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Song of the Siren

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Since childhood Lady Juliana has depended on her allure for survival. So when a sudden, debilitating illness robs her of her looks, her sense of her place in the world is shattered. The court that once idolized her spurns her. Who is she, if not the siren of men’s dreams? Enter Felix Ossolinski—scholar, diplomat, Renaissance man. A riding accident in his teens forced him t Since childhood Lady Juliana has depended on her allure for survival. So when a sudden, debilitating illness robs her of her looks, her sense of her place in the world is shattered. The court that once idolized her spurns her. Who is she, if not the siren of men’s dreams? Enter Felix Ossolinski—scholar, diplomat, Renaissance man. A riding accident in his teens forced him to redirect his energies from war to the life of the mind, and alone among the men of the sixteenth-century Polish court he sees in Juliana a kindred spirit, a woman who has never appreciated her own value and whose inner beauty outweighs any marring of her face. At Felix’s suggestion the Polish queen offers Juliana a way out of her difficulties: spy for the royal family in return for a promise of financial independence. Facing poverty and degradation, Juliana cannot refuse, although the mission threatens not only her freedom but her life. Felix swears he will protect her. But no one can protect Juliana from the demons of her past.


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Since childhood Lady Juliana has depended on her allure for survival. So when a sudden, debilitating illness robs her of her looks, her sense of her place in the world is shattered. The court that once idolized her spurns her. Who is she, if not the siren of men’s dreams? Enter Felix Ossolinski—scholar, diplomat, Renaissance man. A riding accident in his teens forced him t Since childhood Lady Juliana has depended on her allure for survival. So when a sudden, debilitating illness robs her of her looks, her sense of her place in the world is shattered. The court that once idolized her spurns her. Who is she, if not the siren of men’s dreams? Enter Felix Ossolinski—scholar, diplomat, Renaissance man. A riding accident in his teens forced him to redirect his energies from war to the life of the mind, and alone among the men of the sixteenth-century Polish court he sees in Juliana a kindred spirit, a woman who has never appreciated her own value and whose inner beauty outweighs any marring of her face. At Felix’s suggestion the Polish queen offers Juliana a way out of her difficulties: spy for the royal family in return for a promise of financial independence. Facing poverty and degradation, Juliana cannot refuse, although the mission threatens not only her freedom but her life. Felix swears he will protect her. But no one can protect Juliana from the demons of her past.

31 review for Song of the Siren

  1. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    In February, when I reached the end of the five volume series Legends Of The five Directions, I was excited to see a short excerpt of C. P. Lesley's newest book Songs Of The Sirens. And just a week later I learned it was available so off I rushed and ordered myself a copy. (Oh, I should say now that C.P. is a GR friend of mine but I paid full price for my copy of this book and the opinions in the review are entirely my own.) This is the first of a new series, but we are still in Medieval Russia ( In February, when I reached the end of the five volume series Legends Of The five Directions, I was excited to see a short excerpt of C. P. Lesley's newest book Songs Of The Sirens. And just a week later I learned it was available so off I rushed and ordered myself a copy. (Oh, I should say now that C.P. is a GR friend of mine but I paid full price for my copy of this book and the opinions in the review are entirely my own.) This is the first of a new series, but we are still in Medieval Russia (and Poland and Lithuania) and the main character here, Juliana, participated in the previous books. Known there as Roxelana, she was intriguing with many hints of a past begging to be told. In this book not only does the reader learn about that past, we also gain a new sympathy for the woman who admittedly was very easy to hate in the other series. Roxelana was a victim of her times, and dealt with her life the best way she knew how. But what happens to Rox...sorry, Juliana to change her outlook on life? And why does the Queen think it is such a good idea to send Juliana off to Moscow in the disguise of a young man as part of a diplomatic mission? Can Juliana deal with this unusual assignment? She certainly cannot refuse to go. You simply do not say no to the Queen. I loved being back in this world. Lesley makes a long ago time and place seem real, and her people have become old friends. I still got a bit muddled trying to sort out the politics that were involved, but I was struck at how similar our supposedly modern times are to those long ago days. How can we as humans not have learned anything since the 1500's? We still mistreat women, mistrust nearly everyone who is not 'us', and mislead the people who are supposed to be our friends. It is very discouraging. But the world survived those days, and I suppose.....hope we will survive these. At least until after 2020 when the next book in the series is due, because after reading the little excerpt included at the end of this volume, I just have to have it! Thank you, C. P. for the wonderful entertainment, and for bringing to life such a fascinating period of history!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    This exotic historical is just right A reader need not have read any of the other books by this author, and doesn’t need any “backstory” toI absolutely marvel at the brilliant descriptions. The story itself has just the right amount of suspense, intrigue and romance to make it a pleasurable read, but what sets this book far, far apart is the description of the palaces, the clothes, the conflicts, the roads, the landscapes of Poland, Russia and Lithuania in the 1500s. Even if the reader was unawar This exotic historical is just right A reader need not have read any of the other books by this author, and doesn’t need any “backstory” toI absolutely marvel at the brilliant descriptions. The story itself has just the right amount of suspense, intrigue and romance to make it a pleasurable read, but what sets this book far, far apart is the description of the palaces, the clothes, the conflicts, the roads, the landscapes of Poland, Russia and Lithuania in the 1500s. Even if the reader was unaware of the heights of culture, development, and literature of the places, she will be drawn in deep into those times and places. If you are already a fan, this will enrich your knowledge and delight.

  3. 5 out of 5

    C.P. Lesley

    As always, I don’t rate or review my own books, but here is a bit of background information on why I decided to write this new series, which might be considered a “spinoff,” in TV terms, of Legends of the Five Directions—my earlier series set in Muscovite Russia between 1533 and 1538, when Ivan the Terrible’s mother, Grand Princess Elena Glinskaya, gradually consolidated her rule on behalf of her young son, who came to the throne at the age of three. When I began Legends of the Five Directions, As always, I don’t rate or review my own books, but here is a bit of background information on why I decided to write this new series, which might be considered a “spinoff,” in TV terms, of Legends of the Five Directions—my earlier series set in Muscovite Russia between 1533 and 1538, when Ivan the Terrible’s mother, Grand Princess Elena Glinskaya, gradually consolidated her rule on behalf of her young son, who came to the throne at the age of three. When I began Legends of the Five Directions, I intended to include many more women’s stories than turned out to be possible within the constraints of individual novels. Hence this decision to revisit the Legends world: each of my Songs of Steppe & Forest focuses on a secondary character from that story world five to ten years later in her life, telling a story of transformation from her point of view. The new series opens with Roxelana, now renamed Juliana after her conversion to Catholicism, and continues with Grusha, Solomonida and Darya, then Lyuba and her best friend Anna as they enter the bride show held for Russia's first tsar, best known as Ivan the Terrible. I plan for it to extend at least through the Russian conquest of Kazan in 1552—an event that will, of course, be of crucial importance to my Tatar characters. So stop by every so often for a virtual journey to Russia and the steppe in the 1540s and 1550s—a rich and fascinating world filled with drama, intrigue, and rivalries guaranteed to appeal to fans of The Borgias and The Tudors. To quote a few early reviewers: “Song of the Siren takes us to multicultural sixteenth-century Poland-Lithuania and Russia in this part adventure, part love story, part narrative of a woman’s self-discovery and empowerment…. Readers interested in the European Renaissance will enjoy this beautifully detailed historical novel.”—Charlene Ball, author of Dark Lady: A Novel of Emilia Bassano Lanyer “Song of the Siren whisks us away to Eastern Europe and Russia in this captivating tale of a heroine with a past. A wonderful beginning to a new series, and its exotic characters and setting are a welcome addition to historical fiction. Lesley’s fans are sure to be delighted, and new readers will quickly become devoted followers.” —Sarah Kennedy, author of The Altarpiece and other novels “Across half a millennium comes this tale of a complex and fascinating heroine with threads that will rouse and resonate with women even today.… Juliana ultimately emerges as a champion for all who think they are broken but instead find undiscovered, unimagined strength.” —Ellen Notbohm, author of The River by Starlight

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Mathieu

    Once Lady Juliana lived in Russia and went by the name Roxelana. Now a member of the Polish-Lithuanian court, she enjoys the romantic attention and financial gifts of King Sigismund the younger. That is, until smallpox ruins her only means of support, her famed beauty. After a disastrous court appearance at which Juliana feels herself shunned, its clear that she must come up with a new way of supporting herself. Sold into slavery at a young age, Juliana has never had anything to offer but her bod Once Lady Juliana lived in Russia and went by the name Roxelana. Now a member of the Polish-Lithuanian court, she enjoys the romantic attention and financial gifts of King Sigismund the younger. That is, until smallpox ruins her only means of support, her famed beauty. After a disastrous court appearance at which Juliana feels herself shunned, its clear that she must come up with a new way of supporting herself. Sold into slavery at a young age, Juliana has never had anything to offer but her body and face, though she is, in fact, educated and artistic. When Queen Bona asks her to become a spy as part of a Polish delegation to the Russian court, Juliana is forced to agree, though it might mean encountering her possessive and deceptive husband again. Author C.P. Lesley has gambled here again, as she did in her previous book, where she explored the character of Maria, a snippy daddy’s girl who transformed into a passionate and open-minded woman. Here, we experience from a first-person perspective what it is like to be Juliana, encountered in previous books as the manipulative siren Roxelana. Wounded from her childhood as a slave, Juliana has survived by burying her fear and hurt at the abuse she endured from her much older, male owners. When the chance for true love draws near in the form of Felix, a gentle, clever, and artistic nobleman, Juliana must confront her own demons, as well as cope with a conspiracy, a former lover, and her husband, who still feels he owns her. Part romance and part historical suspense, Song of the Siren will have you hoping that Juliana finds the inner resources to cope with her challenges, and secure a better future for herself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    Only so so Interesting historical line. You don't see to many historical novels set in the location of Eastern Europe. Spoiler Alert!! The story line is pretty cliche. Two physically scared people finding love in each other. #1 neither believe that they are loveable #2 too many flash backs to the main characters early life. I get that the author was providing a back story, but it was fed to the reader multiple times. I stopped feeling sorry for her. It showed her finding herself after she lost he Only so so Interesting historical line. You don't see to many historical novels set in the location of Eastern Europe. Spoiler Alert!! The story line is pretty cliche. Two physically scared people finding love in each other. #1 neither believe that they are loveable #2 too many flash backs to the main characters early life. I get that the author was providing a back story, but it was fed to the reader multiple times. I stopped feeling sorry for her. It showed her finding herself after she lost her beauty. I would feel her strength of character was more developed if she became more self aware despite her beauty. It is a frequently used literary tool to show a person's growth in times of adversity. People are able to grow as a human being w/o necessarily having a catastrophe. I guess I'm becoming numb to the never ending list of things that can go wrong for a character. It can become inconceivable how varied and how frequently disaster can strike the same person. I am grateful that I got it through Kindle Unlimited.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Denise Steele

    I knew I was going to love this book when I saw that the first pages included a map of 16 th century Poland, Lithuania and Russia , and a list of characters with names like Felix Ossolinski and Maria Fyodorovna Koshkina ! Real historical characters such as Ivan the Terrible and Bona Sforza , Queen of Poland weave together beautifully with the author’s richly and accurately detailed fictional characters , especially our protagonist , the educated and alluring Lady Juliana who is robbed of her beau I knew I was going to love this book when I saw that the first pages included a map of 16 th century Poland, Lithuania and Russia , and a list of characters with names like Felix Ossolinski and Maria Fyodorovna Koshkina ! Real historical characters such as Ivan the Terrible and Bona Sforza , Queen of Poland weave together beautifully with the author’s richly and accurately detailed fictional characters , especially our protagonist , the educated and alluring Lady Juliana who is robbed of her beauty in her prime by the dreaded pox. Spurned by her wealthy and powerful lover and by her suitors , Juliana must find a different life for herself and learn to value what can’t be seen and judged by men. The story has a surprisingly relevant and powerful ‘punch’ that I didn’t see coming , which added to the depth of this novel. An excellent and rich read !

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ste Goulart

    I was drawn to this because the author is a historian, and I was very much in the mood for a historical accurate spy scheming novel. Unfortunately, I've found the characters and the setting quite soulless and the writing itself lacking ~something~, some kind of passion for the story telling. I've read up to 30% of it, but couldn't stop feeling like I was reading a fictionalised textbook on 16th century Russia. It may be a case of "this is just not my kind of reading". I was drawn to this because the author is a historian, and I was very much in the mood for a historical accurate spy scheming novel. Unfortunately, I've found the characters and the setting quite soulless and the writing itself lacking ~something~, some kind of passion for the story telling. I've read up to 30% of it, but couldn't stop feeling like I was reading a fictionalised textbook on 16th century Russia. It may be a case of "this is just not my kind of reading".

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mirta Trupp

  10. 4 out of 5

    Frank Kelso

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jane

  12. 5 out of 5

    Plethora

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tara

  14. 4 out of 5

    Francis

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Allen

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  17. 5 out of 5

    Magda Kossakowska

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hope

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Gephardt

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marie-Eve Gauthier

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tana

  22. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Mustread

  23. 5 out of 5

    Minerva Sybil

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth (Enthralled by the Written Word)

  25. 4 out of 5

    C.P. Lesley

  26. 5 out of 5

    Constanza Chesnott

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emily Kate

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth-Eric Civerolo

  29. 4 out of 5

    James Mooney

  30. 4 out of 5

    Donna Julian

  31. 5 out of 5

    Megan Anderson

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