This book introduces Lucrezia Borgia as a detective, trying to clear her own name of the suspicion of poisoning by finding the true culprit.

Roberta Gellis, while she probably lives off the proceeds of her famed bodice-rippers, has written a number of good historical novels. Romance or history, she always specializes in competent, sensible, down-to-earth heroines. Since Lucrezia Borgia, unless she was in fact a skilled poisoner and political raptor, is not known to have had any particular skills, Gellis is having a little trouble with her. A competent, down-to-earth Lucrezia Borgia is a little hard to pull off. She ends up rather dull, if nothing else.

However, knitting needles have entered the picture — hidden knitting needles, no less, in a carriage. Doubtless the plot will thicken.

Yesterday, when I came home, I was not certain whether my husband would have gotten back from driving our kid to college yet.

I drove up and saw Fiona the dog on the porch. Knowing that #1 son was at work and #2 son at a friend’s house, I thought that my husband might be home — but the boys could have left her out on the porch to enjoy the fine day. The garage was closed, so I couldn’t see whether my car was back (they had driven in it). When I entered the house, though, I immediately smelled rice and hot peppers, so I knew that he was home. Of such homely things are our memories made.

He had also persuaded the boys to clean their bedrooms before leaving. On the left, #2 daughter’s room during the summer — it transforms into #2 son’s during the school year. Ont he right, #1 son’s room, which he shares with #2 son (and the travelling sleepover crew) during the summer. I would not want you to think that I had exaggerated the degree of messiness my children stoop to in the summer.

But my husband told them to clean the rooms before they left. #2 son called me at work to say that he was leaving. “I totally cleaned my room,” he assured me. “It’s awesome.”

And that was the truth. All summer long I have pleaded and reasoned and cajoled, and even thrown the occasional hissy fit, as these bedrooms sank into filth and squalor. My husband has only to make a gentle suggestion and they immediately clean up. Is that fair?

I bet Lucrezia Borgia didn’t have that problem.