Lucrezia Borgia and the Mother of Poisons by Roberta Gellis
"Poisoner!" The bellowed accusation strikes into silence all those in Lucrezia Borgia's audience chamber. Lucrezia has fled Rome to a loveless marriage with Alfonso, heir to the duke of Ferrara, to escape the rumors that she is utterly depraved - -incestuous, a lecher, a poisoner. To her delight she is warmly welcomed in Ferrara, by the duke, by his court, by the people, indeed by everyone except her husband. And then, after only six weeks of basking in the warmth of general approval, Alfonso rushes into her apartment and accuses her of poisoning Bianca Tedaldo, one of her ladies in waiting and mistress to Alfonso. Immediately, Lucrezia sees the nightmare of her life in Rome recurring. The whispers behind her back, the signs to ward off evil, people making out their wills when she invites them to share a meal. To deny the charge is useless. Lucrezia knows all too well the futility of claiming innocence even when the claim is clearly and plainly true. The only way for her to retrieve her reputation is to discover who committed the crime and expose the true murderer.