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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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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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on 4 December 2013
Well done Gabby. I enjoyed this follow up every bit as much as the first one. Another one of those 'can't put it down' type novels.
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on 22 December 2013
Very believable with strong characters that keep you on your toes. Loved it, great story line and very satisfying conclusion.
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on 14 December 2011
... and the title of the review does not refer to the sexual content! Of course there has to be sex, because you would feel short-changed if there was none in a book called 'The Courtesan's Lover', but is is done with discretion, without any embarrassment to the reader - and I was a bit apprehensive about this, since I know the author - and is essential to understanding the main character and her situation. What you also get is a gripping story, with a mixed cast of well drawn characters, and a clear sense of life in Renaissance Naples: Gabrielle Kimm has been doing her research! This is a strong second novel, written with assurance and beautiful turns of phrase. Sometimes she catches a moment exactly, as when the cats 'slither' out of the room. It may sound like a cliche, but I really couldn't put the book down.
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on 27 November 2011
What a great sequel to His Last Duchess. The Courtesan's Lover is vibrant, exciting, full of intrigue and I couldn't put it down. It is beautifully written, full of sumptuous description that really takes you back to 16th Century Italy. The attention to detail is excellent and the story line is unexpected and surprising. Franchesca is a character that you really want to get to know. She is naughty, but at the same time, she is wise, and full of life. A really good read that I would thoroughly recommend. A great Christmas present!
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on 6 December 2011
A minor character from Gabrielle Kimm's fantastic debut takes centre stage in this, her second, novel. However, it is important to stress this is a stand-alone novel, though if you've not already done so I urge you to read His Last Duchess.
Former mistress to the Duke of Ferrara, Francesca Felizzi, has travelled south to Naples with her young daughters and reinvented herself as a courtesan. With all the trappings of a successful courtesan - the beautiful home, sumptuous dresses and glittering jewels - Francesca's new life suits her well, until a chance encounter with an inexperienced and tender young client exposes her vulnerability: the absence of true love in her life. When Francesca falls for a respectable widower she turns her back on whoring and in so doing unleashes a terrifying fury, unwittingly placing the lives of herself and her daughters in jeopardy.
Kimm takes her time setting the scene and portraying the foibles of her large cast. The leisurely pace is enhanced by beautiful, sensuous prose and I'd recommend savouring this section because once Kimm ratchets up the tension there's every danger that you'll rattle through the second half of the narrative without pausing to enjoy the detail.
Francesca is an absorbing, satisfying lead complemented by her romantic, compassionate lover Luca. But the supporting characters are also real and nuanced: Modesto, Francesca's loyal manservant, is touching and noble, and his backstory broke my heart; the relationship between a former client and his frigid wife is tender and moving.
The multiple narrative strands of this rich tapestry are woven with a skilled, light touch. The Courtesan's Lover is sexy, moving and, at times, nail-bitingly tense. Peopled with memorable characters set against a stunning backdrop this is historical romance at its best.
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on 3 July 2012
Francesca is a very well regarded courtesan in Naples, 1564.

Her encounter with a young virgin called Gianni has an effect on her that takes her by surprise and her usual confidence and professionalism begins to crumble.

She is asked to accompany one of her clients to a lavish event posing as his widowed cousin in place of his wife who prefers not to attend. Francesca sees this as another transaction and a one off, but a chance meeting with Gianni's father could see her deception exposed and change her life forever.

I have to say this novel has been on my shelf for a while.
There is a slow start that did not hold my interest, initially, but I did feel this was not one to give up on completely but one to put back on the shelf for a later date.

So glad I did. When I re-read from the beginning, the story took a little while to get going. Once Francesca met Gianni I was compelled to read on and see how this meeting would affect her future.

4.5 out of 5 for me. I loved it!
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on 10 April 2012
Having enjoyed His Last Duchess so much I waited for this book for a long time and it was well worth the wait. I've read it twice now, once gobbling it down like a failed slimmer on a box of chocolates and the second time, savouring it, rolling the eloquence around my tongue, inhaling the exotic scents and feeling the fabulous fabric of Naples between my fingers.

I don't think I know another author who can bring her characters to life so well, and the world they move in, a place in time we can no longer visit, is brought vividly to life. I am never one to give away plot secrets in a review but I thoroughly recommend this. It will salve your curiosity about the life of a courtesan and make you glad of your office job, it will make you remember the pangs of true love (if they are indeed over) and it will make you cry, and wince and live every one of Francesca Felizzi's trials right along side her.
A whopping five stars - would give it more if I could.
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on 13 December 2011
The Courtesan's Lover features Francesca Felizzi and her twin daughters from His Last Duchess in a whole new light. Francesca is lucky to have a few trusted friends but unlucky in that she has many potential enemies. This novel embodies the phrase `keep your friends close and your enemies even closer'. The depiction of the decadence, depravity and degradation of life as a courtesan is cinematic. The clever plot twists, turns and deliberately leads the reader astray. There are excerpts from Francesca's `Book of Encounters' which add further spice to this satisfying read. I found myself spell bound late into the night on more than one occasion. When the book ended I felt as saddened as if it was time to say goodbye to a dear friend. I do hope that I am wrong and that it is merely a `bye for now'.
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