The Lion and the Rose is the sequel to The Serpent and the Pearl, a novel of the Borgias. Specifically, they follow Guilia Farnese, the mistress of Rodrigo Borgia, AKA Pope Alexander VI as well as two fictional narrators. When I read the first book, it struck me as if somebody had tried to reverse engineer historical fiction out of historical fantasy. Now, the quantity of drama and backstabbing surrounding the Borgias would be rather difficult to exaggerate. It's the two fictional narrators that have me rolling my eyes and saying "Really?" on a pretty regular basis. There's Carmelina, a rare female chef who learned from her father whose recipes she's stolen, because of course she is, who in the first book appears at the household that employs her cousin while he's out gambling and saves the dinner, because of course she does. And then there's Leonello, the dwarf body guard. Leonello means "Little Lion." I'm not going to say anything else about that, I'm just going to let you think about that for a few minutes (if it takes that long) and draw your own conclusions about whose voice you think the author wants me to be hearing in my head while he narrates.
The second book continues in much the same vein. The Borgia intrigue is tons of fun. Carmelina's apprentice invents French fries. (He is a historical figure, so perhaps I should mention that the author's note does clarify that although potatoes were just being discovered in the "New World," he did not actually invent French fries.) And at one time or another every male character with a significant speaking part falls in love with or tries to sleep with (consensually or not) one or the other of the female narrators. Because nobody can be immune to both of their charms. All in all, it's not that it's bad, it's just that so much of the invented material is material that we have seen many, many times before.