cover image The King’s Agent

The King’s Agent

Donna Russo Morin. Kensington, $15 trade paper (438p) ISBN 978-0-7582-4682-0

In return for acquiring—stealing if he must—great works of art for French King François I, the king’s royal art dealer, Battista della Palla, enjoys the king’s support, and the city of Florence enjoys his protection. When the king goes to war with Charles of Spain, he orders Battista to retrieve an ancient Greek relic that is said to “possess the strength [he needs] to reign victorious.” As Battista begins the hunt, he meets Aurelia, a beautiful, spirited noblewoman with a yen for travel and adventure, and his simple quest blooms into a mysterious journey across Italy, with Battista and Aurelia following in the footsteps of the relic’s Guardians and encountering challenges evocative of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Inevitably, the two fall in love, but a secret about Aurelia’s true identity threatens the mission. Morin (To Serve a King) skillfully blends historical fiction and fantasy in surprising ways. She draws effortlessly upon influences ranging from Dante to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the authority of her presentation makes the world she’s created come alive. A wonderfully action-packed ride through the lush landscape of Renaissance Italy. Agent: Irene Kraas, the Kraas Literary Agency. (Mar.)