by Donna Russo Morin
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
eBook & Paperback; 268 Pages
Series: Da Vinci’s Disciples, Book Two
Donna Russo Morin returns with a follow-up to Portrait of a Conspiracy, called “a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition,” by C.W. Gortner.
In a studiolo behind a church, six women gather to perform an act that is, at once, restorative, powerful, and illegal. They paint. Under the tutelage of Leonardo da Vinci, these six show talent and drive equal to that of any man, but in Renaissance Florence they must hide their skills, or risk the scorn of the city.
A commission to paint a fresco in Santo Spirito is announced and Florence’s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative job will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage and now free to pursue her artistic passions in secret, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow female artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de’ Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win.
But the church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring upon themselves will disrupt their families, and could put them in physical danger.
All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing her joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has her own romantic life to distract her, sparked by Lorenzo himself. Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo
Praise for The Competition
“THE COMPETITION is a page-turning, provocative romp through a fascinating time and place―15th-century Florence. Donna Russo Morin has given us a novel for our time, a book featuring strong female characters fighting the odds to break the “glass ceiling,” and reminding us that this battle is not new: women have been waging it for centuries. ―Sherry Jones, author of The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard
“…a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition…a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”―C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’Medici
“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin’s new novel.”―Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown
“In Portrait of a Conspiracy, Russo Morin’s rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”―Heather Webb, author of Becoming Josephine
“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”―Kate Quinn, author of The Empress of Rome Saga
“In elegant prose, Morin paints a captivating tale of courageous women painters who battle against prejudices in Renaissance Florence. Featuring strong women characters, each with distinctive personalities, this is exactly the type of historical novel I enjoy. Exhilarating and compassionate, The Competition sings a beautiful tribute of women’s talents and underscores Morin’s masterful storytelling. Delightful!”―Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon
“An inspiring tale of determined women, empowered by undeniable talent, in the male-dominated art world of Renaissance Florence. In The Competition, Ms. Morin delivers a captivating story rich with historical detail and beautifully woven through with atmosphere.”―Diane Haeger, author of Courtesan
My Review: I had not had the opportunity to read the first book in this series, Portrait of a Conspiracy, so I was a little concerned that I might be confused in The Competition. And while I felt that it would have been nice to personally have more backstory on the characters, I definitely didn’t feel lost as I read through The Competition. (But now I have to get the first book, because I am head-over-heels for the characters!) This book was so fascinating and hugely inspiring to me.
The characters (all strong and amazing women) are being tutored by Leonardo da Vinci, and are brilliantly talented artists. The problem is, in Renaissance Florence, women are supposed to be caretakers of their homes; quiet and unseen. Da Vinci’s Disciples, however, are not content to keep their artistic gifts under wraps, and so together, bid on an upcoming project for a chapel. They are begrudgingly accepted, and what follows is a remarkable story; not only about the art, but about the women behind the art.
Bottom Line: A new favorite on my bookshelf!
Donna earned two degrees from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to writing, teaching writing, and reviewing for literary journals, Donna works as a model and actor; highlights of her work include two seasons on Showtime’s Brotherhood and an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Donna is the proud mother of two sons, one a future opera singer, the other a future chef.
Donna’s titles include The Courtier’s Secret, The Secret of the Glass, To Serve a King, The King’s Agent, Portrait of a Conspiracy, and The Competition.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, June 26
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads
Tuesday, June 27
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Wednesday, June 28
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Friday, June 30
Review at The True Book Addict
Monday, July 3
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Wednesday, July 5
Guest Post at Books of All Kinds
Thursday, July 6
Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Saturday, July 8
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, July 11
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Friday, July 14
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Monday, July 17
Review at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, July 18
Guest Post at Bookfever
Thursday, July 20
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Monday, July 24
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, July 26
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, July 27
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, July 28
Review at Just One More Chapter
During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of The Competition & a Key Pendant necklace! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.