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on 26 November 2011
'The Courtesan's Lover' is another wonderful novel from Gabrielle Kimm. I read, and loved her debut novel; 'His Last Duchess' and had been eagerly awaiting her next book. The wait has been well worthwhile and I have not been disappointed.
'The Courtesan's Lover' takes the reader back into the rich world of 16thc Italy.

The book is beautifully and descriptively written. As in her debut novel, Ms Kimm brings the characters in this book vividly and sensitively to life, and I found myself instantly engaged by them.

Enchanting, sumptous, touching, tragic, and uplifting. - I loved this novel and found myself completely caught up in Francesca's turbulent life. I shared her joy and her pain. A fabulous read.
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on 1 December 2011
The Courtesan's Lover is Gabrielle Kimm's second novel, whose heroine, Francesca, first appeared in Kimm's debut novel, "His Last Duchess". She has now moved to Naples, where she has become a courtesan. Through an encounter with a young man (given a tryst with her as a birthday present) she finds herself questioning her way of life. I shan't give away any more of the plot - suffice it to say that this novel is rich with twists and unexpected directions. What makes Kimm's novel special is her unfailing eye for detail. She writes about 16th Century Naples with an almost cinematic view, so that you not only see the pictures, but are aware of the sights and sounds and smells of the city. She evokes the strange life of a high class whore vividly, and though there is a certain amount of graphic sex, it is never prurient, and is an important tool in the telling of Francesca's story. Added to the sumptuous descriptions of place are more fascinating characters, whose histories one really cares about. My favourite is Modesto, Francesca's servant and protector, a castrato who can no longer perform, but each of these people come alive, and their stories evolve through the pages of this book, so that one really cares what happens to them. There are plot developments which carry this tale way above the normal romantic fiction, and some moments (deep under the streets of Naples) which are truly disturbing. I loved this novel, and thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking for an exciting, touching, beautiful and memorable book. A GREAT Christmas read!
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on 23 March 2014
Very much enjoyed this book. Has twists and turns some of which you can see coming, some you can't and others where it twists back on itself again with a page-turning heart-in-mouth bit about 3/4 of way through. Characters have been woven well into and through one another. Ending realistically unlikely but hey this is fiction so why not!
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on 11 January 2012
After Francesca's tribulations in His Last Duchess, and in the knowledge that she was off to Naples to a life of high class prostitution, I was fairly certain that The Courtesan's Lover would be, at the very least, as exciting as its predecessor. And I was, of course, not wrong. However admirably Francesca strives to keep her dangerous working life separate from her domestic one, and to protect her beautiful twin girls from harm, clearly she is taking some devastating risks. Tension levels were high and woe betide anyone who spoke to me while I was reading this book. I became very fond of Francesca. I respected that she stoically and cheerfully accepted the personal sacrifices of her chosen career for the sake of her daughters. And then, when the time comes, has the courage to alter course, change all her values and face up to the consequences. There were some beautifully drawn relationships - two in particular strike me now. The one between Francesca and her manservant, Modesto, whose character, incidentally, was one of my favourites. And the one between Maria and Filippo, whose stale marriage was repaired by Francesca's skills. I loved that little sub-plot. Once again this book gave a stunningly detailed picture of life in Renaissance Italy in general, and of The Courtesans and Society in particular. As well as being another wonderful read, I learned so many interesting new facts - including the fascinating use of limes - that The Courtesan's Lover has to be a 5 star read and I only hope we are going to see another Gabrielle Kimm novel very soon.
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on 3 February 2012
I loved Gabrielle Kimm's debut, His Last Duchess. But if anything, The Courtesan's Lover was an even more enjoyable read for me, due to its riveting storyline and its wonderfully complex characters. Kimm's protagonist, Francesca is an unexpected delight - beautiful, intelligent and ambitious, but at the same time warm and devoted to her two young girls.

The storytelling is magnificent! This is a page-turner in the true sense of the word - I looked forward to bedtime every night, just so I could find out what happened next. In fact, I was very sad when the book came to an end. Alongside Francesca, other compelling characters fill the pages; in particular, Modesto was someone I wanted to know more about, as we grasped snatches of the strange and tragic past that led him to become such an important player in the courtesan's life. Perhaps, Mrs Kimm, you might give us a sequel ... ?
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on 14 September 2012
I really enjoyed 'His Last Duchess' and was wondering how this would compare, so it was great that, once I started it I could barely put it down and read it in just two days. I felt it brought the whole era to life and I was transported back to a very different kind of existence.

Francesca's character was beautifully developed as her old life was suddenly thrown up into the air in a few short days. The twists and turns of the plot kept me willing her on and I was simply captivated throughout. It stayed in my head, which is always the sign of a great read and I am very much looking forward to the next novel.
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on 4 January 2012
The Courtesan's Lover is a compelling read that gives a tantalising insight into the life of Francesca Felizzi, 16th century Italian courtesan. After fleeing the Duke of Ferrara in Ms Kimm's first novel, His Last Duchess, Francesca establishes her home and business in Naples with her daughters and faithful manservant, Modesto. She entertains several important clients from Neapolitan society but her life changes forever when she falls in love for the first time. Her chequered past threatens to destroy her happiness as she struggles to change her life for the man she loves.

The character of Francesca is utterly fascinating; she is honest, passionate, feisty and above all, gloriously 'human' with flaws and fears as well as aspirations and dreams. Forced by circumstances to live by her wits as a courtesan, she is determined to survive but is also aware of the sacrifices that she has to make in order to protect her children and safeguard her lifestyle. The accounts of her experiences with her clients are intimate, revealing and tinged with dark humour. Francesca is captivating and immediately attracts the attention of everyone she meets, including the reader. Ms Kimm has captured the heart and soul of this powerful character.

All the characters in The Courtesan's Lover are finely drawn, from the most humble servants to the most sophisticated of Francesca's clients. The tragic Modesto is the perfect companion for Francesca and behind his faithful friendship lies a brutal past and his own secret desires. The plot is skilfully managed with many twists and turns that maintain suspense and tension throughout, all within the evocative and colourful setting of 16th century Naples.

The Courtesan's Lover is a completely gripping read and I can't wait for Ms Kimm's next book.
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2011
The Courtesan's Lover is exactly the sort of book to keep you occupied over Christmas as you sip mulled wine before a cosy fire. In fact I would liken it to mulled wine - rich, deep and satisfying!

Set in a beautifully realised Renaissance Italy, it tells the story of Francesca Felizzi, a wealthy courtesan, who decides to 'go straight.' The first section of the book shows us her life as a courtesan - the glamour and the potential danger are neatly interwoven. For the book to work this part has to be believable and the author spends some time setting this up, so we understand just what a courtesan's life would have been like, right down to how a citrus fruit is used as a contraceptive device!.The setting of Napoli is impeccably researched; the nitty-gritty of Francesca's business is described frankly, but there is nothing here that would shock the average reader.

Once Francesca falls in love, the rest of the book is concerned with how her former clients interact with each other, and how each past encounter now poses a danger to the one true relationship in her life. The reader is kept on tenterhooks wondering which of her lovers will betray her. There are plenty of colourful characters, not least her servant Modesto, a eunuch, whose plight is both touching and sad. There can be few books that examine the tragedy of these young boys whose voices were preserved by the worst kind of intervention.

There is plenty of danger to add spice to this romance.
We fear for Francesca's life when she entertains the sadistic Michele - the client from hell, and fear for her daughters at the hands of the irrational Carlo, her lover's son. Gabrielle Kimm racks up the tension and the pace so it builds nicely to its conclusion.

The Courtesan's Lover is a well-written pageturner, a good old fashioned story with action, romance and a sumptuous setting. Very highly recommended.
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on 13 April 2014
Look no further than Gabrielle Kimm... wow. You'll be on under a duvet, the edge of your sofa, drinking coffee so you can turn the pages all night long.
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on 18 June 2013
Very well written and kept me interested until the end. The descriptions of Italy were very atmospheric and I could almost imagine I was there.....
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