Sofi is a young girl from Italy who's portraits attract the attention of Michelangelo, who invites her to come study under him. While learning everything she can, she also falls into a dangerous, at that time in history, relationship with a fellow student. After an encounter that could forever tarnish her family's name, she leaves her study and returns home to soon become a painting teacher to the new queen of Spain, wife of King Felipe. The Queen, a French girl of 14, in a Spanish court, has to learn how to please her King, in matters of the flesh and heart, and must ensure the birth of a son for an heir to the throne. King Felipe has been married twice previously and has a son from one if the marriages, Don Carlos, but everyone knows that he can never take over the crown. The queen develops a strange, in my opinion, relationship with Don Carlos, and becomes involved in a dangerous relationship with the Kings half brother, Don Juan. Sofi goes from being the Queens painting instructor to her favorite lady in waiting, trying to teach her how to please get husband, all the while receiving constant news about the Spanish Inquisition and their focus on her old mentor, Michelangelo, and the man who stole Sofi's heart along with something much more important in that day and age.
I loved this book. It was like a historical soap opera. Sofi is so real you can't help but relate to her on some level, Don Carlos completely freaked me out and his relationship with the Queen was just plain weird, as was he, the fighting between the Queens French and Spanish ladies in waiting, and wondering what will ever come of the incident that caused Sofi to leave her painting studies to begin with, I couldn't get enough of this historically accurate account of one if the few women painters of the Renaissance. If you are into historical fiction, a little romance (which I usually am not), betrayal, secrets and possible murder check this one out. You will not be disappointed.
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