip about the mysterious death of her predecessor, the beautiful and young Lucrezia d’Medici. Naturally inquisitive, Barbara’s interest has been piqued and makes it her mission to find out what exactly happened to the first duchess despite the duke’s profound command that she cease the investigation. Not content to let the matter drop Barbara continues to ask questions and in return gains many enemies who will do anything to keep their secret hidden forever.

Though mostly told by Barbara, the author also gives Lucrezia a voice, something I really liked because it gives the reader both sides of the story. From her place in between the world of the living and the afterlife, she gives commentary and reminisces on when she was duchess and her relationship with the duke.

All in all, I found The Second Duchess to be an enticing read that kept me guessing until the end. The mysterious death of the audacious, yet misguided first Duchess of Ferrera is indeed an intriguing one and I look forward to more by Elizabeth Loupas!

For more information please visit Elizabeth Loupas WEBSITE.

FTC:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



  1. I'm really looking forward to reading this one - glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  2. Thank you for this post. A new book and author for me.

  3. This novels sounds like it would be a terrific read. Can't wait to get to it!

  4. Ooohhh I hope mine is coming soon! Sounds like a great read!


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