A dazzling tale of love, sumptuous splendour and conspiracy in the Italian Renaissance court of Ferrara, from the brilliant author of The Flower Reader. Barbara of Austria is plain, quick-witted and sensible. She also desperately needs a husband, for unmarried at twenty-six, she is about to be packed off to a convent, like her sisters before her. So it is that she seizes what seems to be her last chance - a proposal of marriage from Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, Lucrezia Borgia's grandson, clever, handsome, powerful - and widely believed to have murdered his first wife, Lucrezia de Medici. Barbara goes into her marriage clear-eyed, fascinated by her dangerous, enigmatic new husband - and increasingly - recklessly - driven to discover the truth about the death of his first duchess.